Edinburgh 2012: Our top picks for the Fringe & EIFDate: 16 July 2012
It’s Festival time again and, despite uncertainties over the possible impact of the Olympic Games (not to mention the weather), this year's Edinburgh Festivals are promising to be bigger and better than ever.
Running from 3 to 27 August 2012, the 66th annual Festival Fringe, the world’s largest arts festival, involves over 20,000 performers presenting 42,096 shows in 279 venues. It features a record-breaking 2,695 show – 153 (6%) more than last year. Its parent the Edinburgh International Festival (EIF) runs this year from 9 August - 2 September.
Several productions are running this year as part of the 12-week London 2012 Festival, the culmination of the cultural Olympiad.
You might look at the number of shows in the Festival brochure and have no idea where to start, so here the Whatsonstage.com editorial team have chosen some of their favourites, in an attempt to aid those difficult yet all-important 'what to see' decisions.
For all our coverage from the Edinburgh Festivals 2012, visit Whatsonstage.com/Scotland
This double bill of short plays comes from David Greig and David Harrower. The first is set after the next general election, where our newly appointed PM struggles to write a letter to be opened in the event of nuclear catastrophe; whilst the second sees a man return to his hometown in Helensburgh, drudging up feelings of detachment and inadequacy.
Traverse Theatre, 4-26 August, times vary
In a darkly subversive take on the themes of Alice in Wonderland, Lewis Carroll’s classic tale, Wonderland begins with the mystery of a young woman leaving home and embarking on a dangerous journey.
Royal Lyceum Theatre (EIF), 29 August - 1 September, 7.30pm
Five short playlets by award-winning New Yorker Will Eno which promise to reveal "the terrible hope and hilarious uncertainty of being alive." Oh, The Humanity featured as the centrepiece of Northern Stage’s Festival of Humanity last year.
Northern Stage at St Stephen’s, 9-25 August, 18:40
The Menier Chocolate Factory revival of Willy Russell’s classic comedy stars Matthew Kelly and Claire Sweeney. Rita, a brash, unschooled hairdresser, enrols in the Open University, where she challenges the established views of her lecturer Frank.
Assembly George Square, 1-27 August, 17:40
A scene from 2008: Macbeth (EIF)
Set in a contemporary and brutal Middle Eastern conflict, 2008: Macbeth is unflinching in its depiction of the machine of violence that, once set in motion, works faster and ever more efficiently. If killing in a war is justified, so is killing in the privacy of one’s home. If you can kill men, why not also women and children?
Lowland Hall (EIF), 11-18 August, 7.30pm
This new offering from award-winning playwright Simon Stephens is a coming-of-age play about two friends bound together by a single moment that will change their lives forever.
Traverse Theatre, 1-19 August, times vary
A light-hearted piece of theatre with moving moments, this ode to the great British newspaper introduces us to the jovial journos behind the headlines at the Daily Parade newspaper publishing and editorial offices, showing a colourful yet chaotic depiction of a smalltown newsroom punctuated with moments of real significance.
theSpace @ Surgeon’s Hall, 20-25 August, 15:05
Irish writer Jonathan Swift’s savage political satire is seen through the eyes of visionary theatre maker Purcãrete with an original score by Irish composer Shaun Davey. Driven by Davey's musical journey, Purcãrete’s production gathers cultural and social aspects of contemporary society and explores themes of voyage, dream, exile, immigration, emigration, solitude and togetherness.
King's Theatre (EIF), 17-20 August, 8pm, 19 August 2.30pm
A darkly comic and acerbic look at the impact of war upon returning soldiers, developed with ex-servicemen prisoners and produced by Second Shot Productions, a social enterprise creating arts opportunities for ex-offenders.
Underbelly, 2-26 August, 17:00
In Suzuki’s staging of the Greek myth, the characters’ interior world is deepened by setting the tragedy in a psychiatric hospital, one in which all of humanity is irredeemably trapped.
King's Theatre (EIF), 11-13 August, 8pm
An ‘upmarket’ brothel. It’s Forensic Biology student Marley’s first night, and AJ – 21, good-looking and intelligent – is her unexpected first client. But an hour of power play, debate and desire prove you don’t always get what you pay for. Cutting, honest, and poetic, One Hour Only examines the hope of youth and the sexual politics of contemporary Britain. Underbelly, 2-26 August, 17:20
A joyous combination of incongruous things: dumbstruck actors, suppressed emotions running riot, masterly solecism, divine blundering and, finally, craftsmen transformed into poets... From Russia comes the world premiere of Dmitry Krymov’s interpretation of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
King's Theatre (EIF), 24-26 August, times vary
Made famous by the award-winning film Chariots of Fire, this brand-new dramatisation brings the life story of one of Scotland’s greatest Olympic athletes, Eric Liddell, to the stage.
Edinburgh Elim, 15-25 August, times vary
COMIC AT THE CORE
It’s the year 2014: the economy is in tatters, the coalition government is at loggerheads and the Lib Dems are on the brink of extinction. It’s an unfortunate position for Deputy Prime Minister and Liberal Democrat leader Matt Cooper, who is forced into a series of desperate measure in order to save his beloved party. Written by Robert Khan and Tom Salinsky, this satire stars Thom Tuck, Phill Jupitus, Jo Caulfield and Simon Evans.
Pleasance Dome, 1-26 August, 14:00
Former Daily Star reporter and ‘red-top renegade’ Richard Peppiatt made his debut performance at none other than Leveson, where he presented the inquiry with narratives set in the seedy environs of a red-top newsroom. Now the ex-hack has a one-man show at the Fringe, where we can expect more scandal, exclusives and juicy tabloid gossip.
Pleasance Courtyard, 1-27 August, 17:00
A political silent comedy that isn’t really about politics, The Election charts the final hours of a doomed campaign. Panic is setting in, the party leader is slowly falling to pieces, and his aides are trying desperately to keep the ship from sinking. Combining the frenzy and farce of election night with the slapstick irreverence of silent comedy, The Election is politics with an edge - a silly, silly edge.
Bedlam Theatre, 3-18 August, 18:30
Bringing together different pieces of Burns poetry to create a raucous piece of theatre. With over 20 songs, live music, a strong visual style and a large cast of the best Scottish actors, dancers and musicians, this is a show of outrageous hilarity, death-defying rhyming, anachronisms and short skirts.
Assembly Hall, 2-26 August, 12:00
A new play by Daniel Kitson is always something to savour at the Fringe. Having had sell out shows at Edinburgh, and recently a stint at the National Theatre with It’s Always Right Now, Until It’s Later, this promises to be another sell-out show for the bearded bard.
Traverse Theatre, 7-26 August, times vary
OFF-BEAT & AVANT-GARDE
This Olympic themed production will see up to 2,000 burlesque performers representing the sporting nations from across the globe, from the procession of the Olympic torch all the way through to the closing ceremony. Expect this huge cabaret show to be over the top in every conceivable way.
HMV Picture House, 11 August, 21:00
The Olivier nominated variety show stages a Jubilee themed spectacular of weird, wonderful and erotic burlesque acts. La Clique last appeared at the Fringe back in 2008, so their appearance this year marks a welcome and long-awaited return.
The Famous Spiegeltent, 3-26 August, 21:30
Claire Sweeney & Matthew Kelly in Educating Rita
Once upon a time two gawky little girls played spitting games, baked mud pies and picked the scabs from their grazed knobbly knees. But little girls don't stay like this for long. Emerald and Pearl are different now. Life is different now. Thumping drums, clanging keys and violent voices. RashDash tell the real story of Cinderella - a sinister and sensuous cabaret. From the makers of Another Someone and Scary Gorgeous.
Northern Stage at St Stephens, 4-25 August, 22:00
Despite the allure of a shiny Apple laptop, The Agony is here to remind us that there is “blood welling up between the keys”. This comic tirade against the appalling conditions suffered by Chinese electronics labourers is sure to make you think twice before worshipping at the sleek, minimalist altar of Steve Jobs.
Gilded Balloon, 1-27 August, 14:15
One of the fringe's longest-serving solo performers, Pip Utton, reprises his role as one of the most compelling historical figures of all time. Lauded for luring its audiences into Hitler's point of view before jerking them out, Utton's vision has much to say about modern politics too.
The Assembly Rooms, 13-14 August, 14:30
Rob Crouch brings legendary actor Oliver Reed back to life in this one-man show about the hell-raiser, knocking back a few drinks and sharing his life story.
Gilded Balloon Teviot, 1-27 August, 15:30
Celebrating the bicentenary of Charles Dickens’ birth, Bafta award-winner Miriam Margolyes reprises her Olivier award-nominated production. Portraying 23 of Dickens’ best-loved characters, from doe-eyed young heroines, brow-beating old harridans, to men and midgets, she sets out to discover the man himself, revealing everything from the raucous humour of his characterisations to the darker, more sinister aspects of his life and work.
Pleasance Courtyard, 8-25 August, 14:30
Linda Marlowe's new show spotlights Dickens' most iconic female character, the jilted bride of Great Expectations. Written and directed by Di Sherlock.
Gilded Balloon Teviot, 1-27 August, 15:00
"I got a death threat last week. I haven’t had one in ages, so I was chuffed" (Tony Benn, 86). A unique preview of his forthcoming documentary film, followed by a Q and A with the man himself. For the first time ever, through intimate quasi-confessional interviews and his personal, photographic and film archive, Will and Testament reveals Benn’s very human face behind the political mask.
The Assembly Rooms, 21-22 August, 12:00
PHYSICAL THEATRE & DANCE
An artist struggles to create in a world where nothing is quite what it seems: where a roll of tape can unfold into a kite and drag you into a spiralling storm, where a scarf can morph into a witch and an empty coat be filled by a seductive stranger. Spinning together puppetry, physical theatre and original music, The Fantasist charts the murky depths and glorious heights of bipolar disorder.
Underbelly Bristo Square, 1-27 August, 12:25
Detention, a non-verbal comedy combined with powered acrobatics, off-the-wall clowning and throbbing percussion, is about three naughty high school boys chasing a beautiful female classmate around in a detention class, but because their short-tempered teacher frequently checks in on them, they must be very careful while monkeying around.
Summerhall, 3-26 August, 13:00
Following the success of their production Reykjavik last year, Shams return to the fringe with Thin Ice. A wartime thriller and polar love story, Thin Ice is a powerful and darkly comic exploration of people finding courage in the face of adversity.
Pleasance Courtyard, 3-27 August, 11:45
FUN FOR THE FAMILY
Sing, shake our instruments, touch your toes and boogie your way to a gold medal with Big Jo and the Jo Jingles Edinburgh team! There will be fun for the whole family in Jo's latest musical extravaganza including lots of your favourite Jo Jingles songs, props and instruments.
Craiglockhart Parish Church, 10-11 August, times vary
Join Macastory for a mythological Olympic Games featuring tales of sporting deeds from Viking, Greek and Celtic teams. Vote for your champion of champions. Suitable for ages 5+
National Museum of Scotland, 6-10 August, 14:00
Miriam Margolyes in Dickens' Women
Based on the cult classic, H. P. Lovecraft's Re-Animator, this horror comedy is helmed by Stuart Gordon and features George Wendt (Norm from Cheers) and a Splash Zone for those who enjoy a little splatter!
Assembly George Square, 1-27 August, 22:40
Catchy and genuinely thought-provoking new musical from Cambridge University. Featuring such lines as "Is it bad to have a wank when your mum's dead?", it's sure to raise some eyebrows.
C Venues, 1-27 August, 18:40
Revival of the 1977 musical comedy set on the streets of Glasgow. Tracking the lives of the handsome Mick McMolicate and his gang of doting followers, whose master plan is to act like gangsters, overcome authority, put together a rock band and live a life of fame and fortune.
Zoo, 3-19 August, 21:45
The latest of Belt Up's interactive performances of classics novels, coupled this year with Outland and The Boy James. Lots of make-believe and storytelling from one of the Fringe's most-lauded outfits.
C Nova, 2-27 August, 18:30
Brainded Theatre have earned their chops over past fringes with smart relocations of classics - particularly last year's The Man of Mode. This borderline-obscene Aristophanes relic offers even more potential for naughty fun.
C Nova, 2-27 August, 18:30
"A punk-opera for everyone" from the people behind last year's squelchy SODOM. A retelling of Euripides' The Bacchae aimed at children and encourages audiences to jeer, heckle, shout and sing alone. For the brave.
The Bongo Club, 8-12 August, 13:00
A sort of sequel to The Importance of Being Earnest sees the characters follow up Jack's strange abandonment in a hand-bag. For all the Wilde fanboys out there.
theSpace on North Bridge, 13-25 August, 20:10
A reinvigoration of Wilde's tragedy, banned in its time for depicting Biblical figures. The original story features the mythical Dance of the Seven Veils, a behaeded prophet and a kinky princess, so there should be lots to look forward to.
Zoo Southside, 4-26 August, times vary
Last year's fringe sensation Hotel Medea was a tough act to follow, but the Russian outfit behind this filthy and deranged-looking take on the violent Myth might have what it takes. We're told to expect "an infectious soundcloud".
Assembly Roxy, 2-26 August, 22:15
- compiled by Rosie Bannister and Kieran Corcoran
For all our coverage from the Edinburgh Festivals 2012, visit Whatsonstage.com/Scotland