Edinburgh Festival Fringe news

Edinburgh Festival Fringe confirms nearly 800 shows for 75th anniversary season

Further programme announcements are due to be made in early May and early June ahead of the official Fringe guide being published on 7 July.

Daniel Sloss, Craig Hill, Omid Djalili, Jimeoin, Marjolein Robertson, Eleanor Morton, Christopher Macarthur-Boyd, Paul Sinha, Tom Stade are among the latest comics whose shows have been confirmed for this year’s Fringe, along with the return of Jordan Brookes, winner of the main Edinburgh Comedy Award in 2019.

The Scottish Comedy Festival will be expanding from its base at the Beehive Inn in the Grassmarket to open a second venue at the Waverley Bar, with Scottish Comedian of the Year Liam Farrelly, Ray Bradshaw, Raymond Mearns, Gary Little and Ross Leslie all in its line-up so far.

Musicals inspired by the serial killers Burke and Hare and the kidnapping of Shannon Matthews will be staged at theSpaceUK and Just the Tonic respectively.

TheSpaceUK programme will also feature an adaptation of the Daphne du Maurier short story The Birds, which inspired the famous Alfred Hitchcock film, with the Fringe show billed as ‘a thrilling psychodrama about what happens when nature turns against humanity.” War of the Worlds (On a Budget) will offer a new take on the classic HG Wells

Actor and broadcaster Grant Stott’s daughter Lori will perform at the Gilded Balloon in Swallowed, a drama from her own company Frizz Theatre, which will offer an “intimate snapshot” of the relationship of a young couple separated by an outbreak, while former Doctor Who Sylvester McCoy and Eastenders star Linda Marlowe will play “two isolated souls” in multi-media hybrid show Apartness.

As Fringe and Festival ramp up, is Edinburgh ready to embrace a resurgence of world’s biggest arts event?

A degree of normality should be resumed in Edinburgh this August. That’s the hope of the big-hitters in the Capital, the Fringe super-venues Underbelly, Assembly, Pleasance and Gilded Balloon, all of whom are planning their first full programme of shows since 2019.

Festival Fringe alongside the International Festival are set to return as more recognisable editions of their pre-pandemic selves while assuring the good people of Edinburgh that lessons have been learned from the last full-scale event three years ago during which over-tourism saw the infrastructure of the Capital creak and crack, under the annual influx.

With nearly three years to address those issues, you would hope Festival, Fringe and, most importantly, the Council, have listened and that any initiatives in place to make living, working and visiting the Capital a more relaxed and enjoyable experience for all, work. Get it right and the vibrancy, energy and sheer joy of Edinburgh in August can not be beaten.

“We are working hard to ensure this year’s Fringe is the best it possibly can be for all involved and we are excited to support all who work with us to flourish this summer.”

Edinburgh Festival Fringe

The International Festival launched its programme last week, the last from outgoing director Fergus Linehan, and an eclectic mix it is too, but it was an announcement from St Stephen’s Theatre, a new all year round venue for the city from Peter Schaufuss, that captured my imagination in the last 10 days or so; Sir Ian McKellen is coming back to the Fringe to play Hamlet.

In the ‘old days’, his name associated with a production of Hamlet would have been a shoo-in for the International Festival, more so as, this time, his classic Shakespearean delivery will be accompanied by acclaimed Danish ballet dancer Johan Christensen who will dance the role, joined by a corps de ballet. These days, boundaries between Fringe and Festival are no longer blurred, they’re practically non-existent, even a decade or so ago, for example, who would have expected hip-hip to be part of the International programme?

After last year’s Fringe (an effort no one will convince me did the historic brand any good – audiences sitting under umbrellas in the rain is never a good look) it will be great to have the buzz of the biggest arts festival in the world back, although I’ll put my money on this year’s event being more compact than in the past.

A record-breaking 3841 Fringe shows were registered in 2019, consequently, like many in Edinburgh I enjoyed having ‘my’ city back in the summer of 2000; seeing it in all its breathtaking glory, while wandering through empty streets, soaking in the history. Devoid of crowds, billboards and tourists, it was an unexpected trip back in time and one unlikely to be repeated… hopefully.

However, it’s now time to share the splendour of Edinburgh again and welcome back the visitors the city relies on to survive. With so many now working from home, the influx may not even have the same impact on the everyday life it once did. This week, it was revealed that so far, just less than 800 shows have registered for the Fringe. That’s an indication that whatever happens, this year’s event is likely to be a more manageable size and that’s a good thing, not just for the folk of Edinburgh but for the companies and performers seeking audiences, accommodation and maybe even a chance of covering their costs.

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Scott Baber
Scott Baber
Senior Managing editor

Manages incoming enquiries and advertising. Based in London and very sporty. Worked news and sports desks in local paper after graduating.

Email Scott@MarkMeets.com

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