Where to see something different at the Edinburgh Fringe

Tabarnak at Underbelly Circus Hub
Tabarnak at Underbelly Circus Hub

The theme of this year’s Edinburgh festival Fringe is ‘into the unknown’ – encouraging visitors to take a leap in the dark, and try something different or new.

So, how about some aerial theatre?

Sounds weird, but Egg is stunning, and has a compelling story to narrate.

Set in the demonstration room at Summerhall used by vetinary students of yore, you walk past a naked woman in a see-through bag of water suspended above a giant metal container, and a man playing guitar.

It tells the true story of one woman’s decision to donate her eggs to a friend to enable her to have a child – and the duo tell it in a unique way which draws you deep into the story.

Or how about some circus?

Tabarnak start with some on-stage knitting, a spot of recce hockey, and then draw you into their world of controlled, measured, utterly stunning acrobatics which build, set piece by set piece and all driven by a unique live music score. They’re in the Meadows’ circus hub, and are a genuine ‘must see’

Two shows on my radar after seeing extracts at The Pleasance’ press gala on Saturday morning – Freeman and the Mr Raymond and Timpkins Review,

Drama cannot come any more powerful than Freeman which explores the link between between mental health and systemic racism across six true stories. genuinely powerful stuff.

And if you find a more inventive and joyful hour than one spent with The Raymond And Mr Timpkins Review, do let me know!

They’ve been together 20 years but this is their Fringe debut – an hour of razor sharp word play, and brilliantly executed play on misheard lyrics. They’re utterly charming.

And if musicals are your thing, there’s a bit of buzz about Six– the six wives of chop-happy Henry VIII who each take to the mic to tell their story accompanied by a six-piece female rock band!

The sisterhood is taking on the bearded royal – and winning hands down!

And when it comes to cabaret, few can match the decadence, and brilliance, of Bernie Dieter’s Little Death Club where a host of acts are set to lead you astray. And sitting in the back row won’t mean you are safe from their attentions ...

Summerhall is also the perfect place to seeing something different – and it remains my favourite Fringe venue.

Generations of folk from Edinburgh still call it the Dick Vet where many veterinary students trained, but the dissecting rooms and lecture spaces have now become a fantastic creative hub which operates all year round, but comes into its own during August. If anywhere embodies the ‘into the unknown’ theme, it’s Summerhall.

At the front door stands a shipping container for Flight, a 30-minute show in total darkness (try it – it’s a real sensory experience!), and inside lie a labyrinth of shows.

Until You Hear That Bell is the story of one amateur boxer’s decade in the ring, and his relationship with his father, told within timed boxing rounds.

Black comedy, The Hit features the strangest puppet you’ll probably ever see – a bald, semi-naked guy – while Dice could be anything on any given day. It has six acts who only perform if their number comes up on the rolled dice ... so, you could see the same person six times in this show of chance!

Summerhall has hosted some great gig theatre – shows based around a band – in recent years. All we Ever Wanted Was Everything traces life’s broken dreams from Blair’s Cool britannia to Brexit Britain.

And those steps into the unknown?

Try The Midnight Soup in which a woman sets out to chronicle her life until she chooses her death.

The monologue becomes a conversation as the audience prepares a meal they all share at the end.

Now that’s different ...!