Edinburgh festival 2018: Lyn Gardner’s guide for what to see

The Independent / Lyn Gardner

There’s no shortage of theatre shows at this year’s Edinburgh International and Fringe festivals – 3,548, to be precise – but with so many to choose from it can be hard to make a selection. Below are some suggestions for shows that look interesting. It is by no means a definitive list, and doesn’t even cover every venue, but it does give an idea of the range of work available at some of the most significant. As always in Edinburgh though, the proof of the pudding is in the eating.


If you loved Two Destination Language’s Near Gone, then try the company’s new one, Fallen Fruit, a story of migration and walls coming down and going up. After the Cuts is Gary McNair’s dark comedy about a couple faced with the inadequacies of the NHS. Michael Pinchbeck collaborates with New Perspectives for the mixed-media A Fortunate Man, about a country doctor working 50 years ago.

Purni Morell translates Magne van den Berg’s Big Aftermath of a Small Disclosure, about the allure of the self-destruct button. Chris Thorpe and Rachel Chavkin collaborate on Status, a show springing from conversations about nationality from across the world. Leo Burtin’s The Midnight Soup is a touching show about the importance of unremarkable lives. The fabulous Le Gateau Chocolat reimagines the Ugly Duckling in Duckie, Magnetic North’s Erewhon gives a technological makeover to Samuel Butler’s classic sci-fi novel and Darkfield, responsible for last year’s creepy Séance, take you into the dark with headphones for Flight, a show with no guarantees about your destination.

Molly Taylor’s Extinguished Things is about what happens when people disappear from our lives. The highs and lows of addiction are explored in award-winning Australian show, Notorious Strumpet and Dangerous Girl. Addiction is also the subject of Blackout, scripted entirely from interviews with recovering addicts.

The Big in Belgium strand of programming always throws up some hits: this year prepare to be groomed by a man with sinister intentions in De Fuut, see the mesmerising Valentijn Dhaenens star in Unsung – exploring the man behind the career politician – and check out the wordless storytelling of Another One, a show about broken hearts.

Paines Plough’s Roundabout venue in the Summerhall courtyard always throws up some hits: check out Island Town by Simon Longman, one of the most exciting writers around, and don’t miss Vinay Patel’s Sticks and Stones, a satire about failing to find the right words. Or revisit returning hit, All We Ever Wanted Was Everything, which is brilliant gig theatre from Middle Child, who also have a new show – Eve Nicol’s One Life Stand – about the search for intimacy in the modern world. Kieran Hurley and Gary McNair’s Square Go is a story of playground violence. There is music too, in Tom Wells’ and Matthew Robins’ Drip, about trying to stay afloat when you can’t swim.

Also operating under the auspices of Summerhall are Canada Hub who are bringing Adam Lazarus’ Daughter, a play about men and their attitudes to sex and power. Or get tickled by the Old Trout Puppet workshop, who confront their own and our mortality in Famous Puppet Death Scenes.  

Worth a punt: Baby Face. Katy Dye’s solo performance about the infantilisation of women is the winner of this year’s Autopsy Award, which has a fine record of spotting hits.

Dead Cert: The Ballad of the Apathetic Son and his Narcissistic Mother. A wonderful performance piece between a real life mother and teenage son about letting your child go and growing up.