Shows inspired by the “Me Too” movement against sexual harassment and assault, the looming prospect of Brexit, spiralling gun violence and race relations tensions in America during the Trump era, and digital identity theft will be staged during this year’s Edinburgh Festival Fringe.
Personal stories behind global conflicts, including the two world wars, the biggest ever scandal to engulf the Royal Family, and the death of Marilyn Monroe are all inspiring shows in this year’s line-up.
The official programme, which will be launched today, will also feature a musical tribute to Formula One star Lewis Hamilton and a Nicola Sturgeon drag act.
Also appearing will be the newly-crowned Britain’s Got Talent winner Lost Voice Guy, who has cerebral palsy and is unable to speak, who will appear at the Gilded Balloon.
A costume designer’s experience of being stripped at gun point has inspired the creation of the show Dressed by four school friends, It’s True, It’s True, It’s True will be based on the transcripts of the 17th century trial of Agostino Tassi over the rape of a baroque painter while he was tutoring her at her father’s house.
The debate over Ireland’s abortion laws will be tackled in Vessel, which sees a pro-choice activist use her own unwanted pregnancy to raise a landmark legal challenge.
Pussy Riot, the Russian art collective who famously fell foul of Vladimir Putin’s regime six years ago, will be in residency at Summerhall arts centre, which will be exhibiting work by Yoko Ono. Its programme also includes a series of plays inspired by the 70th anniversary of the National Health Service, including Jeremy Weller’s Where It Hurts, which draws from the testimony of real-life residents, carers and health professionals in the city.
New York hit Trump Lear will see actor and impersonator David Carl give the Shakespearean tragedy a modern-day makeover, while cabaret star Lady Rizo will tackle her “love-hate relationship with America in her one-woman show. The Archers star Timothy Bentinck will portray a new Prime Minister in Brexit, a new comedy set in the “whispering powers of Westminster” in 2020. Co-stars include the comics Mike McShane, Jo Caulfield and Hal Cruttenden, as his advisors and warring colleagues.
Theatre-maker Guy Masterson will direct The Marilyn Conspiracy, which explores the various theories surrounding the death of the Hollywood superstar.
A Dad’s Army dining experience at the EICC will see the cookery guru and Great British Bake-Off star Prue Leith create a 1940s-style menu for festivalgoers who will be entertained by two actors playing the characters from the classic sitcom.
Among the most unusual venues this year is the Jeelie Piece cafe, on Leven Street, where audiences will experience the show User Not Found using smartphones and headphones. Billed as “an intimate and quietly voyeuristic piece of theatre, it will see them invited to become a fly-on-the-wall as a man wrestles with keeping the identity of his dead partner.
One Woman Sex and the City is billed as a loving send-up of the six seasons of the much loved series, which will coincide with its 20th anniversary, while the life and legacy of Benny Hill will be celebrated in Liam Tobin’s new one-man show.
Hamilton (Lewis) will deploy hip-hop, jazz, blues, rap and R&B to tell the story of Britain’s most successful motor racing driver.
Edinburgh-born drag queen Ripley will be taking on the guise of Scotland’s First Minister, along with Prime Minister Theresa May and Melania Trump, in the comedy show Like A Sturgeon.
The musical strand of the Fringe is getting a massive boost this summer with the return of major concerts to Princes Street Gardens, including appearances by Welsh superstar Sir Tom Jones, Beach Boys legend Brian Wilson, country pop duo The Shires and English pop star Paloma Faith.
Gruff Rhys will be performing a one-man show at the Pleasance courtyard, while Chris Difford will be recalling his career with Squeeze as part of Assembly’s line-up. Other musical highlights include Suzanne Vega, Amanda Palmer, Passenger, Blue Rose Code and Lindisfarne, who are all playing the Queen’s Hall.
Harry Cullen, the landlord of The Oxford Bar, who has made a number of appearances in Ian Rankin’s Inspector Rebus novels, will be stepping into the limelight to perform folk music at the Ukranian Community Centre in the New Town.
Other solo shows will be staged by Misha Glenny, the creator of the hit British crime drama McMafia, and Australian author turned stand-up Kathy Lette, whose previous novels include Nip ‘n’ Tuck, Dead Sexy and How to Kill your Husband (and Other Handy Household Hints).
UNLIKELY FRINGE STARS
Gruff Rhys: The Super Furry Animals frontman makes his Fringe debut with a ten-show run.
Jason Donovan: The former Neighbours heart-throb and chart-topping singer, left, on the highs and lows of his stage and screen career.
Esther Rantzen: The former That’s Life presenter looks back on more than 50 years in broadcasting.
Richard Cole: The former Communards star turned priest will have his own chat show, Confessions.
Peter Purves, Janet Ellis, Peter Duncan, Mark Curry, Tim Vincent: The former Blue Peter stars unite to celebrate the show’s 60th anniversary.
Ed Miliband: The former Labour leader will host “a show for the politically disheartened” with broadcaster Geoff Lloyd.
Harry Cullen: The landlord of The Oxford Bar, will perform folk music at the Ukranian Community Centre in the New Town.
Great British Bake-Off star Prue Leith: Prue will create a 1940s-style menu for festival-goers at a Dad’s Army dining experience show at the EICC, where just two actors will play characters from the classic sitcom.