With an immense and exciting programme of 265 shows, Pleasance has programmed a bumper year for you to enjoy this summer with theatre, comedy, music, circus, family shows, magic and dance. There’s surely nowhere else you’d rather be!
Pleasance’s final 2019 associate company, The Wardrobe Ensemble tackles the idea of what it means for young people to grapple with inheritance, loss and justice in The Last of the Pelican Daughters; this world premiere is an exploration and explosion of everything that’s come before and a look at what’s to come. Produced by The North Wall, E8 is a timely new play offering a searing examination of a broken education system, and what happens to those who fall through its cracks. Havana After Dark is a world premiere of a breath-taking new Cuban dance show, celebrating the 500-year anniversary of Havana, with gorgeous dancers from Carlos Acosta’s company, a sensational 7-piece live salsa band and the incredible singer Luna Manzanares. The incomparable Complicite return to the Fringe with a brand-new show for families I’ll Take You To Mrs Cole! Accompanied by an original ska soundtrack and stunning video animation, this new show will bring Nigel Gray and Michael Foreman’s award-winning children’s book to life.
Some people can’t keep away from the wonders of the Fringe. 2018 Fringe-First award winner The Archive of Educated Hearts returns with an expanded version of this beautiful combination of poetic storytelling, verbatim interviews, and a sprawling photo album chronicling the lives of four women affected by breast cancer. Lion House Theatre also premieres The Wild Unfeeling World, an incredibly unreliable retelling of Moby Dick – a yearning for the quiet fragile magic of hope, and the chaotic delusion of chasing it. Phoenix, from new musical comedy heartbreaker Richard Marsh, (Fringe First winner for Dirty Great Love Story) is a love story through time. Previous Charlie Harthill recipients In Bed With My Brother look at how to deal with success and burn out in Tricky Second Album. Such Filthy F*cks, the seventh play by the award-winning Smoke and Oakum Theatre, takes us into the fractured and fast-changing world of two ordinary people who are completely and utterly addicted to porn. In his first solo show since 1996, David Benson shares his fascination with the infamous plot to murder Lord Liverpool’s entire cabinet and the grisly aftermath on the gallows at Newgate.
Shows from around the world travel to Pleasance each year to showcase international talents. From Dublin comes A Holy Show which takes us back to 1981 and brings us on board the ill-fated Aer Lingus flight EI 164 from Dublin to London. The Trojan Women Project was set up to provide a platform for Syrian refugees to tell their stories and to provide psychosocial support; The Trojans is an extraordinary adaptation of Euripides’ play, presented by people displaced to Glasgow by the war in Syria telling their own personal stories. Australian writer David Finnigan brings You’re Safe Til 2024 – a retelling of when Finnigan met 30 scientists and asked each of them ‘What’s the biggest change happening in the world today?’
Female solo artists have been championing women writers and presenting vital and important work – this year is no exception. Following her genre-defying smash-hit Triple Threat, Lucy McCormick is back to crawl through the annals of history in this enthusiastically humiliating exploration of power and purpose in Post Popular. Fox juxtaposes postpartum depression and the silent issues of motherhood with the plight of the homeless in this sharply observed drama exploring our desire to give help and our need to seek it for ourselves. Just as Virginia Woolf imagined her own freedom in the pages of Orlando, this new play is about a person looking to escape the identitarian bullshit of 2019. Girl Wasp is a darkly comic look at lying, growing up, the fake news of our lives and the cost of the truth from Charlotte Merriam. Winner of Pleasance Pick of VAULT Festival 2019, Sexy Lamp combines comedy, original songs and storytelling to shed a bright light on how ridiculous the industry can be and why Katie is refusing to stay in the dark any longer.
Fatty Fat Fat interrogates what it’s like to live in a body the world tells you hate it in a funny, frank and provocative show – leave your diet books at the door! Daisy MacDade tells the strange but true story of her extraordinary experiences as an Edinburgh-based sugarbaby in this darkly comic and provocative show. Twitter ukulele sensation Amy Booth-Steel brings #HonestAmy, a new show directed by Kathy Burke that uses comedy and songs to deal with a cancer diagnosis. Through theatre, song, music, drumming and dance, Sold is a masterpiece of Black British theatre inspired by the storytelling traditions of the West African griot. A tour de force one-woman play about the power of the past, help and hope, Best Girl is a semi-autobiographical play written in a moment of heartfelt reconciliation.
Modern society prompts very different reactions in different people, and we are often forced to reconsider our priorities. George is a pitch-black physical theatre providing an insight into the madness of modern living with stunning choreography and sharp-tongued satire. What really makes people love and what makes people believe in love – Don’t Be Terrible asks whether nice is ever funny and whether sexy is ever nice. Sometimes we rely on what we’ve seen on TV and now one man condenses ten seasons into one hour – here, Friends is reimagined by acclaimed comic Brendan Murphy in a specially created coffee shop venue. Steve brings to life the battles with the highs and lows of fandom and the consequences of being let down by what you look up to most. Madame Ovary explores the typical struggle a 20-something has with trying to stay relevant and the less typical struggle of trying to stay alive as we follow Rosa’s diagnosis with ovarian cancer. Getting to know Katie follows the story of our two Katies, born in equal backgrounds and making different life choices that eventually lead to the same fate of losing their memory and identity to dementia. In Boar, Lewis Doherty takes us to a place of adventure where pirates, bounty hunders and thieves do battle in a world on the brink of destruction. Also looking to the future is Olly Hawes absurd comedy 21 Futures which takes a sideways look at the lives of modern teenagers on the brink of futures they can’t yet begin to imagine.
Environmental concerns remain a very pressing issue; How To Save A Rock takes us to 2026 when we have four years left to save the world – this carbon-neutral gig-comedy is powered by bike and solar-power teaching us how to still have hope. Taking us back to the foot-and-mouth disease crisis in the late 90s, Bobby & Amy explores friendship and what happens when our way of life is threatened by those who don’t understand it. In Ladybones, an archaeologist unearths a skeleton and her ordered life starts to unravel;. Based on personal experience, this is an uplifting and compelling story about OCD, dungarees and being weird but not a weirdo.
Children and Families
We all know and love Wallace & Gromit and now they’re at Pleasance; join everyone’s favourite dynamic duo as Wallace prepares to perform his musical masterpiece My Concerto in Eee Lad with help from his faithful canine companion Gromit in Wallace & Gromit’s Marvellous Musical with amazing live orchestral accompaniment.
We’ve become familiar with many of the top children’s theatre companies on the Fringe and a number of them are back this year with exciting new shows. Stories Alive bring us Captain Jake and the Search for the Red Queen as we learn what it takes to be a pirate, battling foes, avoiding sea-monsters and keeping the ship afloat. Australia’s kidult comedians are back with The Listies Ickypedia filled with trademark madness, mayhem and anarchy. Little Top offers a magical first circus experience for babies aged 0-18 months – roll up for spectacular balances, astonishing tumbles and inventive juggling. A chance encounter between two of the world’s favourite fictional characters brings us Alice and the Little Prince, devised and performed by Toby Mitchell (co-director of Tall Stories Theatre Company). Superhero Academy: Environmental Adventure! prompts kids to start thinking about the environment with a band of eco-heroes who are trying to save the planet. And, back by popular demand, Beetlemania: Kafka For Kids is packed with stories, songs, puppets and laughter for all ages.
Moonbird, supported by Pleasance Futures, is entirely BSL led and captioned, telling the story of a family who don’t know how to communicate with each other! An interactive, bike-powered eco-musical for children, Bicycle Boy, will be riding into the Fringe with a range of different accessible bikes – be ready to pedal! Rave & Behave is an interactive sound journey for all the mischievous music makers in your family as Bella and Blue try to make the ultimate electro-acoustic pop hit. Enter the undergrowth to squish and squelch your way through Slime this hilarious show for 2-5 years, being presented at Pleasance Pop Up: Central Library. So You Think You Know About Dinosaurs is the hit stage show starring dinosaur aficionado Dr Ben Garrod who takes us an exciting pre-historic adventure exploring the biggest, deadliest and weirdest predators that ever roamed the planet.
Pleasance has already announced the most incredible comedy line up but it’s not over yet. Join Matt Forde, Britain’s leading political comedian, as he once again promises his last show as an EU citizen (maybe). Last year’s Edinburgh Comedy Award nomination, Glenn Moore is back with a new hour, spilling the beans all about his old job. Edinburgh Comedy Award and double BAFTA-nominated professional idiot Spencer Jones is back with The Things We Leave Behind. British Comedy Award winner Nina Conti is boldly experimenting and discovering fresh ideas as she develops her next new show. After three hugely successful BBC series as Lee Nelson, multiple sell-out tours and world-famous stunts, Simon Brodkin unveils his funniest character yet… himself!
Just to make things even better, Rose Matafeo returns with The Edinburgh Comedy Award 2018 Best Show winner, Horndog, for one week only asking, what is horniness? Three-time Edinburgh Comedy Award nominee Kieran Hodgson is also bringing back his four solo shows and presenting them in rep in The Tales of Kieran Hodgson.
Not all the shows can be with us for the whole month; Celeste Barber, the self-proclaimed queen of everyday sophistication and low budget lifestyle aspiration, explains the story behind some of her most famous images, her new relationship with famous people, and the stalkers, fans and comments that get under her skin. Piff the Magic Dragon, the self-proclaimed loser of America’s Got Talent, breaks from his Vegas residency and US tour for Five nights only in Edinburgh. Barb Jungr comes to Pleasance for one night only with her unique interpretations of Dylan and Brel alongside her own amazing cabaret material.
Hosted by Jayde Adams and Kiri Pritchard-McLean, Amusical is a comedy celebration of all things West End (or Broadway if you’re American) where a handful of comedians perform their favourite musical theatre songs in the ultimate competition – all in aid of charity. And, at the end of the Fringe, catch Amusical Club Night where you can dance the night away to your favourite songs from musicals. Join Amy Annette and a panel of her more famous comedian friends at the recording of a live comedy conversation show – What Women Want. A spectacular night of comedy, Berk’s Nest Mid-Fest Comedy Special celebrates the middle of the festival from award-winning production company Berk’s Nest. For one lunchtime only, a man will eat a three-course meal live on stage in a 750-seat theatre in Dan VS Food – a show prompting us to think about food waste in the name of charity. Edinburgh Comedy Awards Gala is the UK’s first and premier award for celebrating life comedy and it gives you the opportunity to see some of the very best comics at the Fringe. For the past 35 years the Pleasance has been the home of new comedy talent in Edinburgh and its Newcomer Comedy Gala allows you to check out some of the most exciting new comedians at the Fringe as they make their Pleasance debuts.
Coming to the Fringe for the first time is New Yorker Anna Drezen with a show all about true crime, the dark side of reality TV and very powerful ghosts. Exploring the greatest mathematical near-misses and mishaps involving planes, trains and autocorrect Matt Parker sets out to fix them all. A radical intersectionalist poet committed to feminism, social justice and armed peaceful protest, Titania McGrath is uniquely placed to explain to you why you are wrong about everything! LA comedian Jamie Loftus is going to teach you to empower yourself in this fabulous keynote speech. Join Anna O’Grady and Helen Cripps in their debut show for a chance of getting out of your ‘rat’ and marching on.
The heart of comedy can often be found in stand-up where comedians really get to the core of what they want to say! Andrew Doyle is one of the UK’s foremost political satirists and he’s back with Exodus, his seventh solo show. Alexander Fox, creator of cult hit Ringo, presents a drumming comedy experience telling all bout his illicit affair with his drum teacher. Jimeoin‘s back for his 26th Fringe with his inspired Irish ramblings! During an odd and turbulent time in recent history Will Duggan found himself questioning every poor decision he has ever made (namely everything he has ever said or done) – it’s time for us to find out why.
Another place to discover new comedy on the Fringe is HUB Fresh where you can see a changing line-up of comedians, all making their Pleasance debuts. The Paddock is an experimental new material night from some of the most ground-breaking and creative comedians at the Fringe.Audible Live hosts two weeks of completely free live comedy, showcasing the finest acts the festival has to offer, all being recorded for its audio series.
The Pleasance’s programme will offer some of the biggest names in entertainment, much-loved returning acts and exciting newcomers. The Pleasance should certainly be the pick of your Fringe this August.