Best things to see at the Edinburgh Fringe
- Brian Donaldson
- 11 August 2021
All hail to the Edinburgh Fringe as it flings its doors wide again to welcome a swathe of top shows
After last year's non-event, it warms the heart to know that the Edinburgh festival is back with a vengeance. While the Fringe is certainly slimmed down from what we've known before, there's still lots to choose from. Here's a selection of 20 top shows and acts to see over the coming month.
The rising star of Scotland's stand-up scene hones in on a new show with this work-in-progress titled Oh No. We're promised gags about sex, drugs and pasta, and surely there's nothing we need more right now.
Gilded Balloon Teviot, Friday 13–Sunday 29 August, 8.30pm, £10–£11.
Arguably the most apropos comedy show at the Fringe, as the talented ventriloquist gives us two slabs of In Your Face, in which she pops a mask on audience members and voices their thoughts and actions.
Assembly George Square Gardens, Thursday 12 & Friday 13 August, 5pm, £14–£15 (£13–£14).
Ahead of his 2022 tour Control, the man who had a bread roll thrown at him during a corporate gig has the last laugh, and probably takes the biscuit, with a warm-up show about the ills of this land.
Monkey Barrel, Monday 16–Sunday 22 August, 7.15pm; Saturday 21 & Sunday 22 August, 3.15pm, £6–£24.
The ex-Inbetweener makes his stand-up debut with Trying Not To Panic, a set about fame, childhood and OCD, all tackled by a man who is looking down the barrel of mid-seniority (he's 37, hardly pensionable age)
Pleasance Courtyard, Friday 13–Tuesday 17 August, 7pm; Saturday 14 August, 9.15pm, Sunday 15 August, 4.45pm, £14.
She may have one of the most intriguing show titles of the festival (Autistic Bikini Queen) but thankfully the Bathgate-born stand-up has the quality to back it up. Brady has been dubbed 'fearless' and 'acerbic'. She's both of those things, but a whole lot more.
Monkey Barrel, until Tuesday 17 August (not Tuesday 10), 6.45pm, £8–£40.
With much Hubris, and a large pile of talent, the Viking Fifer storms two separate stages this month to cement his reputation as one of the leading comedy lights of his generation.
Corn Exchange, Wednesday 11–Saturday 14 August, various times, £16.50–£21.50; Festival Theatre, Saturday 21 Aug, 7pm, £23.50.
The co-director and co-founder of Project X Dance brings us two pieces online, with Wrapped Up In This honouring previous generations while Grin explores hyper-sexualised notions of African and Caribbean dance.
Wrapped Up In This, Summerhall Online, available now, £7 (£4); Grin, Summerhall Online, available from Friday 13 August, £7 (£4).
National Dance Company Wales
Digital affair here from NDCWales with two short outdoor pieces filmed in their home nation earlier this month. 'Why Are People Clapping!?' is set to a Steve Reich soundtrack and 'Moving is everywhere, forever' is an ode to the very act of dancing.
ZOOTV, available Wednesday 18–Sunday 29 August, £5.
Devised during lockdown, Vest-igios is an intimate circus performance from the acclaimed Circolombia about brotherhoods and a dystopian wasteland, all laid on with jaw-dropping physical fervour.
Assembly Roxy, Tuesday 24–Sunday 29 August, 4.30pm, £14–£16 (£13–£15).
The Big Birthday Show With Magic Gareth
In previous times, Magic Gareth has entertained those aged five and above with shows about Halloween and Christmas, and here he's drawing attention to birthdays: did you have one spoilt rotten by Covid? Gareth will help make up for that with balloons, games and general fun times.
Pleasance Courtyard, until Sunday 22 August (not Monday 16), 12.30pm, £7–£28 (£5–£20).
Is This A Dagger?
Andy Cannon is back with his acclaimed show about Shakespeare's 'Scottish play', taking audiences on a thousand-year journey from fact to fiction and all the way back round again.
Scottish Storytelling Centre, until Tuesday 17 (not Wednesday 11), Saturday 21 & Sunday 22, Saturday 28 & Sunday 29 August, 1pm, £12 (£10).
Recorded in lockdown but now taking to the stage, Hynde's Standing In The Doorway paid tribute to the songs of Bob Dylan. Special guests for these shows are The Rails, comprised of Pretenders guitarist James Walbourne and Kami Thompson, daughter of folk icons Richard and Linda.
Queen's Hall, Sunday 22–Wednesday 25 August, 7.30pm, £34.50.
For several nights, Richard Shelton is Frank Sinatra in a show that recalls the moment in 1971 when Ole Blue Eyes was contemplating retirement. This stirring show is all about his defiant return to centre stage.
Pleasance at EICC, until Sunday 15 August, 8pm, £15.
Guitarist Rachel Aggs and drummer Eilidh Rodgers light up the Secret Courtyard for this special Nothing Ever Happens Here gig. Bone up ahead of time on their SAY Award winner Strike A Match and its follow-up Run Around The Sun for the most fun homework ever.
Summerhall, Friday 13 August, 7pm, £16.50.
Out Of The Blue
Thirteen chaps currently make up Out Of The Blue, the ever-evolving Oxford University a cappella collective that reached the semi-finals of Britain's Got Talent in 2011 and have delighted audiences in the West End and on Broadway.
Assembly George Square Gardens, until Sunday 29 August (not Thursday 12 & Friday 13, Monday 23), 5pm, £14–£16 (£13–£15); Friday 13, 20, 27 & Saturday 14, 21, 28 August, 7.45pm, £15.
Margaret Thatcher: Queen Of Soho
You wonder what the real Thatcher would have made of this drag cabaret extravaganza but we could all hazard a guess. Max Tedford becomes the Iron Lady who has got lost in Soho only to become a superstar there.
Underbelly George Square, Thursday 12–Saturday 15 August, 8.30pm, £17 (£15.50–£16).
Apphia Campbell reprises her award-winning solo piece created in 2017 which merges fury and rebellion to produce the story of two women struggling in the America of today and the 1970s.
Pleasance at EICC, Friday 13, Saturday 15 August, 6pm, £15–£30 (£13–£26).
My Car Plays Tapes
From John Osborne, the man who gave us the Fringe smash hit John Peel's Shed, comes a new storytelling show about getting older, the big decisions and cars that don't work very well. Oh, and it's likely to touch on music too.
Summerhall Online, until Sunday 29 August, £8; in-person Wednesday 11 August, 3pm, £8.
Fringe veteran Pip Utton has played everyone from Hitler to Churchill and now he's taking on the role of Francis Bacon, the influential and anarchic painter who lived what's perhaps best described as a 'full life'.
Pleasance Courtyard, until Friday 13 August, 4.45pm, Tuesday 10 August, 8.45pm, £10–£36 (£8–£30).
Grid Iron's latest site-responsive theatre piece has adapted Erlend Loe's novel about a man who deals with grief by moving out of his urban home and into a tent in the forest.
Newhailes House, until Monday 23 August (not Tuesday 17, Thursday 19), various times, £15 (£8).