(Brian Logan’s and Christ Wiegand’s article appeared in the Guardian, 6/29.)
Superstar standups, daring dance, Brexit cabaret and a Bon Jovi musical … Dive into our guide to some of the shows at the world’s biggest arts festival
As ever on the fringe, a handful of big hitters return to reconnect to their standup roots. The pick of this year’s crop – which includes Marcus Brigstocke, Nina Conti, David O’Doherty and Reg Hunter – must be Rhod Gilbert, who made his name (and narrowly missed out on a Perrier award) with his volcanically exasperated fringe shows in the mid-noughties. Now he’s back, for just a short run, performing his first live comedy in six years.
The programme at Dance Base features work from 11 countries and includes the Grassmarket venue’s first full-scale ballet, Giselle by Ballet Ireland. But the eye-catcher on this year’s lineup is Sunshine Boy, Andy Howitt’s tribute to the extravagantly lipsticked Leigh Bowery – performance artist, designer, sitter for Lucian Freud, Clothes Show star and legend of London’s club world, whose signature act involved giving birth to his partner on stage.
Her 2016 debut made waves, her 2017 follow-up, Sassy Best Friend, was wonderful. This time out, the high-energy, highly-strung standup Rose Matafeo tackles horniness, of all things, and – in a year when Flight of the Conchords’ return has towered over live comedy – is part of a Kiwi invasion that includes “Lorde’s favourite comedian” Paul Williams, newcomer Alice Snedden and an all-new show from the big-hitting mime act Tape Face.