For those of you unfamiliar with the Fringe Festival’s history, it all began back in 1947 when eight theatre groups turned up at the newly formed Edinburgh International Festival to perform. Uninvited and unapproved by the official festival comity, the groups proceeded to perform on the ‘fringe’ of the festival; hence the name. It was in 1958 that, due to increasing popularity, the festival Society was formed and Edinburgh Fringe was born. Still to this day, as was the original nature of this event, the Society does not vet or approve any of the performances; instead inviting anyone to take part in what is now the largest arts festival in the world.
Read on for the run down on the shows, performances and events not to be missed this year.
The Best of Comedy
Best of the Fest
. Thursday-Sunday, Midnight, 1hr 15mins, Venue 35, £15.
A great way to sample some of the stand-up acts performing at the fringe. Announced on the day, five comedians are given 10 mins each on stage to perform a highlight from their solo shows. It’s worth noting, this can of course be a mixed bag and the midnight start may also bring out the rowdier of festival goers, hecklers and the like.
Best for: Sampling acts.
Joanne McNally: Wine Tamer. Daily, 17:35, 60mins, venue 17, £9.50.
Having been on the line up for Thursday’s Best of the Fest, Joanne McNally was the ultimate last-minute discovery and the next day I booked straight in for her solo show. For a healthy dose of side splitting, face aching comedy, McNally is a must watch as she manoeuvres her way through living with her mother, online dating and friends with ‘dog’ babies.
Best for: Belly laughs.
David O’Doherty: You Have To Laugh. Daily 17:45 & 19:30. 60mins, Venue 8, £16.
The musical comedy stylings of O’Doherty were the perfect introduction to the Fringe experience. With many of his shows already booked up, this is one ticket to snap up. Played out on his childhood keyboard from 1986 this show is full of wit, nostalgia and feel good laughs.
Best for: Classic stand up.
Luisa Omielan: Politics for Bitches. Daily, 21:15, 60mins, Venue 14, £15.
For those of you familiar with Omielan’s previous shows, take the rule book and throw it out the window. Held in the Debating Hall no less, Luisa engages the audience with political debate from the start; from austerity to the NHS the audience provides the subject matter. Seemingly well informed with today’s political landscape, the focus lands on health care; Luisa’s content takes a darker turn this time round as she reflects on the loss of her mother. The comedy may be light (but by no means forgotten) but this a profound and heart wrenching performance that needs a mention. Fair to say, it was also the only show I saw that received a standing ovation.
Best for: Politics and a tear jerker.
The Best of Theatre & Variety
Hot Brown Honey.
Daily, 19:30, 1hr 10mins, Venue 14, £16.50.
The phrase ‘must see performance’ was invented for this show. Six Australian Aboriginal women set the stage on fire in a mix of cabaret, acrobatics and comedy. A proud and unashamed performance that challenges politics, society and stereotypes. These women own their minds, voices and bodies in a series of acts that will have you whooping, cheering, dancing in your seat and watching in awe.
Best for: High energy and a big dose of identity.
One Woman Sex and the City. Daily, 18:55, 60mins, Venue 302, £12.
If you’re a fan of the hit series Sex and the City, this is a fabulous way to pass an hour of your Fringe experience. Tender, heart-warming, comical and smart – much like the TV show, Kerry Ipem takes you on a whirl wind tour of all six series, stepping into the shoes of Carrie, Samantha, Miranda, Charlotte and all their ‘big’ loves. You can’t help but smile.
Best for: A good giggle. Oh, and SATC fans.
Murder She Didn’t Write. Daily, 17:00 & 23:00, 60mins, Venue 33, £12.50.
For fans of murder mystery and improvised comedy this is the show for you. With a plot, victim and murderer all dictated by the audience at the start of the show this is clever comedy without the script. Watch in wonder as the cast (somewhat) seamlessly play out the murder, working up to the big reveal.
Best for: Improvised comedy.
The Best of the Rest
The Real Sherlock Holmes Walking Tour.
Daily, 10:30, 1hr 30mins, Outside The Cigar Box, £12.
Whether you’re an avid reader of the books or you’ve never so much as watched an episode, this walking tour has something for everyone. You may ask why a tour based on a character from London is set in Edinburgh but all becomes clear as you are guided through Victorian Edinburgh – from body snatching and public executions to real life crime solving and the possible true identity of this fictional man. The most entertaining way to visit some of the city highlights.
Best for: History lovers.
The Thinking Drinkers: Pub Crawl.
Daily, 20:35, 60 mins, Venue 302, £15.
Don’t be fooled into thinking, as we were, that this is a physical pub crawl. You will find yourself sat in a lecture hall, much like you’ve returned to fresher’s week at university. This show takes you on a metaphorical crawl through the ages of pubs, and with each era brings with it a new tipple to sample. From beer to spirits and learning to laughing it real will feel like you’re a student again. The Thinking Drinkers are also petitioning to save the British pub so listen out for how you can support the cause.
Best for: Pub lovers.
Parka London Top Tips
• Download the Fringe ap on android or apple store – you can search and book shows directly from the ap, search for events happening near you and also explore the daily ‘half price hut’.
• For first timers, we’d recommend pre-booking 2-4 shows a day, leaving space each day for last minute bookings and exploring. You can book tickets from the app or Edinburgh Fringe website
• You’ll need at least 30 mins between each show to allow for getting to each venue and queuing time.
• Most shows are 1 hour long and cost between £5 and £17.
• There are some free shows on offer but you will need to queue, advisably up to 30 mins in advance at the venue.
• Even if a show is fully booked, it’s always worth asking on the door of the venue just before the start time; there might be the odd empty seat as many performers don’t allow late arrivals to their shows.
• And finally, don’t forget to try new things! The nature of the Fringe has always been to launch new talent, so this is the perfect way of discovering the next great act!
Have you been to the Fringe? What are you’re highlights and top tips? Let us know in the comments.
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Edinburgh Fringe Festival 2018 runs until 27th August.