From hip hop and football to Adam Smith and ABBA, a host of shows are celebrating all the colours of Caledonia this August
It isn't entirely unfair – although it is deliberately provocative – to say that much of Scottish theatre dwells on the conditions and experience of being Scottish. Whether this is a necessary reflection on a nation caught between Brexit and independence, or a self-indulgent pity-party, it does seem more than appropriate that the Edinburgh Fringe gives a platform to those subjects that are immediately relevant to the local citizens, and that visitors from around the world can use theatre as a means of appreciating the culture beyond the stage.
Ane City Elfie Picket Assembly Roxy – Downstairs, 31 Jul–26 Aug, 2.20pm Winner of the Assembly Roxy Theatre Award, Ane City is a one-woman show from emerging company Elfie Picket. Told through the Scots language, thoughts from Rabbie Burns and a guitar, Tay wanders around Dundee reflecting on her own identity. Alcohol, ABBA and late-night revelations combine to explore belonging and hope.
Bible John Poor Michelle Pleasance Courtyard, 31 Jul–26 Aug (not 13), 3.50pm The case of a murderer who frequented Glasgow's Barrowlands Ballroom – which is still open and remains an iconic venue – remains unsolved half a century after three women were killed. The suspect had a habit of quoting the Old Testament, and over the years his story has been woven into the urban legends of Scotland's greatest city.
The Brooklyn Scotsman Loose Endz Hill Street Theatre, 2–25 Aug, 7.30pm Scottish hip-hop has become a dynamic force in the past decade, representing both pop, hardcore and experimental variations on the form. Loose Endz follow the adventures of one rapper who decides to migrate to one of the homes of hip-hop, Brooklyn.
If You're Feeling Sinister: A Play With Songs
Chic Murray: A Funny Place for a Window Fair Pley The Stand's New Town Theatre, 19–25 Aug, 3.40pm Fresh from its success as part of Glasgow's famous Play, Pie, and a Pint programme, Stuart Hepburn's comedy celebrates the life and laughs of a Scottish legend. Murray's absurdist humour became a mainstay of Scottish radio during the 1970s.
Resurrecting Bobby Awl Brian Catling Summerhall, Anatomy Lecture Theatre, 31 Jul–25 Aug (not 1, 12, 19), 4pm Brian Catling is RA sculptor, poet, novelist, film maker, academician and performance artist, and his script explores the life of a 19th century street urchin and reinserts his forgotten biography back into Edinburgh's mythical history.
If You're Feeling Sinister: A Play with Songs Avalon and BBC Arts in association with Tron Theatre Gilded Balloon, Doonstairs, 31 Jul–26 Aug (not 12), 3.45pm Rising Scottish writer and director Eve Nicol adapts the classic Belle and Sebastian album for the stage. A group of outsiders are preparing to pull off Glasgow's greatest-ever heist, while reflecting on shame and their fear of being left behind.
1902 Saltire Sky Theatre Wee Red Bar, 2–26 Aug (not 7, 14, 21), 7.30pm From their name, through their logo, to the subject of their debut success (football), Saltire Sky take 'flying the flag' for Scottish theatre very seriously. Following the adventures of fans of Hibernian FC as they follow their team to the final of the Scottish Cup, 1902 is a rare combination of performance, football and – even for the Fringe – a local tale of bevy and the emotional rollercoaster that is fandom.
Adam Smith: The Invisible Hand In Company and Edinburgh Business School Panmure House, 1–25 Aug (not 5, 12, 19), 4pm Smith's influence is international, if not necessarily always respected, but 'the father of capitalism' was a key figure in the Scottish Enlightenment and his ideas have ensured a Caledonian flavour to the growth of modernity. This production takes place in the home of the philosopher, adding a rare depth of historical resonance.
Suffering from Scottishness Kevin P Gilday Assembly Roxy, 31 Jul–26 Aug (not 7, 13, 20), 5.10pm On the very edge of theatre – equal parts immersive experience and focus-group exploration of identity – spoken word artist Gilday takes on the independence referendum by imagining the kind of questions that would be needed for a Scottish identity test and finds the humour and irony in notions of patriotism and nationalism.
Second Honeymoon Edinburgh People's Theatre Mayfield Salisbury Church, 2–17 Aug (not 4, 11), various times A couple decides to celebrate their twenty-fifth wedding anniversary by revisiting the Ayrshire guest house where they spent their honeymoon. Made famous by the comic Jimmy Logan, this script is a classic of Scottish humour, and the EPT have been presenting their programme of plays in Lothian for over seventy-five years.
Elfie Picket and Assembly present
Tay has returned to her hometown of Dundee for a summer of relaxation, drinking and self-discovery. But first, she has to get through a night out with her friends, hitting the streets of Dundee. From tacky pubs with seedy bouncers to revelations on the McManus steps with Rabbie Burns…
Saltire Sky's hit debut show is back for its third successive year! Follow these fearless young Scots in their quest to see their heroes lift the Scottish Cup. Laughter, tears and bevy are guaranteed in this electric piece of new writing. Saltire Sky provide an access-all-areas approach to working-class life, growing up…
Loose Endz Entertainment
A teenage Scottish rapper leaves home to pursue his dreams across the Atlantic in New York City. Venturing into the unknown, Stevie finds himself living in one of the roughest ghettos in Brooklyn, where he will encounter sex, violence, drugs and so much more. A brutally honest coming-of-age…
Fair Pley / The Stand Comedy Club
Chic Murray was the comedian’s comedian. In a career that took him from an engineer’s apprenticeship in Kincaid’s shipyard, Greenock, to the top of the bill at the London Palladium, Chic was a complete one-off. Dave Anderson as Chic, Maureen Carr and Brian James O’Sullivan recreate…
Edinburgh People's Theatre
Set in an Ayrshire guest house in the 1960s, this hilarious comedy follows a week in the life of Mr and Mrs McIlroy who have chosen to revisit where they had spent their honeymoon 25 years earlier. With laughter right from the opening line, Second Honeymoon is certainly a comedy classic. This…
Avalon and BBC Arts in association with Tron Theatre
He was exhausted by life. She was tired of waiting for it to begin. Now Boss and Kid are on the run. A reckless artist waiting to be found and an academic looking to lose himself could pull off Glasgow's greatest heist if they can keep their hands off one another and…
In Company Theatre Productions and Edinburgh Business School
What would happen if the lost papers of a genius were recovered in the modern day? Four actors present a dramatisation of the life and works of Adam Smith, performed in the house in which he lived and died. Join Jean Jacques Rousseau, Voltaire, Robert Burns…
Avalon and BBC Arts
Born in the nineteenth century and kept in the toe of a boot hung above a fire, Bobby Awl grew to become a feature of the Fleshmarket Steps. Famous in his time but wiped out of history by Messrs Burke and Hare, Bobby's life had passed into the void until his death mask was discovered by…