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© Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society
© Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society

The Ultimate Guide To The Edinburgh Fringe 2016

Picture of Tori Chalmers
Updated: 23 October 2016
Fast forward to Edinburgh in August. The cobbled streets are teaming with people from every corner of the Earth and historical landmarks transform into show spaces where performers dazzle the crowds with their spectacular showmanship. Here’s our guide of what not-to-miss at this year’s festival.

Around since 1947, the Edinburgh Festival Fringe is the most renowned open access arts festival in the world. This cultural extravaganza unites people from all over and can only be described as a theatrical utopia for the arts. Get ready for a staggering total of 1,731 premieres, 164 pay-what-you-want shows, 643 free shows, and 48 countries being represented this year. Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, behold the ultimate guide and sneak peek into the Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2016.

Courtesy of Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society

Courtesy of Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society

Themes

From the ins and outs of love to future and technology, politics, lying, masculinity, power, youth culture, war, and the female experience, the 2016 Fringe themes will enrapture audiences. We all know that this year is Shakespeare 400, and people are celebrating this momentous occasion everywhere. In honour of the beloved Bard, a marvellous selection of Shakespeare-related shows will take the Fringe by storm in 2016.

MacBain

MacBain is a unique and inventive take on Macbeth that will have people on the edge of their seats. Prepare for a genius performance surrounding the tumultuous relationship between Nirvana’s Kurt Cobain and girlfriend Courtney Love.

National Theatre Live: Hamlet

Don’t miss the National Theatre screenings of Academy Award nominee Benedict Cumberbatch as Hamlet. His jaw-dropping performance in this classic tale of tragedy and woe will stir the soul.

Bad Shakespeare

The Bard created some of the most barbaric baddies. Bad Shakespeare is a clever piece of new writing that explores the old-age argument of nature versus nurture. From the wonderfully wretched Lady Macbeth to Iago, discover if there is more than meets the eye with these classic villains.

Courtesy of Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society

Courtesy of Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society

Comedy

The largest category in the Fringe goes to (drumroll please) the comedy section. The Fringe is unjuried, which means that anyone from anywhere can participate. Discover the ultra bizarre, the best of sketch, the menacingly macabre, good old slapstick, and comedy that is side-wrenchingly hilarious. Performers range from complete amateurs to the greatest professionals. The festival offers exposure to aspiring comedians and has helped establish the likes of Rowan Atkinson, Jo Brand, Billy Connolly, and Eddie Izzard. Have a gander at the guide — good luck choosing what to see.

Daniel Sloss: So?

Daniel Sloss: So? will be a total sellout. This highly acclaimed comedian has a strong international presence and is definitely worth seeing. The self-deprecating tone is verging on too much to handle. His charm and wit, however, result in the most magnetic performance.

Katie Brennan’s Quarter-Life Crisis

Ah, the quarter-life crisis. That feeling of sheer panic when reality sets in. Katie Brennan’s Quarter-Life Crisis will make anyone in a similar predicament feel at least a tad better. Commiserate with Katie and embrace the music, comedy, and cabaret. It promises to be wildly and positively therapeutic.

NewsRevue 2016

NewsRevue 2016 is British satire at its finest. Expect outrageously hilarious songs, wonderfully witty sketches, and shockingly provocative punch lines. Audiences are guaranteed to be choking with laughter from this exceptionally funny look at current affairs.

Neel Kolhatkar: Neel Before Me

Crowds will be on their knees laughing and begging for more. This internet sensation is as witty as he is captivating. Get ready for uproarious impressions and his priceless stage presence. Neel Kolhatkar: Neel Before Me is a must-see gut-busting performance of comedy.

Katie Brennan’s Quarter-Life Crisis | Courtesy of Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society

Katie Brennan’s Quarter-Life Crisis | Courtesy of Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society

Theatre

Scotland is celebrated for creating some of the best writers in the world. It makes sense that actors and theatre companies travel from far and wide to bring their work to Edinburgh. With so many world premieres that it’s easy to lose track, expect the best yet from the festival this year. Explore the classics, contemporary works, and the avant-garde. Whether you are a theatrical novice or well-seasoned theatregoer, the Fringe provides something for everyone. Flip a coin and see something you’ve never seen before. The Festival is full of surprises.

Agent Of Influence: The Secret Life Of Pamela More

From the director who brought Whiskey Tango Foxtrot to Fringe 2015, Agent Of Influence: The Secret Life Of Pamela More is an alluring story of opulence, charm, power, and fear. MI5 recruits Pamela More (a socialite and fashion columnist) to act as a spy in the 1930s. Audiences will be hooked by the glitz, glamour, and sheer drama of what will happen next.

Blush

Revenge is not always sweet. Blush addresses feelings of shame and contempt within society through five gripping stories about revenge porn. This riveting work was written by Charlotte Josephine and is presented by Snuff Box Theatre (the minds behind the multi-award winning performance of Bitch Boxer) so expect great things. Warning — raw emotions will be unleashed.

Poena 5X1

From politics to sex, love, profit, and punishment, Abbie Spallen’s Poena 5X1 is thrilling to the core. Expect tantalising twists and turns in this thrilling world premiere. It focuses on the politics of power. What happens when betrayal gets in the way of work? Every action has to have its consequences.

Lucy, Lucy and Lucy Barfield

At least once throughout the course of life, everyone has double-checked the closet in the hope of finding Narnia. Lucy, Lucy and Lucy Barfield is a solo show featuring Lucy, who realises that Narnia does not exist. Her mission to find the answers of life will touch audiences.

Poena 5X1 | Courtesy of Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society

Poena 5X1 | Courtesy of Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society

Family Shows

Kids are impressionable, so give them the gift of experiencing the arts. Expect retellings of famous children’s stories, family-friendly plays, musicals, street performances, circus acts, and book readings. It’s safe to say that children (and all other ages) will appreciate and adore each moment. Interests are bound to be sparked with the abundance of topics and themes to choose from. It’s tricky to determine which is more exciting — the shows or the awe on the children’s faces.

Children Are Stinky

Children Are Stinky is a hilarious show for the entire family. With five-star reviews, stunts, acrobatics, circus acts, and great tunes, children and adults will be transported to another world. All ages will want to keep returning for more.

Alice In Wonderland – The Musical

Curiouser and curiouser. Bring all the family to drink up the exceptional performance of Alice In Wonderland — The Musical by California composer Tim Nelson. Enter into a world where nonsense makes sense. It may be a little mad (in a good way). Besides, all the best people are.

Captain Flinn and the Pirate Dinosaurs 2: The Magic Cutlass

Hooray, Flinn and friends have returned! How will he find the mysterious Magic Cutlass? Why did Mr. T the T-Rex steal his friends? Based on the popular book, Captain Flinn and the Pirate Dinosaurs 2: The Magic Cutlass is totally adorable and guaranteed to be a favourite among all children.

Captain Flinn and the Pirate Dinosaurs 2: The Magic Cutlass | Courtesy of Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society, © Graham Lewis

Captain Flinn and the Pirate Dinosaurs 2: The Magic Cutlass |Courtesy of Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society, © Graham Lewis

Music

By the end of the festival, people are well-accustomed to the orchestra of sounds resonating throughout Edinburgh. Make sure to get completely lost in every type of music imaginable. Experience the soothing symphonies from world-renowned musicians and new talent too. Inject yourself into different cultures and hear the vibrant sounds of international music spanning from Europe to Africa. Let your ears guide you in all sorts of uncharted directions.

Starman

See Sven Ratzke in his ever so fabulous show Starman. Inspired by the true legend David Bowie, prepare to be transformed by this musical explosion. Audiences will love the cabaret and rock concert feel. Get ready to dance the day away.

Africanised!

This is a must-see musical journey. And wow — what a performance. Africanised! will have people moving and grooving to the tremendous harmonies of African music. Prepare to be blown away by this truly stunning cultural experience.

No Horizon

The mesmerising musical No Horizon is utterly sensational. Described as Yorkshire’s very own Les Mis, this story needs to be told. While striking at the depths of the soul, this tale follows the bravery and dreams of the incredible blind man Nicholas Saunderson.

No Horizon | Courtesy of Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society, © Join Venue

No Horizon | Courtesy of Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society, © Join Venue

Circus, Physical Theatre, And Dance

Everybody loves a good circus show. Heads swivel at jugglers juggling, acrobats pushing their bodies to insane limits, and contortionists morphing into physically impossible shapes. Thankfully, the Fringe is bursting at the seams with multiple circus performances, physical theatre, and dance shows. Year upon year, the best of the best venture to Edinburgh to share their art and send minds into a spin.

Closer by Circa

Edinburgh will host Closer by Circa, the most intimate circus performance yet. Circa chooses to shy away from the typical spectacle found among most circus acts. Instead, viewers will be moved by what can only be described as moments of true beauty and wonderment. The graceful movements of each performer are simply stunning.

Perhaps Hope

With bodies bending like never before, Perhaps Hope will make every observer want to switch careers and join the circus. The eco-apocalyptic show encourages pondering about true humanity among the masses and explores pressing issues involving climate change.

Silver Lining & Jacksons Lane: Throwback

West End director Paulette Randall pairs up with this unbelievably brilliant British bunch to create pure magic. Witness the power of collective memory, feel the nostalgia in the air, and gaze upwards to experience these aerial and acrobatic displays. Silver Lining & Jacksons Lane: Throwback is a trip down memory lane that will never be forgotten.

The Jungle Book: Cobwebs and Moontalk

Rudyard Kipling’s enchanting tale of Mowgli and his jungle family has become popular once more through Jon Favreau’s 2016 film adaptation. Audiences will be hypnotised like Mowgli by Kaa when witnessing the circus retelling of The Jungle Book: Cobwebs and Moontalk. Trust and enjoy the puppetry, aerial acrobats, and live music.

Courtesy of Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society

Courtesy of Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society

So there it is — a wee snippet into the Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2016. How do you understand and witness the true essence of this artistic Eden? Experience it in person. Absorb the cultures of the world right in the heart of Edinburgh. Immerse yourself into every single magical moment. Wander the streets of this beautiful city and prepare to be enchanted with endless show-stopping acts. Take a gamble. Witness something new and untold. Embark on the adventure of a lifetime.

Edinburgh Festival Fringe runs from 5 – 29 August 2016 at various locations.