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.
At Edinburgh Fringe, there are thousands of shows to sift through and choose from. Sometimes searching for the perfect show is like that painful hour you spend browsing through Netflix. Word of mouth, flashy posters, and people handing out flyers are some of the many ways to discover a show. In this case, the ridiculous title of Cowboys and Lesbians was enough to get me to book a ticket. And boy, am I glad I did.
Cowboys and Lesbians, by writer/director Billie Esplen, is a queer romantic comedy that’s jam packed with laughs and even more heart. As you walk into the theatre space (Dome 10) at Pleasance Dome, you’re met with backdrops painted with the scenes of fields and barns of stereotypical rural America. Georgia Vyvyn and Julia Pilkington brilliantly play 17-year-old best friends from London who are two goody two-shoes, fantasizing about their hot professors, school drama, and the wonders of sex…or at the very least, just a first kiss.
At the same time, the pair of friends make up a romantic story together between a misunderstood teenage farm girl and a macho cowboy—which is also depicted onstage in front of the audience. As the fake Western plays out, it reveals hidden feelings between the two young women.
Melodramatic is an understatement once we enter the world of this made-up American farm town. Vyvyn and Pilkington seamlessly switch between schoolgirl banter and hyperbolic caricatures of cowboys and farm folk. Between the cheesy banjo transitions and the campy tropes of their characters, one can’t help but be reminded of a corny Disney Channel sitcom, circa the early 2010s—a cringey aesthetic that’s done expertly well.
The show is self-aware, silly, and incredibly charming. The audience holds on with bated breath each time the pair's true feelings surface for each other. It’s impossible to not root for this duo of closeted confidantes. Beyond the teenage awkwardness, sexual tension, and over-the-top satire, the heart of the show is about friendship and genuine connection. You’ll leave the show with a smile and full of warm, fuzzy feelings.
Cowboys and Lesbians play the Pleasance Dome, 10 Dome space until August 27. Get tickets here.