Five Edinburgh Fringe shows to see at TheSpace venues
A debut drama about the miners' strike, a solo show about celebrity, a modern-day Greek tragedy, and more...
Hello, and welcome to The Crush Bar, a weekly newsletter about theatre written by me, Fergus Morgan.
This issue is one of twelve specials I will be sending out during July and August, all focused on shows performing at the Edinburgh Fringe. Each issue will highlight five shows worth watching - three picked by me, plus a couple of promotional ones, too.
Some issues will be themed, some won’t be. Some shows I will have seen and loved myself, some I will just have heard good things about. All of them, though, will be made by exciting, mostly emerging/early-career artists.
You can read more about the thinking behind The Crush Bar here, and you can subscribe to get it sent straight into your inbox - go on! - using the button below…
Emerging, Edinburgh-based theatremaker and performer Shelley Middler studied at Surrey’s University for the Creative Arts and Glasgow’s Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, and has subsequently written for the Scottish Youth Theatre, Edinburgh’s Strange Town Youth Theatre, and the Traverse Theatre.
The Collie’s Shed is her debut play, running at TheSpace on North Bridge for the final two weeks of this year’s festival. Inspired by the passing of the Scottish Government’s Miners’ Strike Pardon Bill last year, which pardoned miners convicted of certain offenses during the strikes of 1984-5, and based on real experiences, it explores the politics of the picket line.
The show follows four retired Scottish miners, flicking back and forth between the present day and the past – and one particularly violent day at Bilston Glen Colliery during the strikes of the mid-1980s. Produced and performed by an all-Scottish team, it runs in the early afternoon from August 15-20, and at 8.25pm in the evening from August 22-27.
Suffragette Theatre is a Durham-based company committed to creating intersectional, feminist theatre in innovative ways. It’s new show Beautiful Nothing premiered at the Durham Drama Festival earlier this year, and now arrives in Edinburgh for a short, six-performance run.
Written by Em Oliver, directed by Charlie Barnett and performed by Bhav Amar, the solo show follows a young actress – Corinne – as she experiences global stardom for the first time – and struggles to cope with the scrutiny, social media attention, and sexualisation that come with it.
Running at TheSpace @ Surgeon’s Hall at 10am for six days from August 15, Beautiful Nothing is a darkly comic exploration of the damaging ways in which society treats famous young women.
Amalia Costa’s new, 40-minute short play The Lacehouse arrives in Edinburgh from Nottingham New Theatre, England’s only fully student-run theatre, which stages 30-plus productions per year and took two shows – Madeleine Craig’s Madhouse and Cecilia Alexander’s It’s Not Rocket Science – up to the fringe for short, successful runs last year.
Inspired by her own experiences, Costa’s one-act, tragicomic three-hander follows the relationships within a Greek Cypriot family who moved to the UK. One the eve of a funeral, three of the family’s sisters meet to conduct a séance, and in doing so unearth some long-buried secrets.
Written and directed by Costa, The Lacehouse is an exploration of the family ties that bind us together – sometimes too tightly – and of what it means to grow up between two separate cultures. It is playing in TheSpace on North Bridge’s Perth Theatre at 2.10pm on alternate days from August 16 onwards.
Shenanigans Cabaret has made a name for itself as one of the most exciting, entertaining, and inclusive variety nights in East London. Its regular monthly performances, featuring drag, dance, circus, stand-up, magic and more, regularly sell-out – and are regularly watched online by an audience from around the world, too.
The show visited last year’s Covid-affected Edinburgh Fringe for one night only and was a complete sell-out. It returns this year for a short run from August 15 – 20 with its burlesque edition: producer and host Foxi Blue, plus Scottish performers Rosie-May Riot, Bustyy Bleu (founder of Saltire Burlesque Academy) and Felicity Flirtwell, and London-based performers Trash Valentine and Pink Lotus.
“We are committed to a diverse burlesque show,” says Blue. “We have people of different ages, different backgrounds, different genders, different shapes and sizes. That is what burlesque is all about for us. It is about celebrating yourself. We want to spread the word about that in Edinburgh. We want – pardon the pun – more exposure.”
This is promotional content.
In the summer of 1689, Princess Anne – later Queen Anne – finally gave birth to a son who survived more than a few hours. There was a problem, though: the young prince suffered from convulsions, and would not feed. Enter Mrs Pack, a wet nurse from Kingston Wick.
With its new show, Oxford-based company Three Chairs and a Hat take Mrs Pack’s extraordinary story – the prince’s reliance on her for his health meant she gradually became one of the most influential figures in the royal household – and turn it into a four-handed musical. Written and composed by English National Ballet associate Nia Williams and directed by Katie Blackwell, Mrs Pack is an entertaining exploration of class and gender politics at the heart of power.
The show’s limited run – it is only on from August 22 to 27 – marks Three Chairs and a Hat’s return to Edinburgh after the successful 2019 run of award-winning musical Verity. “We’d love to spread the word about Mrs Pack and her remarkable life,” says Williams. “We would also be really interested to work with other producers and other companies to take the show further somehow.”
This is promotional content.
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