Edinburgh Fringe: Shows we can recommend

The Shark Is Broken
The Shark Is Broken

The Edinburgh Festival Fringe is in full swing with thousands of shows across hundreds of venues.

What to see? Here are some of our recommendations to help you plan a trip across the Forth.

Frisky & Mannish

Frisky & Mannish

The Incident Room **** (Pleasance), until August 26, 4:30pm

Some crimes still have the power to shock, and captivate, decades down the line.

The Incident Room steps back over 40 years to 1975 and the police investigation into the Yorkshire Ripper – and it is compelling and powerful.

Even on its preview night it had near full house and earned a standing ovation. You cannot ask for a better start to any Fringe run.

Fishbowl

Fishbowl

The play is set in the Milgarth incident room early in the reign of terror of the Ripper.

The place, and its officers, are under intense pressure as the death toll rises, and it’s clear their system of checking, cross-checking and filing and indexing everything completely swamps them.

Working round the clock they spend so much time haring down cul-de-sacs and, of course, are de-railed by the infamous hoax letters and tape recording which convinced them the Ripper was a Geordie.

The cast are superb – some play multiple roles - and the script excellent., and not a second of the 90 minutes on stage are wasted.

Show info HERE https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/incident-room


On The Other Hand, We’re Happy, **** (Summerhall), until August 24

When your show has no props or scenery, it stands, or falls, entirely on the cast.

The three actors in this beautiful, moving, and funny, play, deserve every accolade going.

They tell the story of a young couple planning to start a family and taking their first steps down the road of adoption when she is killed, leaving the husband to grieve and then rekindling that journey.

He meets the birth mother, and then the young girl, and the story of their lives, complete with every rocky bump in the road, unfolds.

On The Other Hand is told on a circular floor space in the heart of the tent at Summerhall, and it has to be one of the hidden gems on the venue’s Fringe schedule.

With nothing other than choreographed movement to change the scenes and introduce new characters – the social worker, the birth mum and the young girl – they paint a vivid picture and, gently, pull the audience into the show by speaking directly to them.

It deals honestly, and sensitively, with some mighty big topics, but also leaves you full of hope.

Show info HERE https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/on-the-other-hand-we-re-happy

Arthur Smith: Syd **** (Pleasance) until August 17, 1:40pm

I could listen all day to Arthur Smith. He’s a master storyteller, wordsmith ... and a devotee of Leonard Cohen.

This show is simply beautiful, heart-warming, touching and deeply personal.

It’s the story of his late father, Syd, a police officer who didn’t like arresting people – a man who had some extraordinary adventures, which led him from London to Colditz, and kept a journal which gives this show a heartbeat.

Smith celebrates his life by reading from its pages, and adding the finest of soundtracks in his own unique style. You won’t hear a more wonderful rendition of the Kinks’ Waterloo Sunset, while the subtle refrains and hooks of Cohen are never far from the surface.

He finds warm memories and laughter in the most serious of times, and leaves us all the better for getting to know his dad.

Show info HERE https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/arthur-smith-syd

Frisky & Mannish’s PopLab **** (Assembly George Square Gardens), 7:00pm

A decade on the Fringe, and this year they’re doing great box office business once again with this fabulous music mash-up.

They take a batch of instantly recognisable songs and fuse them together in their PopLab, to deliver some astonishing results.

Black Lace’s ‘Agadoo’ as a power ballad? That’s just for starters.

Their inventive musical couplings all hit the spot, culminating in a fabulous descent into the dark underbelly of love songs where they take original lyrics and give them a deeply sinister alternative meaning simply by changing the tone.

Add in a stack of humour, some audience participation, and the fact no individual component out stays its welcome, and you have a genuinely smashing hour in the spiegletent.

And, judging by the show of hands, they’re pulling in new fans every day. Stick this one on your “must see” list of shows.

Show info HERE https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/frisky-mannish-s-poplab

Blizzard **** (Assembly Hall) 4:25 pm, until August 26

The programme lists this show under ‘circus’ which conjures up images of clowns, a ringmaster and primary colours galore.

It’s the exact opposite.

Canadian troupe, Flip Fabrique, make circus ultra cool in this stunning, captivating show which unfolds gently over 65 minutes.

It’s as mesmerising as anything you will ever see in a big top, and will delight audiences of all ages.

Blizzard paints a compelling picture of the bleak midwinter.

They weavetraditional circus tricks using roller-skates, a giant trampoline and even a snowball fight around a delightful story where the grace and artistry of acrobatic performers who climb as high as the roof of the venue have you on the edge of your seat.

Add in a magnificent, unique live soundtrack, and you are drawn into this show with every passing minute.

Show info HERE https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/blizzard

Fishbowl ***** (Pleasance), 1.00 pm, until August 26.

Simply, the best show I’ve seen so far at the 2019 Fringe.

Not a single word is spoken by the three brilliant actors who bring to life this story of three eccentric rooftop neighbours who form tentative friendships - and more - despite having little in common.

They are surrounded by an ingenious set which plays a huge part in the production, and makes this head and shoulders above all other comedy theatre.

The show is packed throughout with delights as the trio climb in and around their own tiny flats, making brilliant use of every available prop and piece of space.

And, as we get to know them, so the fabulous story at the heart of Fishbowl reveals itself.

This is a real gem of a show - a genuine treat and a glorious piece of outstanding comedy theatre which takes slapstick comedy to a whole new level.

Show info HERE https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/fishbowl

The Shark Is Broken **** (Assembly George Square Studios), 11:00 am until August 25

The shark in question is the most famous of all – Jaws – and this magnificent play takes us behind the scenes of Spielberg’s classic 1974 movie.

The three actors are holed up waiting on the crew fixing the shark, and their differences quickly become evident, particularly in the feud between heavy drinking Robert Shaw and the self-centred Richard Dreyfuss with Roy Schneider the keeper of the peace, and delivering some of the classic lines from the movie which still stands the test of time.

The added thrill is seeing Robert’s son Ian playing his father – he also co-wrote this show.

It’s a fantastic performance, matched both by Duncan Henderson as Schneider and Liam Murray Scott as Dreyfuss.

The script captures the boredom, the silly games and the circular debates which filled the endless hours waiting on someone shouting ‘action’ and is rich in detail, with some delicious one liners throughout.

You even get that legendary Jaws musical score to set the scene.

This show may have as ridiculously early time slot but it absolutely worth getting up early to see.

Show info HERE https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/shark-is-broken