The best online theatre at Edinburgh Fringe
- Lorna Irvine
- 13 August 2021
From a fresh take on Macbeth to a tasty slice of bar life, here's our cream of the digital drama crop at the Fringe
With any sense of normality in 2021 still seemingly impossible, a tentative return to staging the Fringe was always likely. As with recent months during the pandemic, one simple way around this is to screen theatre shows online. Here are four examples of highly recommended films to catch from home this August if you can't be there in person or aren't ready to face crowds yet.
For many theatre-goers, acclaimed writer and performer Tim Crouch is synonymous with the Edinburgh Fringe, and his typically iconoclastic approach is evident within I, Banquo (★★★★☆). Providing a sly, sideways glance at the Scottish play, Crouch's frenzied monologue – performed by Dan Waller from Chicago Shakespeare Theater – focuses on the vengeful ghost of the slain Lord Banquo. With an eerie, modernist set from Yu Shibagaki and recorded in one take, the effect is like a fever dream, a menacing and gritty reimagining for the Breaking Bad generation.
Fantasies of a different kind can be found in The Dream Train (★★★★☆). Written by the late Scottish poet Tom McGrath, this surreal play from 1999 is a collaboration with Magnetic North who celebrate 21 years of music-infused theatre productions. Basing its structure around Bach's sublime Goldberg Variations, the result is a playful, knotty and poignant look at the kind of insomnia that drives the artistic process, blurring dreams with reality. The piece is suffused with brilliant wordplay and there are evocative performances from Sean Hay and Nicholas Alban, among others.
The devastating real-life issue of forbidden sexuality is the focus of Traverse Theatre's We'll Meet In Moscow (★★★★☆), an audio play written by Natalie McGrath, writer-on-attachment to the Traverse in 2019. Her lyrical script centres around Dascha, a young lesbian on the run in Russia, who makes repeated attempts to evade the authorities in order to find true love and freedom. Voice artist and actor Maggie Bain portrays her with great sensitivity through Shilpa T-Hyland's direction. This is a raw but beautiful listening experience, augmented by composer Pippa Murphy's chilling soundscapes.
From political taboos, we move to booze in Mark Jude Sullivan and InHouse Theatre's show for Assembly Showcatcher, Dark Spirits, Black Humor (★★★★☆). Filmed in the beautiful Wolves bar in Los Angeles, this is a heady cocktail of moving meditations and theatrical insights, featuring an intimate performance from writer and performer Sullivan as a charismatic barman, serving haunting stories as well as drinks. His eloquent self-penned monologue has an interactive element, and goes down like a warming Brandy Alexander. A much needed tonic for these uncertain times.
I, Banquo, ZOOTV, until Sunday 22 August, £12;
The Dream Train, Summerhall Online, until Sunday 29 August, £7 (£5);
We'll Meet In Moscow, Traverse 3, until Tuesday 31 August, Pay What You Can;
Dark Spirits, Black Humor, Assembly Showcatcher, Sunday 15, 22, 29, Wednesday 18, 25 August, 9pm livestreaming, £12.