Russell Crowe, Jeff Leyton and David F Ross are miraculous must sees. Here's where to find them... - Liam Rudden

IT has been quite surreal week editing the Evening News’ annual Festivals pull-out - not least because there are no festivals.

It’s a very different arts landscape this year, one that no one could have expected nor predicted. That said, despite the dearth of drama, comedy, musicals and dance, all is not lost with an explosion in online programming and the odd in person experience. The creativity invested in the events that have managed to survive is a testament to the spirit of Edinburgh every August and highlights just how ingrained the festivals have become in the cultural calendar of not just the Capital, but the world - it’s amazing to think that our festivals come second only to the Olympics in size as far cultural events go. A silver medal... that’s not bad.

Putting together what we’ve billed as ‘Your Insider’s Guide to Edinburgh’s Festival Month’ reminded me just how fluid the world is right now. No sooner had I put Arthur Smith’s Walking Tour of The Royal Mile - billed on as ‘the only show on the Fringe’, onto the page than I was spiking it as a press release dropped announcing all the tours had all been cancelled. Things are changing by the hour. It makes covering August an interesting challenge.

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The safest way to avoid the risk of having to pull stories at the last minute would be to concentrate only on the online content being produced under the ‘Edinburgh’ banner. It’s not the same though. Nothing can quite capture the buzz of a live audience or the sheer thrill of discovering an unknown show or act you know will become the hit of the year. One aspect of the festivals that online does capture perfectly is the often hit or miss nature of the productions. For every work of genius, you can guarantee there will be the mediocre and the downright delusional.

Content I’d recommend worth a watch if you’re looking for a musical theatre fix is the powerful isolation performance of The Confrontation, from Les Miserables, by Russell Crowe and Pilton’s own Jeff Leyton - it is simply astounding, watch it here:

Now just imagine reopening Les Mis on the West End or Broadway with this Valjean and Javert in place... guaranteed to attract audiences back. I wonder if Cameron Mackintosh reads this column...

If it’s a tight dramatic three-hander you’re after, look no further than David F Ross’ adaptation of his novel The Rise and Fall of The Miraculous Vespas.

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A co-production from Ayr’s Gaiety and Borderline Theatre Company, Miraculous, as it is simply called, stars Sarah McCardie, Colin McCredie and, with a show-stealing turn, Tam Dean Burn.

Distilling the essence of his novel into 45 minutes through a deft turn of phrase, Ross has crafted an online gem that made realise I need reacquainted with the book. You can meet Ross’ one-hit wonder Grant Delgado, dodgy band manager Max Mojo and music journo Norma Niven here


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