The theatre shows to look out for at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2011

This article is from 2011

The theatre shows to look out for at Edinburgh Fringe 2011

Dance Marathon, Ten Plagues and Tuesdays at Tescos among highlights

As ever the theatre programme of this year’s Edinburgh Festival Fringe is overflowing with keen ideas, exciting stories and risk-taking. The Traverse Theatre maintains its position as the beating heart of the Fringe, with Dominic Hill’s final programme as artistic director covering such diverse delights as Dance Marathon, the four-hour show by Canadian company Bluemouth, in which audience members are invited to dance and are gradually eliminated until the last hoofer standing is declared the winner. Meanwhile, 80s chart-topper Marc Almond appears in a new piece of music theatre called Ten Plagues by Mark Ravenhill and Conor Mitchell set in 17th century London. Hill himself is also directing Futureproof, the first play by Lynda Radley, in association with Dundee Rep. These headline grabbers will be jostling for attention alongside new works by Scottish playwrights David Harrower, Zinnie Harris, David Greig and Mark Thomson.

The Fringe is nothing if not a home for the offbeat, unusual and groundbreaking, and this year is no exception. Greg McLaren’s Doris Day Can Fuck Off explores how the performer spent two months singing every word to people he met, even in everyday conversation. Shakespearean thesp Simon Callow appears in drag in Tuesday at Tescos, an adaptation of the French play Le Mardi à Monoprix while Hollywood star John Malkovitch directs Julian Sands in A Celebration of Harold Pinter, which features work taken from the poems and political writings of the late, great playwright. Another big name returning to perform in the Fringe for the first time in 14 years is theatrical enfant terrible Steven Berkoff, whose Oedipus also starts erstwhile EastEnder Anita Dobson as Jocasta.

Free Run is the first ever stage show to focus on the dynamic, high-octane sport of free running and features the UK’s number one free running team, parkour pioneers and 3RUN, who hold the Guinness World Record. On a similarly sporting theme Tonight Sandy Grierson Will Lecture, Dance and Box does pretty much exactly what it says on the tin. Meanwhile, the Belarus Free Theatre finds the internationally acclaimed exiled Belarusian theatre company presenting the first performances of a new show in development in their first visit to the Fringe. Another exciting overseas company heading north of the Border are Jasmine Gwangju from South Korea, whose six-night run at the EICC tells the story of the country’s uprising against military dictatorship in 1980. And let’s not forget the ever-enjoyable mix of the crazy, experimental and envelope pushing that is the Forest Fringe.

This year’s Fringe also welcomes back a number of companies who first garnered praise and awards in Edinburgh before going on to phenomenal success elsewhere. A particular highlight is The Animals and Children Took to the Street, a startling mix of live music, performance and animation from the multi-talented 1927 company. Analogue Productions, who previously wowed audiences with their compelling blend of narrative theatre and technology in Beachy Head and Mile End, return with 2401 Objects, a new show about how memory shapes our understanding of who we are. New York’s TEAM are heading across the pond with Mission Drift, exploring American capitalism through stories drawn from every corner of the United States. And tireless young company Belt Up are bringing not one but three new shows to the Fringe, Outland, The Boy James and Twenty Minutes To Nine, including plays based on the work of Lewis Carroll and JM Barrie.

Traverse Festival 2011 Trailer

The Monster in the Hall

Highly successful play by David Greig following the trials of Duck Macatarsney, a teenager who cares for her MS-sufferer father, the Duke. When one morning he wakes up blind, she is told that she is going to be taken into care, something that she will do almost anything to avoid.

The Animals and Children Took to the Streets

English company 1927 presents a blending of live music, performance, storytelling, film and animation about urban paranoia.

Tonight Sandy Grierson Will Lecture, Dance and Box

Tonight Sandy Grierson will Lecture, Dance and Box is a comic and surreal solo performance written by Sandy Grierson (a highly respected actor and creative associate of Vanishing Point) in collaboration with Lorne Campbell (former associate director, Traverse Theatre) that explores identity, myth-making and the…

Simon Callow in Tuesday at Tescos

  • 4 stars

In a unique Edinburgh event, one of Britain’s greatest actors, Simon Callow stars as Pauline. Loving daughter, carer and transvestite. This is the English language premier of the French sensation Le Mardi Monoprix. Commissioned for Assembly, this is a touching, beautiful, Moliere nominated new play about love and death…

Belt Up's Outland

Meet a host of Carroll's weird and wonderful characters who will guide you deeper into the imagined worlds you have forgotten. Outland invites you to step into a world of childhood dreams. Inspired by the final work of author Lewis Carroll, Dominic J Allen interweaves the author's life with his little known masterpiece…

Belt Up's The Boy James

Returning after sell-out and critically acclaimed runs in Edinburgh, London and Australia, a dark, beautiful tale of one boy's awakening to the harsh realities of adulthood. Play with him, and take his hand as you lead him back to Neverland. Let your adult sensibilities go, join in the games and forget the cruel world on…

Belt Up's Twenty Minutes to Nine

  • 3 stars

Settle down, sip some tea and allow the award-winning company 'transforming what we can expect from a night at the theatre' (Observer) to take you on a journey though the captivating tales of a decaying old ractonteuse. From James Wilkes, the writer behind the Fringe sell out shows The Tartuffe and Atrium comes an…

2401 Objects

Analogue return to Edinburgh following their previous Fringe hits Mile End and Beachy Head. In 1953, Henry Molaison emerged from experimental brain surgery without any recollection of the last two years of his life or the ability to form new memories. In 2009 Patient HM’s brain was dissected live on the internet to a…

Julian Sands in a Celebration of Harold Pinter

  • 3 stars

With personal anecdotes and reflections drawn from their work together, Julian Sands combines Pinter's poems and political prose to create a very fresh and intimate insight into the Nobel laureate's literary legacy. ‘Julian Sands does wonders for Harold Pinter’s poetry by reading them as if they were plays, the result is…

Oedipus by Steven Berkoff (After Sophocles)

  • 3 stars

Acclaimed new version of the enduring classic, brought to vivid life by master director Berkoff and his ensemble of eleven actors. 'The bravest, most exciting and moving Greek tragedy in years' ★★★★ (Sunday Times).

Dance Marathon

  • 3 stars

Award-winning interdisciplinary theatre collective, Bluemouth Inc presents an interactive, duration-based performance event inspired by the physically gruelling spectator sport from depression-era North America. A genuine endurance contest and staged performance event, hopeful amateurs can mix with Bluemouth Inc…

Belarus Free Theatre

Herald Angel winners Fuel present the first performances of a new show in development by the internationally acclaimed Belarus Free Theatre in their first visit to the Fringe. ‘Truly passionate, truly political theater’ (New York Times). Belarus Free Theatre was founded in 2005 in Europe’s last surviving dictatorship.

Mission Drift

  • 4 stars

A pioneering journey west and east across the USA in search of the character of American capitalism. Told through atomic blasts, lizard ballet and original music that fuses Vegas glitz with Western ballads and southern blues. Created in the blazing heat of a Las Vegas June. Composed by downtown NY darling Heather…

Ten Plagues

  • 4 stars

A thrilling and unique music theatre experience. 'In London came the plague in 1665. 100,000 dead, but I alive.' London is infected. The dead fall in the streets. As the plague pits fill, the people of London struggle to maintain a society in the face of overwhelming mortality. Based on eyewitness accounts from 1665, Ten…


  • 3 stars

A travelling freak show hits hard times and transformation may come at a terrible cost to the troupe. Robert Riley, owner of Riley's Odditorium, struggles to find ways to keep his company afloat as audiences dwindle. Tiny the fat man, Lillie and Millie the Siamese twins, half-and-half George/Georgina and the Countess…

Free Run

  • 2 stars

29 million YouTube views, 15 Guinness World Records, 1 live show. For the first time the explosive action of free running, one of the world's most exciting and dangerous extreme sports, is transformed into a live stage show. Incredible athletic performers take on jaw dropping parkour, stunts and martial arts close up…

Jasmine Gwangju

Jasmine Gwangju celebrates the rich cultural history of the Korean city of Gwangju and tells the inspiring story of its famed Democratisation Movement, the uprising against military dictatorship in 1980 which, although brutally put-down, paved the way for later movements that eventually brought democracy and prosperity to…

Doris Day Can F**k Off

Find out what happened when Greg McLaren attempted to live his life as if in a Doris Day musical, breaking into song at every available opportunity.