Edinburgh Festival and Fringe Highlights

Ontroerend Goed
Philip Fisher
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With 3,500 shows to choose from there is something for everyone in Edinburgh, even accountants.

For financiers, the must-see show in 2017 is £¥€$ (LIES) at Summerhall. Created by Belgian company Ontroerend Goed, it creates a casino like atmosphere drawing visitors into simple gambling with dice. However, they are subtly but inexorably enticed into the use of financial instruments such as bonds and shorts, before an ending that any canny accountant will see approaching as unavoidably as someone racing down a ski jump at breakneck speed contemplates the hard ground below.

Enterprise by Brian Parks at Assembly George Square comes from New York and depicts four second tier executives desperately trying to save their ailing corporation as the real bigwigs seem unable to do the necessary. It is simultaneously funny and chilling.

The big play in the International Festival in every sense is Alan Ayckbourn’s The Divide. Weighing in at six hours, the play requires fortitude and lacks this writer’s usual humour. All in all, a long haul.

Every year, themes emerge. On the comedy circuit and beyond, Trump and Brexit are inevitably popular. Theatrically, depression and gender diversity have been the other hot topics.

The biggest theatre on the Fringe is the Traverse, which has embraced transgender issues with a vengeance. The best of these plays is Adam by Frances Poet, sensitively using the true story of its leading actor, brought up as a girl in Egypt but now a man in Glasgow.

Depression-wise, the picks have been the genuinely uplifting A Super Happy Story (About Feeling Super Sad) by Jon Brittain with music by Matthew Floyd Jones at Pleasance Courtyard, a musical about a tricky topic that is serious and funny in equal measures.

For a serious take on bipolar disorder, The Inconvenience of Wings by Lara Foot at Assembly George Square is part of a brilliant season from Baxter Theatre Centre at the University of Cape Town, the pick of which is The Fall, in which young graduates who were involved in the Rhodes Must Fall campaign a couple of years ago tell their moving stories of struggle.

At the Paines Plough Roundabout, the best venue in town, another play from New York, Pike St. by Nilaja Sun creates an underprivileged world before your eyes thanks to the talents of its creator who also delivers a solo performance to die for.

This merely scratches the surface of events in a city that also has a book festival, high-quality music, opera and dance and even a Military Tattoo to entertain. There is still time to pop up for a few days if you are tempted.

About Philip Fisher


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