Donald Stewart’s Top Ten Scottish Theatre Shows at the Edinburgh Fringe 2019

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As we get closer and closer to Edinburgh and you are thinking of a patriotic cause – and yer Scottish – or you are looking to sample some performance or twa that shows whit they Scots can dae, then here is a swatch – as we say in Scotland – of my recommendations

As with any recommendations that come without necessarily seeing the shows that are on offer a few criteria are applied, namely reputation, past experiences and the pitches being made. 

You can of course nip off to see any in the curated “Made in Scotland” group and won’t go too far wrong but, rather than stick to the safe, it’s the Fringe let’s all take a risk or ten..

I am going to start with a  couple of people I know. 

Lorenzo Novani with Poet of the Impossible and Loving the Enemy has his mentalism in the first and personal testimony in the second. I have seen a couple of Novani’s performances and he is very good but I am going on a personal level to recommend Jenny Lindsay with This Script. At the Scottish Storytelling Centre, I directed Jenny, in youth theatre and worked wi her maw. Jenny as a performance poet has been making quite a wee name for herself and she should be making big waves as I have long admired her stuff.

Slightly out the box, Reba Martell:  Salt ‘n’ Sauce is at the Planet Bar and she shall apparently batter yer haggis and do something with yer pickles… Drag is mainstream now, thankfully, so this is the more Celtic of the offering out there… though I cannot pretend to be an expert.

There are then a couple of companies with a couple of shows that I am torn between. Firstly PACE Rep Company are born out of the Paisley Arts Centre Youth Theatre as was and have realised that with the progression routes for young performers often cramped, they have an opportunity to give a platform to those just too old to lycra up convincingly for Grease and too young for Lear. They appear with Little Wings and Avalanche at the Space on the North Bridge for young viewers and Avalanche in the same venue slightly later in the day for the older ones – like me!!! Avalanche is all about connections, impact and making the world a better place – and do we need some of that!

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The other company is Ambergris who are bringing back DUPed, once again at Sweet Grassmarket. This won awards last year and mightily impressed me. This year they have a companion piece in Come Out From among Them so makes me want to see it more.

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It is a conclusion of a journey into the Democratic Unionist Party of Northern Ireland from how they have emerged as a massively influential UK partner of the Government from being a fringe party. The journey has not included the adopting of mainstream policies to fit in but being the bastion of fringe mentalities whilst traveling along the road…

If you like things being more up in the air, Scottish arial artists, All or Nothing Aerial Dance Theatre bring Heroes to the Underbelly George Square takes us to role models, super heroes and beyond!

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It being a local festival … I have been looking at some of the local offers and find that The Happiness Project from Edinburgh Creative Electric looks intriguing, Once on this Island by Forth Children’s Theatre is another worthy capture whilst A War of Two Halves, by This is my Story Productions equally enticing. Of all the local work I just fell into Silence in Court by The Edinburgh Little Theatre at the Hill Street Theatre where you get a play, a pie, a pint and become the jury takes an established idea and adds to it.

We would suppose that national companies would be well represented and here we do have whatever is at the Traverse with a tartan touch alongside some worthy work with Chic Murray: A Funny Place for a Window which was written for the very a play, a pie, and a pint Oran Mor original concept but now entering the fray at the Fringe. 

We get Fags, Mags, and Bags form Radio 4 which showcases the actor playing Still Game’s shopkeeper Navid from Craiglang now in Lenzie playing a different shopkeeper. 

The Tron arrives with a coproduction with Avalon and the BBC, If You’re Feeling Sinister, a play with songs but I have to plump for a couple of diverse pieces that have truly caught my attention.

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I love Grid Iron and their site-specific The Brunch Club is all site specific at the Pleasance Pop – Up! They are masters of a site specific triumph and this looks likely to prove such a success again. It is all about cliques and coming of age movies. 

The other brilliant piece of work is Lipsync by Cumbernauld Theatre at Summerhall. This is all about a cystic fibrosis sufferer who sung, sings and will sing less. With limiting lung capacity, rehearsals and performances have been built round the abilities and the limitations of the central performer’s CF journey. It’s a celebration and not a depressing hour and 5 minutes.

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Of course, there can be some of the productions with Scottish type titles or Scottish type concerns with The Tartan Pimpernel from 3 China’s Productions Ltd being just one of those. I am drawn however to Suffering from Scottishness from Kevin P Kilday. I saw Kevin this year for Fringe Review and this sounds like it is drawing on his obvious strengths. You can catch him at Assembly Roxy.

Finally, we have Bible John from Poor Michelle and the Pleasance. It is at the Pleasance Courtyard and if you know nothing about Scotland’s most notorious serial killer, this might be the one for you. He has never been caught and there are plenty of conspiracy theories to contemplate. I shall leave it to you to work out which one to disbelieve…


Jenny Lindsay with This Script 

Reba Martell presented by Salt ‘n’ Sauce 

PACE Rep Company Avalanche 

Ambergris Come Out From among Them

All or Nothing Aerial Dance Theatre bring Heroes 

Silence in Court by The Edinburgh Little Theatre 

Grid Iron and their The Brunch Club 

Lipsync by Cumbernauld Theatre 

 Suffering from Scottishness from Kevin P Kilday

Bible John from Poor Michelle and the Pleasance

Donald Stewart is FringeReview’s editor covering theatre and performance in Scotland year-round.

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