Lady Boys head for Festival Square as Fringe line-up expands to 460 shows across 87 venues

The Lady Boys of Bangkok, one of the most popular acts at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in modern times, have announced a return next month – in the heart of the city’s culture quarter.

Thursday, 22nd July 2021, 12:11 pm
Updated Thursday, 22nd July 2021, 1:09 pm
The Lady Boys of Bangkok have been one of the biggest box office draws at the Fringe since they made their debut in 1998.

The hugely-popular cabaret stars, who shot to fame at the Fringe when they made their UK stage debuts in 1998, will take over Festival Square, opposite the Usher Hall, for a full run at the festival.

Their comeback, with a “sparkle-filled show where Bollywood meets Broadway,” has been confirmed as organisers of the Fringe revealed that the number of shows registered for next month’s event had soared to more than 460, across at least 87 venues.

Among the 121 new additions are a series of spy-themed escape games which Assembly will be staging around West Princes Street Gardens, a new play from Scot Squad and Absolutely star Jack Docherty which will be part of Gilded Balloon’s line-up at its Teviot Row House home, a new stand-up show from The Inbetweeners star Joe Thomas at the Pleasance Courtyard and City Breakz, an outdoor pop-up hip-hop dance show which will be staged across the city.

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The Lady Boys of Bangkok's latest live show will be staged in Festival Square throughout the Fringe.

The grounds of Duddingston Kirk will be hosting a promenade performance by Theatre Alba, while St Cuthbert’s will be one of several festival venues operating on and around Lothian Road, including MultiStory, which will transform the top two floors of a multi-storey car park on Castle Terrace.

The Lady Boys’ promoters are creating a specially designed circus tent for the site, outside the Sheraton Grand Hotel, which has not been used for the summer festivals for years. The Lady Boys, whose shows were staged on the Meadows for 17 years, had been planning to relocate from their most recent home in Fountainbridge to Festival Square last summer only for their plans to be scuppered by the pandemic.

The Lady Boys have ruled out any of their usual audience participation in their Festival Square shows, which will be staged with one metre social distancing in place between groups of ticketholders.

Tour director Binky Beaumont said: “We will obviously have smaller audience numbers this year, with our capacity for each show reduced to around 220, where to up to 500 which we’d normally have in Edinburgh although we will be doing up to three shows a day.

“We’ve done everything we can to make sure we could get to Edinburgh this year and adapt to every possible measure that we are asked to put in place. When we told the cast we were definitely coming back to the Fringe some of them were actually in tears.

"We’re actually getting a brand new venue made in Italy specifically made for the Festival Square site, including sound measures to keep all our neighbours happy.

"Edinburgh is our adopted home. It was where the show was created 23 years ago, our whole tour is built around the Fringe each year and it’s where our best audiences are. We even tailor part of the show for the city. We’re all ready and just desperate to get home to Edinburgh.”

Some of the biggest promoters on the Fringe have been revealing their line-ups, just two weeks ahead of the opening of venues.

Gilded Balloon’s line-up at its long-stading Teviot home will include Nothing But, a new one-man show from comic and actor Jack Docherty, which is billed as “a tender, playful, darkly comic tale, where he grapples with lost youth, infatuation, fatherhood, sex, secrets and truth.”

Shappi Khorsandi, Christopher MacArthur-Boyd, Esther Manito, Glenn Wool and Jay Lafferty will be among the comics performing at the venue, which will also host a new show from magician Kevin Quantum, Spontaneous Potter, an improvised comedy play inspired by JK Rowling’s best-selling novels, and a chat show hosted by Gilded Balloon favourite Fred MacAuay.

The Pleasance, which will be creating a new pop-up venue in its famous courtyard for this year's Fringe, will be running shows at the venue’s cabaret bar and also at the Edinburgh International Conference Centre.

Newly-announced shows include stand-up appearances from Joe Thomas, Mark Watson, Ivo Graham, Ivo Graham, Adam Rowe, Tessa Coates, Eshaan Akbar and Hal Cruttenden.

Assembly’s line-up will include the staging of four daily “escape games” by Agent November in West Princes Street Gardens, one of the city’s most iconic locations for festivals and events.

The historic Georgian House on Charlotte Square will also be playing host to a show billed as “escape room meets theatre,” which will see audiences transported back to 1881 to embark on a search for a stolen manuscript of Robert Louis Stevenson’s new novel

Underbelly has revealed plans to turn its site at Bristo Square into a new home for street theatre acts at the Fringe.

An indoor venue in George Square Garden will feature festival favourites including acapella stars The Magnets, comics Marcel Lucont and Tom Brace, cabaret favorites Margaret Thatcher Queen of Soho, Queenz and Myra Dubois, and leading magicians Magical Bones and Tom Brace.

Assembly will also be returning to George Square with a line-up featuring Bromance, a new show by the circus acrobats Barely Methodical Troupe, and Best of Burlesque. Magician Elliot Bibby and comedy-ventriloquist Nina Conti are also expected to be among its biggest sellers.

The Stand Comedy Club, which will be reopening for this year's Fringe, has revealed that Jo Caulfield and Paul Sinha will be among its main attractions.

Extras shows have also been added to the runs by Craig Hill and Mark Nelson at the Corn Exchange, a new dedicated comedy venue for this year’s Fringe.