10 Edinburgh Fringe shows we want to see in the West End
| By Nicholas Ephram Ryan Daniels
Every year, hundreds of thousands of visitors flock to the Scottish capital to attend the world's largest arts festival and it's not uncommon for the Edinburgh Festival Fringe to feature thousands (yes, thousands) of shows. Last year alone saw a total of 3,548 productions staged at 317 venues across town, which would amount to well over 50,000 performances and nearly 2 million tickets sold! This year has certainly been no different as the festival continues to grow in popularity. The 2019 Edinburgh Festival Fringe has seen a whole range of original new shows that have taken audiences in Scotland by storm. From parodies, spin-offs, film-to-stage adaptations and more, it can definitely be difficult to decide on which shows to see.
Nevertheless, here is a round-up of our picks for the top ten 2019 Edinburgh shows on our #WestEndWishList, with some already slated to transfer to the London theatre stage!
Grab life by the antlers this October with the Off-West End transfer of this haunting one-man show. In contrast with many monologues that tend to show the author in a positive light, Baby Reindeer sees Richard Gadd depict himself as a deer in headlights — a moment at his most vulnerable. It's a brutally honest piece in which Gadd tells of his own mistakes that perhaps added fuel to the fire of his potentially mentally-ill stalker named Martha.
London's Bush Theatre had enough confidence in Gadd's debut play that they preemptively decided to include the show in their new season before it even opened at the Summerhall in Edinburgh. That alone speaks volumes. If a play about the consequences of a chance encounter is your bag, then you definitely won't want to miss the Edinburgh Comedy Award-winning comedian Richard Gadd in Baby Reindeer, showing at the Bush Theatre in London from 9 October to 9 November 2019.
Ariel has already graced the Broadway stage with 2007's The Little Mermaid musical, but her poor unfortunate soul was never able to grow a pair of sea legs to cross the pond. Though the Broadway musical never became a part of London's world, fans of the Disney film were in for a special treat at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe this year with Unfortunate: The Untold Story of Ursula the Sea Witch — A Musical Parody. Staged at the Underbelly Bristo Square, this Fat Rascal Theatre production has already received rave reviews from critics. Similar to the Maleficent film and Wicked stage musical, Unfortunate tells the surprisingly comedic tale of Ursula, who was allegedly meant to wed King Triton, that is until she was framed for a crime she did not commit and exiled from Atlantica. Will Londoners discover the octopus-woman behind the tentacles?
Cruel Intentions: The '90s Musical
The hit teen film that ended the 90s with a bang has now been transformed into a toe-tapping jukebox musical. Cruel Intentions originally played in LA and New York before slithering to the Assembly George Square in Edinburgh. After playing the Scottish capital for more than two weeks, the verdict is in and theatregoers can't get enough of this nostalgic joyride. If you're looking for quintessential '90s camp mixed with the greatest pop bops of the era, and if you like your Heathers with a pinch of & Juliet, then Cruel Intentions may be just the ticket you're looking for.
The term "tree hugger" was once used as a pejorative, but given the times we live in with the climate change doomsday countdown now set to less than 12 years, it's increasingly rare to hear the term used as an insult anymore. Perhaps, it's because many are beginning to take the environment more seriously, as attested by Parakeet, a brand-new "eco-musical" by the makers of 2015's My Beautiful Black Dog, Quiet Boy, Laura Keefe, and Brigitte Aphrodite, who reunited to put on this show-stopping performance at the Roundabout Summerhall.
Planting trees as a DIY solution to battling ecological collapse has spread in the news like wildfire in recent months and those suffering from environmental depression may find themselves newly inspired by this punk-style musical, which explores a tree-central theme. Parakeet follows Girl, Dust, and Tam, a refugee from Eritrea, form a punk rock group and band together to save a tree in which parakeets are nesting. Featuring costumes resembling birds, which were made from upcycling old unwanted clothes, themes of bio-diversity, and high-voltage energy, Parakeet is guaranteed to have you soaring out of your seat. Given the rapid speed of deforestation, hopefully this acclaimed musical gets picked up for a West End run sooner rather than later.
I'm a Phoenix, Bitch
First seen at the Battersea Arts Centre last year and now staged at the Pleasance Courtyard in Edinburgh, I'm a Phoenix, Bitch tells the true story of live artist Bryony Kimmings' struggles with motherhood after her relationship was shattered and her son fell gravely ill. Having been met with rave reviews for both the Edinburgh and Battersea runs, it's safe to say that a West End transfer is in order.
This hit monologue by Irish playwright Margaret Perry took home the award for Outstanding New Work at this year's VAULT Festival. The fresh new play tells the story of Essie, whose girlfriend left her and whose job gave her the boot. Written for all those who've ever felt "wobbly" in their lives, Collapsible is about trying to stay together in one piece as your world falls apart before your very eyes. After its Edinburgh run at the Assembly Roxy, this brand-new and hilarious, one-woman show is set to transfer to London's Bush Theatre. Avoid disappointment, and a mental breakdown, and book your Collapsible tickets today for its limited four-week run lasting from 5 February to 14 March 2020.
If you're looking for Friday the 13th vibes, this Fringe production delivers all the horror film references you need and more. Production shots for Crocodile Fever show protagonist Fianna wielding a deadly chainsaw and the show certainly does what it says on the tin. Get ready for some ultra-violence as this new play takes you through the Troubles in Northern Ireland. After taking the blame for her mother's death in a fire, Fianna spends some jail time whilst her sister Allannah is left to tend to their abusive father. Things get bloody, and darkly comedic, when the sisters go on a chainsaw bender. This grotesque production has already been well-received, so shall we say Halloween 2020?
Sh!t Theatre Drink Rum With Expats
Becca Biscuit and Louise Mothersole, the pair who together form Sh!t Theatre, have brought an experimental new show to the Summerhall Theatre in Edinburgh. Back when Brexit was slated for 29 March, the performance duo travelled to Malta to prepare for the show and leave the European Union. Drinking rum with British expats, they soon realised that they got more than what they asked for. With Britain now set to leave the EU on 31 October and likely without a deal, it's highly unlikely this hilarious boozefest will transfer to London in time, but given the inconsistency of Brexit itself, it would come as no surprise if another obstacle forces the UK to ask for another delay.
We certainly aren't turning a blind eye to the mediocre reviews for this ambitious musical, but that doesn't mean this "smelly cat" can't clean up its act for a West End transfer. As Broadway's The Cher Show has already proven, it's commonplace for a big-name show to be revised for a big-city premiere. If ticket sales for Friendsical smash the box office, then London fans may just see the old gang reunite very soon.
Until The Flood
Having now received its highly anticipated European premiere at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, Until The Flood is set to make an immediate transfer to London's Arcola Theatre on 4 September for a limited run lasting until 28 September. This gripping one-woman play by Dael Orlandersmith is set in 2014 Missouri when Michael Brown, an innocent 18-year-old African American, was mercilessly shot by white police officer Darren Wilson. The shooting caused an uproar that strengthened the Black Lives Matter movement and the play's eight characters are inspired by real-life people interviewed by Orlandersmith. The play has been hailed as one of the most significant pieces of the year and is guaranteed to resonate well with all those desperate for a change in a country that has slowly begun to lose its way.