The Answer Man is a great way to start your day at the Edinburgh Fringe. It's one of the courses in the Big Bite-Size Plays Breakfast, which showcases new international ten-minute (or so) plays at the Pleasance Dome.
It's unusual to smell coffee as you head into a theatre space. But Big Bite-Size Plays Breakfast includes a cup of coffee or tea, a strawberry and a croissant. There was some worry about whether I would get a croissant, although it didn't seem to be widespread. In fact the rest of the audience seemed to be indifferent to my plight, particulary the croissant-munchers in the row in front of me. The lights dimmed, the first play started and still I was croissant-less.
Showing several short plays means that none outstay their welcome. But the corollary is that plays that you want to keep going end too soon. The Answer Man was one of the latter. William Knowelden stars as the ukulele strumming Answer Man, who appears behind a bar and offers Annie Jackson's depressed Denise the answers to life's big, and not so big questions. Written by Joel Jones it allows Knowleden to appear omniscient and his jovial know-all has to be one of the most-entertaining characters to breakfast with.
Steve Chusak plays a hard-boiled 'tec in trench coat and a trilby in Big Fish, Little Fish, a meta-noir spoof in which everyone worries about their internal monologue. Written again by Joel Jones with obvious relish for film noir language it is an amusing dessert in the breakfast menu. Chusak has a great noir accent and makes the most of the complicated similes, whilst berating the other cast members. No one tells me how to talk to my saxophonist…
Big Bite-Size Plays Breakfast has three menus (each of five or six plays) which are rotating throughout the fringe. I caught Menu 3 which also included Becky Moult attempting to teach English Lit to a class of children and Kelly Younger's Mandate, which looks at the insecurities and issues of the man whose friends are either parents of his children's friends or husbands of his wife's friends.
BBSPB is definitely a recommended way to start your Edinburgh Fringe Day. And do not worry, you won't miss out on a croissant. Mine soon arrived. Much nicer than last year I was told, and it was certainly a whopper.