Theatre picks for the Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2011

  • Edinburgh Festival Guide
  • 20 July 2011

This article is from 2011

Theatre highlights from the 2011 Edinburgh Festival Fringe

Julian Sands

A Celebration of Harold Pinter
A starry triumvirate of elements conspires to make this one of the hottest tickets on the Fringe. Hollywood star John Malkovich directs British actor Julian Sands in a loving tribute to the late Nobel winner, drawing on his poems and personal memoirs in a show that has received endorsements from the celebrity likes of David Hare and Annette Bening.
Pleasance Courtyard, The Pleasance, 0131 556 6550, 6–21 Aug, 3pm, £12.50–£15 (£11.50–£14). Preview 5 Aug, £7.50.

The Animals and Children Took to the Streets
Beg, borrow, steal or forge a ticket for this unique show from 1927 theatre company. Like the group’s previous Fringe hit Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea, The Animals …, which arrives in Edinburgh for a limited run after touring Australia and Europe, blends live action, music and animation to bring to life the twisted goings on at the eerie Bayou Mansions.
Pleasance Courtyard, The Pleasance, 0131 556 6550, 19–28 Aug, 4.10pm, £12 (£10).

Ten Plagues
Pop icon and one-time Soft Cell lynchpin Marc Almond stars in this intriguing new musical theatre experience inspired by the London Plague of 1665. Created by acclaimed playwright Mark Ravenhill (Mother Klapp’s Molly House, Shopping and Fucking) from witness accounts, Ten Plagues relates one man’s journey through the devastated city.
Traverse Theatre, Cambridge Street, 0131 228 1404, 7–28 Aug (not 8, 15, 22), times vary, £17–£19 (£12–£13). Previews 1 Aug, 7pm, & 6 Aug, 6pm, £12 (£6).

Audience - Ontroerend Goed
The award-winning Belgian company Ontroerend Goed is back, turning the tables on the audience to focus on what’s going on in the stalls and circle. Expect another visceral theatre experience from the company that brought us Internal and Once and For All …
St George’s West, Shandwick Place, 0131 225 7001, 8–28 Aug, 10.55pm, £10–£12 (£8–£10). Previews 5–7 Aug, £5.

The Wheel
Written by award-winning Scots scribe Zinnie Harris and directed by Vicky Featherstone, The Wheel follows a woman and a little girl as they embark on a journey through a world in conflict, and explores whether it is possible to remain unaffected by war.
Traverse Theatre, Cambridge Street, 0131 228 1404, 7–28 Aug (not 8, 15, 22), times vary, £17–£19 (£12–£13). Preview 6 Aug, 9.15pm, £12 (£6).

Doris Day Can Fuck Off
Taking a leaf out of Richard Herring’s book of high-concept Fringe show ideas, performer Greg McLaren challenged himself to live life as a song for several months, including singing his order for a book of stamps, warbling on the phone and even crooning in court. Witness the results in this fascinating show.
Zoo Southside, Nicolson Street, 0131 662 6892, 6–29 Aug (not 16), 6.15pm, £9 (£7). Preview 5 Aug, £7.

Sunday in the Park with George
The RSAMD’s One Academy returns to the Fringe following last year’s Spring Awakening. This year the company tackles Stephen Sondheim’s landmark exploration of art, love and obsession, inspired by the Georges Seurat painting, ‘Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte’.
C Chambers Street, 0845 260 1234, 3–29 Aug (not 15, 22), 3.35pm, £12.50–£14.50 (£8.50–£10.50).

An Instinct for Kindness
Hannah Eidinow, who directed last year’s Lockerbie: Unfinished Business, explores similarly hard-hitting subject matter in this monologue, which reflects on writer/performer Chris Larner’s experience of accompanying his terminally-ill wife to Switzerland’s Dignitas clinic. The candid story expands to take in the ethical implications.
Pleasance Dome, Potterrow, 0131 556 6550, 6–29 Aug (not 10, 17), 4.10pm, £9–£10 (£8–£9). Previews 3–5 Aug, £5.

Outgoing Traverse director Dominic Hill helms the new play by Lynda Radley, the first co-production between the theatre and Dundee Rep. The story follows Riley as he battles to keep the wolf from the door of his family when the freak show goes out of fashion.
Traverse Theatre, Cambridge Street, 0131 228 1404. 7–28 Aug (not 8, 15, 22), times vary, £17–£19 (£12–£13). Preview 6 Aug, 10am, £12 (£6).

Liberace: Live From Heaven
The irrepressible Liberace, once the highest-paid entertainer in the world, arrives at the Pearly Gates and has to play to Saint Peter for the right to enter heaven. Former Opportunity Knocks winner and Fringe virgin Bobby Crush plays the flamboyant entertainer, in what might well be the campest show you’ll see this or any other Fringe year.
Assembly George Square, 0131 623 3030, 6–28 Aug, 6.25pm, £13–£14 (£12–£13). Previews 3–5 Aug, £8.

Steven Berkoff makes a welcome return to the Fringe, playing Creon in his own adaptation of Sophocles’ tragedy. Featuring the director’s signature expressionist performance style and an 11-strong cast, the show is surely worth the price of a ticket to see ex-EastEnder Anita Dobson in the role of Jocasta.
Pleasance Courtyard, The Pleasance, 556 6550, 6–29 Aug (not 10, 17, 24), 1.20pm, £16 (£14). Previews 3–5 Aug, £10.

Somewhere Beneath It All, A Small Fire Burns Still
Edinburgh Comedy Award alumnus and founder of the Comedians’ Theatre Company Phil Nichol dons his thesp hat to perform a monologue by Dave Florez. The piece focuses on a bizarre love triangle while exploring the need for forgiveness in an unrelenting world.
Gilded Balloon Teviot, Teviot Row House, 0131 622 6552, 6–29 Aug (not 15), noon, £9–£10 (£8–£9). Previews 3–5 Aug, £6.

Jasmine Gwangju
This sumptuous show celebrates the cultural history of the Korean city of Gwangju and commemorates the 518 residents killed during the 1980 uprising. The show draws on music, drumming and dance to tell the story of the city’s Democratisation Movement, which paved the way for freedom in South Korea.
Edinburgh International Conference Centre, Morrison Street, 0844 847 1639, 13–19 Aug, 5.30pm, £10 (£7).

Belarus Free Theatre
Banned in their own country by the authoritarian Lukashenko government, the Belarus Free Theatre have teamed up with Fringe award-winning company Fuel to present their first performance of a show in development. Expect a meditation on human rights from the company, which counts Mick Jagger, Steven Spielberg and Tom Stoppard among its supporters.
Pleasance Courtyard, The Pleasance, 0131 556 6550, 22–29 Aug, 1pm, £10 (£8).

The Girl with the Iron Claws
The Fringe debut from brand new company The Wrong Crowd is an adult fairytale about a young girl who defies her family to run off into the forest with a bear. This inventive take on a Nordic myth that shares its roots with Beauty and the Beast is told through a mix of live performance, puppetry, text and music.
Underbelly, Cowgate, 0844 545 8252, 6–28 Aug, 1.35pm, £8.50–£10 (£7.50–£9). Previews 4 & 5 Aug, £6.

2401 Objects
The acclaimed Analogue head back to the Fringe with a new show about the world’s most famous amnesiac patient. Opening with the dissection of Patient HM’s brain in front of a global internet audience in 2009, 2401 Objects then jumps back to the childhood bicycle accident that led to his affliction.
Pleasance Courtyard, The Pleasance, 0131 556 6550, 6–28 Aug (not 9, 16, 23), 4.40pm, £10–£12 (£9–£10). Previews 3–5 Aug, £6.

David Leddy’s Untitled Love Story
Untitled Love Story is the first piece to be presented in a conventional space by Scotland’s edgiest theatrical maverick in some years, following the jaunts around the Botanics and a defunct Masonic Lodge that were Susurrus and Sub Rosa. The twist is that the audience is asked to close their eyes and take part in a meditative imagining of a journey across four decades.
St George’s West, Shandwick Place, 0131 225 7001, 6–25 Aug (not 10, 17, 24), 6pm, £15–£17 (£12–£15). Preview 5 Aug, £10.

Tuesday at Tescos
Having stormed the Fringe with his one-man interpretations of works by Dickens and Shakespeare, Simon Callow takes to the Assembly stage once more as loving daughter, carer and transvestite Pauline. The play was a stonking success in its native France, receiving a Molière nomination.
Assembly Hall, The Mound, 0131 623 3030, 6–29 Aug (not 8, 15, 22), 2pm, £17.50–£20 (£15–£18). Previews 4 & 5 Aug, £10.

A Visit From Miss Prothero
Edinburgh and Radio 4 veteran Nicholas Parsons swaps the comfort zone of his chat show for a bona fide acting job with this Alan Bennett play. The Just a Minute host plays retired Arthur Dodsworth whose afternoon nap is rudely interrupted by his brash former boss, Peggy Prothero, who arrives bearing unwelcome tidings.
Pleasance Courtyard, The Pleasance, 0131 556 6550, 23–28 Aug, 1pm, £9 (£8).

Two Johnnies Live Upstairs
Scotland’s French Institute teams up with Brittany-based company Paroles to create an ‘embassy’ in Randolph Crescent. This play traces the lives of a Breton family whose descendents live in Edinburgh with a mix of comedy, music and performance. The venue will also operate its own bistro, run by L’Escargot Bleu. Institut français d’Ecosse,
Randolph Crescent, 0131 225 5366, 8–26 Aug (not 13 & 14, 20 & 21), 6pm, £10 (£8). Preview Aug 5, £8.

Toulouse-Lautrec: The Musical
Renowned Japanese performer/songwriter Jun Sawaki presents the European premiere of his one-man show about the French painter whose images of the Moulin Rouge still hang from restaurant walls across the world. While Sawaki has never before performed outside of his native Japan but is well known at home as the original Phantom in the Tokyo version of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical.
C Aquila, Johnston Terrace 0845 260 1234, 4–29 Aug, 4.10pm, £9.50–£10.50 (£8.50–£9.50).

Federer versus Murray
Not a recreation of the Australian Open final, rather a new play by the respected Scottish actress Gerda Stevenson, dealing with war in all its aspects, from the conflict in Afghanistan to a sporting rivalry and a private war.
Assembly Hall, The Mound, 0131 623 3030, 6–29 Aug (not 15), 12.30pm, £13–£14 (£12–£13). Previews 4 & 5 Aug, £10.

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.

Liberace: Live From Heaven

February 4 1987, Liberace, Mr Showmanship, arrives at the pearly gates. Will Saint Peter and the angels let him in or damn him to hell? Tonight Liberace plays for his life… His eternal life! Bobby Crush stars as Liberace in this hysterical high camp show, with of course, heavenly piano playing.

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…

Federer Versus Murray

  • 4 stars

A new tragic-comedy by Gerda Stevenson about war on several levels, man versus wife, nation against nation and Scotland versus… the Swiss master. From a claustrophobic flat in Scotland to the Swiss Alps via Afghanistan we follow Flo and Jimmy on a painful, and at times farcical journey, complete with war-paint, featuring…

Toulouse-Lautrec: The Musical

  • 2 stars

Created and performed by Mr Jun Sawaki, best known in Japan as the Phantom from Phantom of the Opera. This intimate one-man musical enjoyed a nationwide sell-out tour in 2009/10. This original piece of musical theatre invites you to discover the brief but astonishing life of the man whose decadent paintings of the Moulin…

Sunday in the Park with George

  • 4 stars

Sondheim's landmark musical explores art, love, obsession and commitment. Based around the creation of one of the world's greatest Impressionist paintings, Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grand Jatte by Georges Seurat, and 100 years later, Seurat's great-grandson confronting all the feelings the original Georges had…

Two Johnnies Live Upstairs

  • 3 stars

Remember those Johnnies coming from Brittany with their onions? One of them settled in Randolph Crescent a long time ago. His great grandsons still live there and invite you for a tour of the family house. Ok, we all know it's not true. But what if it had been for real? The storytellers, comedians, musicians, visual…

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 Visit From Miss Prothero

Nicholas Parsons, ‘Great’ (Scotsman), A star of stage screen and radio he joins Suki Webster, ‘Hilarious’ (Guardian) actress/improviser, in this superb Alan Bennett Play. Thirty minutes of office gossip and fun. Nicholas Parsons ‘You leave the theatre with the impression that you have spent time in the company of 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).

An Instinct for Kindness

  • 4 stars

Last year, Chris Larner accompanied his terminally ill ex-wife to Switzerland’s Dignitas clinic. This moving, bittersweet show reflects on the circumstances, morality and humanity surrounding the journey. Directed by triple Fringe First-winner, Hannah Eidinow.

Audience – Ontroerend Goed

  • 3 stars

Multi award-winning team behind global hits Internal, The Smile Off Your Face and Once and For All We’re Gonna Tell You Who We Are So Shut Up and Listen, are back with their new show and it’s all about celebrating you, our audience, sitting out there in the dark. ‘A marathon of theatrical surprises’ (Knack Magazine…

The Wheel

  • 4 stars

Directed by Vicky Featherstone. Beatriz and her sister Rosa are preparing for Rosa's wedding. Their world is turned upside down when the groom arrives, pitchfork rabble in tow, to occupy their farm. A lost little girl stumbles into their world, looking for her father. In a moment of determination, Beatrix takes the girl…

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.

David Leddy's 'Untitled Love Story'

  • 3 stars

Multi award-winning ‘site-specific genius’ (Scotsman) and ‘Scotland’s hottest, edgiest young playwright’ (Sunday Times) presents this serene, elegant meditation on Venice, love and loss. Four characters in four decades glide along silky Venetian canals after midnight, but never meet. A meditative priest accused of heresy.

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…

The Girl With the Iron Claws

Nordic tale of a young girl who falls in love with a polar bear.

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.

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