Edinburgh Fringe theatre highlights top ten 2013

Our pick of the shows coming to the Fringe at this summer's biggest arts festival

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There is a helluva lot of theatre at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, and part of the joy is taking a risk and discovering a great new show for yourself. Do you want to see world class theatre from big names at the Traverse? Something experimental at the Summerhall? Check out some new writing talent at the Pleasance? Well you should, then. If you're looking for a little more guidance, though, here are ten recommendations from Time Out's theatre critics to get you started this August.

  • © Camilla Greenwell

    Dark Vanilla Jungle

    Prolific, controversial playwright Philip Ridley has been busy in fringe theatre recently, with a fruitful partnership with director David Mercatali and the Southwark Playhouse yielding the modern classic 'Tender Napalm', plus several other works. Here he and Mercatali strike out London and north of the border with this monologue performed by actress Gemma Whelan, who stars as a woman who'll go to any lengths to find home and family. Expect bleak, surreal stuff.

    See 'Dark Vanilla Jungle' at Pleasance Courtyard, Jul 31-Aug 2, 3pm

  • © Robbie Cooper

    Stuart: A Life Backwards

    Alexander Masters's unconventional 2005 biography of reformed criminal, muscular dystrophy sufferer and rights campaigner Stuart Shorter has already spawned a successful film. But this stage adaptation comes with real class: it's written by the excellent Jack Thorne, whose 'Let The Right One In' comes to the Royal Court for Christmas, and stars beloved comic performer Will Adamsdale as Masters and Fraser Ayres as Shorter.

    See 'Stuart: A Life Backwards' at Underbelly, Bristo Square, Jul 31-Aug 2, 3.30pm

  • Anoesis

    Glaswegian young person's company Junction 25 produced one of the more remarkable shows of the 2011 Festival Fringe with 'I Hope That My Heart Goes First', an unapolgetically full-on piece about teenage notions of love. New piece 'Anoesis' concerns itself with the exams and their psychological effects on those who sit them – which may sound dry, but expect it to explode with ideas, passion and style.

    See 'Anoesis' at Summerhall, Aug 3-25

  • 'Squally Showers'

    The ever-enchanting Little Bulb Theatre scored a big hit at BAC earlier this year with 'Orpheus', their gypsy jazz folk opera version of the Orpheus myth. Convention would dictate that the company would take said show up to Edinburgh, where Little Bulb scored a big 2011 hit with 'Operation Greenfield'. But that would be too normal: instead the gang – who have never previously staged a dance work before – are returning with a dance theatre piece about the 1980s, because why not? Always delightful, always offering something different to last time, Little Bulb are always worth checking out.

    See 'Squally Showers' at Zoo Southside, Aug 2-24, 9pm

    See 'Squally Showers' at the National Theatre, Shed, Sep 12-14

     

     

     

     

  • Nirbhaya

    South African director Yael Farber's 'Mies Julie' was the hit of last year's Fringe, a searing reinterpretation of Strindberg's 'Miss Julie' that went on to be a major success in New York and then London. The follow up, 'Nirbhaya', is a bold piece of socially crusading theatre that uses an all-Indian cast to explore the shocking 2012 Delhi gang rape case, wherein a young Indian woman was raped by a gang of joyriders, subsequently dying of her injuries. It's a different type of play to its predecessor, but expect something equally as intense.

    See 'Nirbaya' at Assembly Hall, Aug 1-26, 4pm

  • Fight Night

    Long-term enfants terribles of the Fringe Festival, Belgian provocateurs Ontroerend Goed kept a low profile last year with their sweet, introspective show 'All That Is Wrong'. A glance at the trailer for newie 'Fight Night' suggests that the company responsible for at least two of the most controversial shows ever seen at the Fringe (2009's seduction-based 'Internal' and 2011's wildy upsetting 'Audience') are back at their most belligerent with a pugilistic popularity context.

    See 'Fight Night' at the Traverse Theatre, Aug 1-25

  • Northern Stage at St Stephens

    Dynamic Newcastle theatre Northern Stage took over this grand old Edinburgh church for a a highly acclaimed programme last year and it's back again this year, with an experimental and spoken word-centric roster of artists that includes a lot of old favourites and a few new faces (Kate Craddock's 'The GB Project', pictured). It's a very consistent venue provided you don't mind having the old grey cells wryly tickled, but we'd heartily recommend Daniel Bye's playful show about protest, 'How to Occupy an Oil Rig', and the excellent Chris Thorpe's new play 'There Has Possibly Been an Incident'.

    See Northern Stage at St Stephen's, Aug 3-24

  • Forest Fringe

    As ever, the entirely free Forest Fringe isn't actually part of the 'main' festival. But with two of the increasingly successful experimental theatre venue's shows – Action Hero's 'Hoke's Bluff', pictured and video, and Tim Crouch's 'what happens to hope at the end of the evening' – selected for the prestigious British Council showcase, there's certainly no sense of the Forest being mere outsiders. If you're looking for something a little different, wander down to its new premises at the Out of the Blue Drill Hall and take a punt on a show - but be warned, the tickets may be free but they're frequently snapped up in advance.

    See Forest Fringe at Out of the Blue Drill Hall, Aug 16-25, 11am-11pm

  • Chalk Farm

    Kieran Hurley's 'Beats' was one of the revelations of Edinburgh 2012; a furiously exciting, DJ-enhanced monologue about the end of rave culture. The nature of civil disobedience was a key concern of that and other Hurley works – so it'll be fascinating to see what he and co-writer AJ Taudevin make of the 2011 London riots and their aftermath in this new show. There's also a chance to catch the phenomenally good 'Beats' again before it transfers to Soho Theatre in the autumn.

    See 'Chalk Farm' at the Underbelly, Cowgate, Aug 1-25, 6.30pm

    See 'Beats' at the Pleasance Courtyard, Aug 1-11, 10.20pm

    See 'Beats' at the Soho Theatre, Oct 14-26

  • The Events

    Already the most controversial play of the Fringe – largely due to its being misreported in advance in certain papers as an 'Anders Brevik musical' – the latest project from hyper-prolific, infinitely diverse 'Charlie and the Chocolate Factory' adaptor David Grieg is this choir-assisted interrogation of the nature of community grief in response to unfathomable violence. A spin of the trailer suggests that it's not going to be unprovocative, mind. It runs at the Traverse Theatre during the Fringe, before transferring to the Young Vic in October.

    See 'The Events' in Edinburgh at the Traverse Theatre, Jul 31-Aug 25, times vary

    See 'The Events' at the Young Vic, Oct 9-Nov 2

© Camilla Greenwell

Dark Vanilla Jungle

Prolific, controversial playwright Philip Ridley has been busy in fringe theatre recently, with a fruitful partnership with director David Mercatali and the Southwark Playhouse yielding the modern classic 'Tender Napalm', plus several other works. Here he and Mercatali strike out London and north of the border with this monologue performed by actress Gemma Whelan, who stars as a woman who'll go to any lengths to find home and family. Expect bleak, surreal stuff.

See 'Dark Vanilla Jungle' at Pleasance Courtyard, Jul 31-Aug 2, 3pm


Users say

1 comments
Laura
Laura

Very handy article, good mixture of things to see at the Fringe!