The Edinburgh Festival Fringe is the biggest arts festival in the world, with over 3,000 shows. This year, Playbill will be going to Edinburgh in August for the festival and we’re taking you with us. Follow along this summer as we cover every single aspect of the Fringe, aka our real-life Brigadoon!
Need some recommendations to help you decide what to see at Edinburgh Fringe this year? Playbill is collecting this year's most anticipated shows for newcomers and veterans alike who are making decisions about which tickets to buy this August. Rounding up recommendations by venue, Playbill's guides highlight the major venues not to miss at Fringe as you plan out your experience of the world's largest arts festival.
Assembly was founded in 1981 by Artistic Director and CEO William Burdett-Coutts. Burdett-Coutts created Assembly when he established the Assembly Rooms as a Fringe venue, the first multi-space hub of Fringe. It was an idea that caught on and quickly became a defining characteristic of Fringe as venue operators across the city followed suit. It made Assembly practically synonymous with the festival. Assembly operates throughout the year at its Roxy space, maintains several hubs during the festival, and tours some of its productions as well. It is well known for presenting a vast number of international shows and artists, and presented the official debuts of Broadway's The Shark Is Broken and STOMP.
Check out ten of this year's highly-recommended shows playing where it all started at Assembly Rooms.
What Girls Are Made Of
This gig theatre show follows the real story and rockstar life of Cora Bissett—from touring with Radiohead and partying with Blur to what came after—as her rollercoaster life sharply changed direction. Performed with a live band, the show explores the question of what wisdom should be passed down—and what mistakes the next generation should be allowed to make themselves. A Traverse co-production, the work plays Assembly Rooms' Music Hall.
The Black Blues Brothers
Returning to Edinburgh, The Black Blues Brothers features five acrobats performing a comedy tribute to the cult film The Blues Brothers. The immersively staged production features R&B sound with human pyramids, fire stunts, and more. The circus work will be mounted in the Music Hall at Assembly Rooms.
Kevin Quantum: Momentum
Illusionist Kevin Quantum trained under the famous Penn & Teller, and returns to Fringe this year after selling out in 2021 and 2022 with Momentum. Quantum will also be familiar to fans of Britain's Got Talent as he reached the final stages of the competition with death-defying tricks. Featuring a mix of stunts and magic, with a dash of humor, the work will be staged in the Music Hall at Assembly Rooms.
Ed Byrne: Tragedy Plus Time
A stand-up comedy piece, Tragedy Plus Time takes its name from an aphorism attributed to Mark Twain: Humor is defined as tragedy plus time. Byrne is testing that idea with a show that uses the most tragic event of Byrne's life to find out what really makes something funny. Tragedy Plus Time runs at Assembly Rooms' Music Hall.
André and Dorine
This physical theatre piece has no dialogue. Instead, the story of a pair of elderly artists forced to love in new ways as they face disease is told through movement and masks. Performed in over 30 countries, the work is a poignant celebration of love's resilience and nuanced exploration of intimacy. Performances will be held in the BallRoom at Assembly Rooms.
Following a run at Off-West End's The Other Palace theatre, Dom—The Play arrives in Edinburgh. The political comedy looks at the controversies which have peppered the career of Dominic Cummings, who was Chief Adviser to British Prime Minister Boris Johnson. From manipulating social media to win the Brexit vote to how his relationship with the prime minister turned sour, this comedy is certainly for those who keep up with Westminster's politics. Dom—The Play will be staged in Assembly Rooms' BallRoom.
Horizon Showcase: Birthmarked
A new concept gig written by Brook Tate, Birthmarked is about a young Jehovah's Witness coming to terms with his sexuality. With music that makes nods to the sound of Stevie Wonder and Joni Mitchell, Birthmarked plays the BallRoom at Assembly Rooms.
Sunshine on Leith
"But I would walk 500 miles and I would walk 500 more just to be the man who walks a thousand miles to fall down at your door." It's a famous lyric "I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles)" by The Proclaimers and if you're a fan, this show is for you. Sunshine on Leith has previously sold-out, and it follows Ally and Davy with all their trials and joys of family, friends, and love in this funny and emotional show. And it's all set to the music of The Proclaimers. Catch this one at Bijou at Assembly Rooms.
Blood of the Lamb
This drama tackles the serious topic of the criminalization of abortion. Nessa is a woman pregnant with a stillborn fetus who is flying across America when her flight is diverted to Dallas, Texas. And because of new abortion laws, she's not allowed to leave the state until after she gives birth—even though her life is in danger. Trapped in a room with Val, a lawyer for the state of Texas, can being confronted with Nessa's story change Val's mind? Will Val go against state law and help Nessa leave? Blood of the Lamb will perform in Assembly Rooms' Front Room.
Jacobs Storms' Tennessee Rising: The Dawn of Tennessee Williams
Exploring the life of Thomas Lanier Williams III before he was known as the famous playwright Tennessee Williams, Tennessee Rising centers of the years 1939-45 in Williams' life. The production positions the audience as an actor in the work playing the role of a kind stranger as a young Williams goes through the highs and lows that molded him. Written and performed by Jacob Storms, Tennessee Rising was originally directed by Alan Cumming. Performances will be held in the Front Room at Assembly Rooms.
Want to check out some more recommendations? Check out Playbill Goes Fringe to keep up with our coverage before, during, and after the festival! For more information about Assembly's programming, visit AssemblyFestival.com.