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Festival Diary: The Fringe performer who went from screen star to slam poet

Jenny Foulds is performing at the Banshee Labyrinth. (Photo: Supplied)
Jenny Foulds is performing at the Banshee Labyrinth. (Photo: Supplied)

Audiences at Edinburgh-born actress and performer Jenny Foulds could be forgiven for thinking she is familiar.

It’s 20 years since she played Heather McGowan in Two Thousand Acres of Sky, the BBC One drama set on a fictional Scottish island, alongside Elaine C Smith, Andy Gray, Michelle Collins and Paul Kaye.

Other screen roles have included appearing in The Debt Collector with Billy Connolly, in Man Dancin’ with James Cosmo, New Town Killers with Dougray Scott and My Life So Far with Colin Firth.

Jenny Foulds is performing at the Banshee Labyrinth. (Photo: Supplied)
Jenny Foulds is performing at the Banshee Labyrinth. (Photo: Supplied)

As well as acting experience, Foulds is also drawing on more recent achievements as a performance poet for her Fringe show. She was crowned Scottish Poetry Slam Champion two years ago and was a runner-up in the World Slam Championships last year.

Her Banshee Labyrinth show, Life Learnings of a Nonsensical Human, which is inspired by growing up in the 1990s, coming out and raves, is described as “an ode to joy and complexities of friendship, queerness and raving.”

She says: “It’s an autobiographical adventure through my brain. I once had a dream that I invented a machine that could find the joy in anything and the stories I tell all have an element of that through them.

"I started writing it long before my dad died last year, so the trajectory of it changed somewhat, but even through grief, in the darkest moments so far, I managed to find joy in the most unlikely places.”

Comedian Darran Griffiths. (Photo: Supplied)
Comedian Darran Griffiths. (Photo: Supplied)

The Banshee Labyrinth is not unique in claiming to be Edinburgh’s most haunted pub.

But it is a fitting setting for Necromancer, a new show from “occult illusionist” David Alnwick inspired by 1990s horror board games.

Although perhaps more suited to a later slot, after darkness has fallen on Niddry Street, Alnwick conjures up more than a few mid-afternoon chills, mainly through his mind-reading skills.

But the most nerve-shredding moment for the sold-out audience came with his take on childhood party staple Pass The Parcel, renamed as Pass Dead Parts.

Also performing before a (substantially bigger) full house at the New Town Theatre, was Paul Sinha.

His show is dripping with scandal, gossip, dirt-dishing and score-settling, perhaps a reflection of the fact that he has admitted he does not know how long he will be able to keep performing due to the growing impact of Parkinson's disease.

Sinha's edgy show may come as something of a surprise for those who have bought a ticket thanks to his appearances on the hit daytime TV quiz show The Chase, although he seemed unsure whether they were in the minority.

Opening his show, Sinha said: “Congratulations to all those of you in full-time employment who have no idea who I am."

Darran Griffiths is making a big impact on audiences with a deeply personal show exploring his experiences of infertility and IVF treatment.

At least three audience members have fainted while Griffiths has been explaining one of the procedures he endured.

He says: ‘It never occurred to me that my material would have this effect, as I'm simply retelling a story that happened to me. I'd rather they stay conscious so the show flows, but it's happened often enough that I now humorously manage the fainter, their family, the audience and staff from the stage."