In case you hadn’t noticed: The Edinburgh Fringe is coming back, for its 70th year. And with it, almost every venue has announced that it will be expanding and featuring more shows than ever before – which can only mean that there is not a single building, shed or tent in Edinburgh not occupied by a fringe venue.
This July, Theatre Bubble will be bringing you its roundups of the highlights of this year’s Fringe, as chosen by our editors. We’ll be looking at the big shows generating a whole lot of hype, but also those at the edges who deserve their big break. Unlike most other Fringe “best of” lists, these are almost exclusively based off trawling through the Edinburgh brochure. We believe that Theatre Bubble has a part to play in keeping the “fringe” in the “Fringe”. Also, who has time to read 3,000 press releases?
With that said: this feature in particular draws attention to those huge hits of previous Fringes that you should really, really book now before they sell out. Inevitably, the “big three” feature heavily in this list. Forgive us. You really don’t want to miss out on the below.
We Are Ian – Pleasance Dome, 7th – 28th (10pm)
How did three idiots listening to a talking lightbulb turn into 2016’s uncontested breakout Fringe hit? If you’re asking that question, then you probably have never been to the Edinburgh Fringe before. Absolutely packing out the Jack Dome night after sweaty night last year, this year In Bed With My Brother have upgraded to the huge King Dome. It’s not just a piece of theatre – it’s the Pleasance Dome’s biggest, digestive biscuit-fuelled, party.
Bruce – Underbelly Cowgate, 3rd – 27th (6.40pm)
Two puppeteers manipulate a floating yellow block of foam and two white-gloved hands – and from these materials alone they conjure a cartoon odyssey of time travel, space travel, fatherhood and friendship. It’s from The Last Great Hunt – the team behind the Pixar-esque tear-farms It’s Dark Outside and The Adventures of Alvin Sputnik, Deep Sea Explorer – who took a break from the Fringe last year but are thankfully back again with three shows. Bruce is virtuoso puppetry combined with the comic smarts of your favourite double act. Except here, a sponge plays all the roles.
Richard Gadd: Monkey See, Monkey Do – Summerhall, 18th – 27th (11pm)
The show that won Gadd the Edinburgh Comedy Award, but which he claimed was mistakenly included in the comedy section. We called it “articulate and sensitive on the pressing topic of anxiety and masculinity”, and the Guardian claimed it defined comedy in 2016. Gadd has an extraordinary ability to generate buzz for his shows, leaving audiences queuing for hours for entry. This year, he’s ditching his customary venue the Banshee Labyrinth for Summerhall – although the Comedy label is still there (supposedly so he won’t have to change that gag…) It’ll be fascinating to see how Gadd fares in this new, more thoughtful environment.
Fleabag – Underbelly George Square, 21st – 27th (5.15pm)
The phenomenon returns to the Fringe for a week-long run – appropriately for Fleabag, that return takes place in the final week of the Fringe, when the hangovers have stopped wearing off and every other show is knackered. The show debuted at the Edinburgh Fringe in 2013, and since has seen a TV transformation and deification for its creator and performer Phoebe Waller-Bridge. However, in this production the role is being handed over for the first time to Maddie Rice. This revival, then, is of double interest – being both a chance to see the original stage text performed again, and to see a new interpretation of a role that has for so long been indivisible from its creator.
This Is Not Culturally Significant – Gilded Balloon at the Museum, 4th – 26th (not including all dates, (11.45pm)
Last year, this was the show that everyone was talking about but no-one seems to have seen. Those who had, however, were near-unanimous in their praise for this one-man grotesquerie sandwiched in the middle of the day at the Pleasance. This was excepting those who exited in the first ten minutes of the show – where performer Adam Scott-Rowley plays a masturbating porn star. Since then, the show has finally reached the audience it deserves, with exhilarating performances at the Vaults and at the Bunker Theatre. The audience isn’t the only change however – Scott-Rowley now performs the show entirely in the nude. This late night nightmare might not be to everyone’s tastes, but with its new slot and venue it’ll hopefully find its home at the Fringe this year.
What shows are you looking forward to at Edinburgh this year? Post in the comments below!