Andy Linden takes to the stage this year at the 75th Edinburgh Fringe in the role of Baxter, the charismatic and very likeable gambler who takes his hobby very seriously. Studying the racing forms in-depth, he has plenty of insider contacts and observes the details of the horses at the race track by hanging around the stable block.
Linden has been a familiar face on television and in films for many years from John the Watch in Count Arthur Strong to Mundungus Fletcher in Harry Potter.
Written in 2004 by Roy Granville at a time when racing was a different world to the online gambling availability in today’s world. The old-school tipsters like Baxter reminded me of my family and evenings spent as a child at the dog race track. My Grandad and Uncles had been bookmakers and worked for bookmakers which gave me an advantage of understanding the racing language and how phrases like the each-way betting odds work, it certainly took me back a few years.
One of the points Baxter’s character highlights is the all-consuming world that becomes an addicted gambler’s life. Normal relationships suffer, it’s always onto the next big win that is going to change their life. Sadly, this is rarely the reality and as I remember being told growing up “you rarely meet a poor bookmaker”!
I fully appreciate that this performance could be lost on a wider audience who haven’t any experience in gambling or racing and might struggle to comprehend some of the terms Baxter uses. However, Rest assured that the likes of Baxter exist/existed and over the years I have certainly encountered a few.
In my experience, it’s one of those rare Edinburgh fringe theatre productions where you feel like you are the only member of the audience in the room and that Baxter talking to you directly. The Wee Room in the Gilded Balloon is “wee” and adds the intimate space that this performance deserves.
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