An incredible roster of shows joins the 20 recently announced shows supported by the Pleasance Futures programme, including this year’s winners of the Charlie Hartill Special Theatre Reserve Fund and Comedy Reserve Fund, marking Pleasance’s commitment to nurturing talent and supporting ambition.
Bryony Kimmings hits the festival with I’m A Phoenix, Bitch, a powerful, dark and joyful masterpiece about motherhood, heartbreak and finding inner strength, as part of the British Council Edinburgh Showcase 2019. Theatre Re presents a powerful and poignant visual theatre piece with live music, exploring the bond between three generations of women in Birth. An adrenaline-fuelled explosion of extreme sports, music, dance and theatre, Elements of Freestyle is all about the ecstasy and freedom of breakdance, inline skating, skateboarding, freestyle basketball, BMX and freerunning from Dutch company ISH. The UK premiere of 2017 Molière Award winner Fishbowl follows the hilarious misadventures of three eccentric and loveable anti-heroes, spectacularly failing at life in their tiny rooftop bedsits bursting at the seams with choreographed pandemonium.
The Greenhouse is a new eco venue, curated by BoxedIn Theatre, with a programme of eight shows about the environment and our relationship to it. Built out of recycled materials, the venue is zero waste; it doesn’t even have mains electricity! In From The Wind, Scotland’s relationship with renewable energy is examined. Daphne, or Hellfire is an ecofeminist drama, inspired by Ovid’s myth, that sees an exciting exploration of trees, family and female liberation. Evaluation makes use of pre-recorded dialogue, hard data and Shakespeare to explore the virtues that make us human. Look beneath the veneer of corporate perfection and submerge yourself in Shellshock! – a world of laughter, espionage and toe-tapping tunes. Swallows offers a riveting look at eco-terrorism and our relationship with the environment, with an important message of caution. Symbiosis explores the story of a girl’s life, her relationship with her environment and the notion that nature can act as a support system in a similar way to family and friends. Five storytellers open a treasure chest in The Earth Untold and welcome us to a unique story in which the audience choose what they want to hear. The Voices we Hear takes us to the aftermath of an environmental apocalypse, offering a deeply personal look at environmental oblivion.
Two companies developed and supported by Pleasance Futures are back this year – Incognito Theatre’s The Burning is a formidable tale of corruption and persecution, following the lives of women and their witch-hunters in an epic story through time. Spies Like Us bring Murder On The Dancefloor – a politically urgent, frenetically physical dark comedy about five friends making their way in the big city. Also previously supported by Pleasance Futures is Mother Bunch’s Comrade Egg & The Chicken Of Tomorrow which asks us to join The Chicken Appreciation Society in this dark, funny and bold show about social justice and PTSD in the meat-processing industry.
Cabaret theatre, puppetry and variety shows are bringing some music, movement and magic to this year’s programmes. One such amazing show is The Cabinet Of Madame Fanny Du Thé where tales of woe, science, curses and defiance tickle our fancies through the weird and wonderful. We know her from Sink the Pink but now she’s back solo with Ginger Johnson’s Happy Place, putting two fingers up to all sense of reality in this world of absolute delusion. Following a sold-out run at last year’s Fringe, the much-loved Tom Brace returns with a brand-new magic show for the whole family! Half A String return with Boulder, a reimagining of the Greek myth, where a beautiful mechanical puppet is doomed with the hopeless task of pushing a colossal stone uphill in this show jam packed with music, clowning and puppetry.
In case you missed them last year now is your chance to book some amazing 2018 award winners and sell-out triumphs. As part of the British Council Edinburgh Showcase 2019, Fringe First winner dressed. comes to Pleasance telling the story of redressing oneself after trauma with a new healing set of armour. Multi-award winning gig theatre Electrolyte is a powerful exploration of mental health for a contemporary audience. If you’re in the mood for more gig theatre, don’t miss smash hit Medea Electronica, a powerful and deeply moving retelling of the Greek tragedy set in 1980s rural England. Audacious Mr Astley is the REAL Greatest Showman, taking us back, over 250 years, to the inception of circus. Sell-out hit Shakespeare adaptation, Trump Lear returns, with this hilarious Trump-inspired version of King Lear. Also returning is 2010 Holden Street Theatre Award winner Heroin(e) for Breakfast, a hilarious and shocking look at how heroin can put the Great back into Britain and save us all from banality!
And the music doesn’t end there! In a moving and hilarious look at how a vote can change the way we view ourselves, Confirmation, fresh from a sell-out run at the Dublin Fringe, is a musical memoir that investigates the result of the Irish Marriage Equality Referendum. MARA, an original, multidisciplinary piece, celebrates women through time by means of sound manipulation and electro-acoustic music, performed live by The New Victorians. Arthur Smith brings us a touching and funny tribute to his own father, SYD, with love, laughter and song.
Family is a powerful motif that many companies choose to explore on stage. In I, AmDram one queer Londoner tackles the unspoken past of many a Fringe performer and previous generations of amateur theatre leading ladies. The Red sees Marcus Brigstocke write and direct a bittersweet drama of family and addiction based on his own recovery. Inspired by society’s expectations and the pressures on women to be maternal, kind, considerate individuals, With Child is a series of talking-head style monologues bringing together ideas about pregnancy. A searingly honest and personal one-woman show, LOVE (Watching Madness) investigates the complexities of loving someone bi-polar. When a dad loses his 6-year old daughter to cancer, his world falls apart; I Run is a Danish one-man play about running and grief.
While there’s lots going on in the present day, history has always provided fascinating stories for us to delve into. Drowning looks back to 1991 when four Austrian nurses were charged with murdering 49 elderly patients in their beds – the world premiere of this blistering new play forces us to confront our understanding of evil. The gripping true story of a terrifying night-time WWII Lancaster bomber raid is uncovered in Wireless Operator as we learn the mission’s real cost. In 00, two outcasts prepare for the apocalypse in the final hour before the new millennium in a bold production about optimism, fear and counting down to uncertainty. It’ll Be Alt-Right On The Night is a fusion of music, comedy and theatre, exploring radical polarising populism and the history of punk rock, which asks what happens when two best friends find themselves on different sides of an impassable ideological divide. From Fringe First winning writer Cristian Ceresoli comes Happy Hour, a psychedelic new play about fascism and happiness!
Relationships, good or bad, whether with family or a loved one, no matter our age, present the universally relatable: I Lost My Virginity to Chopin’s Nocturne in B-Flat Minor tackles the fear of loneliness and dependency to the point of destruction. A disaster movie about falling in love, Catching Comets, asks how we’re supposed to be brave and strong when we look and sound nothing like the heroes we grew up with on our screens. Algorithms introduces us to a bisexual Bridget Jones for the online generation – a loveably hapless heroine who is wondering why she feels so lonely when connecting with others is meant to be easier than ever. Exploring consent, Endless Second follows two people as they deal with a trauma that fundamentally alters the nature of their relationship. The Rebirth Of Meadow Rain is a darkly comic tale on themes of emotional abuse as Meadow throws a party to celebrate her new life without Terry!
Highlighting a modern-day crisis of identity, Typical confronts the daily tensions experienced by black men as they try to negotiate life, while constantly feeling like it’s on the line.
No Pleasance programme would be complete without some of its much-loved staples. The songs and wit of timeless musical comedy legends, Flanders and Swann, are back for the twelfth tremendous year at the Pleasance. Big Bite-Size Breakfast Show is moving to a bigger venue for its breakfast-sized helpings of 10-15-minute comedies. Join Nicholas Parsons’ Happy Hour for his 19th year at the Fringe as this legendary host of Radio 4’s Just a Minute gives us an unmissable hour of fun and laughter in the company of some very special guests. Pip Utton has been coming to the Fringe for over a decade and has the awards to show for it; his latest work, Einstein, delves not only into the life of the greatest genius of the 20th century but also into his mind and passions. Have Late Lunch With Biggins as National Treasure Christopher Biggins chats with friends old and new with tales from his life and career.
These theatre shows join an incredible line-up of comedy and children and family shows also announced today. Full details of the Pleasance line-up can be found here.