Announcing our Recommended Shows for Edinburgh 2017

Over the past few weeks, our Theatre and Dance team have seen countless shows at the Edinburgh Festivals, seeking out extra UK productions to suggest to international programmers at the Edinburgh Showcase. Find out what our top 2017 recommendations are...

The Shape of the Pain. Photograph: The Other Richard


Borders by Henry Naylor

Gilded Balloon | Redbeard Theatre

A new political drama that explores the current refugee situation. This two-hander juxtaposes the stories of a young Syrian street artist and a jaded British photographer, whose journeys eventually come together. From Gilded Balloon, one of the biggest Fringe venues for comedy, cabaret and theatre, and Redbeard Theatre, which is set up to produce the work of Henry Naylor. Naylor’s previous works, Echoes and Angel, transferred off-Broadway and won 17 major international fringe awards. “Naylor asks pertinent questions about the power of art, the responsibility of the artist, and the integrity of a society that only cares about refugees when Angelina Jolie tells it to” (The Stage).

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Vox Motus

An intimate experience from Vox Motus: you watch a heartbreaking story unfold in front of you through images, models and sound in your own personal booth. Part of the Edinburgh International Festival, Flight is an adaptation of Caroline Brothers’s 2012 novel Hinterland, which tells of two children lost in dangerous lands. Vox Motus is based in Glasgow and uses diverse media, techniques and artforms to tell stories in theatrical and unusual ways.

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Frogman. Photo credit: Curious Directive


curious directive | Hull 2017

A supernatural thriller written by Jack Lowe and Russell Woodhead, which brings virtual reality into the theatre space. The audience sits in the round, with their own headphones and headsets, and the action unfolds alternately in real life and in VR. A jury (the audience) is shown evidence about an old case involving the disappearance of a teenage girl. curious directive is an ensemble that makes devised work and forges collaborations with others, including artists, technologists and scientists. Hull is the UK’s City of Culture in 2017. “A  lovely, well-told coming-of-age tale about mistakes, hatred, small-town life and who your real friends are” Whatsonstage.

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Half Breed

Soho Theatre | Talawa Theatre Company

A partly autobiographical dark comedy about finding your voice that explores identity and prejudice. Half Breed is a solo show written and performed by Natasha Marshall, and directed by Miranda Cromwell. It tells of 17-year-old mixed race Jaz, the only non-white girl growing up in an English village. This is Marshall’s first full-length show; she was shortlisted for the Alfred Fagan Award, and is influenced by performance poetry and the work of Debbie Tucker Green. “Vivid characters; split-second changes; intelligent analysis delivered with emotional intensity – as writer and as performer, Marshall is breathtaking.” (The Observer)

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Dancing Brick | Paul Jellis | with Tobacco Factory Theatres | Bush Theatre

A short, sharp play about language, prejudice and the power of stories. “Deep, thought-provoking, moving and beautifully sustained by two fine actors pushing themselves to the limit” (The Scotsman). Dancing Brick is a collaboration between artists Valentina Ceschi and Thomas Eccleshare, who make bold, poetic, visual performance, and is Associate Company at Farnham Maltings.

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How to Act

National Theatre of Scotland

In post-colonial times, whose version of the truth counts for more? When a renowned theatre director gives a masterclass on the methods he cultivated in Africa, his world view is questioned by an aspiring actress. How to Act explores the contemporary realities of personal, cultural and economic exploitation, through two individuals drawn together by theatre. Written and directed for Scotland’s national theatre company by Graham Eatough, who led Suspect Culture for many years and now works in visual art and film as well as theatre. “A riveting hour of theatre, as uncomfortable and demanding as it is rich in meaning” (The Scotsman).

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JOAN by FieldMcGlynn BC 2017 copy

 Joan by Field & McGlynn


Milk Presents | in association with Derby Theatre

An intimate solo show that mixes new writing and cabaret, with uproarious songs about what it means to stand out, stand up and stand alone. Exploring identity, courage, belief and gender battles, Joan is a timely and refreshing look at Joan of Arc, one of history’s most famous heroines. Joan is a drag king (female to male) show that aims to introduce new audiences to this ever-growing artform. Written by Lucy J. Skilbeck and performed by drag king champion Lucy Jane Parkinson, it won a Scotsman Fringe First Award, a Stage Award and a Spirit of the Fringe Award in 2016.

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Bush Theatre (UK) | Nassim Soleimanpour (Iran/Germany)

An audacious theatrical experiment that explores the power of language to unite us in unknown, uncertain times. In Nassim, there is no preparation and there are no rehearsals: an actor reads a script for the first time. This is the latest work by Nassim Soleimanpour, whose globally acclaimed White Rabbit Red Rabbit has been translated into 15 different languages and performed more than 1,000 times. It’s presented by the Bush Theatre, the London-based hub developing new plays and new writers from a wide range of backgrounds. Directed by the Bush’s Omar Elerian.

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Palmyra at BE Festival. Photo credit: Alex Brenner


Bertrand Lesca and Nasi Voutsas

An experimental exploration of revenge, the politics of destruction and what we consider to be barbarian. Palmyra invites people to step back from the news, looking at what lies beneath – and beyond – civilisation. It’s a new piece from the team that made an impact with Eurohouse in Edinburgh 2016: contemporary clowns Betrand Lesca and Nasi Voutsas, and Fellswoop Theatre. Palmyra was developed with support from Croquis_BCN (Spain), Bristol Old Vic Ferment and HOME Manchester, amongst others. “Weird, wonderful and strangely stressful hour of avant garde games” (The Stage).

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The Shape of the Pain

China Plate | Rachel Bagshaw

A one-woman show that experiments with how we talk about pain – and if we ever do it in a way someone else can understand. Presented by China Plate, directed by Rachel Bagshaw and written by Chris Thorpe, with an original score by Melanie Wilson. Thorpe and Wilson have appeared in the Edinburgh Showcase before, and have done extensive international work, while Bagshaw has worked as Resident Assistant Director at the Young Vic and has led education programmes for Graeae, the UK’s most well-known disabled-led theatre company. This production is “an exercise in empathy – and exhilarating theatre” (The Guardian).

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Sugar Baby by Alan Harris

Dirty Protest

A one-man comedy from Wales-based playwright Alan Harris (Paines Plough, National Theatre Wales), performed in the intimate setting of Paines Plough’s Roundabout @ Summerhall. It’s a fast-paced story in which a small-time drug dealer sets off a chaotic chain of events in the dark underbelly of Cardiff. Directed by Catherine Paskell and featuring a dynamic performance by Alex Griffin-Griffiths. “A notably enthusiastic and energetic performance takes what would have been a fun tale into a different league.” (British Theatre Guide)

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Wild Bore

Soho Theatre (UK) | Malthouse Theatre (Australia)

“A postmodern tour de force” (The List). Soho Theatre, London and Malthouse Theatre, Melbourne bring together three masters of smart, spiky, political performance to respond to art critics in surprising ways. Zoe Coombs Marr, Ursula Martinez and Adrienne Truscott, stars of alternative theatre and comedy circuits, feature in a show that is anarchic and thoughtful, subversive and satirical.

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Our Recommended Shows are extra suggestions of UK productions for international programmers at the Edinburgh Showcase. Check out the Showcase main programme, too. And we'll announce our Artists to Watch for 2017 later in the week - follow us on Twitter @UKTheatreDance to be the first to hear who they are.

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