Edinburgh Festival Fringe has something for everyone but with so much to choose from, how can you narrow it down? Here are a few highlights in several categories to help you choose… Part 1 of our festival guide here.
Want something that doesn’t rely on speaking English or on language at all? These shows make all their humour accessable without needing words. Far from quiet, they will still have you laughing and amazed with their skills.
Mr Bean meets The Shining. It’s Jim and Barb’s Golden Anniversary, 50 years of marriage, can you imagine how much simmering resentment is about to boil over? They’re just about ready to kill each other. Quite literally… Don’t be fooled — this is no ordinary elderly couple. In a wonderous display of physical comedy, the absurd is heighted and without dialogue. A blend of top-notch clown and physical comedy performance with the brains of a super sharp wit… and knives.
The Anniversary Pleasance Dome (King Dome),12pm, 3 – 28 August (not 10, 17 or 24) www.pleasance.co.uk
Joyous, silly and extraordinarily talented, without spoken words, Fills Monkey cross language barriers, combining the power of rhythm with the visuals of cartoon-like play. They blend joy and comedy with extraordinary musicianship on a whistle stop tour of humour, mime and instrumental gymnastics. From drumkits, via handpans, syths and samplers, kalimbas and theramins to instruments you can’t even name (plus a few power tools) these aural jugglers take us from the heights of a concert light show to quiet mystical moments, finding games as they play with sound all building to a percussive crescendo.
Fills Monkey: We Will Drum You Pleasance Courtyard (Grand), 4:00pm, 3 – 29 August (not 16 or 23) www.pleasance.co.uk
See the stars of tomorrow today! These comedians are bringing their first full length shows to fringe. Soon you might not be able to get tickets to see them for love nor money so check them out now and be able to say you saw them before they were famous.
Fun and chaotic shenanigans, teamed with incredible* (*very clearly hand-made) costumes, what are you waiting for? Come and join the Good Times with carnage-wielding, mayhem-manifesting, human disco ball, Katie Pritchard. She may only be 5 feet tall, but she’s not going to be small for anyone anymore. No longer ashamed or afraid to be called weird, because it’s actually quite the compliment thank you very much. Katie has written all the songs and recorded the backing tracks. You may have seen her on Harry Hill’s Clubnite for Channel 4 and in Nick Helm’s YouTube sitcom Angry Quiz Guy. All shows will be audio described
Katie Pritchard: Disco Ball Pleasance Courtyard (The Cellar), 6.05pm, 3- 28 August (not 15) www.pleasance.co.uk
When he was thirteen, he tried to be cool by taking ecstasy which lead to his first panic attack. Eighteen years later Patrick has had many, many more panic attacks but has seen no increase in coolness. Trying to work out what’s up, has led to an adulthood of feeling generally “wrong” and working very hard to hide that feeling. Anyone who’s ever felt humiliated or afraid or like there’s something wrong with them can laugh along with Patrick. Any perfect legends who feel great 24-7 can come and laugh AT Patrick, but he’ll know they’re hiding it all. Better than he can.
Patrick Spicer: Who’s This All of a Sudden? Gilded Balloon Patter Hoose (Coorie), 6:20pm 3- 28 August (not 16) https://tickets.gildedballoon.co.uk/
Sharing the story of her disastrous experience as a finalist on The X Factor USA at the age of fifteen. Emily takes her audience through her most embarrassing, cringey, and downright hilarious moments of this nostalgic adventure with a mix of stand-up, original music, and archival footage. This is Emily’s coming of age story. Growing up in reality TV obsessed 2000s America in a politically right-of-centre household, pre-pubescent Emily gave it her all in pursuit of her dream of becoming an International superstar. Now, ten years later, she is ready to face the past and look at how things have changed (or haven’t).
Emily Wilson: Fixed Pleasance Courtyard (Beneath), 10:25pm, 3 – 29 (not 17) www.pleasance.co.uk
Not to be missed Fringe Favourites
Is Fringe really Frine if you don’t see these?
The world’s angriest optimist returns for another bash at sorting out life’s inexplicable complications. Garrett’s got a daughter to raise, and he doesn’t have the answers, so he better find some quickly before she starts asking questions. Sometime around his late teens he gave religion up and walked away into an adult life as a Godless heathen. But he needs a new team, a new religion for a new age. it’s time to fire up Twitter, pick a prophet and engage in the new reformation.
Garrett Millerick: Just Trying to Help Monkey Barrell Comedy (4), 6.25pm, 2 – 28 August (not 16) www.monkeybarrelcomedy.com
Fringe stalwarts, Flabbergast Theatre are returning with this classic tale of greed and guilt. Flabbergast’s Macbeth fuses a rigorous and respectful approach to text and storytelling to bring a magical, lucid interpretation of Shakespeare’s blood-soaked tragedy to life. With an aesthetically arresting design, the tightknit ensemble of actors performs a dark and visceral manifestation of the work’s essence and underlaying themes. This timeless work is for both new and established theatregoers. A visceral and eloquent retelling of Shakespeare’s imbrued tale of vicissitude.
Flabbergast’s The Tragedy of Macbeth Assembly Roxy (Central), 12pm, 4 – 29 August (not 17th) www.assemblyfestival.com
Ever worry you’re not doing feminism right? Since its launch in 2016 – The Guilty Feminist has grown to become less of a podcast and more of a global phenomenon. With over 95 million downloads in six years, with a Sunday Times bestselling book – The Guilty Feminist is part comedy, part deep-dive discussion, and part activism. Each show will include a variety of world-class stand-up comics and guests for deep lively conversations – plus a musical act to have audiences singing in the aisles. Prepare to leave entertained, inspired, empowered & at least 25% more feminist!
The Guilty Feminist Live Gilded Balloon (Debating Hall), 2pm, 25- 28 August https://tickets.gildedballoon.co.uk/
Shows to make you think and feel
Theatre and comedy with something powerful to say. A mix of uplifting, tragic, funny and powerful stories that will stay with you after you leave the room.
Who are we programmed to save? From Olivier-nominated, IdeasTap Underbelly Award-winning writer Ben Norris – Autopilot is a gripping new play about class, power and the murky ethics of self-driving cars. A deeply modern love story counterpointing hard-hitting drama and searching moral questions with moments of irresistible humour and warmth. Told in non-chronological order, Autopilot explores agency in the age of A.I, and the human right to make mistakes. Its central ethical question is the famous ‘trolley problem’ at the heart of autonomous vehicle design; faced with an inevitable fatal crash, should the car prioritise passengers or pedestrians?
Autopilot Pleasance Courtyard (Forth), 1:35pm, 3 – 29 August (not 15) www.pleasance.co.uk
A compelling, unsettling one-woman thriller exploring the suppression and destruction caused by coercive control. Taking the audience through the sensations from the beginning of a coercively controlled relationship, this tense and thought-provoking drama will raise questions about women’s vulnerabilities to psychologically violent relationships within today’s patriarchal society. The moments that make up Ruckus are inspired by real women and real stories. Audience members needing help or advice after the production can access discrete care packages with details of various resources and charities.
Ruckus SUMMERHALL, Cairns Lecture Theatre, 3:30pm, 3 – 28 August (not 15 or 22) www.summerhall.co.uk
Meet Kate. Kate is a Skank. A young woman in her 20s, yet to find her place in the world – in order to quieten down the gnawing anxiety in the pit of her stomach, she embraces a life of trivial sex, partying and telling herself that one day she will break out of the monotonous office job she finds herself in and make it as a writer. No-holds-barred and in-your-face Kate is confrontational and outwardly confident, concealing, at least for a short while her internal vulnerability. As the play progresses and the jokes keep tumbling hard and fast, Kate takes the audience to darker places.
Kate is just like the rest of us.
Skank Pleasance Courtyard (Pleasance 2), 4:40pm, 3 – 29 August (not 16) www.pleasance.co.uk
After winning The Total Theatre Award for Best Circus in 2018, multi award winning Australian circus group A Good Catch, return with the international premier of new show Zoë. An intimate show that reflects and responds to the climate crises: the Australian wildfires and to the fact that as a species we seem collectively unwilling to respect the other species we are supposed to co-exist with. With costumes that tell a story more than they are easy to move in, the circus must adapt and cooperate with this different version of the human acrobat.
Zoë Assembly Roxy (Central), 3.30pm, 3 – 15 August www.assemblyfestival.com
A comedy show about taking up space. Through the lens of preparing for her own wedding, and its associated rituals, Lucy examines the huge pressure on brides to slim down for the big day. Lucy has had enough – we need to join together and battle to stop making ourselves smaller for the comfort of others. Lucy brings her comedic skill to bare on the relationship we all have with our bodies. This is an uplifting show, packed with laughs that will resonate with anyone who’s tried to plan the perfect day, and wildly entertain those who haven’t.
Lucy Frederick’s Beg Fat Wedding Gilded Balloon Patter Hoose (Coorie),3.40pm, 3 – 28 August (not 16) https://tickets.gildedballoon.co.uk/
Based on real life
Finding the truth in what history records and making it a joy to watch. Sharing real life experiences and events.
The dramatic telling of Anne Marshall’s rise and fall as the first actress of the British stage. It is 1660; London is about to shake off the puritanical reign of Cromwell and reopen its theatres. A time of decadence and debauchery is about to begin, and a woman is to take the stage for the first time. Anne Marshall becomes the first professional actress of the British stage. But her competitor Margaret Hughes rises to fame and fortune and Anne becomes a forgotten footnote in history. A cynical publicity stunt or a moment of female empowerment? A question from 400 years ago that still resonates today.
The Actress Underbelly Bristo Square (The Dairy Room), 4.40pm, 3- 29 August (not 16) www.underbellyedinburgh.co.uk/
The critically acclaimed, inspiring true story of Football’s greatest underdog returns to the Fringe. Taking place in Lancashire in the 1870s, amidst the poverty and social unrest in The North, Darwen FC rose up against the prevailing social prejudice; a shining beacon of hope for the millions of people left feeling utterly disenfranchised in a society with a chasm of social divides, Becoming the first working-class team in the country to play in the FA Cup. A rip-roaring show full of sprit and passion that uplifts, enheartens, and will ignite a fire in everyone – whether you know the off-side rule or not.
The Giant Killers Gilded Balloon Teviot (Wine Bar), 12.45pm, 3 – 29 August (not 16) https://tickets.gildedballoon.co.uk/
Opening up to new experiences in her late-thirties, Sophie is exploring long repressed sides of herself. When a secret she’s keeping from those she loves, and even from herself, threatens to unravel it all, she has to make a choice. Who or what will she decide to give up?
Breathless is a funny, honest and stylish exploration of the knife-edge of hoarding, from the joy to the addiction and suffocating shame. Based on the real-life experience of writer Laura Horton’s, own experience of clothes hoarding, the work is a dark, magical story about trying to escape a world you’ve spent a lifetime carefully building.
Breathless Pleasance Courtyard (Bunker 2), 3pm, 3 – 28 August (no day off) www.pleasance.co.uk
Eli is almost old enough to be a “daddy” But Peter (his own father) is stealing some of his thunder…
Eli Matthewson is gay. Some of his best shows have been written around his coming out and his navigating his sexuality. This year, Eli was planning on writing a show with no gay jokes: his own statement about working in an industry where he was constantly asked to ‘turn up the gay’ or ‘turn down the gay’. Ten years after coming out as gay to his father, his father came out as gay to Eli. Eli did NOT see this coming. Daddy-Short Legs is about trying to write a show in the wake of navigating the new, changed relationship with a father that flies between son, friend and mentor.
Daddy Short Legs Underbelly George Square (The Wee Coo), 8:50 pm, 3 –29 August (not 17) www.underbellyedinburgh.co.uk/
Can’t be pigeon-holed!
Not every show fits neatly into a particular genre. Comedy too vague to describe these larger than life beings and the skills they have to making you laugh.
Star of stage, screen and lockdown live-stream, BGT Semi-Finalist, Myra DuBois is bringing her benevolently empathetic mix of sage advice and relaxation tips to Edinburgh, presented as only Myra can. Featuring everything you’ve come to love and expect from Myra including her distinct brand of warm, unbridled kindness, she utilises her … ‘unique’… people skills to heal the trauma of her wounded public. Myra herself shall lead meditations, contemplations, and pontifications as she selflessly takes on the woes of both her celebrity guests and adoring audience of AdMyras.
Myra Dubois: A Problem Shared Underbelly, Bristo Square (Dairy Room), 7:45pm, 3 – 28 August (not 16) www.underbellyedinburgh.co.uk/
From the man who brought you the cult-hit, fringe superstars Zach & Viggo, an award-winning funk- opera Where Does The Love Go? with Thumpasaurus, and the blistering, jazzy stylings of alter-ego Jack Tucker… Zach Zucker has decided to break from convention and expose his true self (you wish) on stage. Despite making what the industry calls “unrelateable content” and building a rep amongst his team as being “unbookable”, Zach Zucker has taken it upon himself to show the world what Zach Zucker can do. What can he do, you ask? To that he’d say, “wouldn’t you like to know?”.
You want sublime clowning from a Gaulier trained expert? You got it! You want cutting satirical jokes and risqué storytelling – BAM, boy can he deliver. You want exquisite, subtle character comedy? You’ve come to the right place. So, sit back, settle in, and allow your every sense to be overwhelmed in: Zach Zucker: Spectacular Industry Showcase (Made for TV).
Zach Zucker: Spectacular Industry Showcase (Made for TV ) Monkey Barrell 4, 7.50pm, 3 – 28 August (not 17) www.monkeybarrelcomedy.com
You can find part 1 of our guide here.