theSpaceUK boldly goes where no Fringe has gone before

Usually at this time of year the great & the good of the arts world would be gathering in Edinburgh for a month of drinking, socialising, more drinking and perhaps seeing the occasional show in between (albeit with a drink in hand).

Fortunately for all livers involved, the Edinburgh Fringe isn’t going ahead this year – and as August begins, artists, audiences & reviewers are left at home wondering how best to spend their summer.

theSpaceUK has plans to save us from an August of Zoom quizzes & Disney Plus with their Online Theatre Festival, Online@theSpaceUK. Featuring over eighty shows, the festival runs from 8-30 August, and all shows can be watched from the comfort of your own living room. All work is entirely new & either produced or written during lockdown.

Rehearsal Etiquette is Swell Theatre Company’s debut production – originally they planned of bringing their original musical, Double Date! to the edfringe however have now made rather a witty fore-runner in their show about online rehearsals. The brand new show from Ferelith Kingston and Sara Shuhaiber has bags of potential to capture the imagination. Until the Ad Break is an adapted performance from an original comedy play by two junior doctors Jack Dalziel and Hugo Lewkowicz – they’ve got history with comedy plays (4 so far) and their trailer is definitely worth watching (here).

There’s more comedy in The Writing’s on the Wallpaper from director Chloe Sharland which pokes fun at the modern-day interview process, a scenario that works well in the Zoom era of lockdown, and could have plenty of potential to it. It might have one of the longest titles at the fringe, but it’s also has a very quotable press release – The Complete Works Of Shakespeare*….*but just the Deaths (and the gory bits too) say ‘Horrible Histories meets The Complete Works of Shakespeare in this crazy whistle-stop tour full of Songs, Slapstick and just a dash of Death…’ ’nuff said.

Posy O’Rourke is a theatre student and star of Being Posy which is her autobiographical mini-musical. Anyone attempting a musical in an Online Festival definitely deserves your attention, and Being Posy could be worth a watch. Another musical worth taking a look at is Hollow, a wistful tale of lost love – featuring original songs by David Kent.

There’s drama tinged with sadness in Bye Mum, the moving story of a young man visiting his mother in a care home, imminently due to be closed to visitors in the attempt to control the spread of Covid-19. The Last Clap is a solo drama from Kali Theatre following the experiences of a young actor from the last round of applause at a theatre through to the final Thursday clap for care workers.

Christopher Tajah was last seen in 2019’s Dream of a King – playing Martin Luther King at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in a role that won him a nomination for an Offie. He’s back Online@theSpaceUK with Under Heaven’s Eyes – a timely drama about the killing of black youths & the black lives matter movement. Guru of Touch has a plot that intrigued me – how does a healer with the ability to cure by ‘laying on of hands’ deal with lockdown from This is Not a Theatre Company who have a strong track record in NYC for immersive theatre and are also presenting Play in Your BathTub – an immersive experience designed to be watched whilst in the bath.

There’s a smattering of children’s shows on the menu with Bubble Show with Dr Bubble and Milkshake from fringe regulars Bubble Laboratory & Countdown to Clowntown from Sphere Clown Band. There’s also, Craig, a quirky original work from Australian company The Juicy Orange.

The Edinburgh Fringe might not be physically existing this year, but there’s plenty of scope for it to exist virtually. If you’re missing the Fringe experience why not sleep in a sleeping bag on the floor, ask your neighbours to play loud Drum & Bass throughout the night then try & then, with a drink in hand (non-alcoholic options are available) cram in as many shows as possible.

Each week Online@theSpaceUK upload another 20-30 shows, including a live performance every Saturday at 7pm. For full details, check out the programme here