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


'STRAIGHT' PLAYS

  • The Letter of Last Resort and Good With People
    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

  • Wonderland
    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

  • Oh, The Humanity and Other Good Intentions
    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

  • Educating Rita
    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

  • Miriam Margolyes in Dickens' Women/W@S_IMG
  • 2008: Macbeth
    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&
  • MUSICAL MAYHEM

  • Re-Animator The Musical
    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

  • Bereavement: The Musical
    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

  • Glasvegas – The Original 1977 Musical
    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

    CLASSICS RECLASSIFIED

  • Belt Up Theatre's A Little Princess
    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

  • Lysistrata - The Sex Strike
    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

  • Hoof Hoof
    "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

  • In a Handbag, Darkly
    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

  • Salome by Oscar Wilde
    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

  • Medea Hardcore
    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