The Edinburgh Festival Fringe is the biggest arts festival in the world, with nearly 3,500 shows. This year, Playbill will be going to Edinburgh in August for the festival and we’re taking you with us. Follow along this summer as we cover every single aspect of the Fringe, aka our real-life Brigadoon!
As this year's Edinburgh Fringe gets underway and attendees quickly find themselves having to make choices, Playbill is sharing recommendations to help guide green and veteran festival-goers alike. Sorted by venue, these round-ups highlight some of the most anticipated shows playing the festival this August. They also spotlight some of the major venues not to miss at Fringe as you plan out your experience of the world's largest arts festival.
Underbelly is a theatre producer that produces shows in London and Edinburgh (they are one of the lead producers of the Cabaret revival with Eddie Redmayne, which is transferring to the Broadway next year). They have a permanent venue in the Soho neighborhood in London called Underbelly Boulevard. They are also one of the biggest producers at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, producing over 100 shows annually across four venues in Edinburgh's city center: George Square, Circus Hub, Cowgate, and Bristo Square.
For this article, we are listing 10 shows that we're looking forward to at Bristo Square. This area contains 10 of Underbelly's Fringe spaces: McEwan Hall, Cowbarn, Friesian, Jersey, Dexter, Dairy Room, Ermintrude, Buttercup, Clover, and Daisy. In addition, there is also a large outdoor dining area where you can dine on street food and have a drink before, in-between, and after your show.
Check out the 10 shows playing Underbelly at Bristo Square below.
This new musical takes place in Berlin in 1933 as Germany transitions from one of the the most liberal societies of its time, with the world’s first gay rights movement, to one of the biggest tragedies in human history. The moving one-person musical follows Fellix, the emcee of the bar Fabulett. Fabulett 1933 runs August 2–27 at Underbelly Bristo Square's Clover.
This play follows a football manager, Shaun, who has been in the game for 30 years. Written by Rob Crossan and performed by Fringe First Award winner Chris Larner, the game outside may be easier to navigate than the game inside as Shaun's private life and personal traumas threaten to destroy him. The Gaffer plays Dexter at Underbelly Bristo Square August 6–13.
This new musical reimagines the Greek tale of Arachne, who defeated the goddess Athena in a weaving challenge. But then Athena turned Arachne into a spider. The musical is told from Arachne's point of view. Performances of God Catcher play Ermintrude at Underbelly, Bristo Square August 2–28.
This one-woman show was created by real teachers to shed a light on exactly what the education system expects of students and teachers—and how absurd those expectations are. Following Evie through the school day and into Parents Evening, Bad Teacher showcases the reality and comedy of being a 20-something teacher. Playing Underbelly Bristo Square's Friesian, Bad Teacher runs August 2-13.
It's A Motherf**king Pleasure
Disability-led theatre company FlawBored is bringing this satire to Fringe after successful VAULT and Soho runs. It's A Motherf**king Pleasure asks: What if disabled people don't want to do the right thing? The work is a searing look at how identity politics has been monetized. It plays August 2-27 at Underbelly Bristo Square's Friesian.
Mike Birbiglia: The Old Man and the Pool
Fresh off of his run on Broadway last fall, Mike Birbiglia is taking his show The Old Man and the Pool to Edinburgh. The show begins with Birbiglia’s annual physical and leads him down a rabbit hole of medical issues. As he previously told Playbill, “It’s an evening of theatre that centers on mortality and death." And also a highly chlorinated YMCA pool. The Old Man and the Pool runs August 3–27 at Underbelly Bristo Square's McEwan Hall.
Using live-streaming and projections, Sad-Vents is a one-person tragicomedy about mental health, heartbreak, and trauma in the age of social media. It's also the rare show to encourage using audience members to use their phones during the performance. "Together we’ll scroll through reels to find what’s 'real' and maybe stumble across the answer to the ultimate question: Do we consume social media or does it consume us?" Playing Underbelly Bristo Square's Jersey, it runs August 4-28.
Mog the Forgetful Cat
This children's show with music follows a cat named Mog, who is very forgetful, and about how that forgetfulness can come in handy. It's based on the Judith Kerr picture book of the same name. Running August 3–27, Mog the Forgetful Cat plays Underbelly Bristo Square's McEwan Hall.
Monét X Change: Life Be Lifein’
RuPaul's Drag Race All Stars winner and operatic bass-baritone Monet X Change makes her Fringe debut this year with a show about her intrusive thoughts and opinions on life. We can expect to see some immaculate vocals and comedy chops in this show. Life Be Lifein' runs August 2–15 at McEwan Hall at Underbelly Bristo Square.
This comedic tribute to dance features an all-male cast of six dancers wearing flamboyant costumes. Choreographed by Philippe Lafeuille, Tutu pays homage to the dance world that can sometimes take itself a little too seriously, and in the process, aims to shatter stereotypes and make dance accessible to all. Tutu runs August 3–27 at McEwan Hall at Underbelly Bristo Square.