As some of you may know, Edinburgh Spotlight was born from a mutual love of the Fringe.
So you’ll understand if we’re a little bit excited to finally have our copies of 2010’s programme in one trembling hand: with a highlighter pen, copious amounts of tea & coffee and some Kendal Mint Cake within easy reach of the other.
Although we’ve still to go through the programme with a fine toothed comb, here are our initial picks from our first glances through.
I’ll be covering comedy, dance and children’s shows mainly, but do love to ‘find’ great plays as the Fringe progresses.
For children, I recommend Phil Kay’s Gimme Your Left Shoe, in which younger audience members literally have to hand their shoe in and witness 30 minutes of the mad world that Kay lives in. Hairy Maclary at the Assembly George Street sees the popular books’ characters come to life.
Some huge comedy names coming this year and you can’t go wrong at Venue 150 with Rhod Gilbert or Jason Manford – both performers have made the rise up over the years from small Fringe spaces to this large venue.
But don’t forget the lesser-known names – and my top picks are Holly Burn in Living and Dying and Welsh lad Elis James.
Flawless are one of my top dance picks and it’s guaranteed that the noise from the fans in the Udderbelly cow will make the Nou Camp sound like a monastery. At the neighbouring Gilded Balloon, I am looking forward to Pluck! who provide slapstick comedy capers whilst playing classical music.
I am intrigued to see what the mind reader S1L3NC3 show has to offer (perhaps a little like Chris Cox or Derren Brown?)
The ventriloquist Paul Zerdin makes a brief return to the festival for one week only, but this is an adult puppet show and not one for the youngsters, despite how cute the characters look! Book your tickets fast for this one.
And random promising show of the Fringe? Jim Bowen: Bullseye at Highlight (formerly Jongleurs) as everyone likes a bit of bully 😉
In general, I like the small-scale theatre productions, avant garde shows, physical theatre, world music and burlesque / vaudeville acts.
I’m excited to see some old favourites return; as well as some new shows which look intriguing to say the least.
Theatre-wise, I’m looking forward to Belt Up Theatre’s series of shows at C Venues. From fringe ‘classics’ such as Metamorphosis to new works like Atrium, this innovative theatre company look set to challenge and provoke once more.
I’m a fan of one-person theatre, and this year there are performances based on occultist Aleister Crowley, Ian Dury and a promising-sounding production from Guy Masterston – I, Claudia – which features a masked actress portraying the trials and tortures of teenage adolescence.
And of course, word of mouth, previews on the Royal Mile and simply sitting in the bar at C Venues for a couple of hours will uncover many, many more.
The music, vaudeville and cabaret scenes all mash into one big glorious greasepaint-covered delight this year. The Tiger Lillies, Patti Plinko And Her Boy, Meow Meow, Frisky & Mannish and ‘Queen of the Fringe’ Camille O’Sullivan are all favourites set to return; and there look to be several wildcards in there, from ukulele quartets to Japanese tapdancers.
A rhythmic highlight looks set to be Rhythm Drum & Dance – The Drum Show from Berlin at Venue 150, a show featuring the sound of the modern pop drum accompanied by spectacular dance routines. And Alan Cumming’s I Bought A Blue Car Today is likely to be a golden ticket this year, with the Scottish star performing musical numbers interspersed with personal stories.
Les Enfants Terrible bring their excellent Ernest & The Pale Moon back for a few performances, as well as their beautifully grotesque Roald Dahl-like morality tales The Terrible Infants. Their one night only new show The Vaudevillains is jostling to take the top spot of my list of must-sees.
Burlesque is hard to do well, but Blond Ambition are well known for being able to pull it off (ahem) and their shows Vive Le Cabaret and Me! Me! Me! are bound to be great, taking place in the new (to the Fringe) venue of the Ghillie Dhu ballroom as part of the Pleasance.
Soap! The Show immediately stands out as a circus skills & acrobatic performance at the Assembly; and I’m absolutely delighted to see the return of the Nofit State Circus this year, after being blown away by them when they were last here four years ago. And as I’ve travelled quite a bit in China, I’ve got a soft spot for the Chinese State Circus, this year appearing at a big top beside Ocean Terminal.
And, of course, there’s the Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppet Theatre…
So there you have it – the picks of our first pass through the programme.
By the time we’ve been through it again, updated our various cross-referred spreadsheets and turned our offices into something resembling the Cabinet War Rooms, we’ll have more tips for you.
And, starting from this weekend, we’ll be bringing you preview articles, interviews with performers, features on the venues and loads more Fringe-related fun.
So cover us – we’re going in…