Top home-grown shows to catch at the Edinburgh Fringe 2018

In any national arts publication worth its salt you’ll see a list of recommended shows from all around the world that are coming to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. But as local experts, we’d like to shine a light on some of Edinburgh’s finest home-grown artistes (that we get to enjoy all year-round) who are stepping up to present their work to global audiences this summer. Perhaps you’ll join them?

Musical madness

Musicals and musical revues are always popular in Edinburgh, and we start this section with Edinburgh Music Theatre’s double-bill of Mouse Music and Anthems – From West End to Broadway, which will no doubt be of equal (if not better!) quality than their 5* production of Guys and Dolls earlier this year. And speaking of 5* hits, Edinburgh University Savoy Opera Group have thoroughly impressed us with their previous two Fringe shows, will their production of The Drowsy Chaperone make it a hat-trick this year? We have high hopes.

You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown is the debut show from Bare Productions, featuring the talents of several established names on the Edinburgh musical theatre scene, while those who fancy some G&S will enjoy the consistently excellent Cat-Like Tread’s offering, Patience.

Amateur companies up and down the country rejoiced some months ago when the rights to Andrew Lloyd-Webber’s masterpiece Jesus Christ Superstar finally became available. One of the first to jump on the bandwagon were prolific local company Captivate, who as well this, are also producing rock musical RENT with a stellar young cast.

We’re also excited to see new and emerging works from new and emerging companies in our city, including Dogfight by Room 29; Bare by Edinburgh Little Theatre, and the musical we didn’t realise we needed from Malachi Reid & Jonnie Grant: Tenacious D: The Musical of Destiny.

If music be the food of love…

When it comes to music, we’ve been long-time fans of Edinburgh Quartet, and their latest offering The World’s Greatest Chamber Music will undoubtedly be very well received. A must-see for classical music aficionados.

If swing’s more your thing, may we recommend Hollywood Swings, which takes well-known songs from stage and screen and infuses them with big band razzle dazzle. The show will also feature some of our city’s very fine vocalists.

More jazz and blues, you say? You can have your fill at any number of the shows presented by local band Blueswater, who’ll be showcasing some of the hottest talent on the Edinburgh scene.

A Toast to the Lassies

It’s encouraging to see an abundance of fab work from all-female or female-led companies in Edinburgh this year. For starters, there’s Sob Story by Pretty Knickers Productions – an all-female company who aim to empower their audiences through unapologetic new writing – which follows the story of six friends attempting to win Yorkshire’s Got Talent.

Another all-female local company to watch out for are Scene Change Productions, who are sharing their exciting new show A Good Enough Girl? throughout the month. Bonus – it’s a family friendly show for ages 8+.

And last, but not least,  we’re looking forward to Morna Burdon’s follow-up to last year’s triumphant Bonnie Fechters. New work Gie’s Peace is a collection of inspiring stories about women of courage.

On Bard

One of Shakespeare’s finest comedies, Twelfth Night, is being presented by the rascals at Some Kind Of Theatre, who also provide a mobile theatre service – so if you ever want the show brought directly to the comfort of your home or office, you can keep the spirit of the Fringe going all year round!

The Edinburgh Graduate Theatre Group – one of the most prolific on the Edinburgh scene – are producing a post-war inspired Much Ado About Nothing, which will also be heading to Stratford later in the month. It’s got a cracking comedic cast, so pop along for a giggle, bardic style.

Are you ‘avin a laugh?

Speaking of laughs – we don’t tend to dabble in comedy at Edinburgh49, but we wanted to give a shout-out to a couple of local funsters sharing their work this summer. First up is Matt Duwell who is returning with new show Snowflake it ‘til you make it, a politically tinged look at life as a millennial.

Also playing for laughs are Headwound Theatre company, presenting their satirical view on break-ups Plenty of Linguine at Home. Interestingly, this show is the result of advice from a relationship counsellor – make of that what you will…

Everything else

For us, the joy of the Fringe can often be found in the unexpected and hard to classify. For example, for those inclined to find out more about our fair city, you could try Reading the Streets: an Old Town Poetry Tour, with local expert Ken Cockburn; alternatively Love Song to Lavender Menace is an ode to one of Edinburgh’s best loved LGBT bookshops in the 1980s.

Paper Doll Militia are Edinburgh’s foremost circus and acrobatics company, and bring new work Egg to Summerhall, while the consistently impressive young company Blazing Hyena will be sharing their latest show Death is the New Porn. As you might guess from the title, this one’s an 18+ show.

And if you’re into things a little more risqué, though, then perhaps you’ll be piqued by our final recommendation: Edinburgh Little Theatre/LR Stageworks’ production of A Virgin’s Guide to Rocky Horror, which is back once again to charm and disarm those brave enough to enter the time warp…

Have a wonderful festival!


Shows to watch at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival 2017

With less than two weeks to go until the Edinburgh Festival Fringe officially kicks off, we at Edinburgh49 have put our heads together to present our pick of shows we think are well worth a watch this year, including a few that may not have been picked up by the mainstream media – yet! Our list features lots of new work, returning work, personal favourites and ones to watch out for in the future. Enjoy!

Bright Young Things

Over the years we’ve seen some wonderful performances from young companies and performers, and it’s great to see them continuing to develop and produce work. I can’t start this section without first mentioning Stiff and Kitsch’s By All Accounts Two Normal Girls, so named after a comment I made about them in my 4* review of their debut show last year. I really enjoyed that production and have an inkling their second outing will be even better. Similarly, 201 Dance company, who we championed after seeing their blistering 5* Smother two years ago, are back with new work Skin, which looks set to be another powerful piece charting one boy’s journey through gender transition.

My joint-favourite show of the Fringe in 2015 was Luke Wright’s debut verse play What I Learned From Johnny Bevan (which went on to win A LOT of awards), and this very talented young man is bringing both that and his second, Frankie Vah, to this year’s Fringe. We expect these to be very hot tickets so grab them while you can!

Back, for good!

My other joint-favourite show of 2015 was Doris, Dolly, and the Dressing Room Divas, which is also making a very welcome return to the Fringe this year after its previous sell-out success. Another 5* favourite of ours from 2015 was The BookBinder by New Zealand company Trick of the Light and it’s great to see them back again this year with their enchanting family piece The Road That Wasn’t There.

My personal favourite show from 2014 is also returning: Thrill Me is a gripping musical based on the true story of the infamous Leopold and Loeb, and has a fresh new cast for 2017’s Edinburgh run. Its previous stars have since become leading west end names, so this could be a very good chance to have a “we saw them before they were famous” moment.

Local talent

As an Edinburgh-based publication, we know the local arts scene very well, and we’re looking forward to some great home-grown work. We’ve never seen a bad show by Edinburgh University Savoy Opera Group (their 5* production of Spring Awakening in 2016 was really special), and they’re back again this year with the Sondheim classic Company. Disclosure Group, headed up by Robert Lucas, have been bubbling away for a wee while and are finally about to unleash not one but three world premiere musicals this Fringe. Expect catchy tunes and challenging points of view in Porn, Suicide and X.

A special mention also to Edinburgh People’s Theatre, who are celebrating their 60th consecutive Fringe with comedy Wedding Fever, which if their recent production of The Diary of Anne Frank is anything to go by, will be produced to a very high quality.

Just good theatre

Eleanor’s Story is a fascinating staged memoir about an American girl in Hitler’s Germany, and, sticking to the WW2 theme, Chamberlain: Peace in Our Time is an exploration of the man who led us into it. The artists amongst you will no doubt appreciate The Flying Lovers of Vitebsk (directed by Emma Rice), while fans of Ol’ Blue Eyes will be sure to enjoy Sinatra and Me – Again!, featuring the award-winning Richard Shelton.

There’s plenty of Shakespeare on offer (as always) though we think the highlight of these is the glorious return of the award-winning Richard III (A One-Woman Show) from the all-female pairing of director Kolbrún Björt Sigfúsdóttir and actor Emily Carding. Another all-female success story returning to the Fringe this year is Lucy Porter’s The Fair Intellectual Club, which I very much enjoyed in 2012; while Eleanor Bishop and Karin McCracken’s debut verbatim piece, Jane Doe, covering the subject of rape on US college campuses is also one to look out for.

For the little ones

There’s been something of an explosion in popularity in recent years of shows for families, some of which we’ve covered already. However for younger children, we think the best of the bunch include: perennial Fringe favourite The Amazing Bubble Man; a charming interpretation of David Walliams’ The First Hippo on the Moon; a magical, musical adaptation of the classic picture book The Gruffalo’s Child, and the imitable Hairy Maclary.

An international flavour

The Fringe is renowned for bringing artists from around the world to share their work here, and we’re always excited to be entertained and educated by those from far-flung places. Chill Habibi is a laid-back cabaret combining Middle Eastern and Scottish Voices, China Goes Pop! is set to be a visual feast of circus and physical theatre from (you guessed it) China, while Un Pojo Royo looks set to be a dazzling showcase of Argentinian contemporary dance. Oleg Denisov will be providing some alternative Russian comedy with a unique take on Putin’s leadership, while Otto and Astrid’s Eurosmash! looks set to encompass all our favourite things about Berlin in a rather mad hour of pop tunes.

And for something a little bit different…

We love the Fringe as there’s always something mad just around the corner, or voices you can hear that you wouldn’t normally come across. Our selection for those looking for something a little bit different this year includes: Breaking Black by Njambi McGrath, which explores mixed-race identity in post-Brexit Britain; The OS Map Fan Club (what’s not to love about a play about maps?); Guardians of Imperfection, which sees two disabled Dutch comedians discuss the need to be “perfect”; and The Gardener, which explores partner loss combined with the joys of gardening. Alternatively, how about an insight into an Absurdist Belgian Fleamarket or taking part in a 250-hour tabletop role-playing game?

There’s so much to experience at the Fringe, we hope you get to enjoy as much of it as we do!

Four to Paw: The Stand: September ’13

This September Edinburgh49‘s Four to Paw shows at The Stand are:

Red Raw (19:30, 2nd, 9th, 16th 23rd & 30th September, The Stand)

“Our long-running weekly beginner’s showcase is regarded as the best open mic night in the UK. Catch up to ten new acts – some treading the boards for the very first time. This is where everyone starts and it’s your chance to see the stars of tomorrow today. Watch out for older hands dropping in to try out new material too.”

With Matt Rudge and host Scott Gibson.

Whose Lunch is it Anyway (13:30, 8th, 15th, 22nd & 29th September, The Stand)

“Our long-running improvised comedy show will have you in stitches. Marvel as resident duo Stu & Garry weave comedy magic from your suggestions. It’s the perfect way to nurse a hangover and a sure-fire way to kick-start your weekend after the big night out. There’s a special menu too so you’ll be in danger of laughing with your mouth full.”

The Sunday Night Laugh-In (19:30, 22nd September, The Stand)

“Round off the weekend with our comedy cocktail which has the emphasis on the chilled and the laid back. At least five acts on each bill ensure variety and its great value at just a fiver. With Chris Conroy, Gareth Mutch and host Ben Verth.”

Best of Scottish Comedy (20:30, 25th September, The Stand)

“Talk about doing what it says on the tin! Here you go a carload of simply the best comics on the contemporary Scottish circuit. At least four acts on every bill with seasoned headliners joining forces with newer kids on the comedy block each month.”