Here at Theatre Bubble HQ, we’ve already drawn attention to those revivals we think are sure-fire sell-outs this year at the Fringe – by itself, the fact that some shows are coming back for a second run at the notoriously risky Fringe market would suggest some hefty confidence. But pre-Fringe speculation is really about working out what the hit shows of the future are – the favourites for those five-star reviews and coveted Fringe First Awards. As pumped as we are to see We Are Ian and Police Cops for the millionth time, the real reason the Fringe is exciting is the chance to be the first to see new work from your favourite companies. So, without further ado, here are our “Old Favourites, New Work” Fringe Picks. Some of these might not break the box office, but they are sure to be something special.
Manual Cinema – Lula Del Ray – Underbelly Med Quad, 2nd – 28th (4.30pm)
Manual Cinema were one of the absolute hits of the 2016 Edinburgh Fringe. Their Ada/Ava was rarely seen off the Underbelly’s Sold Out boards, and became one of the most-sought tickets of the Fringe. Theirs is an astonishing mix of live actors, shadow puppetry, music and projection which creates an animation before their audience’s eyes. Leading the OHP revolution (alongside last year’s fantastic Infinity Pool – bets are on that the OHP will be the new “bare stage with just a couple of microphones and earnest performers” this year), it isn’t for nothing that they have been acclaimed as virtually inventing a new genre of theatre (if you ignore poor old Paper Cinema, who have also been creating live animation for years without comparable buzz). Ada/Ava was about sisterly grief – Lula Del Ray promises a mythic coming-of-age story set in the American Southwest.
FellSwoop Theatre – Palmyra – Summerhall, 2nd – 13th (1.15pm)
This is, without doubt, the show I am most gutted to have to miss this year. Palmyra is the follow-up to FellSwoop’s Eurohouse – another show I missed, but was lucky enough to catch when it transferred to the Ovalhouse. Eurohouse was a sweet, subtle and subversive dissection of the power dynamics of the European Union. Palmyra enigmatically promises “an exploration of revenge, the politics of destruction and what we consider to be barbaric” – whatever that means, it will be worth seeing what these intelligent and incisive theatremakers have created. Palmyra won the MESS Festival Prize at Birmingham’s BE Festival. Eurohouse also returns to Summerhall for a short run from the 23rd – 26th.
Circa – Humans – Underbelly Circus Hub, 4th – 26th (7pm)
Last year, Circa won a special place in my heart for being the first show I ever rated five-stars. This company cut through my circus cynicism with their absolutely astonishing acrobatic feats and (more importantly) the warmth of their performers. This was a troupe that was unafraid to show their humanity and the effort that their work cost them. It is fitting, then, that their new show is “an ecstatic love letter to our endangered species” exploring what it means to be human. It will be fascinating to see how much the idea of “endangered” humanity feeds into the show, and whether/how environmental concerns inform their practice. Genuinely gasp-inducing stuff. Abandon all resistance.
Gecko, in association with Shanghai Dramatic Arts Centre – The Dreamer – Pleasance Courtyard, 2nd – 15th (1.30pm)
The last time Gecko brought new work to the Fringe was 2014’s inspired Institute. So it is understandable that The Dreamer, whilst not strictly a Gecko production, has a fair few people salivating with anticipation. Created by associate director Rich Rusk and frequent Gecko collaborator Chris Evans with a Chinese company, The Dreamer is inspired by Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Tang Xianzu’s The Peony Pavilion.
Sh!t Theatre – Dollywould – Summerhall, 2nd – 27th (9.15pm)
2016 Fringe First Winners (Letters To Windsor House) and modestly-named Sh!t Theatre bring back their low-fi aesthetic for a tribute to Dolly Parton. Is it actually? Is it actually a tribute to Dolly Parton? Have they actually got Dolly Parton’s face tattoo-ed on their legs? Or is it a show about cloning Dolly The Sheep? I can’t wait to find out. I first caught Sh!t Theatre performing a segment of their satire Women’s Hour at an S&M cabaret night. True Story. They were, remarkably, the most memorable act. And that includes a man with a bouquet of flowers inserted somewhere unmentionable.
Who have we missed? Are you sick of Fringe coverage yet? By the time we have finished, will there be any shows we haven’t written about? Is this an exercise in futility? Why are we alive? Answers below!