Edinburgh 2013: Our top picks for the Fringe and EIF
Navigating the 390-page Fringe brochure is a daunting task, so to help we've picked out our top shows for the Edinburgh Fringe and International Festival (EIF). The list will be updated once reviews start rolling in, so be sure to check back throughout the festival...
The inimitable Steven Berkoff stars in his new play, about the "frustration and madness" of life as an actor. Written in verse, the three-hander also features Jay Benedict and Andrée Bernard, both of whom have worked with Berkoff before.
Pleasance Courtyard, 1-20 Aug (not 5, 12), 14.30
This new play by Badac follows the life, work and assassination of Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya, exploring her exposure of human rights abuses during and after the second Russian Chechnya war.
Summerhall, 13-25 Aug, 20.30
This "powerful and urgent" new play centres on the theme of what it means to be a Muslim in modern India, and arrives in Edinburgh direct from its premiere season there.
Pleasance Courtyard, 31 July-25 Aug, 12.30
Beats by Kieran Hurley *new*
Set in 1994, this coming-of-age play explores the consequences of outlawing raves for one 15-year-old in a small Scottish town.
Pleasance Courtyard, 11 Aug, 22.20
The UK premiere of a new political drama by South African playwright Omphile Molusi, whose play Itsoseng won a coveted Fringe First back in 2008. Co-produced by Market Theatre of Johannesburg and Chicago Shakespeare Theater, it centres on a young man's struggle in the tumultuous political landscape of apartheid.
Traverse, 29 July-25 Aug, times vary
David Harrower (Blackbird, 365) returns to Edinburgh wit a new play about the daughter of a Glaswegian gangster. Starring leading Scottish actress Blythe Duff, it's directed by Traverse artistic director Orla O'Loughlin.
Traverse, 1-25 Aug (not 2), times vary
A new play from Philip Ridley is always an event, and this is his first the premiere at the Fringe. Billed as a "beautiful, breathtaking drama about one girl's craving for family and home," it stars Gemma Whelan, recently seen in TV's Game of Thrones and as Rachel in One Man, Two Guvnors.
Pleasance Courtyard, 31 July-26 Aug (not 13), 15.00
David Greig's new play, based partly on the Anders Breivik massacre in Norway, centres on a quiet local choir that is torn apart by an atrocity. Directed by Ramin Gray, it comes to London's Young Vic following its run at the Traverse.
Traverse Theatre, 31 July-25 Aug (not 1,2, 5, 12, 19), times vary
The Ghost Hunter *new*
This eerie play follows a ghost hunter as he recounts a terrible tale from the 12th Century to the tourists that dare to take his tour.
Pleasance Courtyard, 13-26 Aug, 14.00
Howie the Rookie *new*
This electrifying, epic play set in Dublin was originally performed by two actors, but has been re-imagined for a single performer, who explores hilarious, savage and grotesque territory as he tells their tales.
Assembly Hall, 8-25 Aug, 12:40
This play uses physical theatre and dance to tell the story of Lucy, who discovers that her hidden past can change everything.
Pleasance Courtyard, 12-25 Aug, 13.00
This hard-hitting new play from Yael Farber examines the extent of abuse against women in India, in the wake of the rape and murder of a 23-year-old woman on a bus in Delhi last year.
Assembly Hall, 1-26 Aug (not 12, 19), 16:00
This new play, nominated for an Irish Times Theatre Award, is a powerful story about truth and forgiveness for two men sharing a violent history in Belfast.
Traverse Theatre, 7-25 Aug, times vary
A staple of the Fringe in more ways than one, this Shakespearean compilation show, now in its 22nd year, serves coffee and croissants along with lashings of the Bard's best bits.
C Theatre, 31 July-26 Aug (not 12), 10.00
Omid Djalili stars in a new adaptation of Stephen King's modern classic prison novel. Djalili plays Red, the role created on-screen by Morgan Freeman in the 1994 film version. Owen O'Neill and Dave Johns' script is directed by Lucy Pitman-Wallace.
Assembly Rooms, 1-25 Aug (not 12), 16.50
Solomon and Marion *new*
This play, starring Janet Suzman, follows two injured souls searching for redemption in the fragile, post-apartheid South Africa.
Assembly Hall, 13-26 Aug, 14.30
The Surrender *new*
This show, direct from a sold-out run at the National Theatre of Spain, tells the story of a ballerina initiated by a stranger into ultimate sexual submission and the joy she finds on the other side of convention.
Gilded Balloon Teviot, 12-26 Aug, 13:30
This new play explores the moment at which life offers you a choice between heroism and compromise through a series of interlocking stories.
Northern Stage at St Stephen's, 13-24 Aug, 16.40
MUSICAL & CABARET
Adam and Eve: The Musical
This new show from playwright/composer Ben Hales is set the morning after the Fall of Man. We've all had bad hangovers, but Adam and Eve's is especially heavy as they come to terms with the consequences of their apple-based actions. (Some sexual references, parental discretion is advised).
Gilded Balloon Teviot, 31 July-25 Aug (not 12), 12.15
I'm With the Band
A play with songs about Scottish independence, Tim Price's new show centres on a band (called The Union) comprising an Englishman, Scotsman, Irishman and a Welshman. Sounds like a joke to us...
Traverse, 2-25 Aug, times vary
Julie Madly Deeply
Fascinating Aida star Sarah-Louise Young presents a cabaret "love letter" to Dame Julie Andrews, mixing songs and stories to pay homage to the Sound of Music legend. (Look out for Young's run-down of her favourite things involving Julie Andrews, coming soon to WhatsOnStage...)
Gilded Balloon Teviot, 31 July-26 Aug (not 7, 14), 14.55
A cabaret show running as part of this year's Benjamin Britten Centenary, featuring songs by Britten and poet WH Auden, and playwrights Conor Mitchell and Mark Ravenhill. An unlikely blend that "comes a little queerly from the heart".
Underbelly, Bristo Square, 31 July-26 Aug (not 12), 19.00
This Life Chose Me: A Ninja Musical
It's not everyday you see the phrase "a one-woman comedic ninja musical", but such is the description of this new show written and performed by Katie Wilbert. But shy ninjas be warned - there is audience participation.
theSpace, 5-17 Aug (not 11), 22.10
[Title of Show]
Carley Stenson stars in the hit Off-Broadway meta musical about two struggling writers who decide to create a new musical for the inaugural New York Musical Theatre Festival. Promises "naughty words and truly #stagey moments".
Assembly Checkpoint, 1-26 Aug (not 12), 15.10
INTERNATIONAL FESTIVAL (EIF)
Michael Gambon stars in Samuel Beckett's first play written specifically for television, which transfers from the Gate Theatre in Dublin. The 30-minute piece - in which Gambon never speaks - runs as part of the Beckett festival-within-a-festival of the great Irishman's plays written for other mediums.
Royal Lyceum Theatre, 23, 27, 29, 31 Aug, times vary
American multimedia artist Gary Hill reimagines Beethoven's only opera on board a doomed spacecraft as it hurtles towards infinity. The international cast is led by celebrated Japanese conductor Kazushi Ono.
Festival Theatre, 10, 12 Aug, 19.15
New York-based experimental company The Wooster Group re-imagines Shakespeare's classic tragedy using archive footage of Richard Burton performing the title role. "In doing so it channels the ghost of that legendary performance," says the blurb, "by intentionally replacing its own spirit with the spirit of another."
Royal Lyceum Theatre, 10-13 Aug, 19.30
Leaving Planet Earth
This new project from site-specific specialists Grid Iron takes audiences (by bus) on a journey to another planet, as it explores the future of humanity and reflects on our memories of Earth. A hugely ambitious undertaking and one of the hottest tickets at this year's EIF.
Royal Lyceum Theatre, 10-24 Aug (not 13, 20), 20.00
COMEDY & SPOKEN WORD
The Father Ted star returns to stand up following his acclaimed performance in Conor McPherson's The Weir at the Donmar Warehouse (which he'll reprise in the West End later in the year). One of the most lovable comics around.
Assembly Rooms, 12-18 Aug, 19.00
This comedy brings the joy of TV wrestling back, catapulting it onto the live stage with the wrestlers' life stories thrown in amongst "sweaty ring action".
Assembly George Square, 7-26 Aug, 12:15
Bo Burnham: What
The 22-year-old YouTube star, who won the Edinburgh Comedy Award panel prize in 2010, returns with a new song-driven extravaganza (billed as a "new live comedy show thing") that's bound to prove a hit. So book ahead for this one.
Pleasance Courtyard, 9-19 Aug, 23.15
Catriona Knox: Player
This rising star comedienne - a member of sketch group The Boom Jennies - presents her new character-based stand up show, which sees her take her "riotously silly characters through seven circles of hell".
Pleasance Courtyard, 31 July-26 Aug (not 13), 15.15
David Baddiel - Fame: Not the Musical
David Baddiel, in his first full Edinburgh show for 15 years, discusses his journey through the world of celebrity, from accidentally stealing the spotlight at Russell Brand's wedding to realising Andrew Lloyd Webber thinks he's Ben Elton.
Assembly George Square, 31 July-11 Aug, 19.30
David Morgan - Pretty *new*
Comedian David Morgan presents his stand-up show, exploring what it means to feel unattractive and be listed in Heat magazine's "15 Hot New Men List 2012".
Underbelly, Bristo Square, 12-25 Aug, 19.00
David Schneider - Is the Internet Making Us More Stupider?
The comedian - otherwise known as "him from Alan Partridge" - presents a spoken word show justifying his many wasted hours on Twitter and pondering whether the internet is taking us on a journey to intellectual oblivion.
Assembly Rooms, 19 Aug, 12.30
Two Irishmen with plastic bags on their heads may not sound like great comedy but this YouTube-famous double act, fresh from their sold-out season at the Soho Theatre, prove the exception.
Gilded Balloon Teviot, 31 July-26 Aug (not 12, 19), 22.40
The much-loved comic, writer and presenter returns to the Fringe with a show comprising stand-up, stories and "fascinating facts".
Pleasance Courtyard, 3-11 Aug, 16.00
DANCE & PHYSICAL
Circa: Wunderkammer *new*
Circa present Wunderkammer, a circus, cabaret and vaudeville extravaganza that promises to delight the senses.
Underbelly, Bristo Square, 12-26 Aug, times vary
This circus show is one of four productions from Crying Out Loud at this year's Fringe. Promising "flying drum kits, levitating ironing boards and swinging divas", it's one of a number of 'new wave' circus shows currently making waves.
Underbelly, Bristo Square, 1-26 Aug (not 6, 13, 20), 16.20
An Edinburgh institution returns for 2013, ten years after it first set jaws dropping in the Famous Spiegeltent (newly relocated to George Street). Offering up another unique blend of cabaret, circus, burlesque and magic, it's sure to be popular so book ahead.
The Famous Spiegeltent, 2-25 Aug, 22.00
Ménage à Trois
This new show from National Theatre of Scotland, billed as "a visually stunning piece of dance theatre", comes from award-winning performer Claire Cunningham and choreographer/video artist Gail Sneddon. It's performed at new venue Paterson's Land on Holyrood Road, set up to showcase Scotland's best artists and companies.
Traverse Theatre, 9-25 Aug (not 10, 15, 22), times vary
The System *new*
This piece of physical theatre follows three men as they escape prison and live life on the run in South Africa, attempting to clear their names.
Just the Tonic at the Caves, 12-25 Aug, 10.30
A Tiny Tempest
This new actor-musician adaptation of Shakespeare's fantastical tale of magic, murder and monsters arrives in Edinburgh following a tour of schools across the UK. A sound choice for all ages.
C Venues, 18-26 Aug, 14.10
Dean Friedman's Smelly Feet
American singer-songwriter Dean Friedman adds to his eclectic CV with a new "toe-tickling" musical for children aged three to eight. The show follows the adventures of Danny, Pete and Sally who set out to solve the conundrum of Pete's persistently stinky feet.
Sweet Grassmarket, 1-25 Aug (not 7, 14, 21), times vary
James Campbell's Comedy 4 Kids
Campbell is the Russell Brand of children's stand-ups, offering zany observations to an audience ranging from "6 to 149". Few other acts on the Fringe will sing songs to your kids about the Loch Ness Monster being an evil magic sock.
Famous Spiegeltent, 8-11 Aug, 14.00
The Showstoppers' Family Hour
The acclaimed musical improvisation team put a family-friendly spin on their winning formula, which sees plots, titles and characters created afresh each show by suggestions from the audience. Bound to be interesting considering the creative imaginations of the young.
Gilded Balloon Teviot, 2-13 Aug, 14.00