The best shows on Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2023

The world’s largest arts festival returns to Edinburgh next week

This Fringe round-up includes stand-up comedians, a Shakespeare play performed by pupils from King Charles’ old school, a one-woman show on an open top bus, hard-hitting dramas and the chance to enjoy an intimate sound-experience that invites you to plant a wildflower meadow in Edinburgh.

1. Late’n’Live

A star studded comedy event and a must for any Fringe bucket list, Gilded Balloon once again presents Late’n’Live – with huge names including Olga Koch, Vittorio Angelone, Catherine Bohart and more announced for 2023, plus an all-female MC line-up including Alison Spittle, Kiri Pritchard-McLean, Jay Lafferty, Michelle Brasier and Sikisa bringing a new lease of life to one of the Fringe’s most iconic shows. Gilded Balloon, Teviot – Debating Hall, 4 – 28 August, 11.30pm. Photo: STEVE ULLATHORNE

2. The Devil’s Passion

Award-winning playwright Justin Butcher, writer/performer of ‘Scaramouche Jones’, the hit anti-war satire ‘The Madness of George Dubya’ and the acclaimed ‘Go to Gaza, Drink the Sea’ now turns his pen to perhaps the greatest story of all, The Passion of The Christ told from Satan’s perspective. The Devil’s Passion offers a radically fresh perspective on the timeless narrative, an audacious hell’s-eye view of the Easter story. By turns comic, gripping, poetic, pungent and heart-stirring, it explores themes of good and evil, religious extremism, freedom, rebellion, life, death, and much more. Assembly George Square Studios: Studio One, August 12 – 27, 1.20pm. Photo: Submitted

3. Chloe Petts – If You Can’t Say Anything Nice

Fresh from her smash hit Edinburgh Fringe and Soho Theatre sell-out debut, rising star Chloe Petts returns with her follow-up hour. Praised for her polite & well-mannered way of handling hot topics like gender and toxic masculinity in the last show, this year she’s returning with a newer, ruder approach to the big issues. Expect routines on weddings, men who like Millwall and calling you all a bunch of virgins. 2– 27 August (excl 14th) at Pleasance Courtyard, Above at 6.40pm. Photo: Avalon

4. Manifest Destiny’s Child

Playwright, performer and filmmaker Dennis Trainor Jr’s thought-provoking and deeply humorous play, Manifest Destiny’s Child, is a true account of his experiences as a teacher who jettisoned a cushy job to join the frontline of the Occupy Movement as communications director for Jill Stein’s well-meaning but flawed 2016 US Presidential campaign. A provocative, intelligent account of how America lost its way and woke up in Trumplandia. Trainor Jr. hilariously dismantles the toxic myth of American Exceptionalism. Directed by Broadway veteran David Esbjornson, known for his work on ‘The Shawshank Redemption’ and the 1991 World Premiere of Tony Kushner’s ‘Angels in America’. Assembly Rooms, Drawing Room, August 3-27, 2.25pm. Photo: Submitted

5. Frigid

After receiving rave reviews at Dublin Fringe Festival 2022, Bewley’s Cafe Theatre & The Civic Theatre Tallaght, as well as winning the prestigious Dublin Fringe Little Gem Award, Frigid written and performed by Irish actor Rosa Bowden, is set to make its triumphant return this August at Underbelly Cowgate. Niamh O’Reilly is still a ‘fridget’ – she’s never been kissed – and at 14, she’d want to hurry up. Tonight at the local teenage disco, her friends are on a mission to change that – whether she wants to or not. Set in Dublin in 2007, Niamh takes you on her journey through the ‘innocence and discovery and fun – and mortification and terror’ of Irish adolescence. A coming-of-age comedy about frenemies, first times, and figuring it out. Underbelly Cowgate, August 3-27, 12.40pm. Photo: Submitted

6. Picasso: Le Monstre Sacré

Picasso: Le Monstre Sacré, is an uncompromising portrait of Pablo Picasso. Undisputed genius and visionary artist, Picasso’s obsession often destroyed those he professed to love. This unflinching portrait of Picasso explores the complex nature of artistic genius and its impact on the artist’s subjects and family. Picasso himself pits his audience as his jury… Should he be condemned or forgiven? Peter Tate, multi-award winner and Founding Artistic Director of London’s Playground Theatre, is directed by Edinburgh veteran of 29 years, Guy Masterson whose productions include ‘Twelve Angry Men’, ‘The Odd Couple’, ‘Morecambe’ ‘Under Milk Wood’, and ‘Animal Farm’. Assembly Roxy, 3 – 28 August, 12.45pm. Photo: NUX Photography

7. Deb Filler: Kravitz, Bernstein, Cohen, and Me

Deb Filler, the acclaimed and multi-award-winning comedienne, wends through near-universal musical touchstones in her quest to meet ‘The Three Lennys’ in Kravitz, Bernstein, Cohen, and Me. With only a guitar, (mostly) true stories, and a raft of lovable characters, this jam-packed, deeply humorous show is a love-story to Yiddish, music and mentors, whose empowering influence will linger long after curtain down. Assembly Rooms, Drawing Room, 3-27 August, 7pm. Photo: Submitted

8. Macbeth

Pupils from King Charles’ former school will stage a theatre rock adaptation of Macbeth at Edinburgh’s Fringe Festival, 61 years after its most famous pupil joined the school and went on to play the lead role. Gordonstoun’s Dance and Drama department will present a high-energy performance, integrating acting, movement and song, bringing this story to the stage as it’s never been seen before, amalgamating Shakespeare’s prose with Biffy Clyro’s lyrics and music. Paradise in Augustines, George IV Bridge, August 5-12, 1pm. Photo: Michael

9. Topless: The One Woman Musical

Topless – The Musical is an imaginative reimagining of Miles Tredinnick’s original one-woman show, first performed in London in 1999. Set on the open-top deck of a double-decker hop-on hop off bus, this production offers an unprecedented level of intimacy, drawing audiences into close-contact drama that is both highly dramatic and entirely unique. It is a remarkable theatrical experience, blending Harry Styles as well as dark, funny, and at times disturbing elements, telling the story of Sandie, an eccentric tour guide with emotional issues and a wayward husband whose fate hangs in the balance. Big Bus Betty, Regent Road, EH7 5BL, August 4-13, 15, 17-20, 22-27, 2pm & 6pm.

10. Simon Brodkin – Xavier

Following two sold-out, critically-acclaimed Fringe shows and a 120-date international tour that was extended to meet huge demand, the TikTok record-breaker, Lee Nelson creator and world-famous prankster returns to Edinburgh with his third stand-up show performing as himself. This brand-new show sees Simon contemplate God, guns, Matt Hancock, Ayatollah Khamenei and a man called Xavier. Last year “the world’s most famous blagger” whose pranks on Donald Trump, Sepp Blatter, Theresa May and Kanye West grabbed headlines around the world, broke records on TikTok with clips of his stand-up routines, one reached more than 40 million views, making him the most-viewed British comedian ever on the platform. 2 – 27 August (excl 15th) at Pleasance Courtyard, Forth at 8.30pm. Photo: Avalon

The Edinburgh Festival Fringe takes place from 04 – 28 August 2023

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