Assembly Rooms’ Edinburgh Fringe programme revealed

A STAGE adaptation of The Shawshank Redemption featuring well-known comedians in the key roles heads the line-up at one of the longest-running venues on the Edinburgh Festival Fringe this year.

Veteran comic Owen O’Neill is to take the helm of the production, which will feature stand-ups Omid Djalili and Phil Nichol in an all-star cast at the Assembly Rooms. O’Neill was also behind hit Fringe adaptations Twelve Angry Men and One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest.

The 1994 film of The Shawshank Redemption, an adaptation of a Stephen King story, starred Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman and has been voted one of the best films of all-time.

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The Assembly Rooms’ programme, which is being put together by veteran comedy promoter Tommy Sheppard for a second year, is hopeful that the production will be “one of the hottest tickets in town”.

High-profile politicians will rub shoulders with some of Scotland’s best-known writers and musicians in other events at the Assembly Rooms, which has been a fixture on the Fringe for more than three decades.

Motown star Martha Reeves will be appearing at the George Street venue, while its line-up also features Moscow’s blackSKYwhite – former Scotsman Fringe First winners – who will be back with a spectacular new physical theatre show, Omega.

Outspoken Respect MP George Galloway will make his Fringe debut, in a series of lunchtime political talks which will also feature Labour icon Tony Benn and Tom Watson, one of the key instigators in exposing the phone-hacking scandal.

Scotland’s national poet, Liz Lochhead, will be performing a series of intimate “poems, rhymes, songs without tunes and character monologues”.

Other spoken-word events will feature Scottish crime writer Val McDermid, TV presenter Monty Don, and former Bishop of Edinburgh Richard Holloway.

Djalili will also be appearing in his own stand-up show, as will Father Ted star Ardal O’Hanlon, and outspoken comic­-cum-magician Jerry Sadowitz.

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Musical highlights unveiled for the venue include appearances from 1980s Scottish pop bands Love & Money and Hue & Cry, singer-songwriter Horse, and folk favourites Donnie Munro and Dougie MacLean.

New theatre work from Scotland includes comedy hostage drama Hindsight, written by Only an Excuse creator Phil Differ, starring comic and actor Raymond Mearns, and Alison Peebles’s play Bite the Bullet, about a reunited one-hit wonder band from Glasgow.

More than 800 different performances will be on the programme at the Assembly Rooms and the Famous Spiegeltent, which will again be located outside the Georgian venue.

Mr Sheppard said: “We are offering the best theatre, comedy and music on the Fringe bar none. We have also been working with local businesses to improve the outdoor area of the Famous Spiegelterrace and are confident George Street will be the place to be this summer.”