If there was a method to bottle a milliliter of energy in Edinburgh, one would be able to travel back home and supply its native city with a supply of natural sustenance. The vibe permeating throughout the cobblestone roads can be felt greatly. Especially the Royal Mile, it is the historic corridor that serves as Edinburgh’s epicenter and street performance incubator. This being the 70th season of the internationally renowned Fringe Festival, throngs of buskers and spectators proliferate. For a brief respite from the hub, take a moment in one of plentiful cafes for an inviting cup of cappuccino.
I called upon a good friend of mine, Patrick Mulryan, so that we could meet over cappuccino in the midst of festival chatter. Fulfilling an extended stay in Edinburgh, he suggested meeting at a cafe in Grassmarket Square. From the selections that populated Google Maps, I decided on Cafe Jacques, an appropriately Parisian choice just downhill from the Royal Mile. We met to discuss his latest endeavor, catch up on show talk and gauge how his experiences in Edinburgh are holding up. His latest theatrical project is the Fringe Festival offering, Goblin Market.
The play is a theatrical adaptation by Mark Cabus and Jennifer Jewell. The source material is from a haunting 1862 poem by Christina Rossetti and reinterpreted as a Southern Gothic fable set in 1940’s Appalachia.
The narrative features two sisters, Laura and Lizzie, and their frightening encounter with goblin fruit merchants. Hearing the calls from the market, Laura becomes curious and goes out to see what is being sold. Lizzie refuses and warns her sister not to be swayed–the manipulative goblins exist as disingenuous creatures. But the lure and sight of the fruit are too irresistible for Laura to refuse. She offers a golden lock of her hair in exchange for the juicy fruit. After giving in to her desires and eating all the the fruit she was offered, she craves for more. The goblins refuse. Gradually, Laura’s energy is sapped and her physical appearance becomes weathered, with her golden hair turning gray. A dark tale about temptation, the play is presented as a solo performance by co-adapter and storyteller Jennifer Jewell.
Patrick’s present involvement with the show is as the director. With Goblin Market, this production has paved a new artistic trajectory. He originated as the voice and text coach from an earlier iteration, then evolved into picking up the directorial duties from Mark Cabus’s original direction. Becoming the director would seem to be an unfamiliar and challenging role reversal, but a task he is willing to invest in.
As an actor based in New York, Patrick can most likely be seen on notable stages throughout the city. Recently, he appeared as Jack in Fiasco Theatre’s cleverly resourceful revival of Into the Woods. After a sold-out run off-Broadway, the show transferred to London for an acclaimed engagement at the Menier Chocolate Factory, then returned to the US for a successful national tour.
Traveling to Edinburgh with the company of Goblin Market sounded like a good deal for a cultural holiday. But for Patrick, it meant some initially long days crafting and shaping the production for its Fringe premiere. Once the show became frozen post-opening, some downtime can be allowed to take in other shows of his peers. His favorite highlights, so far, included seeing PJ Harvey perform selections of her album The Hope Six Demolition Project in concert; Baxter Theatre’s Mies Julie, a South African post-apartheid adaptation of Strindberg’s Miss Julie; and Blak Whyte Gray, which showcased the hip-hop dance performances of Boy Blue Entertainment from East London. Another anticipated event he was able to experience explored meditative themes by the incomparable dance company Nederlans Dans Theater.
The Fringe season of Goblin Market continues through August 26. The show previously returned to its regional origins in Nashville, after an earlier inception last year. It then toured to New York for a prime slot in the East to Edinburgh preview festival at 59E59 Theaters. Looking ahead, the company is hoping to bring Goblin for a run in London.