The Edinburgh Festival Fringe is the biggest arts festival in the world, with over 3,000 shows. This year, Playbill will be going to Edinburgh in August for the festival and we’re taking you with us. Follow along this summer as we cover every single aspect of the Fringe, aka our real-life Brigadoon!
So many shows, only so much time to see them. How do you pick what's a must-see at Edinburgh Fringe. Well, one way is to start with some recommendations, and Playbill is collecting this year's most anticipated shows for newcomers and veterans alike. Rounding up the most anticipated shows by venue, Playbill's guides highlight the major venues not to miss at Fringe as you plan out your experience of the world's largest arts festival.
Founded in 1985, Pleasance operates three sites during the Fringe every year: Pleasance Courtyard, Pleasance Dome, and Pleasance at the Edinburgh International Conference Centre (EICC). The first, Pleasance Courtyard, is a destination in itself. Surrounding the large cobblestone courtyard filled with food and drink stands, Fringe-goers often gather here to hang out before and after seeing a show at one of the 18 spaces at the venue.
Pleasance Dome was the first Fringe venue to open at Bristo Square, which is now one of the major centers of the festival. And in 2016, Pleasance expanded to offering shows at EICC to support some of the more technically ambitious shows looking to run at Fringe (Florida-born artist Apphia Campbell returns to the EICC this year again with her solo show about Nina Simone, Black Is the Color of My Voice).
Check out the following 10 recommended shows at Pleasance Dome to see how you might want to spend a day at one of the bustling centers of Edinburgh Fringe.
Diana: The Untold and Untrue Story
Described as being "as hilarious as it is tasteless," a fictional Princess Diana tells the "untold and untrue" story of her life—from heaven. The work combines drag, multimedia, audience interaction, and puppetry to celebrate the woman known as the People's Princess. Do you know the story of Diana? Probably, but not like it will be told here. Performances will run August 2-28 in the King Dome.
Beautiful Evil Things
In this re-telling of the Trojan War, there's a new character put front and center: Medusa. After she was killed and her head strapped to the shield of the goddess Athena, she witnesses the battles with her open, stony gaze. And what does she see? The key to her hopes in three women. The high-energy one-woman show combines physical storytelling with cutting wit. Staged in the Queen Dome, performances will run August 2-27.
The setting? A ceilidh rave. The theme? Exploring what it means to be Scottish. Named for the Scottish slang word, Bampots tells stories of the people who make Scotland—exploring what it means to challenge stereotypes and embrace flaws. There will be loud music, and lots of swearing. Performances run in Ace Dome August 2-15.
Flat and the Curves: Divadom
A glittery comedy cabaret, Flat and the Curves is a for-the-adults ride through dating escapades "from the plight of online pornography to the perils of flat-pack furniture." Complete with self-penned songs about sex and bra-burning, the show promises to be a "sparkly spectacle filled with hilarity and full-frontal vulgarity." Performances run in the Queen Dome August 2-27.
David Lescot's dark dramedy explores one person's daily interactions with money, over the course of their entire lifetime from getting money from the Tooth Fairy to negotiating payment to the funeral director. Three actors play over 40 characters in an hour. This is Lescot's Fringe debut. Playing the King Dome, Dough will run August 2-28.
The Brief Life & Mysterious Death of Boris III, King of Bulgaria
Blending history with folk tunes, this show is based on the true story of what happened after, according to the press materials, "Bulgaria just told Hitler to f*ck off, saved nearly 50,000 Jewish lives... and lost a king." The show explores the choices made in this moment of history, and why the world forgot them. Performances run August 2-28 in the Queen Dome.
This is "a true life story about growing up Deaf in a family that has a secret." Jenny Sealey is telling her story in this one-woman show that will creatively integrate British Sign Language, captions, and audio description. Written by Sealey and Mike Kenny, Self-Raising plays the Queen Dome August 2-27.
Scaredy works the late shift at the cinema, and tonight's feature is "the horror-movie sexual awakenings of yesteryear." Poking fun at fat and queer representation in horror films, Scaredy Fat examines "what it means to love a genre that doesn't love you back." The show plays the Jack Dome August 2-28.
Showgirls and Spies
Based on the true story of WWII Jewish resistance fighter Florence Waren, Showgirls and Spies follows Waren as she works for the French resistance during the day—and takes the stage as a showgirl with the likes of Edith Piaf and Josephine Baker every night at the Bal Tabarin. This modern take on wartime Paris was written by a relative of Florence Waren, and plays the King Dome August 3-13.
One woman has two passports, and on each of them is a different name: Peyvand is British. Parisa is Iranian. As a child, Peyvand visits Iran with her father. They're held by the government, and though they eventually return to the U.K., one question remains: What of Parisa? This show is based on Peyvand Sadeghian's personal experience as a dual U.K. and Iranian citizen. It also features an Anglo-Persian pop soundtrack, drag, and animation. Dual runs in 10 Dome August 17-28.
Want to check out some more recommendations? Check out Playbill Goes Fringe to keep up with our coverage before, during, and after the festival! For more information about Pleasance's programming, visit Pleasance.co.uk.