Edinburgh Festival Fringe confirms nearly 800 shows for 75th anniversary season - three months ahead of programme launch
The running tally of 790 is already well ahead of the 528 in-person shows that went ahead during a scaled-back festival last year.
Several major venues including the Traverse and Summerhall are still to announce any of their programme plans for this summer.
Further programme announcements are due to be made in early May and early June ahead of the official Fringe guide being published on 7 July.
A record 3841 shows were registered for the 2019 Fringe, the last to be staged before the pandemic.
Although some 1700 shows were on sale by April 2019, the Fringe Society has pointed out that the first tickets went on sale through its box office in January four years ago, compared to March this year.
More than 500 new shows have been confirmed this week for the return of the Fringe in August after the pandemic forced the cancellation of the 2020 event, along with Edinburgh’s other major festivals, and last year’s was badly affected by Covid restrictions.
Daniel Sloss, Craig Hill, Omid Djalili, Jimeoin, Marjolein Robertson, Eleanor Morton, Christopher Macarthur-Boyd, Paul Sinha, Tom Stade are among the latest comics whose shows have been confirmed for this year's Fringe, along with the return of Jordan Brookes, winner of the main Edinburgh Comedy Award in 2019.
The Scottish Comedy Festival will be expanding from its base at the Beehive Inn in the Grassmarket to open a second venue at the Waverley Bar, with Scottish Comedian of the Year Liam Farrelly, Ray Bradshaw, Raymond Mearns, Gary Little and Ross Leslie all in its line-up so far.
Musicals inspired by the serial killers Burke and Hare and the kidnapping of Shannon Matthews will be staged at theSpaceUK and Just the Tonic respectively.
TheSpaceUK programme will also feature an adaptation of the Daphne du Maurier short story The Birds, which inspired the famous Alfred Hitchcock film, with the Fringe show billed as ‘a thrilling psychodrama about what happens when nature turns against humanity.” War of the Worlds (On a Budget) will offer a new take on the classic HG Wells tale.
Actor and broadcaster Grant Stott’s daughter Lori will perform at the Gilded Balloon in Swallowed, a drama from her own company Frizz Theatre, which will offer an “intimate snapshot” of the relationship of a young couple separated by an outbreak, while former Doctor Who Sylvester McCoy and Eastenders star Linda Marlowe will play “two isolated souls” in multi-media hybrid show Apartness.
The theatre line-up already features stage and screen star Sir Ian McKellen, who will be playing Hamlet at a new 400-capacity venue being created in the former St Stephen’s Church in Stockbridge.
Other new additions include an exploration at Greenside of the relationship between the poet Dyan Thomas and his wife Caitlyn, theSpaceUK’s show inspired by the creation of the world’s first cloned mammal, Dolly the Sheep, in Scotland, a story set underground in the aftermath of an environmental catastrophe.
Other shows will see impressionist Jon Culshaw pay tribute to legendary comic Les Dawson, theatre-maker and actor Kristin Winters portraying depicting former socialiate Ghislaine Maxwell in a cell awaiting her sex trafficking trial.
Murder Ballads, which is part of Underbelly’s programme, will turn the music of Nick Cave into a Wild West-set show billed as “explosive gigtheatre meets dark comedy cabaret.”
Assembly’s programme features a Kate Bush-inspired drag act, Britain's Got Talent finalist Magical Bones, Western-themed circus spectacular Railed, “ghost whispering” cabaret act Séayoncé, a Japanese shadow puppet show, Space Hippo, and a tribute to the music and songs of Victoria Wood, by cabaret star Paulus.
Children’s shows in the line-up include Covid for Kids at the Pleasance and The Dark Room For Kids, a “live action video game at the Gilded Balloon, which has also secured the return of recent Fringe favourite Basil Brush.One of the biggest Fringe hits from the last decade, nightclub event Hot Dub Tim Machine, which was created by Australian DJ Tom Lowndes, will be returning for a one-off 10th birthday party event at the Royal Highland Centre at Ingliston.
The home of the Royal Highland Show, which will host the 6500-capacity event on 19 August, has already been confirmed to host a revival of the Connect musical festival on the last weekend of the Fringe, with Massive Attack, The Chemical Brothers, The Twilight Sad, The National and Mogwai all in the line-up.
This year's Fringe will see the return of 1902, Saltire Sky's play will follow a group of Hibs fans in the run-up to their hoodoo-busting Scottish Cup triumph, which will be staged at the Leith Arches.
Two shows inspired by Irvine Welsh’s work will be at the Fringe this year – the return of Trainspotting Live, an “immersive theatre experience” based on his debut novel and a new adaptation of the sequel, Porno, which reunited Renton, Sick Boy, Spud and Begbie.Frankie Boyle, Susie McCabe, Fern Brady, Jack Docherty are among the Scottish comedy stars to have confirmed Fringe shows already.
Karen and Katy Koren, artistic directors at the Gilded Balloon, said: “We're incredibly proud to work with some tremendous international and local shows, artists and companies to present their work at such an important festival for Scotland and the world.
“We are working hard to ensure this year's Fringe is the best it possibly can be for all involved and we are excited to support all who work with us to flourish this summer."
Charlie Wood and Ed Bartlam, directors of Underbelly, said “After two scunnered years, we couldn’t be more delighted with our festival line-up which has something for everyone.
"The team has done a brilliant job in producing our most dynamic programme to date.”
Assembly’s artistic director William Burdett-Coutts, said: “This incredible line-up of shows illustrates the enormous enthusiasm there is from artists to return to Edinburgh this August.
"After two very difficult years for our industry, it is wonderful to see how much the festival has been missed by so many local and international performers who have been longing to return with their new work and Fringe favourite five-star shows.
"We really hope audiences will come back to the festival in their droves and have a fantastic time, so that the Fringe can once again be seen the world-over as THE leading cultural celebration of live performance.”