Best of the Southside: Theatre to see at Summerhall

The List / The List

Queer love songs, Dolly – the sheep and the singer – and the great Pussy Riot feature in Summerhall’s Fringe 2018 theatre programme.

Summerhall has rightly made a name for themselves as the host of some of the most challenging and prescient theatre during the Fringe. This year features a mix of big names such as the thorn in Putin’s side, the punk-rock collective Pussy Riot, the return of last year’s acclaimed DollyWould and other searing explorations into identity, politics and society.

Alma, A Human Voice (Nina’s Drag Queens)

Summerhall, Fri 3–Sun 26 Aug (not 8, 13, 20), 11.50am, £10 (£8). Previews Wed 1 & Thu 2 Aug, £5–£8.

The Italian company Nina’s Drag Queens spearhead drag queen philosophy into the modern age, blending songs, film extracts and lip-syncing with live performance. In Alma, two characters are driven mad by love: Oskar Kokoschka who turned his lover Alma Mahler into a life size doll, and the nameless woman on the phone in Cocteau’s The Human Voice. Intertwining their stories with an ironic touch, a male actor in drag investigates femininity.

Valerie (Last Tapes Theatre Company)

Summerhall, Fri 3–Sun 26 Aug (not 2, 13, 20), 9.15pm, £12 (£10). Preview Wed 1 Aug, £5.

Named Stand-Out Cabaret of the Year by the NZ Herald, Valerie is an inter-generational, interdisciplinary and interrupting piece of theatre reaching into the guts of family mythologies. Music, genetics and storytelling combine to unravel one family’s history. A love letter from grandson to grandmother, this celebration of resilience is gig theatre at its finest.

Huff (Cliff Cardinal)

CanadaHub @ King’s Hall in association with Summerhall, Fri 3–Sat 26 Aug (not 6, 13, 20), 4.15pm, £11 (£9). Previews Wed 1 & Thu 2 Aug, £9.

Huff is a daring solo show by award-winning indigenous playwright Cliff Cardinal, which tells the wrenching yet darkly comic tale of indigenous brothers caught in a torrent of solvent abuse and struggling with the death of their mother. With his signature biting humour and raw, vivid imagery, Cardinal expertly portrays over a dozen characters in his captivating solo performance.

Best of the Southside: Theatre to see at Summerhall

Huff / credit: Ed Maruyama

Love Song to Lavender Menace (James Ley) 

Summerhall, Fri 3–Sun 26 Aug (not 6, 13, 20), 12.55pm, £12 (£10). Previews Wed 1 & Thu 2 Aug, £5–£7.

After a sell-out run at the Royal Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh, Scotland’s 80s gay romantic comedy hit is back. So are nostalgic bookseller Lewis and party-boy Glen, in this funny, celebratory play about Scotland’s radical, lesbian, gay and feminist bookshop that began in the cloakroom of Scotland’s first gay nightclub and became the beating heart of Edinburgh’s LGBT+ community.

Cock, Cock… Who’s There? (Samira Elagoz in association with From Start to Finish)

Summerhall, Sat 4–Sun 26 Aug (not 8, 9, 20), 6.45pm, £10 (£8). Preview Fri 3 Aug, £5.

Samira Elagoz takes us along on her personal research project across three continents. From online platforms to close encounters, she showcases gender relations in their brutal and wonderful ambivalence and takes the audience on her journey of regaining power, reinventing autonomous expression of sexuality and attempts to relate back to men after being raped. An award-winning performance about violence and intimacy.

Best of the Southside: Theatre to see at Summerhall

Cock, Cock… Who’s There? / credit: Samira Elagoz

The Flop (A Hijinx Production in association with Spymonkey

Summerhall, Wed 3–Sun 26 Aug (not 13, 20), 4.55pm, £12 (£8). Previews Wed 3–Sun 5 Aug, £6.

Paris. 1650-ish. Impotence is illegal. When a member of the aristocracy is accused of being less than upstanding, his wounded pride leads him towards a monumental and very public flop. But can a cast of total idiots save a show about a flop . . . from being one? See preview.

Pussy Riot: Riot Days (One Inch Badge)

Summerhall, Fri 10–Sun 19 Aug, 7pm, £17.50.

Pussy Riot need little introduction. The Russian protest art collective gained global notoriety in 2012 when three members, Maria Alyokhina, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Yekaterina Samutsevich, were imprisoned for ‘hooliganism motivated by religious hatred’ for their performance inside Moscow’s Cathedral of Christ the Saviour. The accompanying piece to Alyokhina’s memoir of the same name (Penguin Books), this touring play merges punk, electronica, theatre, documentary footage and protest.

Best of the Southside: Theatre to see at Summerhall

Pussy Riot: Riot Days / credit: Conor Kerr

The Midnight Soup (Making Room)

Summerhall, Tue 14–Sun 26 Aug (not 20), 7pm, £15 (£12).

The Midnight Soup is a piece of theatre during which the audience prepare a meal that they share at the end. Starting as a monologue and gently opening out to become a conversation, it tells the story of an unremarkable woman who every day sat down to meticulously record the facts of her life in a diary, until one day she chose her own death. The Midnight Soup is the love letter of a grandson to his grandmother. It is also an edible memorial, celebrating a life lived to the rhythm of the seasons.

DollyWould (Sh!t Theatre and Show and Tell)

Summerhall, Tue 14–Sun 26 Aug, 6.25pm, £10.

Sh!t Theatre return with their 100% sell-out show from 2017. It’s about Dolly Parton and they still f*cking love her. It’s also about cloning, branding, immortality and death. Becca Biscuit and Louise Mothersole are Fringe First award winners, Total Theatre award winners, Arches Brick award winners and Amnesty International award nominees.

Best of the Southside: Theatre to see at Summerhall

DollyWould / credit: Field and McGlynn

Baby Face (Katy Dye)

Summerhall, Fri 3–Sun 26 Aug (not 5, 13, 20), 1.30pm, £9 (£7). Preview Wed 1 & Thu 2 Aug, £5.

A daring exploration into the paradox of living in a society that continues to infantilise women. Paedophilia is not OK yet fetishised images of women as prepubescent girls are. In this brave and outlandish performance, a grown woman attempts to be your baby to discover if innocence really is as sexy as we’re told it is. Winner of the Autopsy Award 2018.

Orpheus (The Flanagan Collective and Gobbledigook Theatre), A Human Voice (Nina’s Drag Queens)

Summerhall, Fri 3–Sun 26 Aug (not 20), 2.50pm, £11 (£8). Preview Thu 2 Aug, £5.

A modern telling of an ancient myth, woven from hair raising spoken word and soaring soul music, from the creators of Fable and Beulah. Dave is single, stood with his mates at the bar, and is turning 30 next week. Eurydice is a mythical dryad – a tree nymph. Orpheus is a tale of side streets, dive bars and ancient gods. Winner of the VAULT Festival Summerhall Award and Adelaide Fringe Best Theatre Award. 

Trojan Horse (A LUNG and West Yorkshire Playhouse co-production)

Summerhall, Thu 2–Sun 26 Aug (not 13), 3.15pm, £12 (£11). Preview Wed 1 Aug, £5.

Trojan Horse was a local story that hit the national press, accusing ‘hardline’ Muslim teachers and governors of plotting extremism in Birmingham schools. Adapted from the real-life testimonies of those at the heart of the government inquiry, critically acclaimed theatre company LUNG (E15The 56 and Chilcot) investigate what really happened.

Best of the Southside: Theatre to see at Summerhall

Trojan Horse / credit: Graeme Braidwood

Status (Chris Thorpe, Rachel Chavkin, China Plate and Staatstheater Mainz)

Summerhall, Sat 4–Sun 26 Aug (not 13), 7.55pm, £15 (£10). Preview Wed 1 & Fri 3 Aug, £5–£10 (£5).

We all have a nationality. Or almost all of us. Status is a show about someone who doesn’t want his any more. About running away from the national story you’re given. About who is responsible for that story and what might happen to it if you try to give it up. Springing from globe-spanning conversations about nationality, Status is a journey of attempted escape – with songs. A new show from the multiple Fringe First award-winning team that created Confirmation.

Tetra-Decathlon (Showroom)

Summerhall, Tue 14–Sun 26 Aug (not 20), 11.55am, £12 (£10).

The Tetra-Decathlon is a gruelling 14-event athletics competition, requiring a unique combination of skills to complete. Having never before set foot on a running track, Lauren Hendry decided to sign up for the event, joining only a dozen other women in the World Championships. This audacious solo show directed by double Fringe First winner Jenna Watt charts Lauren’s journey as she trains for and competes in this most taxing of sporting events while asking pertinent questions about the psychology of sport and what drives us to compete.