I’ve got a lot of time for people who don’t perform at the Fringe for any reason other than to exhibit a hobby. It’s nice to see them indulging in something that they clearly love doing, and doing it with someone else who shares their love of the hobby in question. That’s what Cyn Stephens and Bil Fulton do, each year returning to the Fringe to recite poetry and play songs respectively.
Unfortunately, the poetry and the music was too amateur to be enjoyable. Cyn’s verse was, thankfully, indeed terse, but its inexpert form was all too telling; that of a poet who has highfalutin ideas of competence, but is in essence writing a series of words and expressing them with changing intonation but no apparent rhythm, metrical care or syntactical consciousness. Bil’s guitar-playing was commendable, but somewhat falsely advertised in bizarreness. It was actually pretty straight down the line and, as a result, nothing to get the heart pumping. His voice was of a genre, though I’m not sure which, and its faux-spoken form felt like a tired lunge towards a kind of Johnny Cash-like murmur.
“This is how the old Fringe used to be,” Bil tells us. If nothing else, this is a nostalgic look at the simpler times of the festival, before the commercialisation of it all had bitten. It is as much a validation of the expansive opportunity on offer at the Fringe as it is anything else, and it likely holds a greater appeal for an older demographic. Unfortunately, it cannot quite circumvent the fact that the placidity of the festival of yore no longer holds much appeal. Their music is not interesting enough to warrant a show, and while they seem like entirely pleasant people, they are not the charismatic presences one would expect to demand an hour of attention.
I can only hope that their application to their art not only brings them a lot of joy, but also matures and evolves as time goes on. The show, however, isn’t one to shout about.