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Edinburgh Festival 2018: Sarah Crompton's top picks of what to see

Find out what our critic is looking forward to at the Edinburgh festival this year

An Edinburgh vista
© Chris Scott

The festival is almost upon us! Here's our critic Sarah Crompton's top picks of the Edinburgh Festivals.



Vertical Influences

Vertical Influences
© Alicia Clarke

The razor-sharp skaters of Canadian company Le Patin Libre bring wit and style to skating which is almost like dance and almost like sport. They return to Edinburgh with a new double-bill that (in the second half) invites the audience onto the ice to see their skill up-close. The challenge is not to flinch when they skate towards you.

Assembly at Murrayfield Ice Rink, 8 to 12, 15 to 19, 24 to 25 August, times vary



Kieran Hodgson

Kieran Hodgson

The last time Kieran Hodgson was at the Festival with his show Maestro, the venue was so full, I had to squeeze in and balance on a table to listen to him. He still made me laugh with his perfect fusion of dramatic monologue and comic observation. This year, he is striking a topical note, looking at why Britain joined Europe in the first place. Worth queuing early for.

Pleasance Courtyard 1 to 26 August, 20:15



Underground Railroad Game

Underground Railroad Game

A true hot ticket: a play that made the New York Times' list of the best plays of the last 25 years, Jennifer Kidwell and Scott R Sheppard star in their own creation as two fifth grade teachers with a radical approach to history, tackling race, slavery and sex in ways that are both comic and uncomfortable. American critics have described it as shocking – and sensational. One not to miss.

Traverse, 2 to 26 August, times vary



The Greatest Play in the History of the World

The Greatest Play in the History of the World
©Jonathan Keenan

I have to confess that if my Edinburgh Festival consisted of never moving from the Traverse, I'd be quite happy there. But that's not the only reason I can't wait to see Julie Hesmondhalgh in this monologue written for her by her husband Ian Kershaw. The former Coronation Street star is such a terrific actress she casts light on all she does.

Traverse, 2 to 26 August, times vary



Don't Tell Me Not to Fly

Ria Jones, Janie Dee and Danielle Hope
© Dan Wooller for WhatsOnStage

A performer is quite often the reason I want to see a show. Here, you get four terrific musical theatre interpreters – but not all at the same time. Janie Dee, Danielle Hope, Ria Jones and Claire Sweeney are taking turns to share songs from the shows and stories from their lives and celebrate women in general. Sounds excellent to me.

Underbelly, McEwan Hall, 4 to 27 August, 17:00



It's True, It's True, It's True

It's True, It's True, It's True

One of the most intriguing stories in the history of art, the rape of the painter Artemisia Gentileschi, is brought to the stage by avant-garde theatre company Breach, who use transcripts of the seven-month long 1612 trial of Agostino Tassi to raise questions about women and art, then and now. The combination of an award-winning theatre company and a little-known but important narrative bodes very well.

Underbelly, Bristo Square 2 to 12, 14 to 26 August, 14:50



My Left Right Foot

My Left Right Foot
© Christopher Bowen

Many of my best memories of Edinburgh spring from productions from the National Theatre of Scotland. One of their offerings this year is this new musical comedy, made with Scotland's leading disability-led theatre company Birds of Paradise. With a book by Robert Softley Gale and music and lyrics by Scott Gilmour and Claire McKenzie and additional songs by Richard Thomas it's set in a local am dram company who want to stage My Left Foot. Irreverent and challenging, they say. Certainly original.

Assembly Roxy, 1 to 27 August, 18:10



La Maladie de la Mort

La Maladie de la Mort
© Stephen Cummiskey

The magnificent director Katie Mitchell teams up with writer Alice Birch (with whom she collaborated so thrillingly on Anatomy of a Suicide) and the Théâtre des Bouffes du Nord, to create this radically inverted adaptation of Marguerite Duras' unsettling novella about a man who hires a woman to spend weeks with him in a hotel by the sea. Anything he wants, she must do. This version, combining film, and theatre, can be seen at the Barbican, London after its Edinburgh performances as part of the International Festival.

Lyceum, 16 to 19 August, 20:00



Island Town

Island Town

Playwright Simon Longman, winner of the 2018 George Devine Award for Most Promising Playwright, and author of the bleak Gundog, brings his new play to the festival, under the auspices of Paines Plough and Theatr Clwyd. It's about three young people, dreaming of escape from their nowhere town and their nothing lives.

Summerhall, 1 to 26 August, times vary



Bon 4 Bon

Bon 4 Bon
(© Wei-Sheng Chen)

Taiwan has a surprisingly vibrant contemporary dance scene which is represented at Edinburgh by a small Taiwan season at various venues. The most attractive to me is this show, featuring four real brothers, who under the guidance of the Israeli choreographer Eyal Dadon, conjure memories and use mangoes to look at what it is to be a family.

Dancebase, 3 to 26 August, 17:00


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