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  • Writer's pictureCultural Dose

Theatre at Edinburgh Festival Fringe

The world’s largest arts event, this year’s Edinburgh Festival Fringe runs from 4 – 28 August with a programme that celebrates a diverse selection of work spanning a range of genres. We took a look at the theatre section to pick out some of this year’s highlights

International shows

Artists from all over the world come to perform at the Fringe. This year’s Fringe includes Them (Pleasance Dome) from Finland and Iceland, with four women talking to men about toxic masculinity. Based on dozens of interviews with male-identifying people from different countries as well as the creators’ own personal stories, it asks questions about men’s experiences of toxic masculinity, and of women’s experiences of patriarchy. From Denmark, The Insider (ZOO Southside) is thriller that looks into the human face of greed. The use of headphones and 3D-sound creates an intimate connection with the cynical financier on stage when he is interrogated at a party in the club, in the shower, in a bank in Zürich. Also at ZOO, Fringe legends from Belgium Ontroerend Goed’s new show Funeral (ZOO Southside) is about the finiteness of things in a theatrical ritual about bringing people together. The gently participatory show to ask how we mark a personal loss when religion no longer connects us. Layers (Assembly Roxy) is from Japan, an innovative one-man play depicting 10 minutes of a day in the life of a performer. At Summerhall, two children’s shows from Korea bring us a magical adventure journeying inside a whale’s stomach in Wait!, and charming tale Blub Blubis about two fish attempting to escape an aquarium, one trying to break the wall, one using a trampoline.


Adaptations this year range from George Orwell – 1984 (Assembly Roxy) and Animal Farm (theSpace) – to Shakespeare, with two different Lears at theSpace, Nearly Lear told from the point of view of the Fool, and Lear Alone using just Lear’s lines to explore loneliness and ageing. Other adaptations include horror story Casting the Runes, adapted from the M.R. James classic and told with puppets, Ray Bradbury sci-fi story Tomorrow’s Child in an audio-adaptation about a child accidentally born in the wrong dimension, and Little Wimmin (ZOO Southside)


Shows based on true life range from hilarious to downright harrowing. On the lighter side, Confessions of a Teletubby (theSpace) is by the original LaaLaa, and Wasteman (Assembly) is Joe Leather’s story of becoming both a refuse loader and a drag queen during lockdown. The solo debut of actor and writer Callum Hughes, Thirst (Pleasance Courtyard), is a showcase of sympathetic yet humorous diaries on his battles with alcoholism and his life as a musician. And Life Learnings of a Nonsensical Human (Banshee Labyrinth) sees into the mind and life of Jenny Foulds growing up in the 90s, coming out and raves; to losing a parent, grief and finding the ability to find pockets of joy again.

Taking a more serious tone, The Good Dad (A Love Story) is a psychological drama about the consequences of child sexual abuse. Inspired by real-life events from the 1980s, this haunting family drama will see one actor take on the roles of a mother and her identical twin daughters, one of which is in prison for the murder of her father. One Way Out (Underbelly), one of three winners of this year’s Untapped Award, is about young British-Caribbean’s experiences of the Windrush Crisis. Inspired by the true events of his own cousin receiving a deportation letter at the age of nineteen, playwright Montel Douglas tells the important but often neglected story of young people being stripped of their legalities after having grown up in the UK. Finally, Afghanistan Is Not Funny by Henry Naylor (Gilded Balloon) is about Henry’s experiences in Afghanistan. In 2002, whilst researching a comedy, Naylor and photographer Sam Maynard went to the Afghan warzone. An extraordinary tale ensued.


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