This year's Fringe runs from 6-30 August and is the biggest to date, featuring some 2,453 shows, a mixture of comedy, theatre, dance, music and children's shows.
The sheer range is both exciting and somewhat daunting; the Fringe programme is as thick as an issue of Vogue and it can be difficult to know just where to start. Of course part of the pleasure of fringe-going is stumbling upon something unexpected and wonderful, but it can help to have a few tips, a few points of entry. With that in mind musicOMH has cast an eye over the theatre section of the 2010 Edinburgh Fringe Festival programme and picked a few of the shows we're most looking forward to.
The Traverse line-up is usually a good, if safe, starting block. This year they're staging Penelope a new play by Enda Walsh; Shared Experience's new production Speechless, based on Marjorie Wallace's book The Silent Twins;Northern Stage's Apples (their first time at the Fringe) and Craig Higginson's Paris-set psychological drama The Girl in the Yellow Dress; they're also behind the revival of Grid Iron's Decky Does a Bronco and are staging Roadkill, a site-specific piece about the world of sex-trafficking by actress Cora Bissett (who was deservedly acclaimed for her recent performance in David Greig's Midsummer).
Ontroerend Goed is another company whose work is always eagerly anticipated. The Flemish company were behind last year's hit show Internal (an intimate piece for just five audience members at a time that had everyone who experienced it standing in exhilarated huddles on the pavement afterwards). The company are staging their latest piece, Teenage Riot at the Traverse; a follow-up to their raucous 2008 show Once and for All We're Gonna Tell You Who We Are So Shut Up and Listen, it will feature a cast of eight teenage performers.
Away from the Traverse there's plenty more to catch the eye. Bryony Lavery is someone whose work is always worth looking out for, and her new play, Beautiful Burnout, a collaboration with Frantic Assembly, is an attempt to explore the world of boxing that promises to be a visceral and exciting experience.
musicOMH's Edinburgh Fringe Picks:
1. Beautiful Burnout, Pleasance
2. Hot Mess, Hawke and Hunter
3. Teenage Riot, Traverse
4. Operation Greenfield, Zoo Roxy
5. Penelope, Traverse
This year's Fringe offers the opportunity to see new work by a number of talented young writers with a track record of producing powerful work. Ella Hickson's last effort, the incongruously namedPrecious Little Talent, was one of the most assured new plays of the 2009 Fringe; her latest Hot Mess, on at Hawke and Hunter, will hopefully be just as insightful. Skins' writer, Jack Thorne's previous plays include the unsettling Fanny and Faggot and the election-themed 2 May 1997. His latest, Bunny, a product of the Escalator East to Edinburgh scheme, is on at the Underbelly.
Belt Up, who staged acclaimed productions of The Tartuffe and Kafka's The Trial at last year's Fringe, are presenting a staggering eight shows in total this year, including a version of Metamorphosis and new, intimate piece inspired by the life and work of JM Barrie. We also like the sound of Theatredelicatessen's Pedal Pushers, a very physical production about Lance Armstrong and the Tour de France, at Zoo Roxy
The delightful Little Bulb, who in 2009 were in residency at the Forest Fringe with the endearingly ramshackle comic folk opera Sporadical, return with Operation Greenfield, at Zoo Roxy, which sees them shifting their focus from the imaginative lives of young children to those of teenagers. Speaking of the Forest Fringe, this innovative operation is always worth visiting; last year the whole venue seemed to radiate with creative energy and the sense that ideas were being played with, shaped and worked through. With a programme of free shows and events running from the 9-21 August, the Forest Fringe this year takes the form of four mini-festivals and will feature new work by artists including Third Angel, Polarbear and Action Hero.
It's usually worth taking a punt on anything the Invisible Dot has a hand in. This year's line-up includes the intriguingly titled John-Luke Roberts Distracts You From a Murder at the Pleasance Dome, and the return of Tim Key's highly praised show The Slutcracker, also at the Pleasance. Both Stewart Lee and Daniel Kitson will also be performing new work. But, as ever with the Fringe, seeking out the known names is only part of the picture. Listen to the hum of the crowd, the chatter of people in queues, don't bin those fliers too hastily, and take a chance on something unfamiliar or unusual - it may just be the best thing you see at the festival.
Edinburgh Festival Fringe takes place from 6 to 30 August 2010 in Edinburgh, Scotland. Tickets and further information are available from edfringe.com