Finally, after two years of Covid absence, the Edinburgh Festival Fringe returns. The biggest and most prestigious performing arts festival in the world, the Fringe is always packed with weird and wonderful shows that don’t get as much exposure elsewhere, as well as bigger names and faces taking part too. While it’s renowned for its comedy scene, there’s also plenty of theatre and music shows to be discovered and enjoyed, and the Fringe has an appeal that stretches across all ages and audiences, with family shows and late night raunchy stand up.

While the full Fringe programme has yet to be published ahead of the festival in August, we’ve rounded up the best shows that we know for sure will be appearing at this year’s Fringe.

Stand Up

Stewart Lee

Snowflake and Basic Lee

The hugely popular legendary comedian returns once again to the Fringe, with not one but two shows to entertain you: Lee will be performing his show Snowflake for the last time in Edinburgh, a show devised pre pandemic and tweaked after coming back post lockdown, which mostly takes aim at the “anti-woke mob” which has risen in the last few years in Britain. The punnily named Basic Lee show, meanwhile will be a new work in progress show, allowing you to see the often meta and idiosyncratic performer craft new material up close. For fans of stand up, few names command as much respect as Stewart Lee.

Fern Brady

Autistic Bikini Queen

Scottish comedian Fern Brady brings her latest stand up tour to the Fringe this year. Autistic Bikini Queen sees the comic discuss everything from marriage to ageing, and follows her show Power and Chaos, which was broadcast on BBC One last year. Brutally honest and authentic, Brady always speaks her mind, with very funny results. She might be scathing and sharp witted one minute, and endearing and intimate the next. One of the rising stars of the UK comedy scene, nothing is off the table when it comes to her standup.

Omid Djalili

The Good Times

Acclaimed comedian Omid Djalili is back at the Fringe this year with his show The Good Times. Having found it difficult performing comedy during the pandemic with tricky gigs over Zoom or at drive-ins, the star of The Infidel and The Omid Djalili Show is happy to be back in his element live and in person. Always funny and invitingly warm, you can expect a stand up show that’s less geared toward acerbic cynicism and more toward fun and pure entertainment. The title is certainly appropriate to how you’ll feel leaving his latest show.

Frankie Boyle

Lap of Shame

 

While he came to prominence as being controversial enough to be fired from Mock The Week, Frankie Boyle years become more political and cynical in his comedy endeavours. The Scot is at the Fringe this year with his new show Lap of Shame with Assembly, and will see him mostly tackle politics and current affairs in his signature savaging style. As the show’s synopsis puts it, he “satirises whichever new leaders emerge from the irradiated rubble.” It’ll probably leave you feeling a bit bleaker than the rest of the shows on here, but for those who enjoy dark, no holds barred comedy, Boyle is one of the best in the game for it.

Puppets for Adults

Basil Brush

Unleashed and Family Fun Show

I say I say I say, the world’s funniest fox is back: we all remember the fabulous fox Basil Brush from childhood, whether from The Basil Brush Show in the 70s or its early 2000s revival on CBBC. Now however, the self styled raconteur is on tour in his signature green suit spreading laughter ’round the country. While there’s the kid friendly Family Fun Show earlier on in the day, adults who remember him fondly can catch him later at the Fringe in his prime time show Basil Brush Unleashed. A little more blue and a little more daring in this format, Basil is like a British Kermit the Frog: Charming, universally appealing and genuinely funny. Expect gags about Love Island, current affairs, celebrities and more in this daft but infectiously fun show. Boom boom!

Nina Conti

The Dating Show

Another Fringe veteran, Nina Conti has been performing at the Fringe for years, and remains hugely popular. Ventriloquism is sometimes sniffed at as a performing art, but a true talent like Conti will leave you amazed at how much fun and hilarious it can be. With a host of strange puppet characters, including the foul mouthed and insulting Monkey, Conti’s shows are filled with laughter and mad magic. Audience participation is inevitable, with people called up to the stage, given a giant, grotesque pair of lips and surrender themselves to whatever weird and wonderful voices the ventriloquist comes up with. This new show sees Conti host her own “dating show” where she puts two audience members together and attempts to find a spark between them- aided by the face masks.

Music

California Dreams

If you’re a fan of Californian music, then this show is for you: bringing together the very best of the late 60s and early 70s, this immersive music show features hits from classic artists like The Beach Boys, The Byrds, The Mamas and Papas, The Eagles, The Doors, Joni Mitchell, Carole King Neil Young and many more. The show, like Voices of Bond, brought to you by Night Owl Shows, and has gotten high praise from reviewers, with Metro calling it their Pick of the Fringe. For those that remember the era, it’s a trip down memory lane, for those who have discovered it through Spotify and the vinyl revival, it’s a chance to see the music performed live. Turn off your mind, relax and float downstream in this truly groovy extravaganza.

007: Voices of Bond

There aren’t many films where “who’s singing the theme song?” is still a relevant question, but for James Bond, the opening title sequence theme is one of the most important elements. 007: Voices of Bond lets you lose yourself in the world of international espionage, with performances of all of the greatest Bond hits: from the sweeping heights of Adele’s Oscar winning Skyfall, to the 70s rock fun of Paul McCartney’s Live and Let Die, to the classic and much parodied Goldfinger, vocalist Phoebe Katis delivers a fantastic musical show. With No Time To Die still in recent memory, Voices of Bond is a must for 007 fans.

Theatre

Hotel Paradiso

If you’re looking for a more physical performance than the other shows on this list, then Hotel Paradiso from the circus troupe Lost In Translation might be for you: the show is a blend of circus feat, clowning and physical comedy, telling a tale of a rich banker and their companion attempting to take over and repossess a hotel. There’s some pretty amazing Circus fears to be seen in the show, and it’s an appealing and entertaining performing extravaganza that appeals to all ages, making it a great choice for a family show.

Myra’s Story

Myra’s Story is already one of the most anticipated shows at the Fringe this year, after its runaway success in 2021. It tells the story of a middle aged, homeless street-drinker in Dublin, who begs on the streets for money from passers-by. As the play goes on, she retells her backstory to the audience. It’s a rollercoaster of emotions, with plenty of laugh out loud moments in the midst of what it is in the end a tragic and heartbreaking story. It’s also won plenty of accolades, including the Bobby Award at last year’s Fringe, and the Best Tragedy award at New York’s United Solo Festival. With all the characters and events acted it out vividly and brilliantly, this one woman show is one you won’t want to miss.


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