The Edinburgh Festival Fringe is the biggest arts festival in the world, with over 3,000 shows. This year, Playbill will be going to Edinburgh in August for the festival and we’re taking you with us. Follow along this summer as we cover every single aspect of the Fringe, aka our real-life Brigadoon!
Need some recommendations to help you decide what to see at Edinburgh Fringe this year? Playbill is collecting this year's most anticipated shows for newcomers and veterans alike who are making decisions about which tickets to buy this August. Rounding up recommendations by venue, Playbill's guides highlight the major venues not to miss at Fringe as you plan out your experience of the world's largest arts festival.
Founded in 1985, Pleasance operates three sites during the Fringe every year: Pleasance Courtyard, Pleasance Dome, and Pleasance at the Edinburgh International Conference Centre (EICC). The first is a destination in itself. Surrounding the large cobblestone courtyard filled with food and drink stands, Fringe-goers often gather here to hang out before and after seeing a show at one of the 18 spaces at the venue. Pleasance Dome was the first Fringe venue to open at Bristo Square, now one of the major centers of the festival. And in 2016, Pleasance expanded to offering shows at EICC to support some of the more technically ambitious shows looking to run at Fringe (Florida-born artist Apphia Campbell returns to the EICC this year again with her solo show about Nina Simone, Black Is the Color of My Voice.)
Check out the following 10 shows at Pleasance Courtyard to see how you might want to spend a day at one of the spots that really provides a bubble of Fringe energy.
Chriskirkpatrickmas: A Boy Band Christmas Musical
Throw A Christmas Carol, It's A Wonderful Life, and *NSYNC in a blender, and you've got yourself a Fringe musical. Set during Christmas in 2009, it's been seven years since *NSYNC went on an indefinite hiatus. And former band member Chris Kirkpatrick has until midnight to make a life-changing wish. The parody musical features original songs and 90s' nostalgia with music direction by Broadway's Taylor Williams (Hamilton, Moulin Rouge!) and sound design by fellow Broadway alum Josh Millican (SIX, The Band's Visit). Performances will be in Pleasance Two.
This debut play follows two women determined to carve their own paths—one as a goalkeeper in the world of football, the other as a banker in the finance sector. The first is preparing for the league final after her father dies while the second fears being tokenized in getting a promotion. Exploring the pressure of women's bodies and the power society holds, Bitter Lemons tells the stories of two women facing their most difficult challenges? Check it out at Pleasance Courtyard's Beneath.
A joy-centric documentary theatre piece, Pitch focuses on the relationship between football and the queer community. What does it mean to watch, play, and love the beautiful game? And what could the future look like when queer representation in the sport is no longer about debating rainbow armbands? Returning from last year's Fringe, November Theatre presents the work at Pleasance Above.
New musical Public follows four strangers trapped in a gender-neutral public toilet. Maintenance said it'll be an hour until they can arrive, leaving them with a lot of time to navigate unusual challenges, strong opinions, and messy conversations. Exploring identity, connection, and compassion alongside a pop rock score, Public was created by queer-led theatre collective Stroud & Notes. It runs at Pleasance Two.
Santi and Naz
Set before the partition of India in 1947, Santi and Naz follows two best friends who have yet to realize how religion will divide them. One is Muslim, the other Sikh, and together they face a worsening political situation and the growing threat of separation. But, Santi and Naz aren't willing to give in. Their only other option? To take drastic action. Santi and Naz focuses on themes of queer love, identity, and loyalty. The Thelmas production will run at Pleasance Two.
Elisabeth Gunawan stars as Vaccine, a mail order bride that can be bought for £19.99/month straight from "the wasteland of Asian stereotypes" in place of love which has no price tag. Unforgettable Girl is the story of how a street girl destroys, transforms, and rebuilds herself in the hopes of becoming unforgettable to survive. The play investigates the violence society inflicts on bodies of color and how some women are made "into 'homo-sacer'—'accursed' humans who are irredeemable by justice, freedom, and love." Performances will take place in Pleasance Courtyard's Beneath.
Both a pillar and a favorite of Fringe, NewsRevue returns again. Pulling from the headlines of the past year, the comedy work is made with all new material each year parodying and finding the humor in some of the world's most recent events. This year's NewsRevue promises that "From King Charles to Keir Starmer, Prince Harry to Putin, Sunak to Strikes and Sleaze, no stone will be left unturned." Check it out at The Grand.
The Great Ruckus
A "dark play about people behaving badly," The Great Ruckus takes a look at how families turn from warm safe havens to snake pits of selfishness in the wake of a death. Sisters Jo and Ida are navigating it all while taking care of their mother's funeral as their grandparents make demands from Marks and Spencer catering to making it feel like a macabre spectacle of Victorian-esque mourning. As they work to carry out their duties, pressure mounts and the cracks begin to appear in their fragile relationship. The play will be mounted in the Baby Grand.
30 and Out
Leaving her boyfriend and the closet behind, Kit has come out at 30 years old and feels like she's starting all over again. Amidst the whirlwind of wild nights and heartbreak, Kit asks herself: Is it too late to be a lesbian? Drawing upon interviews and using projections, 30 and Out tells the funny and emotional story of finding and losing yourself. Performances will be held in the Baby Grand.
Using British mythology, Nathaniel Jones presents a queer solo show about what it means to leave behind dark memories in order to survive. Sing, River blends an original folk score with a romance best forgotten in this work that will take audiences to the bottom of the Thames. Head to Pleasance Courtyard's Bunker One to see it.
Want to check out some more recommendations? Check out Playbill Goes Fringe to keep up with our coverage before, during, and after the festival! For more information about Pleasance's programming, visit Pleasance.co.uk.