Okay, so this is starting to get embarrassing now. I'm heading to yet another theatre on Gray's Inn Road that I knew nothing about. I swear they are popping up just to shame me with their existence.
It's half-past eight on Sunday night, and unsurprisingly the streets around King's Cross are dead. Everyone is at home, crying into their food prep, or whatever it is that normal people do on a Sunday evening.
I'm leaning against a tree, waiting.
My show doesn't start until nine, and it is way too early to go to the venue. With fringe theatre, timing is everything. Walking in with half an hour to spare just ends up confusing everyone. The box office isn't set up. The house isn't open. And the bar staff don't appreciate you taking up a table when there are real customers looking for somewhere to sit.
So you just end up standing around, pretending not to be a theatre nerd with no friends.
Frankly, I'd rather be batch cooking lunches so that come Friday I'll be eating five-day-old leftovers.
Okay, maybe not.
Food prep be gross, people. Let it rot.
Like your broccoli.
Unfortunatey, there comes a point when even tree-leaning gets a bit weird, and passersby begin to look concerned that there's a person standing on the pavement, by herself, on a Sunday evening, by herself.
At a quarter to, I give up. And walk the last few minutes to the venue.
The Water Rats.
A name which takes me right back to my childhood in the countryside. Of lazy days drifting down the river, drives around terrifyingly narrow roads, and having to steal Toad Hall back from the weasels and... wait, that's Wind in the Willows.
Anyway, it looks nice enough. Bright and busy.
There's a security person on the door and he stops me as I try to pass.
"Excuse me," he says. "Are you here for the gig?"
"Um, Camden Fringe?" I say. That seems to be the magic password at these places.
It works. "Can I check your bag please?"
He rummages around in there, giving it a more thorough go-over than it gets at most West End theatres.
Glad to know nothing is going to happen to me at this well-lit pub theatre on a Sunday evening...
Inside, one of the bar staffers spots me. I must have a particularly lost looking expression on my face because she comes over to say hello.
"Camden Fringe?" I try.
"Yes, yes, yes," she says, my presence now perfectly explained. "I think they're just having an interval at the moment. It's at the back there."
She points over to a pair of glass doors. There's one of those "On Air" light-up signs over it. The sort you get at radio stations. I mean, I presume you do. I've never been to a radio station.
I squeeze through the tables and make my way over.
It looks like the previous show is still getting out.
People are running around throwing sparkly costumes into suitcases. There are sequins everywhere.
I tuck myself up against a table and wait. But while the suitcases and their owners have managed to shuffle out of the theatre, they don't appear to want to go anywhere.
They position themselves in the small slither of space between the steps leading up to those big glass doors, and the tables in the bar. Ther exact slither of space that I'm standing in.
They pace back and forth, knocking me with their luggage every time they pass. One of them even doubles down on her bag action, digging it right into me without a backward glance as if trying to knock away this weird immovable object that's standing behind her. But here's the thing, despite all the social anxiety, the introversion, the shyness, I'm a stubborn old bitch and I refuse to get out of the way.
The performer, wearing a spectacular black sequin jacket, buzzes from group to group, taking selfies with everyone. They step back, digging their elbows into my ribs and stepping on my toes as they all try to arrange themselves in the frame.
I don't know what their show was, but I think it's clear that everyone involved has the self-awareness of a narcissistic gnat on Zoloft.
It's then I realise that the guy doing security, he isn't there to protect me from any knife-carrying fascists with a grudge. Oh no. He's there to stop me from launching myself at suitcase-wielding thespians with spangles for brains. Because if this lot bash into me one more time, a bitch is going to get slapped.
I do my best to wriggle out of the way so I'm not a background character in their group-shots, and am immediately distracted by something much more interesting happening behind the bar.
They're blowing bubbles.
Hundreds of them. Floating gently down onto the beer taps.
The wholesomeness of it all calms me right down.
I don't even mind that it's now past nine o'clock and the house hasn't even opened for the next show. They've drawn a black curtain between the doors and the space. So they must be setting up or something behind there.
I stifle a yawn.
This may not be the latest start time on my marathon, but that doesn't make it any easier. I may have survived a Midnight Matinee and a 10pm strip-show, but after so many hour-long fringe shows, I've got used to being home and in my pyjamas by this time. If they don't open the house soon, I'm going to be curling up under the nearest table for a snooze.
Without the black curtain still very much in situ, by some sixth sense, people have somehow worked out that the house is now open.
They line up, flashing their tickets to the man standing guard by the doors.
He has a table next to him, complete with money box and flyers. No list though.
We're going to have to bring out the email confirmation then, because surnames aren't going to work.
"I booked online?" I tell him, turning around my phone so that he can see the confirmation. "Sorry, there's rather a lot." As my experience at the Moors Bar showed me, apparently it's not normal to have ten shows listed in a single confirmation email. And here I was thinking people went full out at the fringe. Just me it seems.
I zoom in to the right line, somewhere near the bottom.
"Okay. Just the one?"
Yeah, like I could convince someone to see a fringe show with me at 9pm on a Sunday evening. They're all busy filling Tupperware.
He hands me a business card for the company (It's Fespian Init - cute name). Looks like this is how we're doing tickets tonight.
That done, it's time to go in.
I've seen my fair share of pub theatres this year, and this one definitely has the look.
Dark. Wooden floor. Mismatched seating. Unexplained disco-ball hanging from the ceiling.
But there's also a bar in here. And while there are a few cabaret tables, they've been set at the back, instead of near the stage. So they are positioned with easy access to the bar, which makes much more sense.
Taking up the main space are rows of chairs. The first two of which have long benches set in front of them. Not to be sat on, of course. That's where you put your drinks.
The stage is raised and “The Water Rats” (with an adorable silhouette of one of those water rats) is painted above it.
I'm not drinking tonight, and have no need of a bench to rest my glass on, so I go for my classic seat choice - third row, on the end.
I hope we start soon. And not just because I have a duvet to get home to. The cast are already on stage. In a freeze-frame that does not look very fun having to hold up there.
It takes a few minutes, but eventually, the seats fill and we're ready to begin.
Six short plays stuffed into one evening, under the banner of Our Walk Through the World.
We start with a woman with dungarees and very long hair, speaking to a camera on a tripod, trying to convince the viewer that she would make an excellent surrogate, despite her life falling apart all around her. Then we have an office that appears to be run on jelly beans.
Do I need to add here that there are no freesheets? I have no idea who any of these actors are. And no clue who wrote the plays. They're fun though. Short. Just the right length for my current attention span, and surreal enough to keep me awake.
Next up, a football manager trying hard not to think about his daughter giving birth in hospital while at a press conference. Then parents who have to choose between their son and their dream home, with an assault rifle blaring out over the sound system, in what has to be the least well thought out sound effect to pump out in a theatre in 2019.
With the sounds of gunfire replaced by Air's Sexy Boy we reach the last play. A man trying very hard to explain that he definitely didn't fuck a panda.
That one was weird.
The panda was sitting on stage eating an apple.
What kind of panda eats an apple?
The applause fades, the lights in the bar go on, and everyone staggers to their feet to get a drink.
As ever with fringe shows, no one wants to feckin' leave.
I have to practically climb over the person sitting at the end of my row to get out.
I get that runs are short, and celebrations need to happen with those people who love you enough to turn up, but come on. A time and a place, people. There's a cat waiting in Hammersmith who's going to get seriously pissy if she doesn't get her dinner before midnight.