This year marks the 70th anniversary of globally renowned arts and culture celebration Edinburgh Fringe Festival. With 62 countries represented within over 3000 shows spread across 300 venues planning what to see when can be a daunting task. Here we present a cross section of performance styles highlighting some key acts which you should be circling in your programme.
You can download or request a programme here
Edinburgh Fringe has a reputation for making or breaking Comedians; the list of stand-ups who cut their teeth here includes Steve Coogan, Rowan Atkinson and Billy Connolly. This year doesn’t disappoint delivering a mix of Comedians new to the circuit and seasoned professionals.
You can catch Clive Anderson hosting a live version of ‘Whose Line Is It Anyway?’ at The Assembly Rooms. Clive will be joined by a rotating lineup of Improv famous faces Phil Jupitus, Mike McShane, Josie Lawrence, Greg Proops and Colin Mochrie with others TBA. Time Out gave the show a five star review calling it ‘joyfully funny’.
Multi award winning Comedian Sara Pascoe brings her one woman stag do ‘Lads Lads Lads’ to Pleasance Courtyard. The show explores Sara’s lonely year of city breaks, football matches, spiritual retreats and life drawing classes. The Guardian says ‘Pascoe’s lively mind teases out big questions with intelligence, silliness and self-deprecation’ and Evening Standard calls the show ‘hilarious confessions of a forensic mind.’
Dave Johns was plucked from relative obscurity in 2016 when he took the title role in Ken Loach’s Palme D’Or winning I, Daniel Blake. The Comedian’s Fringe offering ‘I, Fillum Star’ explores how surreal his recent stint in a social realism masterpiece was. You can see Dave’s show at Pleasance Dome.
Richard Gadd will be revisiting his 2016 triumph ‘Monkey See Monkey Do’ at Summerhall whilst Laughing Horse at The Newsroom will play host to Sajeela Kershi and friends’ ‘Nasty Women on The Fringe’ – a feminist collective of women from across performance disciplines.
Father of the Zombie film, George A Romero left a phenomenal horror cinema legacy when he passed away in July. Modern Robot celebrate the beginning of the ‘living dead’ cannon, 1968’s Night of The Living Dead by scoring the classic live. Combining the film with modern instrumentation reinforces its relevance in a contemporary context. Alive: Music for Night of The Living Dead will be performed at Zoo.
Charlotte Church’s Late Night Pop Dungeon does what it says on the tin. Angelic child singer turned popstar turned political activist pop royalty Charlotte Church and her ten piece band play a variety of pop cheese. Expect to hear a range of covers transcending genres; David Bowie, R&B, Disco, Funk and Pure Pop. See Charlotte’s show at Summerhall.
Toronto gypsy-punk supergroup Lemon Bucket Orkestra began life as a busking band in 2010. Increasing in membership and profile over the years they’ve been nominated for several awards and tour the world. The group made headlines in 2012 when they entertained passengers on a delayed Air Canada flight with an impromptu set. Catch Lemon Bucket Orkestra & Ben Caplan at Summerhall.
South Australian duo Ben Roberts and Julian Ferguson are Ukulele aficionados; their unique playing blends flamenco, Mexican and folk styles. Explaining their mission, Ben says “I wanted to do something completely different with the ukulele, evolve it from the stereotype – pull its name from the mud.” Let Ukulele Death Squad blow your mind at Leith Depot.
With a mission to preserve and promote the longstanding tradition of Maori showbands, Modern Maori Quartet bring their suave act to Assembly George Square Studios. The band share New Zealand stories, Maori traditions and humour through epic harmonies – a classy celebration of Kiwi music.
Chen-Wei Lee and Zoltan Vakulya are a Taiwanese duet exploring the dynamics of relationships through dance. Lee says “We tasked ourselves to never let go of each other. That creates huge limitations. It’s just the two of us, but what we experience parallels society: how we deal with people, how we use each other, how we collaborate.” You can see their performance ‘Together Alone‘ at Dance Base.
Presented in association with The Army and performed in a real Army Reserve Centre, 5 Soldiers paints a portrait of modern life as told by five men and women serving on the front line. The production has received five stars from The Observer, The Scotsman and The Herald. The Guardian wrote “lust, shock and awe… 5 Soldiers is a disturbing, illuminating and necessary glimpse into a world we mostly prefer to ignore.”
Aboriginal dance troupe Djuki Mala will be making their UK debut at Assembly George Square Theatre. Comedy and clowning are key components of the group’s performances in which Yolngu and contemporary pop culture are both explored. Djuki Mala won the Best Dance award at Adelaide and Perth Fringe as well as the West Australian Arts Editors Award.
The brainchild of Australian performance artist David Naylor, Guru Dudu is a comedic character running happy yoga and silent discos. If you attend Guru Dudu’s Silent Disco Walking Tour you’ll be encouraged to interpretive dance around local landmarks, sing with the group and interact with unsuspecting onlookers. You’ll be supplied with headphones through which you can hear a selection of uplifting favourites from the 70s, 80s, 90s and 00s all the while listening to the Guru’s hilarious commentary.
Playing on a variety of genres from Burlesque to Pantomime Le Festin de Saturne present their comic and politically incorrect show War Pig. War breaks out and young private Juan finds himself stranded with Captain Fidel Castra distant from the front line. The enemy approaches but they’ve been given no orders. Find out what happens next at Zoo.
Graeae Theatre Company and Royal Exchange Theatre present a production about class, absence and friendship which is equal parts funny and touching. Award-winning writer and comedian Jackie Hagan has set the play in the often overlooked town of Skelmersdale where central characters Shaun and Dent have been best friends since childhood. Dent deserted the town a decade ago full of dreams but has made her return. Will she be convinced to stay by Shaun? Times calls Cosmic Scallies ‘startlingly good’.
Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s one woman show about a young woman fumbling through life proved such a hit at the 2013 Fringe that it was commissioned by the BBC for a series. As the title would suggest, Fleabag‘s character is a flawed one but reassuringly complex, the play oscillating comfortably between comedy and tragedy. Metro calls it ‘funny, flirty and awfully filthy’ ***** and the Scotsman says ‘sucker punch funny. I’ve never seen a play like it’ *****
Under the renowned creative eye of Les Petits Theatre Company, David Walliams’ The First Hippo on the Moon has been adapted for the stage. The show is a musical and puppetry extravaganza ideal for children three and up. Two big hippos are on a giant space race. Who will win? Find out at Pleasance Courtyard.
“I have been advising clients on the issues surrounding Brexit for the last two years and writing songs for most of my life. It seemed obvious to put the two things together to pen a musical about Brexit.” Explains Lawyer and Director Chris Bryant. Brexit The Musical concerns a familiar cast of characters: Michael Gove, Boris Johnson, David Cameron, Jeremy Corbyn and Prime Minister Theresa May whose show-stopping number is entitled ‘Brexit Means Brexit’. The plan for Brexit has been misplaced and its down to hero of the piece Boris to find it, of course accompanied by Govey (the Robin to his Batman).
In his one man show 1917: A Phantasmagoria Michael Daviot describes the many developments of the year 1917 and what life was like in Britain during that year. There are both fascinating parallels and juxtapositions between 1917 and 2017. Feminism, war , art, revolution, pop music, crime fiction, racial violence, crazy poets, independence, scientific wonders, protests – a hundred years ago or yesterday? Michael has previously bought his show Nosferatu’s Shadow to the fringe receiving rave reviews.
The Future of Desire sees Psychologist Neil Frude discuss the history and possible future of the way in which human desire is shaped by the world around us. Developments in the advertising and technology industries have been used to both promote and police desire throughout history. Neil uses both comedy and science to look into what we should expect in the future.
The fascinating edge-of-your-seat Netflix series Making A Murderer captivated the nation and one of its most compelling speakers was Defense Attorney Jerry Buting. New Town Theatre will host Making A Murderer: A Conversation With Defense Attorney Jerry Buting, a moderated dicsussion about the implications of the Steven Avery case and the criminal justice system more broadly.
Fringe regular Hannah Chutzpah covers modern life survival and pop-psychology in her own unique warm and funny style with her poetry show Anxiety and Animal GIFs. She’ll be performing at Black Market.
Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy and multi-instrumentalist John Sampson begin with a moving tribute to fallen WWI soldiers before covering a variety of modern themes, always with wit and engaging lightness of touch. They’ll be performing at The Strand Comedy Club.
The Epic Beard Men AKA Sage Francis and B Dolan Present Tricknology, an hour long expose of spoken word trickery from battle rappers to faith healers via self-help gurus and improv comics. Their mantra is “think it, see it, feel it, smell it, stop it!”