Grace Patrick gives us a super fast rundown on what’s coming up from Wales at this year’s Edinburgh Fringe Festival, particularly the productions coming under the umbrella of the This Is Wales programme run by Arts Council Wales, and the British Council Edinburgh Showcase.
It’s that time again: July has been whisked away, and August is somehow upon us. With it, of course, comes the annual ritual of one of the UK’s most beautiful cities morphing into a bottomless void of plays, alcohol and involuntary nocturnalism. That’s right, it’s time for the Edinburgh Fringe. Whether you’re planning on going up or appreciating from afar, this year’s behemoth of a programme contains plenty of exciting Welsh offerings to keep an eye out for.
With the This Is Wales showcase taking over Summerhall this year, Welsh excellence really won’t be hard to find. The showcase contains both children’s and adults’ theatre, and spans topics as diverse as D/deaf experiences in Louder Is Not Always Clearer to the NHS in For All I Care. There’s a lot to look forward to in these eleven shows, from ‘traditional’ plays to more experimental sound and movement-based pieces. There’s immersive work from The Populars, from Swansea’s Volcano Theatre, and spoken word from Bardd. And let’s not forget Fringe veterans Dirty Protest, brining Siân Owen’s powerful play about a young mum in Newport, How to Be Brave, to festival audiences.
Following a successful Edinburgh run last summer, Carys Eleri will be returning for another production of her one woman show Lovecraft (Not the Sex Shop in Cardiff). Looking at the neuroscience of connection and loneliness, it’s exciting to see this back for another round. Rhys Slade-Jones is also around with his one person show, The Land of my Fathers and Mathers and Some Other People. Combining “frenzied one man cabaret” with the longstanding Welsh tradition of oral storytelling, this sounds like a really interesting show to go along to.
On the children’s theatre front, two productions in particular are making their way from Wales. First off there’s Ned And The Whale from Flossy and Boo, telling a maritime adventure story using puppets, in a tent in central Edinburgh. Then there’s Dexter and Winter’s Detective Agency, a co production between Paines Plough and Theatr Clwyd. This exciting partnership is collaborating on several shows this year, and it’s nice to see them including some family theatre in the mix. Other shows from this pairing include Daughterhood, an exploration of the rifts and responsibilities to be found within families, and On The Other Hand, We’re Happy, which deals with the most complex and nuance of family dynamics.
Of course, there’s more than enough to see outside of the showcase as well. For example, Unknown Theatre will be taking along their new musical called Shreds, taking a look into the world of Jack the Ripper’s London, and the lives of the women he targeted. At the same venue, Clock Tower Theatre from Cardiff will be performing their show Adrift, which takes a comedic look at the plight of three sailors lost in the Atlantic. The latest stage play from Owen Sheers is also up at the Fringe for the second half of August. Unicorns Almost is the story of soldier-poet Keith Douglas, who was killed just three days after D-Day at the age of 24.
On the more traditional comedy side of things, Rhod Gilbert is making his return to the stand up scene after a seven year hiatus with his brand new show The Book Of John. Documenting the highs and lows of his career pause, this looks like it should be a brilliant re emergence. For a comedic but self aware look at the messy situation of Welsh identities and relationships to home, try Ryan Lane Will Be There Now In A Minute ,which seems to deal with all of these and more.
All in all, it’s really not looking like a bad year at all for Wales and Welsh shows in Edinburgh. As always, they’re a drop in the ocean of the thousands of productions that are to be found up there, but it’s still an eclectic and exciting selection.
If you have an Edinburgh show you’d like added to this listing, and perhaps even have reviewed by Wales Arts Review, please email firstname.lastname@example.org with all the relevant details.