Warning: You will be humiliated

By Angie Brown
BBC Scotland, Edinburgh and East reporter

Image caption, Audience members are brought on stage during the Wau Wau Sisters' Last Supper

"You're dead, if you knew they picked people from the audience," my boyfriend whispered as he left the stage still dressed as a cowgirl in full blonde wig and a red tutu.

He had tried to resist being hauled on to the stage at the Edinburgh Fringe show by shouting "No" at the top of his voice and digging in his heels as he was hauled by the arm.

But the Wau Wau Sisters, whose act includes feats of strength, managed to pull him to his feet.

Before he knew it he was standing in front of a crowded room.

It is often said that only exhibitionists sit in the front row at a Fringe show.

So we had taken seats near the back.

But despite James holding his breath and not giving eye contact, as the Wau Wau Sisters skipped around the side of the audience to the back of the room, he was one of the chosen ones.

On stage he was standing next to another unsuspecting audience member who had also been plucked from the middle of the crowd to receive some unknown fate.

They were dressed in small denim jackets, wigs, hats, frilly knickers and skirts before being asked how they felt.

There was an awkward moment as the audience willed them to think up a funny reply, before they were made to dance while pretending to be enjoying themselves.

After being on stage for almost 10 minutes, a sixth of the £13.50 show, they were allowed to scurry back to the safety of their seats.

James sat boiling hot for the remainder of the show as he was told to keep the outfit on because he was going to be called back on stage at the end.

Stripped naked

He sat nervously anticipating the end of the show where he was whisked up once more, along with me and several other people in the audience, to sit at a table.

I was given bubbles to blow and a glass of wine before the Wau Wau Sisters stripped naked and poured wine over themselves.

They ran amok on the stage covered in wine and then they were off.

James was worried about driving home covered in wine and I was left embarrassed at how the rest of the audience would have been feeling having paid to watch me blow bubbles and drink wine.

Audience participation has long been an element in Fringe performances but some people feel audiences need to be warned about the more extreme participation.

Alison Leslie, co-owner of online guide Edinburgh Spotlight, said: "Some performers such as Adam Hills and Jason Byrne use audience participation but they don't embarrass or humiliate people but I would be mortified if I was dragged up on stage and covered in gunk.

"One of our members was hauled up on stage as he said he felt that he would look more stupid to the audience if he didn't go up.

"There should be a disclaimer on the ticket if there is going to be audience participation."

There only appears to be one performer at the Fringe who carries such a disclaimer.

S1LNC3: Mind Reader, who did want to reveal his real name, said: "I've heard that people have been horrified by the Wau Wau Sisters' show this year as they found it pointless.

"I was speaking to a group of performers in their early 20s who said they were shocked by how unrestricted the Wau Wau Sisters were about people's emotions.

"I have a warning on my show because I don't want the audience to come unprepared and go on stage when they have paid for a ticket and don't want to."

Some festival-goers think the threat of audience humiliation ruins the show, even if they are not picked.

Ken Brown, who went to see another act, Meow Meow, at Assembly, told the BBC Scotland news website said: "I feel it ruined the enjoyment of watching the show because I was worried I was going to be dragged on stage for them to make a fool of me.

"At least eight people were taken on stage during the show and made to dance and as an audience member I didn't want to see them cringing and trying to dance as I had paid to see a performer.

"It wasn't funny, it was just boring. If there is audience participation it should be flagged up before you buy the ticket so that all the exhibitionists can go.

"Fringe performers need to sharpen their pencil as they seem to think that anything goes.

"There maybe needs to be a Fringe on the Fringe, where people can go and watch each other."