10 weird and wonderful shows at this year’s Edinburgh Fringe

From the poetry-spouting sommelier to the baby, well, being a baby

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It’s that time of the year again. When everyone who’s anyone in comedy – plus hundreds of wannabes – decamp to Edinburgh for a month. As always, you can see the funniest faces on TV, but it wouldn’t be the Fringe without some more unusual offerings, too. That’s where our list comes in. Enjoy!

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1. Come Look at the Baby

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What: Say hello to the Fringe’s youngest-ever performer. Every morning, this seven-month-old will entertain festival-goers for half an hour by simply being on Granny’s lap. The star (whose name and gender won’t be disclosed to the audience) could be gurgling happily or crying or asleep. 

“We have always been interested in this idea of anti-theatre, discussing what’s watchable on stage and how little you can have on stage that still grips people, co-director Hannah Madsen told The Guardian. “But this show is also about how children are represented in society and a commentary on how people treat babies in public. If you’re in a café or a restaurant, people just stare at other people’s babies. In some cases people will go straight up to somebody else’s baby and start talking to it. I’m not sure if that behaviour is OK or not and that’s the kind of thing we’re talking about here.”

No children allowed… just kidding.

How much: £4

Where: Just the Tonic at the Community Project (Venue 27)

Date: Aug 4-9, 11-14, 16-21, 23-28

Time: 11am

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2. (I Could Go on Singing) Over the Rainbow

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What: According to her (extremely pink) website, FK Alexander’s art “centres on aggressive healing/radical wellness/public vulnerability/noise music/12 step recovery”. In this piece, the Glasgow-based performance artist sings along to the final recording made by Judy Garland of the Over The Rainbow, four months before her death. The result is surprisingly moving.

How much: £5

Where: Summerhall (Venue 26)

Dates: Aug 5-7, 10-14, 17-21, 24-28 August

Time: 8.15pm

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3. Foiled

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What: Writer and performer Beth Granville described her show in five words: “Hair-raising fringe theatre?! Sorry.” It’s staged in Ruby Rouge, a real-life hair salon on Clerk Street, which everyday at 7pm will become Bleach for the Stars.

Here’s the blurb: Bleach for the Stars apparently specialises in celebrity dip dyes and off-kilter karaoke, but today the salon is closed, again, so that manageress and chief style engineer Sabrina can get busy nominating herself for the prestigious Clipadvisor Salon of the Year award. When bald, out-of-work actor Richie arrives for a career saving hairdo, talented assistant stylist Tanisha must convince Sabrina that you simply can’t buy success. Except, of course, when you can.

How much: Free

Where: Ruby Rouge (Venue 184)

Date: Aug 5-10, 12-17, 19-24, 26-29

Time: 7pm

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4. Last Dream (on Earth)

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What: This show first debuted in Glasgow last year, where it won effusive reviews and awards. Instead of seeing, this production is all about listening: every audience member is given a pair of headphones and are transported to a beach in Morocco, where a refugee is about to undertake a perilous journey; and Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin’s spacecraft. 

How much: £13-15

Where: Assembly Hall (Venue 35) ​

Date: Aug 4-9, 11-14, 16-21, 23-28

Time: 1.25pm

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5. 07800 834030

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What: Fancy making your Fringe debut? Then call the number above at 7.30pm on one of the dates below for a cameo in Miranda Kane’s new show. She’s also performing The Coin-Operated Girl (sub-heading: “A Sex-Worker’s Real-Life Revelations into the World’s Oldest Profession!”) in the Liquid Room Annexe in the evenings. It’s a hilarious, oddly heart-warming account of her previous job as a £2,000 per night escort called Melody

How much: Free

Where: Sneaky Pete’s (Venue 437)

Date: Aug 6-7, 9-21, 23-27

Time: 7.30pm

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6. Mr Colombet: The Sommelier of Poetry

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What: Mr Colombet describes himself as a multilingual sommelier offering “the finest D.O.C poetry”. He’s also the hardest-working performer at Edinburgh. He’ll be dashing between Yes Cafe and Waterstones where punters pick a classic by Byron, Baudelaire, Shakespeare or Rimbaud, or more recent verse by Zephaniah. They can also choose where to listen them in their original language or in translation. Mr Colombet is better known as Tonino Scalia or children’s entertainer Ninetto the Clown.

How much: Free

Where: Waterstones Edinburgh West End (Venue 458), Yes Cafe Edinburgh South (Venue 325)

Date: Aug 5-14, 16-21

Time: 10-12pm and 3.30-6pm at Waterstones, 12.30-2.30pm at Yes Cafe

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7. WiFi Wars

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What: A comedy game show where you play along, which has already proved mega-popular with retro gaming devotees. So much so that host Steve McNeil (Videogame Nation, Dara O Briain’s Go8Bit) is taking it on a national tour in 2017. Controls for retro games like Pong and Tetris are beamed to everyone’s phones, the audience is split into teams and the fun begins. Make sure you take a fully charged smartphone.

How much: £12.50

Where: Pleasance Dome (Venue 23)

Date: Aug 12-13, 19-20

Time: 11.20pm

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8. Aart

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What: It’s not entirely clear whether you’ll be watching “New Zealand’s favourite artist Mikey” paint or expected to wield a paintbrush yourself, but AART bills itself as a workshop like no other. Mikey is the comic invention of Andrew Bridge, whose CV includes a cameo in Vic and Bob’s Lucky Sexy Winners. Oh, and apparently it involves some especially fragrant plasticine.

How much: £7.50-10

Where: Pleasance Courtyard (Venue 33)

Date: Aug 5-28

Time: 4.30pm

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9. Thrones! The musical parody

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What: I know, I know: This seems rather run-of-the-mill compared to the rest of our list, but this musical parody won five-star reviews last year. The blurb promises that it’s been updated with all the deaths and sexcapades from the sixth series, although incest isn’t guaranteed. Book a ticket early, but note the suitability warning: “Appropriate for 14+, if you don’t mind explaining a few things to your 14-year-old afterwards.”

How much: £13-14

Where: Assembly George Square Studios (Venue 17)

Date: Aug 5-29

Time: 5pm

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10. Rebel Bingo

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What: Bingo crossed with clubbing with glitter cannons thrown in for good measure. What it’s not: anything like proper bingo. Expect foul-mouthed number calling, an eclectic soundtrack (anything from old-skool garage to cheese) and incredible prizes.

How much: £8-£12.50

Where: Assembly George Square Gardens (Venue 3)

Date: Aug 4-7, 10-14, 17-21, 24-28

Time: 11.45pm

Book a ticket

For more Edinburgh Fringe shows, go to: edfringe.com

For more about Edinburgh’s 12 festivals, go to: edinburghfestivalcity

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