We round up the best experimental and unfamiliar live art and performance art shows coming to the Fringe this year
The Fringe isn't really a Fringe anymore: it's just a big, unstructured competition for audiences that doesn't have much space for the experimental or unfamiliar. However, it is still possible to find performance art – or live art, which might be a different name for the same thing – nestling between the adaptations of classic novels, wild interpretations of Shakespeare and solo autobiographical monologues. The following ten shows come from traditions that would hate to be considered traditional.
Summerhall, 31 Jul–11 Aug, 9.10pm
Directed by Ursula Martinez, who either disgraced herself or became a Fringe legend through her part in Wild Bore a couple of years ago, Contra is a cross-media look at the female body. Expect circus skills, stand-up comedy and the magic ingredient of 'live art' – a refusal to be pinned down by expectations.
Summerhall, 13–25 Aug (not 19), 12.05pm
Hoffmann has made a career refusing the predictable and demonstrating a willingness to take on subjects that are often passed over in silence. With the help of gospel music and heavy metal, she investigates the womb and her own experience of having an ovary removed.
Harry Josephine Giles, Rob Jones, Neil Simpson and Jamie Wardrop
Summerhall, 31 Jul–17 Aug (not 1, 12), 7.10pm
'Encasing Harry Josephine Giles' poetry within Jamie Wardrop's striking videography and a menacing soundscape from Neil Simpson, Drone sits within the movement of spoken word artists expanding their performances into a more immersive experience co-founder and curator of Anatomy, Edinburgh's night of alternative performance, Giles refuses obvious traditions and for a lively, sometimes personal, sometimes political, and frequently provocative fusion of media.'
Pleasance Courtyard, 31 Jul–25 Aug (not 7, 12, 19), 8pm
McCormick's previous Fringe hit, Triple Threat somehow managed to satirise contemporary culture through the story of Jesus: for Post Popular she promises to trawl through history to break open stories of power and purpose.
Cade and MacAskill, Take Me Somewhere
Summerhall, 8–25 Aug (not 12, 19), 1.30pm
'This show consists of riotous back and forth banter between the two identical hosts with no outside responses. They use classic, cheesy and cliché presenter jargon like 'you're not wrong', 'get in touch' and 'we want to hear from you'. Yet, no one gets in touch – they only appear to exist in this universe by themselves.'
Scottee & Friends
Assembly Roxy, 1–25 Aug (not 5, 6, 12, 13, 19, 20), 4.05pm
Scottee is a live art legend, unafraid of hosting cabarets, getting serious about big issues and generally knocking about taboos with glee. Promising a show for the middle-classes, Scottee draws on his own childhood memories of 'mould and clothes off the market'.
Oh Yes Oh No
Summerhall, 31 Jul–25 Aug (not 1, 12, 19), 7.20pm
Treading tricky territory – not least recovery from sexual assault – Orwin's distinctive style of audience involvement and serious ideas given a playful working out – Oh Yes Oh No questions the easy answers about sexual desire and challenges taboo with a lively energy and cerebral focus.
Leave A Message
Jessica Rose Productions and Bad Thursday
Gilded Balloon Patter Hoose, 31 Jul–26 Aug (not 12), 2pm
While boasting a traditional writer and director and structure, Leave a Message takes autobiographical theatre into unfamiliar places: a man, Ed (played by Ed Coleman) is cleaning out his father's bedsit after his death. Based on Coleman's own experiences, the script is balanced between verbatim episodes and a painful excavation of family secrets, alcoholism and legacy.
Traverse, 1–25 Aug (not 5, 12, 19), various times
Travis Alabanza has worked with Scottee and appeared in the theatrical adaptation of Jarman's Jubilee, but after being pelted by a burger and abused, Albanza 'became obsessed with burgers' and this incident inspired a reflection on how trans bodies can be protected, understood and perceived.
Sh!t Theatre Drink Rum with Expats
Soho Theatre in association with Show And Tell
Summerhall, 31 Jul–25 Aug (not 1, 12), 8.05pm
Having become Fringe favourites by approaching difficult topics from unexpected angles, Sh!t take on Brexit through a visit to Malta. Trying to make a show for ex-pats, they are surrounded by scandals – not their own – and find that the safest place to be is in the boozer.