WhatsOnStage Logo
Home link

12 shows to catch before they get to the Edinburgh Fringe

There are some great previews to catch up and down the country

Wild Swimming
(© Chelsey Cliff)

There are over 3000 shows up in Edinburgh this year, with the International and Fringe Festival bringing together a huge swathe of exciting talent from across the world in one big arts-based bonanza. But sometimes you can get a sneaky first look at the hottest shows on offer before they cross the border – guaranteeing extra cents of conversational currency when you end up chatting about top Fringe picks come August. Here are 12 shows we'd recommend checking out before they hit Edinburgh.

Head to our dedicated Edinburgh festivals page for all the up-to-the minute coverage.


Sophie Melville and Nigel Barrett
© Bronwen Sharp

Charlotte Josephine's brand new play is likely to be a hot ticket for the Edinburgh Fringe, and the show has a couple of previews at the south London home of new writing Theatre503. With a mega cool cast, expect something special from the playwright behind Bitch Boxer and Blush. Theatre503, 26 to 27 July



An emerging talent team-up well worth having on your radar, Swim is the brainchild of Liz Richardson, Josie Dale-Jones and Sam Ward. The piece will be spending a week at the swanky HOME venue in Manchester before heading to Edinburgh. HOME Manchester, 9 to 13 July


Jamie Lee-Morgan rehearsing for Friendsical
© Dale Wightman

Can it live up to the prestige of one of the most iconic TV sitcoms of all time? The Friends musical will be touring ahead of its Edinburgh Fringe stint to Cheltenham and Darlington, so you get in on the action first. Everyman Theatre Cheltenham, 15 to 20 July, Darlington Hippodrome, 22 to 27 July

Lucy McCormick – Post Popular

Post Popular

Lucy McCormick is a genre-defying legend and always promises anarchy in her shows, so we're excited to see what Post Popular, an odyssey through history to see what power really means, is going to be like. Soho Theatre, 26 to 27 July

Murder Ballads

Murder Ballads

Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds' cult 1995 album is brought to life on stage in an 1880s mid-western-set whodunnit and we are so here for all of whatever that means. The show from Gerry Smyth has a preview in London ahead of its Edinburgh run and could be a treat. The Other Palace, 11 July

Wild Swimming

Wild Swimming
(© Chelsey Cliff)

Another swimming themed show on this list – Bristol Old Vic and Pleasance have teamed up to present FullRogue Theatre's new piece, about two people who meet on the beach again and again over the span of 400 years. Wardrobe Theatre Bristol, 21 July

The Incident Room

The Incident Room

The New Diorama's artistic director David Byrne and Olivia Hirst team up to pen this new piece, set in the '70s and following the biggest manhunt in police history. There are a lot of great true crime shows heading up to the Fringe this year, and the New Diorama always has a track record of delivering great material. New Diorama Theatre, 25 to 26 July

Tokyo Rose

Tokyo Rose

Burnt Lemon are one of three companies that bagged the coveted Untapped Award this year, and it'll be exciting to see their new piece Tokyo Rose when it lands at Underbelly in August. Before then it'll be in Derby! 18 July, Derby Theatre

The Red

Marcus Brigstocke
© Dan Wooller for WhatsOnStage

Comedian and performer Marcus Brigstocke's debut play, based on his own experiences with addiction, has a quick run in London before making its official opening at the Fringe. Clapham Omnibus have some pretty great previews going on across July – including the award winning Bible John, another true crime-y thriller that is meant to be well worth a watch. Clapham Omnibus, 22 to 26 July

I'll Take You to Mrs Cole!

I'll Take You To Mrs Cole!
© Complicité

A new Complicité show is always a cause for excitement, and this year is no different – the company are presenting an adaptation of Nigel Gray and Michael Foreman's book featuring a whole chunk of cracking Ska music. Theatre Peckham, 25 and 26 July

I'm A Phoenix, Bitch

Bryony Kimmings
(© Rosie Powel)

Bryony Kimming's unmissable solo show made a big stir when it opened at the new Battersea Arts Centre, returning for a second outing earlier this year. It now runs at the Pleasance in Edinburgh in August but before that will be having a couple of previews at the Attenborough Centre for Creative Arts in Brighton. Attenborough Centre for Creative Arts, 23 to 24 July

Beach Body Ready

Beach Body Ready
© Alex Brook

A third swimming themed show for this list comes from The Roaring Girls in the form of Beach Body Ready, a piece all about ingrained fears, food insecurities, and toxic advertising. Co-produced by York Theatre Royal, the show is having a couple of previews in Hull and Sale ahead of its Edinburgh stint. Hull Truck Theatre, 13 July and Waterside Sale, 22 July