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Editor's picks – top shows to see at the Edinburgh Fringe

A selection of top shows to see!

Feeling Afraid as if Something Terrible is Going to Happen
© Ilayda McIntosh

The Edinburgh Fringe is all about the unexpected and exciting. Sometimes, five rum and cokes down, you just want to spontaneously find someone explaining the history of vinyl while DJing in a shipping container at midnight. That said, planning ahead can reap big rewards – so with that in mind here are some personal picks for top shows to see at the Fringe. As we've already dedicated a full list to musicals, I've avoided giving any a plug here (but be sure to check them out!).

I'd also love to give a shout-out to WhatsOnStage Award-winner My Son's A Queer (But What Can You Do?) and nominee Bloody Elle, both we've waxed lyrical about before but are well worth watching. Oh, and of course, you can also watch Ian McKellen in action.



Three Black performers detail their career experiences using beatboxing, rap, song and spoken word in this new show from the company Nouveau Riche, who rocked the Royal Court and New Diorama with For Black Boys Who Have Considered Suicide.... Roundabout at Summerhall, 3 to 28 August, 20:25 (Another recommendation is Maimuna Memon's Manic Street Creature, at the same venue).

Every Word Was Once An Animal

Belgian company Ontroerend Goed are Fringe regulars and their work has been seen across the UK – a few years back they turned the Almeida into a casino fitting for an economic crash. They're now back with a mysterious work that, reassuringly, tells audiences that "half a truth is often a great lie". So we're just going to go along and see what happens. Zoo Southside, 5 to 28 August, 14:15

Mind Mangler / Charlie Russell Aims to Please

Two new shows from the Mischief crew. Anyone who follows WhatsOnStage will know I've long held Henry Lewis as one of the funniest men working today, so seeing his cracking character The Mind Mangler get his own spin-off show is excellent stuff. At the same time, Mischief co-founder Charlie Russell is primed and ready to tackle Fringe tropes in a whimsical solo show. Both are essential viewing for comedy fans. Pleasance Courtyard, 3 to 27 August, 21:30, 15:15



The New Diorama and Underbelly's Untapped Award-winners are always a sure-fire watch for theatre punters at the Fringe, and this year is no different. If you want techno-clown funerals, cabaret-style take-downs of misogynistic policies in Malta or a piece that reportedly isn't about Hong Kong, then check these guys out. Of the four, we've selected Chewboy Productions' Caligari, which is a retelling of the German expressionist horror film The Cabinet of Dr Caligari, featuring five actor musicians as our must-see, but they're all going to be cracking. Underbelly Cowgate, 4 to 28 August, 18:30

Speed Dial

My Achilles Heels are fast-paced physical comedy thrillers and cryptic crosswords, so Spies Like Us' new show Speed Dial, which explores themes around physical connection and British universities, is basically hitting every button necessary. Pleasance Dome, 3 to 29 August, 14:20 (I'd also recommend The Man Who Thought He Knew Too Much if you want a similar vibe).

The Black Blues Brothers

Circus, cinematic tributes and some jaw-dropping physical skill – that's what The Black Blues Brothers has to offer in what will be a veritable visual feast for the family. Assembly Rooms (Music Hall), 3 to 28 August, 16:45


London contemporary dance home The Place have steered this new funky piece to the Fringe and it looks mega. Blending references to '90s and '00s sitcoms, it is an homage to the TV shows that made us and the friendships that keep us going. A lot of heart, delivered with physical prowess. Assembly George Square Gardens, 3 to 14 August, 17:25.

Happy Meal

Happy Meal
© Traverse

Tabby Lamb's nostalgic queer rom-com and tale of transition , directed by Jamie Fletcher (Hedwig and the Angry Inch), is giving off all the best kind of promise. It's part of a sturdy Traverse Theatre programme of shows, which you can find out more about here. Traverse Theatre, 4 to 28 August, various times

Feeling Afraid as if Something Terrible is Going to Happen

As per usual, the whole Roundabout programme could be on the list (special shout-out to Rafaella Marcus' Sap as a top contender), but in the spirit of fairness, I've limited myself to two shows – the second being Feeling Afraid as if Something Terrible is Going to Happen, starring The History Boys star Samuel Barnett. Written by Marcelo Dos Santos (Lionboy) and directed by Matthew Xia (Blue/Orange), the show is about a stand-up comedian trying to find Mr Right. Francesca Moody, of Fleabag and Baby Reindeer fame, produces. Roundabout at Summerhall, 3 to 28 August, 19:00