Hyena

Hyena

I’ve finally found it: the Fringiest show at the Fringe! Hyena is a free-wheeling, difficult, often uncomfortable and sometime revelatory experience. Romana Soutus’ one woman show starts with her locked in a dog cage, and things just get more disturbing from there on in... 

Bull

Bull

If you’ve ever cursed Human Resources for making you work with such unreasonable people, you should see what Thomas has to put up with! Mike Bartlett’s 2013 tale of Darwinian competition in the workplace is brought to life in this slick and enjoyably nasty production from yt2 Plus... 

Broken Fanny

Broken Fanny

Writer and performer Emma Jerrold could be described as something of a hot property at this year’s Fringe. After crowdfunding her first Edinburgh show she’s been receiving plaudits from big names like Olivia Coleman and Emma Thompson, as well as rave reviews from The Stage... 

Five Kinds of Silence

Five Kinds of Silence

It’s hard to imagine a more emotionally-gruelling hour of theatre: three women held prisoner by an abusive patriarch finally free themselves from his clutches by shooting him in his bed, before being forced to relive decades of trauma by lawyers and psychiatrists... 

About a Girl

About a Girl

There aren’t many plays with a cast of teenagers that are this slick. Some excellent tech and blocking make About a Girl a fast-paced and immersive horror, though the writing and acting sometimes fail to live up to the play’s impressive aesthetics... 

Procrastinate

Procrastinate

Procrastination may confound human progress and productivity, but it also provides the inspiration for Brick by Brick’s fantastic, multimedia clown show. The union of office drudgery and the subdued magic of mime brings a fabulously playful air to one officer worker’s exploration of all the things he can do when he should be doing something else... 

Electric Eden

Electric Eden

Come for an immersive ‘clubbing’ atmosphere and free face paint; stay for perceptive political dilemmas and great naturalistic performances. Not Too Tame’s Electric Eden plays off different responses to oppression with some well-drawn characters and a great site-specific setting... 

King John

King John

Performed by a company of young actors, this is a credible adaptation of Shakespeare’s rarely performed King John that revels in the high stakes of its historical narrative. Its live music (atmospherically played by Jemma Fendley and Tom Vallance) and energetic battle scenes provide some entertaining theatre... 

Murder She Didn't Write

Murder She Didn't Write

There are a fair number of improvised comedies this year, but Degrees of Error’s Murder She Didn’t Write is causing a particular buzz. It’s all a lot of fun and delivered with a healthy dose of farce, and despite a few shortcomings enjoyment is guaranteed... 

Happy Together

Happy Together

Wow! Happy Together is a ferociously intelligent new play by MA student Kate Newman, and perhaps the most meta thing at the Fringe. It’s by turns shocking, disorientating, funny and strange, and one of the most under-appreciated shows this year... 

Troilus and Cressida

Troilus and Cressida

Rarely performed and more or less unknown to all but the most hardcore of Shakespeare addicts, Troilus and Cressida explores star-crossed love and political machinations in the midst of the Trojan War... 

Evil

Evil

An adaptation of Jan Guillou’s semi-autobiographical novel, which went on to become an Oscar-nominated film in 2003, Evil tells the story of systematic bullying and brutality at an elite Swedish boarding school... 

I Love You / It's Over

I Love You / It's Over

As a piece of verbatim theatre, I Love You / It’s Over gives a much more clear headed, down-to-earth view of love than you’re likely to find in a more highly wrought play. The appeal of the piece rests heavily on the fascinating responses to a questionnaire about love, however is less successful in the way it develops its raw material... 

Happy Yet?

Happy Yet?

If you’re expecting an uncomfortable exploration of mental health issues and the stigmas associated with them, the tone of Happy Yet? might catch you off-guard. Ostensibly a domestic comedy, even a farce at times, Katie Berglöf’s script refuses to wear its dark themes on its sleeve – though sometimes you wish it would... 

Steam

Steam

Steam lives up to its name, delivering a staggeringly intense hour of physical theatre. It’s original student writing that’s brimming with ideas and brilliantly executed.Set to an addictive electronic soundtrack from Alexander McNally, the cast launch into some slick choreography, telling the story of Eve’s (Rosa Cains) relationship with two men (Jim Murrell and Joseph Gabriel Vogarty-Graveson) and the scars they leave behind... 

Remember to Breathe

Remember to Breathe

Following the story of an Irish emigrant’s relationship with her father, Remember to Breathe is quietly affecting rather than arresting; assured and well-rounded rather than boundary-pushing... 

Mr Incredible

Mr Incredible

There are plenty of plays at this year’s Fringe which criticise gender norms and take on patriarchal systems, but Mr Incredible truly gets to the heart of the kind of beliefs that lead many men to do terrible things... 

Of Wardrobes and Rings

Of Wardrobes and Rings

David Payne, having already portrayed C. S. Lewis well over 500 times, writes and stars in a new play about the final meeting between Lewis and his friend and sparring partner J. R... 

The Maiden's Toy

The Maiden's Toy

With hints of Black Swan and Inland Empire, Olly Lawson’s new play is a surprisingly arresting example of student writing. The narrative was gripping, but both the performance and the writing could have gone further into the dark and obsessive territory the play hints at... 

LoveHard: The House on the Hill

LoveHard: The House on the Hill

Perhaps one of the most entertaining shows I have seen on the Free Fringe, Lovehard consists of comedians Jacob Lovick and Tyler Harding (see what they did there?), who in what is amazingly their first full length Edinburgh show deliver an outrageous horror-comedy... 

Six Characters in Search of a Handout

Six Characters in Search of a Handout

An adaptation of Luigi Pirandello’s 1921 absurdist piece, Six Characters in Search of an Author, Barrie Wheatley’s modernised version blends the source material’s meta-theatrical philosophising with sharp social critique of a generation of food banks and Twitter hate campaigns... 

Good Grief

Good Grief

A Free Fringe double bill of stand-up with no particular theme, Irish comedians Keith Fox and Ger Staunton underwhelm with their unassuming stage presence and only mildly amusing humour... 

Sleeping Trees: Sci-Fi?

Sleeping Trees: Sci-Fi?

After Mafia? and Western? at previous Fringes, comedy trio Sleeping Trees now turn their gaze to the stars. Sci Fi? is a gloriously parodic space opera, complete with an evil army of French robots, plenty of planet-hopping and a melodramatic supervillain... 

Alex Kealy is an Idea Whose Time Has Come

Alex Kealy is an Idea Whose Time Has Come

Joining the ranks of slightly nerdy comedians who primarily joke about their non-existent sex lives, So You Think You’re Funny finalist Alex Kealy is a safe bet for some well-thought out stand-up... 

LJ DA FUNK's Anti-Fascist Counter-Terrorist Comedy Orgy

LJ DA FUNK's Anti-Fascist Counter-Terrorist Comedy Orgy

Dressed like a hip hop stereotype and with an accent he describes as “Forrest Gump on crack”, LJ Da Funk is the brainchild of stand-up Zac Splijt. Shouting his way through an often surreal set, Splijt’s persona is sufficiently hilarious to make even the less-good jokes enjoyable... 

Scorch

Scorch

One of the things I’ve noticed about this year’s Fringe is the number of stellar one-woman shows, and Prime Cut Productions’ Scorch is the best so far. Stacey Gregg’s story of a gender-curious teen’s first love is both intimate and politically charged, bringing to the stage controversial cases of ‘gender fraud’ in all their complexity... 

Awkward Confessions of a Homeless Sex God

Awkward Confessions of a Homeless Sex God

A sure contender for Best Title for a Comedy Show at this year’s Fringe, George Zacharopoulos’s riches-to-rags tale is just as entertaining as it sounds. As storytelling the show undoubtedly succeeds; as stand-up though there are a few problems... 

Cook It How You Like, It's Still a Potato!

Cook It How You Like, It's Still a Potato!

Despite coming across as likeable and charming, Romina Puma’s stand-up set doesn’t provoke too many laughs. Her overarching theme of political correctness is overdone and falls a little flat... 

Smart

Smart

Smart may seem innovative in putting Facebook and Tinder at the heart of a drama, but this cannot compensate for boring and one-dimensional characters and a tedious plot. Writer and director Duncan Joseph has plenty of good ideas, but almost all of them are poorly executed... 

Mine

Mine

Mine is perhaps one of the most intense hours at the Fringe. It’s an emotionally devastating one-woman show that takes its protagonist to breaking point and beyond. Maisie Barlow plays a mother whose life is thrown into disarray when her son commits an unspeakable act... 

Rahul Kohli: Newcastle Brown Male

Rahul Kohli: Newcastle Brown Male

If you’re looking for some genuinely funny political comedy, Rahul Kohli is your man. With fast-paced delivery, clever jokes and an electric atmosphere, this is stand-up which doesn’t let its message of tolerance and live-and-let-live get in the way of its relentless humour... 

Lovely Lady Lump

Lovely Lady Lump

Part monologue, part stand-up show, Lana Schwarcz (writer, actor, puppeteer and comedian) shares her experience of breast cancer with honest emotion and cheesy one-liners. The show’s clever use of tech helps the audience glean some idea of what Schwarcz must have gone through, though some of her sketches occasionally come across as a little contrived... 

Irrelevant

Irrelevant

In a sitcom-esque black comedy, three bohemian students lazily speculate about the end of the world, until they begin to suspect that one of them might have taken drastic action against an unscrupulous corporation... 

Jamie MacDonald: High Vis

Jamie MacDonald: High Vis

Jamie MacDonald comes from a tradition of endearingly grumpy comics, ranting affably about all of life’s niggles, from racist taxi drivers to obnoxious ramblers. Nominally discussing how he often stands out as a blind man, the greatest enjoyment comes from his descriptions of his encounters with some gloriously horrible people... 

Peter White: Straight White Male

Peter White: Straight White Male

Peter White made a controversial decision to write a stand-up show about the problems faced by straight, white men, and it’s unclear whether this is quite brave or a terrible misjudgement of your average Fringe audience... 

James Meehan – Class Act

James Meehan – Class Act

There is always plenty of political comedy at the Fringe, but rarely as passionate and earnest as James Meehan’s Class Act. Delivered with anger and self-effacing humour, Meehan explores classism in an honest and direct fashion... 

Sacré Blue

Sacré Blue

In an hour that mixes spoken word and storytelling, Zöe Murtagh explores the symptoms and stigmas faced by anxiety sufferers in a show co-written with Victoria Copeland. Murtagh has a talent for visualising aspects of her condition that both move and inform, in a show that wrings entertainment from a very serious subject but sometimes bewilders with its range of styles and tones... 

Gráinne Maguire: Great People Making Great Choices

Gráinne Maguire: Great People Making Great Choices

Graínne Maguire is a pretty cool woman, and once trended worldwide for tweeting the Irish Taoiseach (prime minister) updates on her menstrual cycle. The laughs may not come thick and fast in her latest show, but Maguire’s tight structure and impressive subject matter meant there was much to be enjoyed... 

Spiders by Night: A Double Bill of Exciting New Monologues

Spiders by Night: A Double Bill of Exciting New Monologues

Spiders by Night is one of the more intimate Fringe shows: two monologues about spiders and mental health difficulties. Though sometimes lacking in power, both were extremely well-acted and the unusual writing took me to places I wasn’t expecting to go... 

'Tis Pity She's a Whore

'Tis Pity She's a Whore

Renaissance tragedies are rarely as enjoyably silly as Wanton Theatre’s ‘Tis Pity She’s a Whore. This student production revels in the farcical aspects of John Ford’s controversial play, with passion turned up to 11... 

The Dining Room

The Dining Room

In a single dining room revisited over the course of the 20th Century, a series of family dramas show the decline of the American upper-middle class. Offering the potential for both comedy and emotionally hard-hitting terrain, sadly this performance from the American High School Theatre Festival was decidedly anaemic... 

Austentatious: An Improvised Jane Austen Novel

Austentatious: An Improvised Jane Austen Novel

An improvised Jane Austen novel was always going to be a lot of fun, and Austentatious’s talented cast certainly delivered an amusing hour of comedy. The improvised plot held together surprisingly well, and the troupe’s surreal brand of humour went down a treat... 

Stuff

Stuff

What is love? In an immersive clown show with an interesting lyrical vein, Sean Kempton (of Cirque du Soleil) attempts to find out.Kempton’s oddball sense of humour leads to a number of inventive sketches: he can be seen climbing out of the womb and inexpertly juggling with (thankfully imaginary) knives... 

Stuart Mitchell: Dealt a Bad Hand

Stuart Mitchell: Dealt a Bad Hand

As soon as Stuart Mitchell entered the room, I knew I was in a safe pair of hands. His easy confidence and repartee with the audience meant that there was none of the five or ten minute’s awkwardness whilst the comic waits for the room to warm to him... 

Crazed

Crazed

Anyone looking for important and assured new writing would be well-advised to give Ecce Theatre’s Crazed a look. Opening as a well-observed comedy on student living, the play becomes a hard-hitting and nuanced exploration of consent... 

The Toyland Murders

The Toyland Murders

Like a family-friendly version of Sin City with hand puppets, The Toyland Murders follows the adventures of Inspector McGraw (Becca Jones) and her deputy as they attempt to track down a mysterious serial killer in a town full of toys...