WhatsOnStage Logo
Home link

The show will have to wait – Edinburgh Fringe writer Alexandra Donnachie on what she had planned

What is it like with a Fringe-less summer?

Alexandra Donnachie

This summer, I was supposed to take my new play, twenty-eight, to Edinburgh with a team of brilliant, clever people whose work I've admired since before we met, and which explores a topic I've wanted to write about since I was a teenager.

I was at such a high level of chuffed that I suppose I should have known it was too good to be true. Things started to fall away a little earlier for us; we were due to preview the play at the Brighton Fringe in May which was of course also cancelled. When that happened my first thought – perhaps naively – was" "Great, more time to make the play even better in time for Edinburgh", but it soon became clear we were going to lose that too.

It was absolutely the right thing to do, and when the official cancellation announcement came from the Fringe, I can't say we were surprised, but that didn't stop it from feeling rubbish. Even then, I tried to look at the positives. But now it's August and, like so many of my peers, I'm fed up and frightened for the future of our entire industry and so the sting of the loss of what could have been is starting to creep up on me.

This year would have been my tenth Fringe; my third as a writer-performer, first as the only person on stage and the last one of my 20s. Usually by now I'd be planning who to see (I have relatives near Edinburgh so it's always an opportunity for a family reunion), what to see and how to survive.

I'd be filling the lead-up with aggressively joyous screams of "Are you going to Edinburgh?" at any and all of my friends.

Instead, I am at home, in the throes of re-writing the play. It's set across the last couple of years, so the timing of the pandemic has thrown a few spanners in the works, but I know I'm lucky to have something to work towards, even if it's currently a struggle to believe there will be enough of a future in theatre and its festivals for me to rewrite the play for.

If I could be guaranteed to feel the kind of soggy, greasy, tired and broke that only Edinburgh in August can provide, I'd happily sit through a thousand musicals about COVID-19.

Ok, maybe not a thousand.