Edinburgh Fringe 2019: 6 of the Best Shows Finishing This Week

And The Birds Did Sing and The Secret River both finish this week. Pictures: Heidrun Lhr | ContributedAnd The Birds Did Sing and The Secret River both finish this week. Pictures: Heidrun Lhr | Contributed
And The Birds Did Sing and The Secret River both finish this week. Pictures: Heidrun Lhr | Contributed
Every year it's the same, every year you swear you're going to do the Fringe properly this time around.

You'll see everything and anything, expose yourself to all kinds of shows and broaden your horizons with comedies and dance extravaganzas and Your diary is filled to the brim with shows before the festival even begins, your days are planned, you're ready.

And then it all kicks off, the entire city is thrown into absolute disarray, and so are all your best laid plans. Before the first week is through, you've got seven different shows recommended to you by five different friends and another three that got five star reviews and two others that you hadn't heard of before but are now dying to see, and that's all on top of the twenty-odd you already had on your list.

Already you can feel must-see show after must-see show racing past you and forever off into oblivion as you miss one potentially life-changing night in Edinburgh after another. Shows that everyone is raving about are whipping past you and you haven't seen anything yet and you can't go tomorrow because the person is coming out to fix the boiler and then the next day is no good either and oh god you're not going to see anything at all are you? ARE YOU?

And The Birds Did Sing and The Secret River both finish this week. Pictures: Heidrun Lhr | ContributedAnd The Birds Did Sing and The Secret River both finish this week. Pictures: Heidrun Lhr | Contributed
And The Birds Did Sing and The Secret River both finish this week. Pictures: Heidrun Lhr | Contributed

Stop. Relax. Take a breath.

To help you stay on top of things and get the best out of the Fringe, here are six shows that you've still got time to catch before they're gone.

50 Words, Paradise in The Vault, Edinburgh * * *

Until 10 August

Grief is strange. Universal and wrenchingly powerful, yet often almost impossible to communicate. Even the people closest to us can become unreachable through the fog of loss. Words seem to ephemeral, too insubstantial to contain such a stark reality.

James loses his mother and struggles to process his emotions. His step-father, Alan, is so transfixed by the need to protect him that he cannot mourn for himself. As they drift around one another, unable to connect, they are drawn back together by the The Shipping Forecast. With their lives feeling suddenly unmoored, it offers them a glimpse of normality, a place where the world can be translated into clear, quantifiable terms.

A two-hander which aptly advertises the talents of two excellent actors.

Forbruker, Zoo Playground, Edinburgh * * * *

Until 10 August

How is it that the blue razor turns you into a hulking, stolid pillar of machismo while the (exact same) pink razor transforms you into a sensual, scintillating sex goddess? Can the elemental, oppositional forces of Mars and Venus really be distilled down into three sharp blades and a plastic handle?

Frankie Thompson is on a quest to find out.

Whether slathered in shaving foam or munching on marmite, Thompson seeks out the truth behind the lie, the secret meaning inside the shiny ad campaign. Brightly anti-capitalist and breezily feminist, her one-woman show is a gleeful indictment of the embedded misogyny of the advertising industry, and the confounding effect of a society overrun with paid copy.

The Secret River, King’s Theatre, Edinburgh * * * * *

Until 10 August

Based on the best-selling novel by Kate Grenville, The Secret River is a haunting, anti-colonial epic.

It is 1806, and William Thornhill is a convict in search of a fresh start. He finds it in New South Wales, earning his freedom and building a new life for himself and his family. However, the country he treats as a blank page on which to write his story is already crowded with the tales of its Aboriginal population. His narrative requires the erasure of theirs.

A powerful invocation of a nation's buried past.

And The Birds Did Sing, Dance Base, Edinburgh * * * *

Until 11 August

Choreographed by Christine Devaney, this show from Scottish dance company Curious Seed offers a delicate exploration of the our lives interconnect, however fleetingly.

Birdie lives alone on the top floor of a tenement flat. Each day, she feeds the birds and, each day, they bring her scraps of other peoples lives. Trading crumb for crumb, they keep each other alive.

I'm Non-Typical, Typical, Greenside @ Nicolson Square, Edinburgh * * * *

Until 10 August

For all its cacophony, one of the best things about the Fringe is the way it can give a platform to every portion of society. Though they still risk getting lost amongst the festival's babbling crowd, the multitude of perspectives and life experiences on show is overwhelming, nowhere more so than with I'm Non-Typical, Typical.

Put together by Bedazzled Inclusive Theatre, it combines monologues, vignettes and dance sequences to create a platform for differently-abled performers to express themselves, fully and directly. One of the major problems the differently-abled community face is society's willingness to overlook and ignore them to protect itself from discomfort. I'm Non-Typical, Typical allows its performers to demand centre-stage.

This Script, The Scottish Storytelling Centre, Edinburgh * * * *

Until 11 August

Through a series of witty, incisive poems, Jenny Lindsey unpacks the various scripts that have been written for girls and women throughout the ages to try and contain them neatly within convention's narrow margins.

She explores the pressure she feels to expose her most vulnerable parts in the name of empowerment, and the joy she gets out of joking around with idiot men who don't jive with her worldview but are great fun to drink with. To be a women today (or any day before today, or every day on the visible horizon) is to be hounded by contradictions at every turn – Lindsey's genius is that she doesn't try to resolve these contradiction, but simply to embrace them.

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