The Edinburgh Festival Fringe is the biggest arts festival in the world, with nearly 3,500 shows. This year, Playbill is in Edinburgh for the entire month in August for the festival and we’re taking you with us. Follow along as we cover every single aspect of the Fringe, aka our real-life Brigadoon!
As part of our Edinburgh Fringe coverage, Playbill is seeing a whole lotta shows—and we're sharing which ones you absolutely must see if you're only at the Fringe for a short amount of time. Consider these Playbill Picks a friendly, opinionated guide as you try to choose a show at the festival.
This year's Edinburgh Festival Fringe hosted lots of social media sensations, and that's not entirely surprising. Platforms like TikTok can act almost like a digital version of the Fringe Festival for comedians looking to build an audience, with the algorithm bringing their content to new potential fans that couldn't have otherwise known to even seek them out.
But while many have had fabulous Fringe runs (fellow Playbill Picks Christopher Hall, Megan Stalter, and Tim Murray immediately come to mind), I don't think any others have translated their social media persona to the live stage quite as successfully as Adrian Bliss. His new solo show Inside Everyone is finishing up a sold-out run at the Fringe, before it moves to London at the Soho Theatre. Bliss is known for his wry sense of humor with a delivery that borders on catatonic, absurdly combined with wild situations, ridiculous costumes, and a cast of multiple Adrians. Bliss uses his uniquely British comedy of the mundane to explore the banalities of everything from life in the bloodstream to major moments in history, taking the piss out of situations we're used to seeing with far more grandeur. Most importantly, his videos are a riot.
And for his stage show, Bliss has wisely chosen to leave all of that largely intact. Inside Everyone follows an atom (an almost naked Bliss wearing a ridiculous, knobby, and glowing inflatable red ball) telling his incredible life story of a quest for greatness. That journey begins with an atom riding an asteroid to Earth and becoming part of a dinosaur, then moves to Pandora as she debates whether or not to open her box, Julius Caesar inventing the caesar salad at the Curia of Pompey's build-your-own-salad station, Van Gogh's severed and somehow sentient ear, and even Hitler's father's other spermatozoon.
The whole thing is absurd as it sounds, a dementedly good time from beginning to end—where Bliss is even surprisingly able to conclude his madness with a nice little message about the connection of all us seemingly disparate creatures.
Bliss, of course, isn't able to digitally co-star with himself on stage. But the surprisingly tech-heavy show translates this element of his comedic style by having Bliss perform to audio recordings featuring himself as the other roles. Composer and sound designer Max Brodie (additional music is by Tom Rosenthal) has created an expert soundscape and technical design that lets this happen smoothly, and with the right amount of mock seriousness.
Lily Woodford's playful lighting design, Jennifer Dingwall's perfectly stupid costumes, and Phao May's flailing-with-style movement direction all perfectly augment and complement Bliss's comedy—delightfully and appropriately elevating what could have so easily been a simpler hour of stand-up into something pretty unique. The whole package is so polished that I was amazed to find there isn't a director credited with overseeing the affair; Bliss's vision and taste must be incredibly strong.
Inside Everyone already has post-Fringe plans, with a run set at London's Soho Theatre for September 18-30. The show is so good that one hopes it'll get picked up at more venues next, perhaps even internationally. I marveled at the skill with which Bliss translated his fabulous TikTok videos into a stage show, but Inside Everyone will keep almost anyone in stitches whether you're familiar with his online presence or not. If the artistry on stage here is any indication, we've got lots more Adrian Bliss to look forward to laughing at for years to come.
Adrian Bliss: Inside Everyone is running at Pleasance Dome's AceDome through August 27, and the entire run is sold out. For tickets to the engagement at London's Soho Theatre, click here.