August: the month where the city of Edinburgh is transformed into what my sister referred to as “the Southbank on steroids”. The Edinburgh Fringe is the biggest arts festival in the world, this year hosting 3,269 shows in hundreds of venues across the city. From free comedy to brutally emotional dramas to bombastic contemporary dance, the Edinburgh Fringe has something for everyone. My first trip to the Edinburgh Fringe was in 2012, a few weeks before I started university- not much more than a fun trip with friends to dip my toe into the arts world before spending four years studying just that. Four years later, I returned to the Fringe this year with an entirely different mindset, and with only five days there, I tried to cram in as much as possible. With thousands of shows on, it can be quite daunting to try and plan a trip. Here are my recommendations of shows definitely not to be missed, described in two sentences each.
Audience volunteers hypnotised by Asad Mecci and then improvise comedy sketches with Whose Line Is It Anyway? legend Colin Mochrie with no inhibitions. Side-splitting, knee-slapping, rib-aching laughter.
The Life and Times of Lionel
Lionel the average man has an average day at work, with help from the five friends that live in his head and try to inhibit his every move. There is a love interest, plenty of weirdos, some puppets, and a ‘wise man’ made entirely of hands.
Ten-Storey Love Song
Five characters in a council estate in Middlesborough, living, loving, and trying to be happy. Storytelling, live electronic music and video art combine to create an incredibly moving piece unlike any other you’ll see at the Fringe.
Ushers: The Front of House Musical
Five dreamers and their power-hungry creep of a boss working at a West-End theatre as they wait for something better to come along. Moving at times and hysterical throughout, with a tap number for no other reason than they are insanely talented.
Dolly Wants to Die
Suicidal antique China doll laments the state of the world whilst her cheerful but mute friend Mr. Bear does all the drugs he can find and tries to cheer her up. A depressing yet somehow hilarious wake-up call for any Millennial.
Improv comedy based on one of Jane Austen’s 800-some long-lost works, as suggested by the audience. Our show included ‘Jeremy Corbyn and the Mystery of the Vanishing Cabinet’.
5 Guys Chillin’
Discussions of rape, race, class and addiction at a chemsex party in London. Not for the faint-hearted, but incredibly moving, honest and eye-opening.
An eighteen-year-old man has been imprisoned for the possession of indecent images of children. Based on true events and devised by the company, forces its audience to question how we view certain crimes and their perpetrators, how we view ourselves and how we contribute to a world which creates and condones such actions.
The Toyland Murders
Film noir murder-mystery with handmade puppets. Need I say more?