Visiting Scotland in August then make sure you don’t miss out on the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, quite simply the largest arts festival in the world. It seems as if there isn’t a square inch of Edinburgh that isn’t doing something for the festival. There are cabaret shows, children’s shows, installations, musicals, dance shows by performers from all around the world.
At the latest count there were 2, 695 shows being performed in pubs, theatres, gardens, if there is space for a performer and an audience it’s being used. They are introducing a new category this year – the Spoken Word with poetry readings and rap battles.
People you may recognise are The Blanks, although you may know them as Ted’s singing barber quartet from Scrubs. They are doing an hour long slot at 9pm each evening at the Gilded Balloon Teviot. Andrew Lawrence from Channel 4’s Stand Up For The Week is also appearing for the duration of the festival, full price tickets for his show are only £11 so will sell out fast. Former politician Tony Benn tells some of his fascinating life story in a one man show on the 21st and 22nd August. Alan Davies is performing his routine Life is Pain, his first return to the Fringe in a decade, and another Dave repeat favourite Phill Jupitus is appearing in 2 shows, You’re Probably Wondering Why I Asked You Here…. and Phill Jupitus is Porky the Poet in 27 years on and Wales’s angry man Rhod Gilbert also has his own show.
There are plays including Tea With the Old Queen which tells the true story of the Queen Mother’s butler ‘Backstairs Billy’. Willy Russell’s famous Educating Rita is also being staged staring Claire Sweeney and Matthew Kelly.
The Youth Theatre from Staffordshire Gatehouse are performing 13, the tale of Evan Goldman a twelve year boy about to take his Bar Mitzvah whilst his parents are divorcing and his mum announces she is taking him to live in New York.
As always the festival contains a taste of the traditional – in this year of Shakespeare there are 41 shows which at least allude to him and the featured play is Twelfth Night but also the avant garde with new plays exploring the issues of the day. So Mark Thomas brings his current show Bravo Figaro where he talks about his father with dementia and his love of the opera.
Music features highly in the festival too and one of the musical highlights will be the National Youth Orchestra of Iraq, contrasted with Mike Oldfield’s Tubular Bells.
The range of what is on offer is truly amazing, and the prices make it all affordable too, 814 shows are free! No matter how old you are there is something for you to enjoy from Sesame Street through to Tony Benn – song, dance, jokes and plays. Something to make you laugh or cry or cry with laughter. The festival features over 22,457 performers from 47 different countries.