Esther O'Loughlin 2 Aug 2019 09:56am

Six shows to see at the 2019 Edinburgh Fringe Festival

The 72nd Edinburgh Fringe Festival has kicked off in Scotland today and will feature more shows than ever before – 3,841 across 400 venues in one jam-packed month. With more than 700 free and 400 ‘pay what you want’ shows, and genres ranging from circus and theatre, to Q&A’s and cabaret, to stand-up and slam poetry, there is guaranteed to be something for everyone.

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Caption: The 2019 Edinburgh Fringe Festival officially kicks off today

This year has no shortage of big-hitters to draw the crowds, including, Nick Offerman, Frances Barber, Ian McKellen, Craig Ferguson, Ruby Wax, Nish Kumar, Stephen Fry, Stevie Martin, Rhod Gilbert, Russell Howard, Akala, Josie Long, Daniel Sloss and Eddie Izzard. But there are plenty of other shows to choose from, and so to help you decide we’ve put together a list of must-see performances.

Sophie Ducker: Venus

As a black, queer woman, comedian Ducker describes herself as a“triple threat minority”. Her stand up – which tackles issues including privilege, racism and misogyny – has been drawing high praise from within the comic circle and makes her an easy choice for our must-watch list. She performs almost every night of the festival, starting tonight, at the Pleasance Courtyard.

Islander: a new musical

Islander follows the story of Eilidh, a young girl who doesn’t want to move to the mainland with her mother. It combines reality with myth when a stranger washes up on the beach. The play incorporates Scottish folk music written by Finn Anderson and performed by the cast using a loop-pedal in real time. It runs throughout the month at Roundabout Theatre.

Basil Brush: Unleashed

One of the few children’s TV icons that has withstood the test of time, this dry-witted fox is back with a boom (or two), taking to the stage in his Fringe debut. But don’t be fooled, this time it’s a show for adults, with a suggested age suitability of 16+. Hosting different guests in the Bristo Square Underbelly, Basil gives his two cents (and a whole lot more) on everything from Parliament to Love Island. But, so the kids don’t miss out, he is also performing Basil Brush: Family Fun in the afternoons, complete with sing-alongs and storytelling.


Whether dance is your thing or not, you should check out the abilities of Eve Mutso and Joel Brown. The pair performs a duet highlighting their different strengths and vulnerabilities while showcasing immense talent in their craft. The title, they joke, references the number of vertebrae they have between them. While Mutso – former principle dancer of the Scottish Ballet – moves like she has 100, Brown – who’s spine is fused and regularly uses a wheelchair – jokes he only has 11. This show has already seen Brown nominated for the ‘emerging artist’ award, and will be shown publically from 19-24 August at Greenside’s Emerald Theatre.

Ross Smith: Crying/Shame

Boys don’t cry – but should they? This is the question pondered by up-and-coming London comic Smith. He explores the importance of being open about vulnerability – for both stable emotional well-being and the awards it undoubtedly bring comics. He questions why he struggles to achieve either. With regular 1pm slots throughout the month, not to mention having Nish Kumar and Joel Dommett as avowed fans, Smith looks set to increase his following. Catch him at Just the Tonic at The Tron.

The Ballad of Mulan

Actress Michelle Yim (The Empress and Me) brings to life the real warrior and Chinese legend behind the Disney-princess. Through a solo performance, audiences learn how Hua Mulan managed to keep her identity hidden for 10 years, while rising ranks and eventually leading the emperor’s army in battle as a general, as well as witnessing one of China’s most famous folklores. The original Ballad of Mulan is thought to have been written in the 1600s, having been inspired from a 11th or 12th century text referencing the female warrior who took her father’s place. But this month the whole family can watch Yim’s adaption at the Assembly Rooms Powder Room.