Fringe: Musical about Israel/Palestine wins award

A CROSS-dressing musical about the Israel/Palestine conflict and a play set against the backdrop of the Northern Irish troubles have won major honours at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

Theatre Ad Infinitum’s Ballad of the Burning Star claimed the best ensemble prize for the cabaret-style telling of the Middle East struggle at the Stage Awards for Acting Excellence. Now in their 19th year, the awards – presented at Dance Base in the Grassmarket – are the last major prizes to be revealed.

The Pleasance show – which featured physical storytelling and live music - starred the company’s co-artistic director, Israeli-born Nir Paldi, also wrote and directed the production.

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Patrick O’Kane was awarded the best male actor prize his role as a lonely drinker in Owen McCafferty’s play Quietly, staged at the Traverse and set in a Belfast pub, which tackles the long-term impact of an atrocity in the mid-1970s.

Robyn Scott won the best female actor award for her role in South African play London Road, Sea Point, which is part of Assembly’s programme. It explores the friendship between two friends living in neighbouring flats in Cape Town whose lives coincide after a violent incident.

Phoebe Waller-Bridge won the best solo performer prize for Fleabag, her self-penned show at the Underbelly about a young woman coming to terms with her sexuality.

Nick Awde, chair of the judging panel, said: “Once again, we’ve seen that the ever-growing range of shows found at Edinburgh each year proves that the fringe is an amazing place to showcase the best of our talents – not only from the British Isles, but also from the rest of the world.”

Other major prize-winners at this year’s Fringe included South African director Yael Farber’s play Nirbhaya, about the gang-rape of a woman on a bus in Delhi last year, and which won Amnesty International’s “freedom of expression” award, and Edinburgh-born director Lorne Campbell’s The Bloody Great Border Ballad Project, which explored the Scottish independence debate.