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Top 10 immersive shows at the Edinburgh Festival

Ten shows we can't wait to get swallowed up by when the Festival opens this week


© Ashley Irwin

1. Party Game

Traverse at the Wee Red Bar, 8 - 20 Aug, 20:30

Party Game comes to Wee Red Bar courtesy of bluemouth inc., who created the award-winning Dance Marathon back in 2011, alongside Necessary Angel Theatre company. Audiences are encouraged to interact, play along and prepare for a surprise party before the unknowing guest arrives, only for the eventual outcome to go awry. Certainly different to an evening of boozing in the Courtyard.


2. Joe's NYC Bar

Assembly George Square Studios, various times

Speaking of evening boozing, if it's something merry you want then Joe's NYC Bar at Assembly George Square may have the ideal solution, with audiences transported to a stateside drinking establishment. Interactivity, improvisation and immersive theatre run amok as the night progresses. A host of musical guests will also feature across the month. Carrying some solid reviews under their belt after last year's Edinburgh run, this could be a great way to chill out after an intense day of show hopping.


FK Alexander and Okishima Island Tourist Association in (I Could Go on Singing) Over the Rainbow
© Jannica Hone

3. (I Could Go on Singing) Over the Rainbow

Summerhall, 11 - 27 Aug, 20:00

FK Alexander and Okishima Island Tourist Association return to Summerhall after the success of I Could Go on Singing last year, when they picked up a Total Theatre Award. The premise is a strange one - Alexander sings Judy Garland's famous tune over and over again, cutting through white noise, for the duration of the hour, giving select members of the audience an intimate encounter. Our reviewer Matt Trueman described the experience as 'a simple, but multifaceted, expression of art's balm against the agonies of existence'.



© Second Circle

4. Meeting at 33

Pleasance Courtyard, 7 - 18, various times

Immersive theatre can sometimes dazzle, while at other times it can be the prime opportunity to evoke introspection, made all the more pointed by the intimate context. Meeting at 33, based on verbatim accounts of addicts, allows audience members to sit in, become part of confidential circles and witness stories unfold, in an attempt to broach wider topics of addiction in society.


5. Séance / Foreign Radical

Summerhall, various times / 13:00

We already mentioned both Séance and Foreign Radical in our list of top ten of innovative uses of tech this August, so have brazenly put them in an entry together here. Summerhall does have a stellar line-up of immersive shows, but where these two excel is by subjecting groups of individuals to extreme circumstances. In the case of Séance, this takes the form of a bombardment of sonic experience, while Foreign Radical plays upon innate paranoia and fear among groups.



© Frozen Light

6. Home

Pleasance Courtyard, 21 - 28 Aug, 10:30

The Fringe has been doing an increasing amount for both performers and audiences with disabilities, and Home, running for a week at the Pleasance Courtyard, is a heartening sign of the times. Frozen Light's production caters towards audiences with learning difficulties, providing a story based on sensory experiences and immersion. Vitally, free carer tickets are also available for the duration of the run.


Trainspotting will open at the Vaults on 8 November
© Andreas Grieger

7. Trainspotting Live

Venue150 at EICC, various times

The King's Head and In Your Face production of Irvine Welsh's cult novel is something of a Fringe classic, but 2017 sees the show taken to new heights (or depths) in a tailor-made tunnel venue at EICC. With audiences thrust underground alongside Renton, Begbie and the gang, the show, directed by Adam Spreadbury-Maher, will seek to shock and appall in as many different ways as possible (if its run at The Vaults last year is anything to go by).



© Doughnut Productions

8. Speaking in Tongues: The Lies / The Truths

Pleasance Courtyard, 19:00 / 20:15

Swivel chairs may not be the boldest innovation at the Fringe, but by inverting the idea of theatre-in-the-round and placing audiences at the heart of the debate, the aptly named Doughnut Productions give the audience a tricky scenario - when everyone is lying to each other, who do you watch? Who can you take for granted? Doughnut go even further and present the piece in two stand-alone sections, meaning it's easy to go back and want more if necessary.



© Montgomery Martin

9. Transmission

Assembly George Square Studios, 5 - 26 Aug, 14:55

Transmission takes immersion to a new level, transforming the geography of Edinburgh into an interactive performance space with the help of apps and mobile device features. The show is also swamped in sci-fi elements, with the story revolving around Commander Karam, discovering intelligent alien life and the transformation of humanity into an interstellar community. Lofty themes, though well within the remit of Assembly's Future Play festival.



(© © Chrystal Ding)

10. 250-Hour Epic Tabletop Roleplaying Game

Sweet Holyrood, 10:00 - 21:00 every day

For our final choice we decided to go slightly left field. Sometimes the only drama you need is the theatre of war - in this case war being decided by the roll of a die. Total Party Kill are bringing a bumper marathon of an immersive theatre experience built around tabletop gaming to Sweet Holyrood, in what is sure to be a slightly unconventional experience for both RPG die-hards and newbies alike. Warning; may also include dragons.

For all our content from this year's Edinburgh Festival click here

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