The Sliding Scale of Cynicism - Mercat & Cruz

Performer reviews of their venues/shows/experience in 2009

The Sliding Scale of Cynicism - Mercat & Cruz

Postby Jane Walker » 12 Oct 2009, 10:52


The Mercat – 22.15 (full run)
Cruz – 14.00 (16 – 23 Aug)

[b]The Mercat shows[/b]
Having had this time slot at this venue last year (as part of a multi-act showcase) we (thought we) pretty much knew what to expect here. That said, comparatively our numbers this year weren’t as good, but there were fewer of us to flyer and bring along mates this year (three of us plus guests compared to 8 acts per show last year), and we kind of think that the two things aren’t unconnected!

We had an audience for every show so didn’t have to pull any gigs here – numbers varied across the run, some nights it was half a dozen or so, some nights we had to get extra seats in. Bucket takes varied – although not necessarily inline with audience numbers – we only had one night of nil cash and some nights where folk put in tenners.

We had one night with a particularly ‘vocal’ audience (mostly because they’d been to the footie beforehand) but mostly the audiences were lovely. We had several audience members who seemed to be working their way through the Free Fringe brochure – and many who were very clued up about the Free Fringe and very much behind the whole idea.
In terms of feedback several people said that what they were seeing on the Free Fringe was at least as good as shows that they were paying for.

We have to confess that the set up of the room adopted this year wasn’t the one we’d have chosen (and wasn’t the one we’d had last year or used at previous gigs at this venue outside the Fringe), but it worked better than we’d expected – although on small audience nights when three folk sat on one side of the room and the rest sat as far away from them as possible, it was sometimes a bit tricky, but not impossible, to deal with.
As always, the staff at the venue were great – welcoming, helpful and accommodating (huge thanks are due to Graham, Chris and their team for making the experience such a pleasant one).

Overall verdict on The Mercat – friendly staff, nice venue, great room for comedy just wish it was a tad more central as this might have helped with numbers.

[b]The Cruz shows[/b]

While we didn’t encounter many of the problems that other acts did at this venue, it didn’t compare well on many levels to the Mercat (or, indeed, other Free Fringe venues we guested at).

Having gigged at Cruz during the Leith Festival we’d anticipated proper seats (set in rows), plus a sound desk (we’d assumed that these had all been supplied by Cruz during the Leith Festival), so were a bit surprised to find cabaret seating and a more basic sound set up (better than some but not as good as the one used at Leith Festival).

Numbers were low – despite flyering, Facebooking etc – we had to pull two shows and performed the show to just one guy on one afternoon! The people we did get in were, by and large, great and very supportive and up for it, but think both sides would have liked them to be part of a bigger crowd!

In terms of the venue, we had to rearrange the room at least twice after it had been used for functions the night before and often we had to wait for music to be turned off so we could start the show. We also had DJs etc for evening functions walking in and out during our show on one occasion as they were getting their stuff in for a party that night.

We understand that the managers / owners were disappointed with the numbers we were getting (as were we) but they weren’t particularly helpful or welcoming.

Suspect Leith is just too far out for the Fringe as there aren’t any other venues in the area and most folk we encountered when we flyered there weren’t interested.

Conclusion – it was worth a shot, but just didn’t work for us.


The Free Fringe was a great opportunity for us and one we’re hugely grateful for. We’re proud to have been part of it and wish to thank Peter for making it all possible.

It was great to realise how many punters were buying into the whole idea – or got into the idea and explored the rest of the programme once they discovered it.

Would we do it again? Hell yes.

Would we do things differently? Some things, yes, but you live and learn, overall though no disasters.

Would we recommend it to others? Certainly.
Jane Walker
Posts: 11
Joined: February 2009
Location: Edinburgh

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