From the taboo to the titillating, highlights include Blind Date, Algorithms and Me and My Doll
There is nothing surer to bring crowds to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe than plays and performances which deal in getting down and dirty. Sex has often been synonymous with Fringe theatre over the decades, and in the wake of #MeToo, issues around our bodies and those we choose to share them with are no longer necessarily just limited to the late night shows. The thematic concerns in these picks range from the taboo to the titillating, with plenty of humour, drama and thought-provoking writing along the way.
Algorithms Sadie Clark & Laura Elmes Productions Pleasance Courtyard, 31 Jul–26 Aug (not 13), 12.45pm Sadie Clark's one woman show navigates the online dating scene from the perspective of Brooke, a bisexual woman, as she turns thirty. Writer and performer Clark was recently longlisted for 4Stories as part of Channel 4's new talent initiative. The preconceptions of women in society, sexuality, FOMO, and feeling (dis)connected through social media are addressed in this witty and moving new show.
Ejaculation: Discussions About Female Sexuality From Start to Finnish Summerhall, 31 Jul–24 Aug (not 1, 12, 19), 8.55pm Still something of a taboo subject, Finnish performer and creator Essi Rossi, along with electronic musician Sarah Kivi, present an honest, raw piece of documentary theatre which is the result of extensive international research with women from different backgrounds, alongside some sex experts.This is the UK premiere and will make for a fascinating, frank and insightful hour.
Don't Be Terrible
Don't Be Terrible Standard Man Productions Pleasance Courtyard, 31 Jul–25 Aug (not 12), 11pm Ellen Waddell, a comedian, writer and member of the band Los Campesinos! along with writer/director Oliver Milburn, has created a play that focuses on what happens when a young man called Steve gets a comedian called Alice to mentor him to win back his girlfriend's affection. However, things don't quite go according to plan. Relationships, humour and how we bond is scrutinised in this playful but dark comedy. It returns, this time to the Pleasance, after proving a massive hit at last year's Free Fringe.
Me and My Doll Old Joint Stock Theatre Gilded Balloon Patter Hoose, 31 Jul–26 Aug (not 13), 12.15pm It is an unconventional pairing, certainly, but workaholic Kate finds she is in a relationship with a blow up doll 'boyfriend'. Old Joint Stock Theatre look at what happens when an inflatable doll becomes sentient, and if a lady can ever trust again, or simply be 'let down' as per usual. Bicycle pump not provided.
Confessions of The Romantically Challenged 3BUGS Fringe Theatre Greenside @ Infirmary Street, 12–24 Aug (not 18), 6.25pm Birmingham's energetic 3BUGS take an altogether different approach to depicting romance, with four different stories about the flipside of love. The characters are struggling to hold on to their partners, are trapped or feeling lost and lonely.
Your Sexts Are Shit: Older Better Letters Rachel Mars Summerhall, 13–25 Aug (not 19), 11.30am There is nothing like starting the day with some absolute filth. Writer and performer Rachel Mars presents a selection of historical correspondence, from secret lovers, spouses, and mistresses, including James Joyce, Eleanor Roosevelt and Georgia O'Keefe that are tender, shocking and sometimes, downright gross. There will be bodily fluids, but also a lot of laughs, queer perspectives and possibly tears too.
Ejaculation: Discussions About Female Sexuality
Blind Date Rebecca Northan, Spontaneous Theatre, CanadaHub CanadaHub @ King's Hall, 31 Jul–25 Aug (not 5, 12, 19) Taking audience participation to extremes, this semi-improvised show features Rebecca Northan as a naughty, glamorous French clown who will select a (willing) male member of the audience to join her onstage for said date. Seduction and shenanigans will most likely be the result, with some wry commentary on manipulation, all infused with a 'watch through your fingers' tension.
A Womb Of One's Own Wonderbox and the Pleasance Pleasance Dome, 31 Jul–26 Aug (not 13, 22), 2.50pm Based on real-life experiences of abortion and a Catholic upbringing, writer Claire Rammelkamp's show unflinchingly tackles relationships, university life and the lack of information around having a termination. It's also a funny and furious look at queer politics and stigmatisation.
Between Us Rachel E. Thorn and Alex Keen theSpace @ Surgeon's Hall, 2–17 Aug (not 11), 6.20pm The vagaries of finding intimacy with a significant other and falling apart, are explored in this moving play from Rachel E. Thorn and Alex Keen. There is nothing more complicated after all than human interactions. The script has been improvised by these acclaimed actors, so anything can happen here, as they delve into the highs and lows of one couple's relationship .
Confetti and Chaos Interactive Theatre International Imagination Workshop, 1–26 Aug (not 6, 13, 20), 5pm From the team that brought the legendary immersive show Faulty Towers The Dining Experience to the Edinburgh Fringe, this will be a wedding like no other, with a three course meal, questionable dancing and some bizarre, hilarious incidents along the way. Starring Nerine Skinner and Otis Waby as the hapless couple. Be a guest in an unpredictable and anarchic show.
3BUGS Fringe Theatre
A block of flats. Four different rooms. Four different stories. Confessions of the Romantically Challenged tackles different issues surrounding the complicated, paradoxical, confusing, universal thing that is ‘love’. Each story illustrates people who are, in one way or another, facing a problem in…
Rebecca Northan, Spontaneous Theatre, CanadaHub
'Balls to the wall theatre!' ★★★★ (GetDown.ca). One actor. One audience member. One blind date. A sexy French clown goes on a blind date with a willing gentleman from the audience. Warning: improv, naughty clowning, strong language, spiritual nudity, hilarity! Sold out…
Old Joint Stock Theatre
When an inflatable doll comes to life could it be just the man Kate needs? Workaholic Kate is "gifted" a blow-up boyfriend and keeps it as an act of defiance. Soon, the doll becomes the only person she dares to be herself around… but as it begins to take on a mind of its own, Kate realises the…
From Start to Finnish
Is female ejaculation the last taboo? A documentary performance about sexuality and desires based on interviews with women from various backgrounds and countries. Through a personal journey, the performance creates safe space for self-discovery and explores the collective experience of female…
Standard Man Productions
Can stand-up save your love life? Self-confessed nice guy Steve thinks so. That's why he's asked Alice, an up-and-coming stand-up, how to make people laugh. It's his last-ditch attempt to distract his girlfriend from the funny guy at work. Unfortunately, misanthrope Alice believes in comedy…
Rachel E. Thorn and Alex Keen
Boy meets girl. But then what? Between Us is a bittersweet play that tells the inside story of one couple’s relationship. Created in the moment by nationally acclaimed improvisers, we discover what makes us fall in love and what makes us fall apart. 'This is live theatre taken to a whole…
Total Theatre Award-winning Rachel Mars returns following her gleeful sell-out hit Our Carnal Hearts. This time, she’s unearthing the hot-as-hell letters from history that make sexts blush. Before tech, there were hand-written letters. And loads of them were proper filthy. Come! Take pleasure in James…