Live arts correspondent Bella Todd selects ten highlights of the 2011 Edinburgh Fringe, including Marc Almond’s Ten Plagues, the new show from beatboxer Shlomo and nude female air sex…
From eating pasta ‘vaginas’ in a parked van to getting pressganged onto ‘Team Capulet’ in a violently interactive version of Romeo & Juliet, our most vivid experiences of last year’s Edinburgh Fringe weren’t necessarily the ones we went looking for. But it still pays to have some kind of game plan in mind as you approach the largest arts festival, which runs for three-weeks every August with an uncurated programme of around 2,500 shows in some 200 venues. Being an audience member is like playing a vast game of cultural Tetris, shoehorning shows into your every waking moment, and the majority of your sleeping ones too. So, to start you off, here are ten shows we’ll be ringing, then highlighting, then putting three asterisks and a beer stain next to in our 2011 programme...
Circolombia’s Intimo Urban
A group of street kids from the Colombian city of Cali, Circolombia specialize in circus built on sweat, guts and pure testosterone, with freestyle dancing and rowdy reggaeton accompanying the violently beautiful acrobatic stunts. The audience are only ever inches away from a rippling muscle, and the participants from a very messy end. Watch ‘em here.
Assembly Hall, 4-29 August
Ten Plagues with Marc Almond
Soft Cell pop pixie turned death-defying torch singer Marc Almond teams up with Shopping And F*cking playwright Marc Ravenhill, director Stewart Laing and composer Conor Mitchell for this musical-theatre thriller about London during the Black Death.
Traverse Theatre, 1-28 August
Jaw-droppingly intense beatboxer (and Red Bull BC Cypher B-Boy performer) presents his new one-man show, a sort of beatbox autobiography in which he retraces his passion to playing Arabic drums and belly dancing at his Iraqi-Jewish grandmother’s parties. He’ll also be teaching a masterclass before each show. Watch the show trailer here.
Underbelly, 4-28 August
Pajama Men: In The Middle Of No One
Pajama-clad Albuquerquians Mark Chavez and Shenoah Allen are the most critically acclaimed comedy duo of the moment, and here present their improv-rich comic thriller about love, aliens and the South American Give-It-To-Me bird (whose distinctive cry you can sample here).
Assembly Hall, 4-29 August
David Leddy is Scotland’s resident master of site-responsive theatre, staging last year’s Victorian horror story Sub Rosa in a Masonic lodge. This time, the audience will be making the journey - to the nocturnal canals of Venice - in their minds as they close their eyes and submit to a ‘360° electro-acoustic soundscape’.
St George’s West, 5-29 August.
Company XIV: Pinocchio: A Fantasy of Pleasures
Set to be one of the biggest spectacles of the Edinburgh Fringe dance programme, this 21st-Century retelling of the Pinocchio story, from mixed media Company XIV, will combine ballet with street dance, commedia dell’arte and extravagant carnival costumes. You can watch a trailer of the New York hit here.
New Town Theatre, 4-28 August
The Two Wrongies
As funny as they are filthy (and as subversive as you consider two women simulating sex in their birthday suits to be), comedy cabaret duo The Two Wrongies are part directed by boundary-pushing, semen-planting stand-up Kim Noble, and have audiences in wide-
eyed hysterics with their exhaustively observed air-sex routine. Watch ‘em here.
Assembly George Square, 3-28 August
Grid Iron: What Remains
Promenade musical installation about life, death and the connection between the work of surgeon and musician, staged in the University of Edinburgh Medical School's Anatomy Department (on whose slabs Burke and Hare’s murder victims were infamously dissected), from the multi award-winning Scottish company.
Traverse Theatre at University of Edinburgh Medical School Anatomy Department, 4-28 August
Adrian Howells: May I Have The Pleasure
Confessional performance artist Adrian Howells was last led by his passion for intimacy and genuine exchange to wash audience members’ feet. In his latest one-man show, premiering here and inspired by his having been a Best Man no less than eight times, he invites people to slow dance with him at a private wedding disco.
Traverse Theatre at The Point Hotel, 15-28 August
A Celebration Of Harold Pinter
Possibly the starriest show of the Edinburgh Fringe (and certainly likely to be the luvviest), as Hollywood legend John Malkowich directs British actor Julian Sands (the pair last worked together on 2001 horror film Hotel) in this new play celebrating the life and work of writer Harold Pinter.
Pleasance Courtyard, 4-21 August