Best theatre shows at Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2016
What to see at the Underbelly, Pleasance, Assembly, Summerhall, the Traverse and more
**UPDATE 18 Aug 2016**
The Fringe is well underway now and the reviews have been rolling in. Some shows from our preview turned out to be the hits they were expected to be, some shows not so much. The best place for you to find recommendations is at our Theatre Reviews page, which lists all the shows we've rated so far to help you navigate the programme and enjoy the best the Festival has to offer. We also have a number of Hitlisted Theatre shows in the listings section of the website.
The Edinburgh Festival Fringe has launched, and the brochure arrived featuring more shows that a mere human can process. Luckily, we have a crack team of critics who can get behind and suggest a few shows that are promising great things.
Blueswater presents Blues
Live music will be a major presence in theatre for 2016. Blueswater exists as a band, but this is a properly directed show that tells a century's worth of melancholic music history.
Space @ Surgeons Hall, 5–27 August
Private Manning Goes to Washington
The Residents arrive from the US, with their distinctively hard-hitting political theatre. Everyone's favourite whistle-blower gets their dynamic treatment.
Space @ Niddry Street 15–27 August
Festival favourites, and masters of Lecoq style, Ad Infinitum join a Mexican woman on a quest for justice in a corrupt and violent world.
Pleasance Dome, 3–29 August
A rare chance to see full mask theatre as Vamos explore dementia. The company promise that it will be an emotional journey.
Assembly Rainy Hall, 4–14 Aug
Agent of Influence
Head back to the 1930s for a story of intrigue and espionage: Sarah Segal unearths a forgotten part of history, when even the King was not above investigation.
Underbelly Cowgate, 4–28 August
Is it cinema or is it theatre? Watch Manual Cinema use shadow puppet skills to project a live action film.
Underbelly Potterow, 3–29 August
Shame is a bad thing. It allows bad things to happen. Feminist theatre that takes revenge pornography and finds out what secret social scripts it suggests.
Underbelly Cowgate, 4–18 August
Sweet Child of Mine
How does a father feel about his daughter on the stage? A real life family deal with the disgrace of having a 'performance artist' in the house.
Gilded Balloon 3–29 August
The Traverse's reputation is enough to make their shows worth a punt, although Julia Taudevin's Blow Off hints at punk rock excitement, Rob Drummond offers In Fidelity as a gift to his wife and Mouse is Daniel Kitson's latest and bound to be a hit, even if he won't talk to the press.
Traverse, 5–27 August
Inevitable Heartbreak of Gavin Plimsole
The audience are wired to machines and the titular hero is trying to preserve the precious heart-beats that tick away his life towards death.
Pleasance Dome, 3–29 August
The youth of today are boring, so a former Generation X DJ decides to inspire them with the spirit of rave.
Pleasance Courtyard, 3–29 August
From Bosnian refugee to sex counsellor, Alyssa Vulpes takes a one-woman musical trip through the strange paths of the modern world.
Venue 27, 4–14 August
Poland meets Ireland in a fairy tale that observes the cultural changes as Eastern Europe moves from communism into capitalism. What does it mean to speak in a language not your own?
Magic @ New Town, 4–20 August
Your Mother's Vagina
Not everyone has had a chance to see it yet, but everyone is talking about Your Mother's Vagina.
Spotlights, 4–7 August
Adler and Gibb
Meta-theatrical mastermind Tim Crouch strips back the show that expanded at the Royal Court to ponder how to present real people in a fictional world.
Summerhall, 3–27 August
Stories to Tell In the Middle of the Night
Francesca Millican-Slater does a late night radio show before midday.
Summerhall, 13–28 August
I love Ursula Hamdress
Despite the cheeky title, this promises an uncompromising look at the relationship between eating meat and treating the female body like a piece of meat.
Spotlights, 21–28 August
A Tale of Two Cities
An ambitious adaptation of Dickens' story of romance, heroism and revolution.
Pleasance, 3–28 August
Deal with the Dragon
It is easy to be tempted with the promise of success, but do deals like this ever end well?
C Nova, 5–29 August