Like all the plans I have made for a less frantic, more sustainable Festival and Fringe for the past 30 years, this excellent notion came to naught and I was not across the threshold of the institute until last Thursday, when the first person I met was locally famous American in Paris Jim Haynes, enthusing wildly about the show he'd just come out of.
It was called Adam Smith, Le Grand Tour, and it proved as good as one of the founders of the Traverse should be trusted to know. Written and performed by a doctor of economics from Bordeaux University, Vanessa Oltra, it combined film shot on the streets of Edinburgh and at Glasgow University featuring herself and co-performer Frederic Kneip, with her attempt to wrest the Scot's reputation out of the hands of the political right. It was probably the best show about Scotland on the Fringe, and if it doesn't come back and ideally tour the nation, it will be a tragedy.
A former dramaturg at the Traverse, Kathleen Mendelsohn, was responsible for the translation of the next show on the institute's Fringe menu, Mariette Navarro's How To Be A Modern Marvel, a funny but cynical look at consumerism and sexism that was a little Mad Men, a little QVC and little Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir. Already a hit in France, as Prodiges, the all-female three-hander was a thought-provoking distant cousin of Yasmin Reza's Art, and the ensemble was shortlisted for a Stage award.
For dessert the venue had the luminous presence of Nathalie Joly, who had been in Edinburgh last year as part of Ariane Mnouchkine's company for Les Naufrages du Fol Espoir, but was here accompanied only by pianist Jean-Pierre Gesbert for her exploration of the talent of cabaret singer Yvette Guilbert. Joly revives many lost songs of this proto-feminist whose journey from the Moulin Rouge to Manhattan she depicts in two linked shows, only the second of which I managed to see. Her visit to Edinburgh was not celebrated enough, not least by me.
It seems a long way away, but I have a plan for August of next year …