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The Edinburgh Fringe is the biggest performing arts festival in the world. Last year, an estimated 2,183,591 tickets were sold to some 3,193 different shows, and these numbers are set to increase in 2015. What is perhaps even more special than the festival’s size, though, is that there is exceptional work to be found at every level – from student companies performing in meeting rooms to some of the biggest names performing in 800-seat venues.
Unearthing the hidden gems is no mean feat and first-time festival-goers should know that visiting the Fringe can be pretty overwhelming. The experience of walking the Royal Mile, where hundreds of performers frantically pitch their shows each day, can mean being accosted by dancing, pyjama-wearing youth theatre groups or having costumed performers shout the name of their show at your face. Inevitably, deciding what to actually see can feel impossible. However, we are here to help! Below are SUITCASE Magazine’s top picks for the Fringe this year.
British playwright Molly Davies’ darkly-comic dystopian drama, presented by Eastern Angles and Unity Theatre, imagines a fractured United Kingdom in which the North and South have become separated, while London sits above the ensuing disorder as a sovereign state. When considered from our own political climate, this entertaining play feels particularly relevant (and important). Chicken offers a captivating glimpse into a parallel world of poultry, witchcraft and rural unrest.
WHEN? 7 – 30 August, 17.05 WHERE? Roundabout @ Summerhall HOW MUCH? £16 (£14)
Another rural dystopian thriller can be found at Bedlam Theatre, where fringe debutants Master of None present Dawn King’s Foxfinder, winner of the 2011 Papatango Prize. Set in an England where foxes have been identified as public enemy number one, and the greatest threat to the country’s national security, Foxfinder is a gripping exploration of belief, fear and suspicion within a society unnervingly similar to our own, in which scapegoating has been taken to its extremes. Engaging and through-provoking, this production is not to be missed.
WHEN? 7 – 30 August WHERE? 19.30, Bedlam Theatre HOW MUCH? £10 (£8)
This solo show, written by celebrated playwright Jim Cartwright and performed by his son, James, is all about living for the weekend: we are taken through Friday night as experienced by Shane, a young truck driver, who is trying to escape the monotony of his weekday life. Accompanied by a vibrant soundscape (composed by another family duo, brothers Ben and Max Ringham) this is a piece which will be enjoyed by any of us who’ve tried to break away from the tedium of weekday existence. Delivered by a seminal British playwright and presented by a gifted performer, RAZ is not a tough sell.
WHEN? 6 – 31 August, 16.00 WHERE? Assembly George Square Studio 3 HOW MUCH? £12.50 – £13.50
Aunty Donna is perhaps something of a misnomer for a sketch show by three Australian men (Broden Kelly, Zachary Ruane and Samual Bonnano). Regardless, the trio’s 50 minute show is slick, clever and very, very funny. You might recognise them from their popular YouTube channel – their videos have almost 7 million views between them – and their quick wit and bizarre humour transfers effortlessly into live performance. Not inaccurately describing themselves as “wholly unique and a little bit filthy”, Aunty Donna are perhaps the most exciting comedy act at this year’s Fringe.
WHEN? 7 – 31 August, 22.00 WHERE? Gilded Balloon HOW MUCH? £11 (£10)
Comedy duo Goodbear (Henry Perryment and Joe Barnes) are already an established Fringe presence following their 2014 Free Fringe hit, as well as their work with DugOut Theatre (who are also at the Fringe this year, with the excellent The Sunset Five at the Pleasance Dome). Their offering at The Underbelly is a character-led sketch show, with a running narrative, that poses questions about life, death and the nature of our existence. Their work together is sharp, electric and imaginative – this is a pair to be reckoned with.
WHEN? 5 – 31 August, 10.35 WHERE? The Wee Coo, Underbelly HOW MUCH? £9.50 (£8.50)
Fresh from a run in LA, Big Shot is a vaudevillian re-imagining of The Godfather (both the novel and the films), through dance, music, and sharply choreographed movement. Theatre Movement Bazaar present this wildly entertaining parody of Italian/American gangsterism, filled with some delightful performances, eye-catching design and general good times – Big Shot is sure to leave you smiling.
WHEN? 7 – 30 August, 16:30 WHERE? Bedlam Theatre HOW MUCH? £10 (£8)
Feature image by Darren Brogan
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