Pleasance has announced more than 100 shows which have been added to its Edinburgh line-up. This roster of shows joins the 20 recently announced shows supported by the Pleasance Futures programme, including this year’s winners of the Charlie Hartill Special Theatre Reserve Fund and Comedy Reserve Fund, marking Pleasance’s commitment to nurturing talent and supporting ambition.
Bryony Kimmings hits the festival with I’m A Phoenix, Bitch, a powerful, dark and joyful masterpiece about motherhood, heartbreak and finding inner strength, as part of the British Council Edinburgh Showcase 2019. Theatre Re presents a powerful and poignant visual theatre piece with live music, exploring the bond between three generations of women in Birth. An adrenaline-fuelled explosion of extreme sports, music, dance and theatre, Elements of Freestyle is all about the ecstasy and freedom of breakdance, inline skating, skateboarding, freestyle basketball, BMX and freerunning from Dutch company ISH. The UK premiere of 2017 Molière Award winner Fishbowl follows the hilarious misadventures of three eccentric and loveable anti-heroes, spectacularly failing at life in their tiny rooftop bedsits bursting at the seams with choreographed pandemonium.
The Greenhouse is a new eco venue, curated by BoxedIn Theatre, with a programme of eight shows about the environment and our relationship to it. Built out of recycled materials, the venue is zero waste; it doesn’t even have mains electricity! In From The Wind, Scotland’s relationship with renewable energy is examined. Daphne, or Hellfire is an ecofeminist drama, inspired by Ovid’s myth, that sees an exciting exploration of trees, family and female liberation. Evaluation makes use of pre-recorded dialogue, hard data and Shakespeare to explore the virtues that make us human. Look beneath the veneer of corporate perfection and submerge yourself in Shellshock! – a world of laughter, espionage and toe-tapping tunes. Swallows offers a riveting look at eco-terrorism and our relationship with the environment, with an important message of caution. Symbiosis explores the story of a girl’s life, her relationship with her environment and the notion that nature can act as a support system in a similar way to family and friends. Five storytellers open a treasure chest in The Earth Untold and welcome us to a unique story in which the audience choose what they want to hear. The Voices we Hear takes us to the aftermath of an environmental apocalypse, offering a deeply personal look at environmental oblivion.
Two companies developed and supported by Pleasance Futures are back this year – Incognito Theatre’s The Burning is a formidable tale of corruption and persecution, following the lives of women and their witch-hunters in an epic story through time. Spies Like Us bring Murder On The Dancefloor – a politically urgent, frenetically physical dark comedy about five friends making their way in the big city. Also previously supported by Pleasance Futures is Mother Bunch’s Comrade Egg & The Chicken Of Tomorrow which asks us to join The Chicken Appreciation Society in this dark, funny and bold show about social justice and PTSD in the meat-processing industry.
Cabaret theatre, puppetry and variety shows are bringing some music, movement and magic to this year’s programmes. One such amazing show is The Cabinet Of Madame Fanny Du Thé where tales of woe, science, curses and defiance tickle our fancies through the weird and wonderful. We know her from Sink the Pink but now she’s back solo with Ginger Johnson’s Happy Place, putting two fingers up to all sense of reality in this world of absolute delusion. Following a sold-out run at last year’s Fringe, the much-loved Tom Brace returns with a brand-new magic show for the whole family! Half A String return with Boulder, a reimagining of the Greek myth, where a beautiful mechanical puppet is doomed with the hopeless task of pushing a colossal stone uphill in this show jam packed with music, clowning and puppetry.
As part of the British Council Edinburgh Showcase 2019, Fringe First winner dressed. comes to Pleasance telling the story of redressing oneself after trauma with a new healing set of armour. Multi-award winning gig theatre Electrolyte is a powerful exploration of mental health for a contemporary audience. If you’re in the mood for more gig theatre, don’t miss smash hit Medea Electronica, a powerful and deeply moving retelling of the Greek tragedy set in 1980s rural England. Audacious Mr Astley is the REAL Greatest Showman, taking us back, over 250 years, to the inception of circus. Sell-out hit Shakespeare adaptation, Trump Lear returns, with this hilarious Trump-inspired version of King Lear. Also returning is 2010 Holden Street Theatre Award winner Heroin(e) for Breakfast, a hilarious and shocking look at how heroin can put the Great back into Britain and save us all from banality!
And the music doesn’t end there! In a moving and hilarious look at how a vote can change the way we view ourselves, Confirmation, fresh from a sell-out run at the Dublin Fringe, is a musical memoir that investigates the result of the Irish Marriage Equality Referendum. MARA, an original, multidisciplinary piece, celebrates women through time by means of sound manipulation and electro-acoustic music, performed live by The New Victorians. Arthur Smith brings us a touching and funny tribute to his own father, SYD, with love, laughter and song.
Family is a powerful motif that many companies choose to explore on stage. In I, AmDram one queer Londoner tackles the unspoken past of many a Fringe performer and previous generations of amateur theatre leading ladies. The Red sees Marcus Brigstocke write and direct a bittersweet drama of family and addiction based on his own recovery. Inspired by society’s expectations and the pressures on women to be maternal, kind, considerate individuals, With Child is a series of talking-head style monologues bringing together ideas about pregnancy. A searingly honest and personal one-woman show, LOVE (Watching Madness) investigates the complexities of loving someone bi-polar. When a dad loses his 6-year old daughter to cancer, his world falls apart; I Run is a Danish one-man play about running and grief.
While there’s lots going on in the present day, history has always provided fascinating stories for us to delve into. Drowning looks back to 1991 when four Austrian nurses were charged with murdering 49 elderly patients in their beds – the world premiere of this blistering new play forces us to confront our understanding of evil. The gripping true story of a terrifying night-time WWII Lancaster bomber raid is uncovered in Wireless Operator as we learn the mission’s real cost. In 00, two outcasts prepare for the apocalypse in the final hour before the new millennium in a bold production about optimism, fear and counting down to uncertainty. It’ll Be Alt-Right On The Night is a fusion of music, comedy and theatre, exploring radical polarising populism and the history of punk rock, which asks what happens when two best friends find themselves on different sides of an impassable ideological divide. From Fringe First winning writer Cristian Ceresoli comes Happy Hour, a psychedelic new play about fascism and happiness!
Relationships, good or bad, whether with family or a loved one, no matter our age, present the universally relatable: I Lost My Virginity to Chopin’s Nocturne in B-Flat Minor tackles the fear of loneliness and dependency to the point of destruction. A disaster movie about falling in love, Catching Comets, asks how we’re supposed to be brave and strong when we look and sound nothing like the heroes we grew up with on our screens. Algorithms introduces us to a bisexual Bridget Jones for the online generation – a loveably hapless heroine who is wondering why she feels so lonely when connecting with others is meant to be easier than ever. Exploring consent, Endless Second follows two people as they deal with a trauma that fundamentally alters the nature of their relationship. The Rebirth Of Meadow Rain is a darkly comic tale on themes of emotional abuse as Meadow throws a party to celebrate her new life without Terry! Highlighting a modern-day crisis of identity, Typical confronts the daily tensions experienced by black men as they try to negotiate life, while constantly feeling like it’s on the line.
No Pleasance programme would be complete without some of its much-loved staples. The songs and wit of timeless musical comedy legends, Flanders and Swann, are back for the twelfth tremendous year at the Pleasance. Big Bite-Size Breakfast Show is moving to a bigger venue for its breakfast-sized helpings of 10-15-minute comedies. Join Nicholas Parsons’ Happy Hour for his 19th year at the Fringe as this legendary host of Radio 4’s Just a Minute gives us an unmissable hour of fun and laughter in the company of some very special guests. Pip Utton has been coming to the Fringe for over a decade and has the awards to show for it; his latest work, Einstein, delves not only into the life of the greatest genius of the 20th century but also into his mind and passions. Have Late Lunch With Biggins as National Treasure Christopher Biggins chats with friends old and new with tales from his life and career.
Children and Families
Magical creatures abound this August with unicorns, dinosaurs and dragons. Captain Flinn is ready for another adventure – Les Petits Theatre return to the high seas in Captain Flinn and the Pirate Dinosaurs to hunt for the Magic Cutlass in this fantastic journey to a world of devious dinosaurs, deep sea dangers and smelly sausages. Olivier Award nominated Wizard Presents brings Michael Morpurgo’s I Believe In Unicorns to life, sparking imaginations in both young and old. Moon Dragon is a show appearing in two incarnations – for those under one and for children up to five.
Becoming familiar with classics is an important part of growing up and Rubbish Shakespeare are on board with this, bringing us A Midsummer Night’s Dream with high-octane slapstick action, mischievous storytelling and belly laughs galore. Using an original score, slick movement and strong characters, Mustard Doesn’t Go With Girls seeks to poke fun at fairy tales from the past whilst creating new storylines for the young generation of today. Primary Times Children’s Choice Award Winner Brave Macbeth is back combining the Scottish Play with tunes, humour and shameless messing about. One Duck Down is inspired by a true tale (featured on Blue Planet II) that saw 7,000 rubber ducks cast adrift in a mighty storm.
Pleasance is known for its amazing comedy programme where the newest comics from around the world stand alongside the favourite and most renowned artists. Pleasance always supports the most excellent of the new comics in town and this year is no exception. Through original songs and stand-up, New York comedy sensation Catherine Cohen will explore life as an immortal millennial who is tragically unverified on Twitter – a show about living, laughing and loving. Funny Women Award Winner 2018, Cam Spence, is exploding onto the Fringe scene with her hilarious debut hour of idiosyncratic character comedy. Aaron Chen is unpredictable in his debut hour showing us his dark side and what makes him evil and mean. Failed 80s diva and Dorking’s most successful pub singer Yasmine Day boldly attempts to revive her flagging career with a last-ditch concert extravaganza in this debut character comedy from Jay Bennett. George Fouracres (know from sketch group Daphne), Wolverhampton’s fancy-pantsiest son, tells stories of a Black Country childhood, sings ancient ballads and splatters his odd brain matter all over the stage. Featured in 2018’s Comedy Reserve at Pleasance, Helen Bauer dreams of being a sweet angel handling any drama with grace – but that isn’t always how it turns out. Also fresh from last year’s Comedy Reserve are Sophie Duker – this silly, sexy and savage stand-up talks about race, sex and (definitely not) being a goddess – and Nigel Ng (as seen on Comedy Central’s Standup Central, Roast Battle) who brings you on a joyous romp through his life in the UK as a Malaysian immigrant.
Huge Davies brings us dark humour, surreal songs, his customised wearable keyboard and, of course, carparks. James McNicholas (one third of critically-acclaimed sketch act BEASTS) debuts with a story about boxing, even though he’s never boxed! Join Kai Samra as he dissects life as a young, working class, British Asian in the 21st century – from police stop and searches to a complete lack of costume options at fancy dress parties. Travelling back in time to her errant teenage years, Kelly Convey takes us through her high-lying twenties as an executive, right up to the life-changing decision in her thirties to become a comedian. Australian comedian Ray Badran recently moved to the UK and this is a show all about big issues plaguing us all such as, pockets, Subway sandwiches, fridges and more. Janine Harouni thinks it’s important to stand up for what you believe in, even if you have to do it really nicely. Winner of the prestigious BBC New Comedy Award 2018 and the reigning Scottish Comedian of the Year, Stephen Buchanan brings his sharp story-telling and offbeat observations as he delves into the reality of living at home with his mum and a refugee. The twisted minds of Gein’s Family Giftshop and sweaty bodies of Goose combine to bring you something brand new: Tarot where an audience member has their cards read, and the selected tarot becomes a purported framework for the show itself.
Winner of the Edinburgh Comedy Award for Best Newcomer 2018, Ciarán Dowd is back at Pleasance with this supernatural action-adventure follow up. Newcomer Nominee Adam Hess returns with undoubtedly his funniest show yet including a story about getting stuck in a lift for 25 hours. Fellow Newcomer Nominee Darren Harriott tries to work himself out with his trademark passion and insightful wit. Jayde Adams rifles through all the noise and self-promotion to ask what she needs to do to be a successful independent woman! Edinburgh Comedy Award Nominee Seann Walsh returns to Edinburgh as he recounts the week following 6th October, during which he was famously undermarked for his Pasodoble. Let the beaky boy from Friday Night Dinner (Channel 4) and Plebs (ITV2), Tom Rosenthal tell you the story of how he spent his life trying to avenge the theft of his foreskin. After a Fringe hiatus, award-winning Lucy Beaumont is ready for a break from motherhood and back for an hour of life affirming laughter. Fringe favourite Lucy Porter returns with another fantastic stand-up show, asking us if life is perhaps slightly more complicated than Brown Owl let on. Also returning, like a phoenix rising from the flames, is comedy daredevil Nick Helm.
Multi award-winning comedian and musician Vikki Stone returns to Edinburgh with a new show of her trademark comedy songs and stand-up. Phil Wang is back with an hour of absolute gold exploring sex, romance, politics and his mixed British-Malaysian heritage. Watch award-winning comedian Pierre Novellie bring some intellectual levity to various absolutely appalling subjects. The uncontrollably funny Rhys James takes a break from our screens (Mock The Week) to return to the Fringe. Sunil Patel, as seen on BBC, C4, C5, Dave, Comedy Central, brings us White Knight. Having made a name for herself turning tragedy and anxiety into big laughs, Suzi Ruffell is back asking whether all stand ups are at their best when they are miserable. Ivo Graham offers up more hilariously anxious blather from one of the most hilariously anxious blatherers in the business. The Fringe’s favourite Frenchman, Marcel Lucont, returns for his tenth year with an exquisite new show and a live band to abuse.
Alice Sneddon looks at her perfectly normal childhood, happy life and general feeling of contentment, and then asks, “Could I be our next Charles Manson?” Having worked in a million different jobs, Ben Pope has decided it’s time to tell you all about work work work and clock in! After a fantastic sell-out debut hour Rosie Jones returns to the Fringe looking at the hilarious difficulties of navigating the world whilst being the only disabled, gay, northern comedian. Following on from his sold-out debut, Jake Lambert returns with a brand-new show packed full of one-liners all about his mistakes. The wonderful Mr Thing presents the multimedia mayhem of his live, chaotic, comedy chat show thing. These two have been to the Fringe before but this year marks their Pleasance debuts; London Hughes will be exploring how, as a woman, you can be incredibly awesome and successful, yet incredibly single and Sara Barron is examining kindness, meanness, ex-boyfriends, ex-girlfriends, current husbands, all four of her remaining friends, and two of her twelve enemies.
Marcus Brigstocke returns for a limited run with Devil May Care where the Devil himself explains what we mortals are doing wrong and Mark Watson is back with The Infinite Show all about empathy.
Double acts mean double the humour and double the trouble. Max & Ivan triumphantly return with a true story about dreaming big, growing up and trying, but ultimately very much failing, to make it in the band. The multi-platinum Norwegian pop duo, Giants, are back to record a live album of their greatest hit (and some other songs they’ve written along the way). Critically acclaimed sketch duo Goodbear’s trademark combination of riotous characters, extraordinary physical comedy and an original score promises to be side-splittingly funny. Two provincial louts perform grotty comedy sketches in Moon. Musical Comedy Award Winners 2018, Stiff & Kitsch sing about everything keeping them awake at night: tax, wooden cutlery and the consequences of last night’s eight double G&Ts each. The Death Hilarious used to be a double act but this year he’s back on his own telling an authentic working-class story of love, sex-workers, genocide, and a fox reading a bank statement.
Improvisation is a genre requiring quick thinking and huge amounts of general knowledge. The eleven-time sell-out sensation the Noise Next Door returns for their Comedy Lock In, an evening of improvised anarchy with the biggest names in Edinburgh. Questing Time, London’s best comedy Dungeons & Dragons show is rolling into Edinburgh to ask the funniest people on the Fringe if they have what it takes to be heroes. New Zealand’s favourite comedy improv show Snort makes its way to Edinburgh this year. Plus, Murder She Didn’t Write is a classic murder mystery created on-the-spot from audience suggestions.
Check out Briony Redman as she brings us character comedy, storytelling and sketches. Or head to the Chortle Student Comedy Award Final to find out who will be crowned Britain’s funniest student 2019. Inside the Comedian is a spoof chat show where comedians are interviewed about the career they never had – guests must rely solely on their ability to talk a load of old nonsense, making up their alternate life story as they go along. Matt Winning comes to chat about how we cope with climate change and Adam Riches offers up an interactive comedy whodunnit. Renowned sketch troupe, The Cambridge Footlights are on an exceptional world tour with an exciting stop in Edinburgh to present Look Alive! Deborah Frances-White will be taking over Pleasance Grand to record her hit comedy podcast, The Guilty Feminist.
Sometimes there’s just not enough time and line-ups help to bring us a speedy flavour of Fringe talent. AAA Stand-Up are back with a brand-new line-up and a special late-night show to boot. Made in Chelsea star joins the chat show line-up this year with his show Francis Boulle & Friends, a late-night comedy extravaganza showcasing the best of the fest. Pleasance is committed to providing the most accessible venues on the Fringe and the Accessibility Gala celebrates this with an excellent line-up.
The Pleasance’s programme will offer some of the biggest names in entertainment, much-loved returning acts and exciting newcomers. With more shows to be announced over the coming months there will be comedy, theatre, circus, magic, dance, kids’ shows and much more, alongside support for some of the most innovative newcomers through artist development strand Pleasance Futures.