Wales is sending a formidable army of unique and talented productions to this year’s Edinburgh Fringe Festival, ranging from Roald Dahl to Carry On, from children’s theatre to stand-up.
There are over 30 shows on the Fringe billing from Wales-based companies and artists, so let’s take a whistlestop tour through the list to see what Cymru is offering Alba this August.
Fresh from Cardiff’s The Other Room, difficult|stage take their unique and highly acclaimed brand of theatre and comedy to Edinburgh with Alix in Wundergarten. The publicity says: “We are all monkeys vying for status! A group of actors. Trying to do a play. Locked in a radio studio. Go tumbling down a black hole in this disturbingly wünderbar and terrifically bonkers twisted dark comedy.”
Alix in Wundergarten
Saturday Night Forever is a one-man monologue performed by Delme Thomas and produced by Aberystywth Arts Centre and Joio. It’s a roller-coaster ride through Cardiff’s nightlife as gay man Lee breaks up with one lover and resolves never to fall in love again. All around him people are drinking too much, dancing until the early hours and getting it while they can. But when Lee receives an invitation to a friend’s house-warming, everything seems ripe for change, and it only takes seven hours, a bottle of vodka, and the devil on his shoulder for him to break his promise and fall back into the arms of a new admirer.
Saturday Night Forever
Created by acting students from the Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama, Cardiff’s Open Letter Theatre is staging two one-act plays, Withdrawn and Chips, exploring our need to connect and to love. But how do we get back to ourselves when it’s gone? Who are we now that we have to start over? Nobody wants to be damaged goods. Why is vulnerability a weakness? One thing’s for sure: nostalgia is a dangerous thing.
Troupe of Herded Cats is a new amateur theatre company based in South Wales made up of graduates from University of Wales Trinity St David. Their show Dog Sees God: Confessions of a Teenage Blockhead examines friendship and teen angst in a story of rabies, drug use, suicide, eating disorders, violence, rebellion and sexual identity.
Cardiff’s biggest drama society, Act One based at the university, presents two shows at the Festival. Eat. Sleep. Breathe. Repeat, which asks how much you know about autism. An agency worker who has no experience of disability is thrust into the chaotic world of the care industry. Based on true events, the play is a snapshot of what life is like for adults affected by low-functioning autism. Act One’s other show is GMO: Genetically Modified Organism. The story goes that in 2012, geneticist Joseph Fowler illegally used gene editing to save the life of his unborn daughter, Amelia. For this, he was sentenced to life in prison whilst Amelia was raised by her uncle. Now she is on trial: a zealous environmentalist arguing that her continued survival threatens humanity’s future. You have been summoned for jury duty. How will you vote?
Neontopia and Wales Millennium Centre present the Wales Theatre Award winning play A Good Clean Heart, a bilingual production looking at two brothers brought up in very different environments, with different languages and families.
A Good Clean Heart
Breakout theatre company Familia de la Noche, which works with the Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama, presents Gulliver’s Travels, a magical voyage of exploration and adventure. Meet talking horses, mad scientists, necromancers and decrepit immortals with the secret of eternal life. A darkly funny take on the Jonathan Swift classic.
Seiriol Davies and Pontio Bangor present How to Win Against History, a fierce and fabulous costume drama musical about Henry Cyril Paget, the 5th Marquis of Anglesey. Born in 1875, poised to inherit the Empire, he instead burned brightly, briefly and transvestitely, blowing his family’s godlike wealth putting on diamond-studded plays starring him (to which nobody came). When he died, his family burnt every record of his life, and carried on as though he’d never been. A hilarious new extravaganza by Seiriol Davies about being too weird for the world.
Up & Over It, featuring team members from both Wales and Ireland, presents the children’s show Into the Water, a fantasy dance adventure in a magical wasteland, where anything is possible and friendship is everything. Commissioned and produced by Chapter’s creative producer programme, Coreo Cymru, in partnership with Theatr Iolo.
3 Crate Productions are a new company founded by Peter Scott, Emma MacNab and Hannah Lloyd, and their show multimedia show Killer Cells is an autobiographical play about hope, the story of five recurrent miscarriage sufferers with a twist at the end.
Aberystwyth’s Louche Theatre presents The Erpingham Camp, a black farce written by Joe Orton in 1966 for the radio, although this production is based upon the 1967 Royal Court staging.
Theatr Fran Wen from Menai Bridge is performing Follow Me, a show for children under seven which stretches their imagination, language skills and confidence in a story about how to deal with suddenly gaining a new brother or sister.
Hijinx presents the puppet show Meet Fred, in which a cloth puppet fights prejudice every day. Fred just wants to be a regular guy, part of the real world, to get a job, meet a girl and settle down, but when threatened with losing his Puppetry Living Allowance, Fred’s life begins to spiral out of control. Contains strong language and puppet nudity.
Bangor University’s English Drama Society presents A New Case of Jekyll and Hyde, which follows Elizabeth Jekyll struggling to come to terms with her husband suffering with post-traumatic stress disorder. Despite the help from an intelligent yet withholding doctor and the support of an old friend, life cannot seem to return to how it was before. But to what lengths is Mrs Jekyll willing to go to get her husband and her life back?
Milford Haven’s Torch Theatre presents Oh Hello!, featuring a tour de force performance from Jamie Rees as Charles Hawtrey, one of the leading lights of the Carry On film franchise. See him in this one-man show as he regales you with stories of 50 years in the film industry, and working with the likes of Alfred Hitchcock. Hear of his hilarious run-ins with Kenneth Williams, his disdain of the Carry On film producers and his complex relationship with his senile mother.
Wales Theatre Award Best Actor winner Daniel Llewelyn-Williams presents his one man play, A Regular Little Houdini. A tenacious young boy from the docks idolises Houdini and commits himself to a life of magic. But the harsh reality of working class life in Edwardian Britain gets in the way. As he trains himself to emulate his hero’s escapology, he becomes part of the most terrifying events in British industrial history.
Shylock explores the tragic, tempestuous, often unbelievable life of fiction’s most famous Jew. Villain? Victim? Or is Shylock someone even more intriguing? Port Talbot raised Guy Masterson’s award-nominated, gloriously comedic yet moving performance gets to the core of Shylock’s issues, rekindling his extraordinarily divisive role in The Merchant of Venice. Shylock confronts and confounds the stereotypes.
Cardiff’s Rogue’z Theatre Company performs The Winter Gift, which uses original sources to tell the story of silent starlet Louise Brooks, best known for 1928’s Pandora’s Box; the making of the film, and what happened afterwards.
In August012’s Yuri, Patrick and Adele can’t have children. But then Yuri appears. Who is Yuri? Why is he here? Is he dangerous? Is he Russian? Should we love him? A play about infertility, Scrabble, supermarkets, sex, nationalism, the stranger in your living room and the absurdity of wanting to bring children into our deranged world. It’s also about love. In association with Chapter Arts Centre.
Squint, with RWCM&D, present En Folkenfielde, which takes Ibsen’s An Enemy of the People into the centre of a very modern scandal. How does Tom Stockmann keep both people and press on side when he makes a discovery about the town’s prestigious new spa?
Welsh-Jewish-Polish-Irish BBC-box-ticking wet dream Amy Howerska brings you an hour of unfiltered comedy stuffing with her show Smashcat. South Walian Howerska asks the important questions: Can you love Bowie too much? And what is a smashcat?
BAFTA Wales-winning comedian Tudur Owen takes his new stand-up show The LL Factor to Edinburgh. It’s about his country, his language, hopes and fears, and there might be stuff about pissing in wetsuits.
Jen-Hur is the debut hour from Welsh stand-up Jenny Collier. Jenny is a regular on BBC Radio Wales, has written for the News Quiz on BBC Radio 4 as well as Huffington Post, the Independent and Glamour. She supported Arthur Smith on his 2015 tour in Switzerland and has appeared as a panellist on Jack Dee’s Helpdesk UK Tour.
Karen Sherrard is a South Wales based comedy writer and performer who stages A Fete Worse Than Death at Edinburgh, in which the audience joins 76-year-old busybody Eirys Evans at Llanfairchwaraesboncen’s village fete, complete with competitions, slideshows and guest speaker, TV gardener Esme de Flange!
Penarth comedy team Duckspeak take over a fully-functioning hair salon for their show, Foiled. Immerse yourself in the secret world of styling while Sabrina and the team attempt mission impossible, hair-wise. The Bleach for the Stars salon specialises in celebrity dip dyes and off-kilter karaoke, but today the salon is closed, again, so that manageress Sabrina can get busy nominating herself for the prestigious Clipadvisor Salon of the Year award.
Although born in Bristol, Lloyd Langford is a Welsh comedian whose show Rascal hits Edinburgh this year. It’s a new (and free) stand-up show about taking your pleasure where you can find it, and contains jokes about the weather, gangs, and what to do if you find a box of sex toys in your hotel room.
Abertillery’s Ross Leadbetter – who shot to fame as part of Only Men Aloud – takes his Great British Songbook to Edinburgh. From Ivor Novello to Andrew Lloyd Webber, The Beatles, Ed Sheeran and some original material, there is something for everyone!
Award-winning Gagglebabble collaborate with National Theatre Wales on Wonderman, a unique gig-theatre take on Roald Dahl’s short stories for adults, combining a sizzling hot score of original live music, macabre characters, soaring imaginings and thrilling twists and turns, all injected with a wicked sense of dark humour.
ALSO… Welsh multi-instrumentalists The Anchoress support Scotland’s own Kathryn Joseph.