Features Edinburgh Fringe 2019 Published 12 August 2019

Exeunt recommends: Edinburgh Fringe highlights so far

Exeunt is proudly flying the flag for longform criticism at the fringe. Too busy to read it all? Here's a handy digest of the shows our writers love.
Exeunt Staff

Sh!t Theatre Drink Rum With Expats. Photo: Charlie Cauchi

It’s the midpoint of the fringe, apparently, although somehow it feels like both several years and only a few hours have elapsed since the festival fired its metaphorical starting gun. And some early favourites have emerged from amidst the morass.

Shows we thought would be good, and are
Every year Sh!t Theatre have this magical ability to take a very unpromising topic and spin it into gold. Sh!t Theatre Drink Rum With Expats is one of those shows; inspired by a trip to Malta, Ava Wong Davies writes that “it’s expertly done stuff, an acutely constructed web that tangles itself around your feet and trips you up when you least expect it”. The Patient Gloria comes to Traverse Theatre after building an enthusiastic fanbase in Dublin and it’s pretty clear why: Alice Saville writes that she felt “a little bit of bursting glee at each fresh bit of whimsical feminist anger and post-Catholic fury”. And everyone’s been raving about Belgian director Milo Rau; Ben Kulvichit’s review dug into his acclaimed piece La Reprise, finding jarring horror and ethical puzzles in this “theatrical thought experiment”.

Two-handers to remember
Typically, the fringe is awash with solo shows, but this year has yielded some memorable double acts. Kopfkino’s The Grand Scheme of Things is a “rivetingly intense” game of Truth or Dare, writes Dave Fargnoli. Charlotte Josephine’s Pops probes a father and daughter’s relationship: Emily Davis writes that “the writing, directing and design of this play is all so completely PRECISE and delicate.” And Square Go is back for a second race around the fringe; Eve Allin’s response from last year writes that “what begins as a testosterone-filled hour of quips and digs turns into a delicate exploration of going from boy to man, and what that even means”.

Queer joys
Yup, the name couldn’t be more zeitgeisty but Wild Swimming is about more than taking a chilly dip; Ava Wong Davies writes that its two time-skipping performers “struggle in and out of corsets and breeches between each scene like they’re full-on wrestling with outdated concepts of gender and sex”. The Queer House bring things up to date with Pink Lemonade and Since U Been Gone: Hannah Greenstreet writes that both these solo shows “capture humour and joy, telling personal stories of identity in a gentle and affirming way”. And Daddy Drag is an emotive new spin on the drag king genre: Hannah Greenstreet writes that as its autobiographical approach bites,”the show shifts from comedy to something genuinely moving”. We haven’t reviewed them, but it’s also well worth dropping into sweaty and excellent female-led comedy night The Lol Word, and gathering fistfuls of flyers for LGBTQ+ shows at Ed Fringe Queer Meet Up each Tuesday afternoon.

Shows to give you the right kind of nightmares
In Bed With My Brother’s Tricky Second Album is like nothing else you’ll see at the fringe: Alice Saville writes that “this is LATE NIGHT THEATRE in Caps; the kind that feels a bit like a party and a bit like a nightmare, the kind that you might dream about and wake up sweating”. The Afflicted is a physical theatre narrative of female hysteria that’s equally terrifying-in-a-good-way: Ava Wong Davies writes that “We are kept, constantly, on the brink. When the horror-movie inflected beats do come, they almost feel superfluous considering that Summerhall’s Demonstration Room is completely soaked in dread.” As Hannah Greenstreet writes, Northern Irish sister story Crocodile Fever ingeniously shifts “from naturalistic family drama to full-on horror slasher”. And Caroline Horton’s All of Me is frighteningly good, too, turning depression into an unsettling mythical struggle: Alice Saville writes that “it feels so strange and new and unfamiliar, sitting outside those old-t-shirt-familiar narratives of acceptance and recovery”.

Read all of Exeunt’s coverage of the 2019 Edinburgh fringe here

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Exeunt Staff is a contributor to Exeunt Magazine