Interactive theatre, comedy and some of the more uncategorisable shows on offer at the Fringe are to be found under the headings “interactive” and “experimental”. So, if you are looking for something a bit different, you might just find a few recommended below. In interactive theatre the fourth wall if often shown and the border between performer and audience is blurred, though not in all cases. Interactive theatre can also be more immersive but the nature of, for example, standup comedy, usually means the fourth wall down to a greater or lesser extent.
Here are a few choices for this year’s Edinburgh Fringe.
For something family-friendly, late morning and clownish, Artiste is an “interactive exhibit of physical comedy and crafty clowning, as our Artist attempts to create a masterpiece in less than sixty minutes. Mr Bean meets the Mona Lisa in this high-energy, paint-splattered comedy suited to the young and young at heart.”
Also in the morning bur for 16+ is Big Kid Kindergarten. You get to “Follow the teacher as you craft, build, connect with classmates, and rediscover a sense of wonder in a world full of toys, paint, and pillows. Relying on the full participation of the audience, Big Kid Kindergarten asks us to connect in playful and poignant ways. Don’t forget to pack a snack! (For adults, with all-ages performances Wednesdays, Sundays.)”
For the chance to experience what it is like to be a television actor, try the highly audience-involved Alyn Ashby Presents – TV Stardom for Beginners. In this family-friendly show, you can “Join in the fun or sit back and enjoy as we go through training, auditions, rehearsals and performance – all in 45 chaotic minutes. Everyone leaves smiling and with a new catchphrase!”
Eulogy takes place in a shipping container. “Welcome to DARKFIELD. We hope you enjoy your stay. Eulogy is a surreal, otherworldly journey through a dreamlike, labyrinthine hotel that exists entirely in your mind. Performed in complete darkness over 35 minutes, this intense and exhilarating ride uses binaural sound and speech recognition technology to deceive the senses and transport audience members through rooms, down corridors and into the bowels of this strange and not altogether comfortable hotel. How your dream unfolds is, in part, up to you. However, make sure you don’t volunteer to become the subject of the eulogy every guest is preparing to deliver.”
For something interactive and immersive there are some Escape Rooms and games on offer. Agent November: Indoor Escape Game – Murder Mr E at the New Town theatre blends the escape room format with theatre: “There’s been a murder! You have 30 minutes to solve the case – or you might be next! Enter the Museum of Secrets, solve the puzzles and find the killer before they strike again. Success is not guaranteed. Will you survive? A unique blend of immersive escape room and murder mystery, all watched over by a mysterious secret agent helping you in your quest.” And for an outdoor format, the same company offers Agent November: Outdoor Escape Game – Major X Ploe-Shun.
You can also get out and about in Sherlock’s Challenge, a walking treasure hunt game which is “A succession of puzzles will lead you to find the truth about Sherlock and his connection to the city of Edinburgh.” You’ll need to book as a group of 2-7 and have smartphones with internet. You might also like Smithy’s Scavenger Hunt which adds a historical twist.
In terms of comedy and working the crowd Abishek & Nirmal: The Reel to Real – Crowd Work Tour will not leave you passive in your seat. “Abishek Kumar and Nirmal Pillai are back on the road with their hugely fun and interactive show that’s guaranteed to leave you cackling. This is India’s most watched crowd-work duo. “
The legendary board game Monopoly is the foundation for Benjamin Alborough: Absolute Monopoly. This “interactive extravaganza will update it for the modern world to make a game that’s more competitive, more aggressive and will destroy even more families. Join comedian Benjamin Alborough as he attempts to improve Monopoly in this chaotic, interactive gameshow where audience members compete against each other and the host, with the audience physically becoming the game board. The show combines role playing, physical challenges and psychological intimidation to make something that, if not the best board game in the world, is at least short.”
For an inteactive wellbeing musical show, it has to be How to Survive and Thrive in an Impossible World – With a Piano! where you can “Join award-winning psychologist and songwriter Steve Bonham, along with ace composer and musician Chris ‘The Bishop’ Lydon for our interactive wellbeing musical-show thingy! With humour, storytelling, great songs and gentle audience participation, discover the “Five Rules of the Road” for a better existence. Contemplating today’s weird and unpredictable world, gain insights from psychology and life on the road. Wise, entertaining and different, this is the perfect pick-me-up to help you thrive in our mad world. Don’t miss this unforgettable experience!”
Onto Bristleburg Town Hall. Playing at the unique Blundabus venue (yes, a real double decker bus as a performance venue), we have no idea what this is but it promises to be interactive and unique: “Residents of Bristleburg, USA: Meet at the bus to begin our exploratory Fringe Festival tour. Attendance is mandatory! Failure to comply will result in Night Patrol duty and three days in the Bad Spider Zone (BSZ) upon our return. Bristleburg Town Hall (Chicago improv veterans Emerald Catron, Tommy Reahard, and Orlando Lara) is leaving the safety of Chicago’s CAN TV to uncover the secrets of the apparently lucrative money-making bonanza that is Edinburgh Fringe”.
A spoken word show in the early afternoon that most certainly involves the audience is The Butcher, the Brewer, the Baker and Merryn Somerset Webb. Are you “Concerned about the economy? Join Merryn Somerset Webb as she interviews, talks over and argues with a well-known group of economics, politics and finance gurus. Audience participation invited and welcomed.”
Want to learn to sing? Then it has to be Choir!Choir!Choir!. “They teach. You sing. Choir!Choir!Choir! is a show where the crowd is the star. There are no auditions. Show up and they’ll have you singing in harmony in no time! Check out what they do at www.choirchoirchoir.com.”
For an ” inclusive music show will have you swaying along to shower”, you’ll not want to miss Drageoke Wonderland. This is billed as a ” karaoke night with a difference, this is a dragged-up game show you won’t want to miss. You can expect stunning vocals from drag king Mr Brake Down and his occasional special guests, but the real stars of the show are the ones we find in the audience along the way”.
Interactive comedy and gameshow lovers need to get along to Dungeons ‘n’ Bastards: An Adam Riches Gameshow. “Join Lord Sean of House Bean as he invites you deep inside his dungeon lair to throw down the gauntlet and challenge you to a series of quests, questions and quaudience quinteractions.”
Pub quiz addicts looking for a twist on the genre must see Edinburgh’s Quickest Pub Quiz. “Test your knowledge under time pressure with this exciting, entertaining and at times farcical format, that’s already a hit at the prestigious Gleneagles Townhouse. Quiz aficionado Johnny will hurtle through question rounds based on general knowledge, plus a traditional music and picture round – the only thing that’s serious are the prizes on offer!” And in the free fringe don’t miss Singalonga Pub Quiz. Oh, and did we already mention Not Another Quiz Night ?
Quiz lovers should also take in Goose’s Quizzes Elimination Game “which pits the whole audience against each other in an epic trivia battle”.
Want to make a deal with the Devil? in Edmonds, “Deal or No Deal meets Doctor Faustus. 22 red boxes. One soul. Edmonds makes a Deal (or No Deal) with the Devil. How far will they go for fame, fortune, and free TV licensing? An audience member is invited to play the game, as the Cosmos decides the fate of the show. The Banker has now come to claim what is owed to them. ‘It is only a soul… what does it matter when the very life blood of mid-to-late afternoon light entertainment is hanging in the balance.'”
For more interactive comedy in the late afternoon Failed by Design invites you to “Help award-winning comedians build a new invention to save the world in this chaotic, hilarious show where you are in control. None of your problems are too big or too small for us to solve over one frantic hour of cardboard-covered mayhem.”
There’s a chance to use your phones in Foxdog Studios: Robo Bingo in which “Two IT consultants, Lloyd and Pete, plugged computers into a bingobot and the only way to stop them is to play along on your phone (but in a fun way). Seems they’ve deliberately created an interactive show for people who don’t want to talk to anyone”.
For a morning “theatrical ceremony, a new ritual that brings people together” Funeral “will start in the dark. We will greet others and say goodbye. There will be singing and pretending. There will be light and room for darkness. We’ll light candles, eat and drink, and celebrate life.”
If you want to literally move your feet and have never tried a silent disco before then you might want to book Guru Dudu’s Silent Disco Walking Tours.
Interactive dark comedy theatre lies at the heart of Hayfever, in which “you audience members will decide the characters’ destiny with the opportunity to zoom into any character’s inner feelings, requesting a monologue, a song or the unexpected at any time of the show…”
Award-winning Attic promises some unique inteactive charatcer theatre. “We’ve got news. There’s a Monkion in every attic. Humans and Monkions have lived in the same world, separate dimension, for centuries. Now the secrets out, the inter-dimensional portal is opening. Monkion is ready, their fate is in your hands… Come to the attic and join Hooky Productions in their most mind-bending venture yet.”
There is often a swimming pool-based show or event at the Fringe. So, Horizon Showcase: Bodies is probably one of the most unique happenings at the Fringe this year. “We are invited to gather in the pool to float, discover, and move in synchronisation. Here, the dynamics of individual and collective energies play out as powerful and often opposing forces. With our very existence threatened by climate emergency, Bodies holds space to navigate the complex relationship we have with the planet, and the urgent responsibilities we have to each other.”
Set in a Sarah Jane’s (who happens to be on leave) basement office in Illinois, ” you’ll explore her cubicle, answer her phone and receive her faxes as the story of Sarah Jane unfolds. Sit down, send an email and experience a meditation on life and death between the cells of an Excel spreadsheet.”. That is Temping. A performance for one audience member at a time.
For two audience members at a time Two Strangers Walk into a Bar… is a show about strangers, an “audio adventure invites two audience members at a time to experience connection, and works best when you do not book with a friend.”
The audience gets to vote (and sock puppets are involved) in What a Sad Little Life Jane, which is an interactive and “in-depth dissection of the 2016 episode of British reality TV show Come Dine With Me”,
Later in the evening Sex-Ed Revisited is an “interactive comedy uncovering missing gaps in knowledge when it comes to female-focused sex education and our relationship with pleasure”.
Game fans will want to engage with Ludomachy! The Summoning of Games. ” Come summon forth a brand-new game from the realms of the imagination: from the initial concept, through brainstorming and rough designs, to prototyping and refinement. Who knows what we might create together!”
More for game enjoyers here: Mark Watson and Mat Ryer: The Company was a hit at the Fringe two years ago. This is a “Live, feature-length version of the cult interactive game born at the festival two years ago. You’re on a company awayday to Edinburgh. Your votes decide what happens. You find yourself in some fiendish puzzles. You may have a knife. It is not a cult. Follow @MarkWatsonCo to catch up on the story; new employees welcome.”
Have you ever wanted to be a ghost hunter? If so International Ghost Appreciation Academy will be for you. “During this show we’ll be exploring real ghost-hunting equipment and techniques. No previous experience is required. You don’t even need to believe in ghosts. The Society welcomes everyone from the mildly curious to the thoroughly sceptical to those who just want to have a go on a ghost box.”
For vkids wanting to learn standup comedy, Kids Can Heckle! encourages kids to “jump in, share their ideas and be as silly as possible!”
The audience gets to decide in Líam Rudden’s Silence in Court, a previous Fringe hit theatre show. “Lunchtime theatre is back! Guilty or not guilty? You decide! Charles Brand, a minister’s son, is charged with the rape of Jennifer Lyons. As the events leading up to the alleged assault are explored, who will you believe? Inspired by the classic 70s TV series Crown Court. Silence In Court draws on real-life procedures from a number of legal traditions, to create a mock court in which you the audience can join the jury and discuss what has been heard, until a majority decision is reached.”
Live speed dating is what LOLyamorous: A Live Speed-Dating Comedy Show is all about. ” Choose to put your name in a bucket for the chance to have a one minute date on stage with another random audience member. When time’s up, two comedians will ask you both about your love lives and your dating do’s and don’ts.”
Character Building Experience is a “Dungeons and Dragons-style comedy and interactive roleplaying game show, suitable for the experts, the novices and the uninitiated but curious. No two quests are alike – a unique mini-adventure with improvised music, songs and questionable choices”.
Higlhy acclaimed Blue Badge Bunch: ReRamped is a disable-led game show. in which “each game represents a different disability, giving kids and grown-ups the chance to learn about autism and cerebral palsy among others”.
So, those are our choices for now. We’ll add more during the Fringe. So, why not enjoy something interactive at the Fringe?