How many places would you see a girl in a bed, a man upside down with his head in a bucket and a giant paper maché sperm all on one street? Only at the International Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Thousands of theatre companies, societies and individuals bring shows to the Edinburgh Festival in the hope of getting spotted or branded with the phrase “the UK’s best new talent”. From Sex Education: The Musical, to Piff The Magic Dragon, the festival is the only place to see the weirdest, most exciting and best new talent around. So behold, this is my pick of the fringe:
A Clockwork Orange (Action to the Word)
Theatre company Action to the Word have struck gold with a mesmerising production of Anthony Burgess’s A Clockwork Orange. It’s a breathtaking combination of theatre, music and dance that couldn’t be more slickly executed if the cast tried. Martin McCreadie plays a wonderfully twisted, psychotic Alex DeLarge and he’s supported by an excellent all-male, multi-rolling cast.
Not Treasure Island (Sleeping Trees)
Award-nominated Sleeping Trees prove that less is more when it comes to the Fringe. With a cast of 3, no props and no set, this company’s farcical version of (Not)Treasure Island is clever, moving, and above all, hilarious. They play about 30 different characters in an hour, each with a different voice, gait and facial expression, some of which include Billy Bones, Long John Silver and the infamous Blackbeard. Not Treasure Island is an exciting, comical and heart-warming spin on Robert Louis Stevenson’s classic children’s novel, by a talented trio with an excellent director. Definitely a company to keep an eye on.
Some Small Love Story (Hartshorn – Hook productions)
A beautiful piece of narrative-cum-musical theatre in which four characters explore the emotions behind the loss of a loved one. Gavin Whitworth’s music is beautifully written to complement the narrative, achieving an absolutely flawless production that’ll leave you in floods of tears.
This Geordie comedian has already made a name for himself, with two sell-out Edinburgh shows, and appearances on the likes of Russell Howard’s Good News and 8 Out Of 10 Cats. With the theme of ‘luck’ running throughout his show, he begins by throwing around a big, sponge die with the aim of chatting to whoever it lands on. He’s quick-witted and spontaneous, but while his show will have you in stitches, it’s incredibly heart-warming too.
The Boy James (Belt-Up)
Fringe-famous theatre company Belt-Up return with their astounding production of The Boy James for the third time. With allusions to J. M. Barrie’s Peter Pan (as well as his life and other work), this late-night show is certainly not suitable for families. It begins with a pyjama-clad adult playing a boy of around 7 leading you into his dimly-lit ‘playroom’ and sitting you on cushions on the floor, while he tells tales of his many adventures with his friend ‘James’. It’s a disturbing, coming-of-age examination of the harsh realities of adult life, with continuous audience participation only encouraging the heightened emotion at the end of the show. It’s perplexing, draining and incredibly disturbing, but it’s also one of the best things I’ve ever seen.