The Pleasance’s final on-sale cements their venues as the place to be this August – with incredible theatre, returning renowned comedians alongside debut comics, family work, music, family shows and more podcasts, this programme will ensure you’re busy from morning to night!
This year you’re going to feel like you’ve crossed the pond with a host of American superstars as part of the Pleasance’s comedy programme. One of Variety’s 10 Comics to Watch 2019, Patti Harrison makes her highly anticipated Edinburgh debut. Jacqueline Novak brings the Fringe the most high-brow show about blow jobs you’ll ever see in Get On Your Knees, an unexpectedly philosophical show that’s part feminist outcry, part coming-of-age tale of triumph. Get your vaccinations and cocktails because everyone’s favourite ‘clown in a gown’, Bianca Del Rio, is returning to the stage in Unsanitized. Join New York sensation Catherine Cohen as she brings back The Twist, her 2019 Edinburgh Comedy Award winning show turned Netflix special for one final show. Plus she’s presenting a brand new comedy cabaret show, Work In Progress.
And there’s more! Sheeps reunite to look back over a superb decade, personally and globally, while presenting some of their greatest hits in Ten Years, Ten Laughs. As seen on Mock The Week, QI and others, Eshaan Akbar comes to Edinburgh for 13 nights only with a work-in-progress as he gears up for his debut tour in Spring 2023. Comedy Sassafras is a sassy ass show hosted by Richard and Greta: risque alter egos of multi award-winning, Fringe favourites Nina Conti (British Comedy Award winner, Live at the Apollo star and more) and Shenoah Allen (of internationally award-winning The Pajama Men). For two performances only, Ben Moor (Queen’s Gambit, IT Crowd) brings us Pronoun Trouble about films, friendship and the human condition. Also catch Ben with Joanna Neary in BookTalkBookTalkBook – an absurdist parody of awkward live author talks, and an exploration of artificial intelligence and the creative process.
Australian stand-up comedian Ray Badran comes to Edinburgh with Sweet Baby Ray. Join gorgeous clown Trash Salad in her quest for connection: a genre-bending burlesque adventure, using lip sync, strip tease and song on a mission to understand intimacy. With Not For Anyone, Jerry Sadowitz returns with his whacky impressions of Greta Thunberg, Frankie Boyle and deep vein thrombosis.
Big Boys & Friends is a silly lil comedy-cabaret mixed-bill from Channel 4’s critically acclaimed Big Boys, comedian Jack Rooke & character comic Jon Pointing. Writers and comedians Stevie Martin (Breeders, Late Night Mash) and Tessa Coates (Feel Good, Starstruck) co-host their smash-hit podcast Nobody Panic live, asking life’s biggest (and smallest) questions to help you become a functioning adult without screaming all the time. Hundreds entered, 11 survive, now one rising stand-up star will be crowned Britain’s funniest student in Chortle Student Comedy Award Final. Previous include Joe Lycett, Simon Bird, Chris Ramsey, Phil Wang, Iain Stirling, Tom Rosenthal, Laura Lexx, Jamali Maddix and many more. A one-off comedy extravaganza, the Pleasance Newcomer Comedy Gala lets you check out some of the most exciting new comedians at the Fringe as they make their Pleasance debuts in this late night comedy party. Best of all, tickets are free!
Theatre, Cabaret, Spoken Word and Children’s Shows
We love learning about people through theatre. Meet Frida Kahlo, Rosa Parks, Amelia Earhart, Mary Seacole, Emmeline Pankhurst to name just a few in Fantastically Great Women Who Changed The World. This musical adaptation of suffragette descendent Kate Pankhurst’s bestselling picture book is from celebrated dramatist Chris Bush and No. 1 hit songwriter Miranda Cooper (Girls Aloud, Kylie Minogue). Charlotte Johnson’s dad is the most important man in the country (due to ongoing parliamentary investigations, this information may be out of date at the time of going to print) but My Dad and Other Lies is about her too! Featuring a piano, a synth, two microphones, a shakey egg and fourteen original songs, Look At Me Don’t Look At Me takes the audience from Lizzie Siddal ‘being discovered’ by the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood to her being exhumed by her husband, Dante Rossetti. Fata Morgana is a multimedia performance exploring the whimsical anima of model and performance-artist, Christa Päffgen aka Nico, Andy Warhol’s Superstar muse.
Relationships, including the crucial one we have with ourselves, are to be explored a lot this summer. A celebratory, political, autobiographical comedy, Fat Chance charts Rachel Stockdale’s weight-gain journey from size 8 to 18 – for anyone who has felt they’ve had to shrink themselves. Based on real events, A Dark Place is a black comedy on mental health and one relationship. Full of laughter, love, and original music, Joshua (and Me) explores what it’s like to grow up as a sibling to someone who is autistic where, however loved you are, your needs are not your family’s first concern. An astonishing new play about class, power and self-driving cars from Olivier-nominated writer Ben Norris, Autopilot is a deeply modern love story that asks – in the event of a head-on collision – who are we programmed to save? Fierce, funny, and brimming with heart, Karim Khan examines the pressures faced by young Muslim men in Brown Boys Swim – an exhilarating new play about fitting in and striking out from Fringe First award-winning The North Wall. A funny and moving true story about the aftermath of her father’s brain injury and the impact that’s had on their relationship, her life, and well, pretty much everything really, Headcase questions unfinished business. In celebration of his new autobiography I Wanna Be Yours, the ‘people’s poet’ Dr John Cooper Clarke’s brings his new live show to the Edinburgh Playhouse for one night only, a breath-taking rollercoaster of poetry, spoken word, off the wall chat, riffs and wicked stories drawn from his incredible life.
And there’s a host of more amazing theatre. In absolute darkness inside a 40ft shipping container, FLIGHT explores the Many-Worlds Interpretation of quantum mechanics, taking audience members through two worlds, two realities and two possible outcomes to their journey. Darkfield also return with their first shipping container experience, SÉANCE, which transforms the interior of a 24ft container into a Victorian séance room. The Greatest Hits of Lily and John is a bitterly honest and tenderly ridiculous account of modern life and love, written and performed by Rosanna Adams (RSC’s The Mirror and The Light) and Calum Sivyer (Windmill Theatre’s Cabaret). With deliciously brutal sword fighting and music from haunting folk to heavy metal, Blodlina: The Viking Musical tells the story of a tiny community bravely fighting against all odds for its very existence.
SWARM is an experimental, dark comedy using character comedy, clown, stand-up and spoken word to explore the connection between expressions of white privilege and the behaviour of flies. Based on The Chairs by Ionesco, expect black humour in The Chairs Revisited – a ridiculous and gruesome tragic farce from Vagabond Productions (Miss Julie). The Silver Bell is a new play about love and loss from award-winning writer Alan Flanagan with travels to parallel worlds all in the name of those we care about. Inspired by real-life events, Fiji blends true crime with First Dates to deliver a ‘beautiful’ amuse-bouche as hilarious and warm as it is fascinatingly twisted. Living legend, world-class entertainer returns to Edinburgh with a Broadway version of his 5 star Black Music journey (50s-90s) through his incredible life: expect song, tap dance, story & comedy in Movin’ Melvin Brown: A Man, A Magic, A Music.
With his toothy grin and trademark laugh, Charlie Williams was the first black comedian to become a household name, professional footballer, coal miner… a one-off. But will his seventies material stand up to modern scrutiny in Eh Up Me Old Flowers? An Audience With Milly-Liu is a one-man cat-drag late-night comedy, the last chapter in the autobiography of an infamous movie star. Witty, relevant, provocatively funny, ROOM – ‘A Room Of One’s Own’ slices through notions of gender disparity with an incisive mix of visceral integrity and ironic charm. A dark comedy about daddy issues, sex work, fantasies, taboos, imperfect feminism, immigration and trauma, Daddy Issues looks at how are dreams can be overshadowed by issues carried from childhood into adulthood. Clementine Bogg-Hargroves returns to The Pleasance after her sell out 2021 run, with her Offies Nominated one-woman hit show SKANK. Especially for Edinburgh, the lockdown cabaret sensations Ki & Dee are throwing On The Sesh, one hell of a house party you don’t want to miss (until the fear kicks in at sunrise).
There’s also fun for all the family at the Pleasance! With the trickiest of tricks and craziest of ideas, experience mischief this Fringe and see the return of the acclaimed Dr Seuss stage adaptation Cat in the Hat, a lively and engaging first theatre experience. Returning from a sell-out Fringe in 2019, Moon Dragon Babies for Under 1s is an interactive show, written especially for babies, that tells the story of Bertie the Moon Dragon who misses his cue to send the Moon up into the night sky. There is also a version of the show for 5 and under.
Ballet Freedom from the world-renowned Freedom Ballet of Ukraine will bring this spectacular new show to the EICC to celebrate their 20th anniversary: a story about the moment in life when you come to terms with your love, your loss and your life.
Spoken word and events
There’s yet more Iain Dale magic as the award-winning LBC presenter announces more guests for All Talk, his acclaimed, incisive insight on current affairs. New guests are: left-wing journalists, activists and commentators Owen Jones and Ash Sarkar; legendary Scottish impressionist and comedian Rory Bremner; and musical theatre lyricist and author Tim Rice (Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Evita, Chess and Jesus Christ Superstar).
Let award-winning Scottish troubadour Dean Owens And The Sinners (with special guest Kirsten Adamson ((daughter of Big Country’s Stuart)) transport you to a sepia stained cantina with songs from his acclaimed new Sinner’s Shrine album. Countess Of Fife are an insurgent alt country outfit led by The Rezillos’ Fay Fife bringing their original songs with an eclectic mix of country, punk and gospel. Direct from London’s West End, watch the international award-winner returning show with the songs and wit of those masters of mayhem, mirth and Madeira – timeless musical comedy legends, Flanders and Swann. This gutsy, Edinburgh band are the genre shifting answer to Edinburgh’s rootsy rock and blues needs – don’t miss Liz Jones and Broken Windows.
Exuberant fusion of funky mbalax and Afrobeat rhythms, with undercurrents of ska, rock, Senegalese soul, watch Samba Sene & Diwan for original songs with impassioned vocals, infectious guitar licks and irresistible dance grooves.