Edinburgh

 

Once again the mayhem returns to the Scottish capital with the world’s biggest arts event hosting 20,000 performers, over 3,000 shows and the thousands of tourists who make a cultural pilgrimage to Edinburgh’s Fringe Festival. From full blown all-singing, all-dancing extravaganzas to more obscure, highbrow productions, the sheer amount of choice can be intimidating, even for a Fringe veteran. There are now so many performances that you can be entertained in every nook and cranny of the city – from a hairdresser to a broken-down car, the innovation is endless. To save yourself from panicked choice paralysis we’ve enlisted the help of stand-up comedian (or as he is better known ‘that funny blind guy’) Jamie MacDonald to pick out the ones to watch in 2016.

Judging from the critics’ outstanding response to their performances last year, heart-wrenching Tell Me Anything by the young company On the Run and Kieran Hurley’s bold Heads Up are both tipped to be festival highlights. Home-grown talent shines in award-winning Jenna Watt’s inspiring production Faslane, which gives a personal touch to the political discussion on nuclear warfare. What happens when you inject a dolphin with LSD? Graduate-group Breach explore the bizarre NASA funded research project into human-animal communication and Tank is a daringly smart piece which promises to leave you curious.

But in these turbulent times we all need a dose of humour: “Humour is disarming and people are more willing to open their minds when they’re laughing” says Jordan Raskopolous, member of one of the fringe favourites, The Axis of Awesome. This year, the comedy crew has a distinctly feminine feel to it. We’re looking forward to Alison Thea-Skot starring in her new show It’s Thea-Skot in Here (So Take Off All Your Clothes), Emily Lloyd Saini with Is this Part of the Show? and Naomi Peterson in the thought-provoking I am Telling You I’m Not Going – Fringe debuts for Emily and Naomi, you’ll find us in the front row.

After his sell-out success as That Funny Blind Guy, Jamie MacDonald is back with his new show High Vis. Despite (or perhaps due to) being blind, the rest of his senses are heightened, giving him fresh and hilarious perspective on everyday issues. He tells SUITCASE: “I’m a modern man who finds his disability opens more doors than it closes.”

If anyone knows their funny stuff, it’s Jamie. Here are his top picks…

“Mervyn Stutter’s Pick of the Fringe is a like a tasting menu of the festival. 25 years ago he recognised that it was impossible for festival goers to navigate their way through the vast programme. Inspired, he devised the Pick of the Fringe, which sees a load of industry producers sent to every corner of the festival to pick out the best shows. Each day, eight of these acts are invited to perform a short section of their show, resulting in absolutely incredible variety. When I was invited to do my act, I ended up performing between  time between a Nigerian soul choir and a Mexican burlesque dancer: it’s a fantastic way to window shop for a show.”

“Next up is Austentatious. Having racked up numerous awards, it’s hardly a hidden gem but it is definitely worthy of it’s praise and well worth booking. This all-star cast improvise from an audience member’s suggestion that plays on a Jane Austen title so that no two shows are the same. Past hits include Sixth Sense and Sensibility & Strictly Come Darcy – period costume and music included. Just make sure you come along with enough wit to match their intimidatingly clever hilarious period shenanigans.”

Finally, be sure to pick up a Forest Fringe programme, the game-changing guide to the ‘pay what you feel’ performances, the majority of which you can count on being equally provocative performances. While planing is certainly advised, don’t tie yourself down too much. This is a hive of creativity and half the fun is being spontaneous and seeing something on a whim. Much of the festival is about word of mouth, so talk to as many people as possible to seek out the best of the bunch. Or, in-keeping with the millennial vibe, just scroll down your Twitter feed for #pickofthefringe.

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Best UK Festivals Summer 2016

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