Edinburgh Fringe: Fewer shows but still some gems worth seeking out

By this time each year the Fife Free Press would be previewing the biggest arts festival in the world and highlighting the ‘must see’ shows and all the Fifers appearing.

By John Murray
Thursday, 29th July 2021, 9:37 am
Elsa Jean McTaggart
Elsa Jean McTaggart

I refer to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe and last year all shows were off due to Covid cancellations.

For 2021 the grossly reduced Fringe opens in one week’s time, and we are still hearing of shows being announced.

Do not expect a Fringe programme this year again as there will not be one published. The design has been approved but just like last year it comes as a limited-edition notebook with blank pages and coming in at £12.

You can also purchase T-shirts, posters, mugs, and fridge magnets with this year’s new design of either Charlotte Square or the Grassmarket.

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    As for seeing shows there will be some ‘in person’ venues, some outdoor - good luck for August in Edinburgh with that - and many more ‘online’ or even a hybrid of two of the above.

    The latter complies with what many West End productions have been doing by watching the show on your laptop for a fee but for me they could be anywhere and that is not how we came to love the Edinburgh Fringe.

    As you may know I have written musical theatre shows for the Fringe each year since 2013 and a few have sold out and won awards, but this year had so many uncertainties.

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    We did have shows but will have to roll over till 2022. For this year there will be still plenty to see but on a much-reduced scale.

    As we go to press, the Fringe Society announced 460 shows available to book compared to 3548 shows in 2019.

    The SpaceUK always has a huge diverse programme and this year has over 50 digital or live shows in four venues all supported by licenced bars.

    Some things never change however and in one bar in the Cowgate they are planning shows from 10am to 2am and music on till 5:00am.

    They have five rooms as venues and all shows are free, but donations accepted of course.

    It has been quite a year for Elsa Jean McTaggart, previously from East Wemyss and now on the Isle Of Lewis.

    Her Fringe show tells us in words and music how she and partner Gary has transformed a derelict rural cottage to a living home.

    When The World Stood Still runs from Aug 6-28 at Garden Theatre @The Space daily at 10:50am.

    A new album accompanies the show as well as a DVD and a fully illustrated book.

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