Playbill Pick: Best Man at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe | Playbill

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Playbill Goes Fringe Playbill Pick: Best Man at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe

While it might be John and Rebecca’s big day, it's also the scene of one of the biggest train wrecks you've ever seen (we mean that in a good way).

Ruth Connelly

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.

Why do we love to watch a train wreck? Why, when we pass a car crash, do we crane our necks to see the damage? Why do we pull out our phones and film a Karen having a meltdown when the store won’t take her return? Why do we love to see people at their worst? The Germans call it “schadenfreude,” the Dutch call it “leedvermaak,” and at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, they’re calling it Best Man.

As someone who has given one or two wedding toasts in his life, the concept of this play immediately had me hooked. Whether you’ve given a speech or been held hostage listening to one, most of us have seen this very similar situation before. So I went to Mikey Fleming and Colman Hayes’s play, Best Man, mentally and emotionally strapped in for the ride.

As I entered the Wee Coo at Underbelly’s George Square, I did not walk into a theatre space, I walked into the reception party for John and Rebecca’s wedding. Thanks to the best man, Cathal, the scene became one of the biggest train wrecks I have ever seen.

The premise of the production is simple, come watch a man have a breakdown at his best friend’s wedding. Like other well-known cringe comedies (The Office, The Comeback, Curb Your Enthusiasm), Best Man follows in perfect suit. When Hayes enters as the title character, he is already in disarray. His forehead is dewy with sweat, his eyes are wide and darting around the room, and he nervously smiles. Hayes, without pause, breaks the fourth wall to make small talk to the reception guests (aka: us, the audience).

Colman Hayes Mikey Fleming

He points and talks to members of the audience as family and friends in the wedding party (Brenda, from the reception bar, Tony, the father of the Bride, Emma, one of the Bride’s Maids, etc.). He reassures everyone that he is going to “keep it short and sweet” because no one likes a long wedding toast. This joke was not lost on the sold-out audience, as we knew the show’s run time is an hour. So, no matter what Cathal says…this was not going to be short, and it was definitely not going to be sweet.

Some of you might be thinking, “Ugh, an hour watching a guy give a bad wedding toast?” Yes, but this is where Hayes’s charm and comedy really shine.

From realizing he’s lost his notes and having to “wing it,” Hayes effortlessly volleys between sticking his foot in his mouth (by revealing friend and family secrets), with genuinely tender moments—like Cathal realizing that at 35, he is the last of his friends to get married and fears that he’s lost his chance at happiness.

While the show is a great laugh at the expense of one man’s downward spiral, Hayes and Fleming’s play (Fleming has also directed the production) is a wonderfully clever perspective on what love looks like to those without it. 

For Fringe-goers looking to escape their worries, or deal with their own personal issues, by watching someone (hilariously) crash and burn, then A Few Words Theatre Company’s Best Man is the perfect pick. But hurry while you can. With almost half of the production’s future performances already sold out, you might not be able to attend John and Rebecca’s special day if you wait much longer. 

Best Man plays at Underbelly George Square's Wee Coo space through August 27. See the other shows that Playbill recommended at this venue here.

See photos from Best Man below.

See Photos From the Edinburgh Fringe Favorite Best Man

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