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What to see at Edinburgh Fringe Festival 2016

Image from Finding Joy
With the festival kicking off this week I thought I'd share what I'm most excited about and can recommend. I'm heading up the last week of the Fringe so any suggestions do let me know!

Theatre

Shows I can recommend as I've seen and loved them before include...

Vamos Theatre's Finding Joy tells a story of a lovely old lady called Joy who has dementia. Through mime, the production flits between the present (the relationship with her grandson is just beautiful) and her past. It was so much more moving than I ever could have anticipated.

Exploring depression in a funny and uplifting way, Every Brilliant Thing is performed by Jonny Donahoe. We watch his character grow up and navigate life and mental illness, both within his family and also his own. It's playful and profound.

If you're looking for big laughs check out Kill the Beast's He Had Hairy Hands. They're outrageous but also very clever - it's theatre that is fun while also impressive in how it stretches what the medium can do. Their new comedy horror Don't Wake The Damp also hits the Fringe this year, which I'm so excited for.

The Big Bite-Size Breakfast Show is always a great way to start day with an hour of quality short plays - varying in tone from funny to thoughtful, and accompanied by free tea, coffee and croissants!

For poetry/spoken word, Loud Poets is a really fun, energetic show at the Scottish Storytelling Centre.

Then the new production I'm most excited to see is Bucket List by Theatre Ad Infinitum. I've seen four of their shows before (with their first Fringe coinciding with mine in 2008). Their physical style and skill, technical innovation and interesting choice of stories always means a surprising and brilliant production. This year's story is a fight for justice via revenge in Mexico, so think a theatrical Tarentino with added live music perhaps?

I've heard brilliant things about powerful one-woman play Fabric, and also have high hopes for Camilla Whitehill's new play Mr Incredible.

In terms of companies I have no knowledge of but think their shows sound wonderful...and speaking of Tarentino, I'm intrigued by Puppet Fiction - a puppetry pastiche of the brilliant director's work that, with previous critical claim, holds a lot of promise

Ada/Ava by Chicago troupe Manual Cinema is leading the wishlist pretty much on the basis of their stunning trailer showing puppetry, projection and live music combining to tell a story of life and death.

There's so much I want to see at Underbelly Cowgate this year. I love the sound of sci-fi dystopia The Hours Before We Wake and also My World Has Exploded A Little Bit - a darkly comic play about bereavement, with music. On the more fun side of things, Pond Wife sounds like an absolute dream - a feminist adventure inspired by The Little Mermaid, with 90's and 00's pop music.

Comedy

One of my favourite comedians playing the Fringe is Bridget Christie - with her hilarious layering of real life stories and social messages. Most of her dates have already sold out so get in quick if you want to go.

Sofie Hagen we saw last year, the day after she won Best Newcomer at the Edinburgh Comedy Awards. In a charming yet cackle-inducing manner she tackled mental health, feminism and her Westlife obsession. She's back this year with a new show, again as part of the Free Fringe (queue early).

Other comedians I've seen before and loved include Nina Conti, Zoe Lyons, Seann Walsh, Iain Stirling, Daniel Sloss, Simon Munnery and Tom Toal. I was also really impressed by free improv show BattleActs.

A musical comedy act I have to recommend is Jonny & the Baptists, a two-piece act that never fail to have me in hysterics with the dynamic between them and the tackling of whichever political issue they choose to focus on. They're both silly and serious, and their music is great too - giving incredible energy in the room. Jonny is also the performer in Every Brilliant Thing, which came as a surprise when I first saw both shows - very different experiences!

My last mention goes to Get Your Own Back Live with the one and only Dave Benson Phillips - because why the hell not..!

If anyone has any comedy recommendations please let me know - would love to see some new faces this year.

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