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!
Collecting your list of must-see shows ahead of this year's Edinburgh Fringe? Playbill is rounding up this year's most anticipated shows for newcomers and veterans alike to help with navigating what not to miss this August. Our handy guides break down the top recommended shows at the festival's major venues so you can 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.
Featuring seven South African actors, Dark Noon reimagines the history of America. "They say history is told by the victors; this story is told by the vanquished." From the 35 million poor and hungry Europeans to the enslaved Africans, Native Americans, and Chinese immigrants, it's a drama about the race for land, wealth, fame—and for a home. Performances run in the Lennox Theatre at EICC August 2–27.
For the 30th anniversary of Irvine Welsh's novel of the sane name, Trainspotting LIVE returns after six sold-out Fringe runs as an immersive adaptation of the black comedy. Audiences take part in the action—including the infamous "worst toilet in Scotland" scene. It runs August 3–27 at Cromdale Tunnel at EICC.
TONY! [The Tony Blair Rock Opera]
Following its world premiere last year, TONY! comes to Fringe. Featuring a book by stand-up comedian Harry Hill with music and lyrics by Steve Brown, the satire looks at the life of Britain’s first pop Prime Minister Tony Blair from hippy and would-be pop star to politician and multimillionaire—set against a backdrop of political intrigue, religion, power, and romance. Described as "Yes, Minister meets The Rocky Horror Show," TONY! plays the Pentland Theatre at EICC August 2–27.
Spirit of Ireland
If you're looking for a bit of Irish dancing, Spirit of Ireland is set to deliver. Along with a live five-piece band from Dublin, Spirit of Ireland seeks to create a theatrical experience that feels like a night at the pub with a mix of music, dance, comedy, and storytelling—some historic and true, some that perhaps have only ever been legends. Running at the Lennox Theatre at EICC, it plays Fringe August 7–27.
The Night of the Musicals
Arriving from London's The Other Palace, the show celebrates the favorites of musical theatre fans. Showcasing numbers (solos, duets, and ensemble ones), the concert treats audiences with tunes from the likes of Wicked, West Side Story, Les Misèrables, and more. Playing a limited run August 15–19, catch The Night of the Musicals in the Lomond Theatre at EICC.
"Seven seasons. 70 minutes. One Spike." This is the premise of Buffy Revamped, a parody of the cult 90s TV show which will have all 144 episodes boiled down through the perspective of one character. It returns to Fringe via the Lomond Theatre at EICC August 3–27 after selling out a U.K. tour.
A Comedy of Operas
It's a musical about a love story—and it takes place within the world of opera. With a dose of physical comedy, five singers bring the soundtrack—which mixes opera, rock, and pop—to the stage in this show which has toured internationally. Performances are in the Pentland Theatre at EICC August 2–27.
Black Is The Color Of My Voice
Fringe First and Spirit of the Fringe award winner Apphia Campbell returns with her solo show Black Is The Color of My Voice for a limited run celebrating its 10th anniversary. Campbell plays music icon Nina Simone over the course of a weekend in Simone's life in which she attempts to connect with her late father for an intimate look at "the woman behind the music." Read more about the show, which plays only five performances at the Pentland Theatre at EICC August 14-19, in this interview with Campbell.
Sh!t-Faced Shakespeare®: Romeo and Juliet
Returning to the Fringe, Sh!t-Faced Shakespeare®: Romeo and Juliet puts a truly inebriated actor into the action of Shakespeare's classic and tragic love story. The cast member changes every night, and the shenanigans that follow are similarly a surprise to all involved. Along with showcasing classically trained actors, Sh!t-Faced Shakespeare also features "partial nudity, foul language, spontaneous song, outrageous antics, and actual Shakespeare." It plays the Pentland Theatre at EICC August 2–27.
Iain Dale: All Talk
Iain Dale is a presenter on British talk radio station LBC, and he's returning to Fringe with his series of live, in-depth interviews about current affairs. This year's run has announced a line-up of politicians, media insiders, and more including Jeremy Corbyn, Len McCluskey, Mick Lynch, John Curtice, Brian Taylor, Penny Mordaunt, Chris Mullin, Sasha Swire, Wes Streeting, Harriet Harman, Alex Salmond, David Davis, Peter Hitchens, Polly Toynbee, Vince Cable, Nicola Sturgeon, Humza Yousaf, and Jess Phillips. Interviews will be conducted with questions from the live audience in Sidlaw Theatre at EICC August 5–13.
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.