10 Shows Not to Miss at the Edinburgh Fringe (2021)

After a long period of darkness for live events, the Edinburgh Fringe Festival has returned to Scotland, with a programme packed with a mixture of in-person and online events. We’ve shortlisted the top ten shows to see for those of us interested in themes of migration, refuge, global community and what makes a home. Here are the musical performances, gripping new theatre works and interactive events to slot into your festival calendar!

Mimi’s Suitcase – 15, 29 Aug (online)
(Theatre, solo show)

With nothing but the titular suitcase, a trench coat and a scarf, this true story centres on questions of identity, immigration, women’s rights and involuntary displacement in a humorous and heartfelt portrayal of 27 characters in four languages. A tour de force performed in English, Spanish, French and Persian with English supertitles, Mimi’s Suitcase is a universal coming-of-age story of resilience and hope at once relevant, vibrant and authentic. Mimi’s Suitcase premiered in NYC in 2015 as a bestseller at United Solo Festival and went on to win the Audience Choice Award for Best Play at Kulturverein Boje in Heidelberg, Germany.

Tickbox – 17-22 Aug (in-person, at Army @ The Fringe – Drill Hall)
(Theatre, comedy, storytelling)

Tickbox is a semi-autobiographical, one-woman play, in Scots-English and Urdu. Describing a Pakistani woman’s journey from a middle-class life in Pakistan to Govan in Glasgow, sharing the challenges and contrasts. Intertwined with the story of her daughter and their parallel lives, decades apart. Both women faced barriers that typecast them in a stereotypical role of downtrodden Asian women. Amusing questions such as ‘but where are you really from’ raised issues of identity that needed answering by both. Tickbox combines theatre, storytelling and comedy to interweave the journeys of these two Scottish Pakistani women united by passion and determination.

Every Dollar is a Soldier / With Money You’re a Dragon – 24-29 Aug
(Interactive, online performance)

Virtual promenade performance. Mixing gaming and 3D technology, this experimental production fuses original music, virtual performances and a new script exploring the migrant experience. Writer/Performer Daniel York Loh unravels the apparent success story of William Waldorf Astor, once considered the richest man in America, in comparison to the migration of Chinese people, at one time the biggest migrators on the planet, blown across the globe by famine, poverty and instability. Set ‘after hours’ in a digital art gallery inspired by Two Temple Place, the neo-gothic mansion founded by Astor.

Eat the World: Leith Walk – 6-8, 10-15, 17-22, 24-29 Aug (in-person)
(Food and drink event, walk)

Come on an Edinburgh Food Safari, where we do the hunting and you do the eating. Explore the coolest, most vibrant and the longest street in Edinburgh on this guided two and a quarter hour international food walking tour. There are six delicious stops: Swedish meatballs, Kenyan mezze, Turkish borek, Greek orange cake, a Portuguese egg tart and of course something Scottish on Leith Walk; originally built as a rampart to deter Cromwell, now a dynamic link from the city of Edinburgh to the port of Leith.

Dishonour – Watch onDemand (available from 6 Aug)
(Drama, solo show)

Dishonour is a powerful drama that explores the terrifying practice of female genital mutilation (FGM). Mimi, who plays all six characters, immerses viewers in the difficult truths of the FGM culture.

Rajesh and Naresh – Watch onDemand (available from 6 Aug)
(Comedy, LGBT)

‘The only thing for you now is to find a good wife.’ Oh no. Every time. Rajesh is a banker in London who parties hard but feels like he’s missing something. Naresh is a Rajasthani cricket bat maker who’s so awkward around love he’s on the verge of giving up. On his mother’s suggestion that he visit India, Rajesh encounters Naresh in a nightclub and sets off sparks that neither can deny. Set after India’s landmark decriminalisation of homosexuality in 2018, Rajesh and Naresh is a Queer romantic comedy for the modern age.

How Do You Know You Are Home? – Watch onDemand (available from 6 Aug)
(Comedy, storytelling)

An immersive feel-good experience that comprises personal storytelling and comedy to tell a story about growing up and making a home in the world. The show will be in three languages as it seeks to reach a wider audience, with Swedish and Greek subtitles. Aliki started working as a stand-up comedian in Greece in 2014 before moving to Sweden in 2018. She also works internationally as a filmmaker and immersive media producer.

Pashyanti on Guitar -Watch onDemand (available from 6 Aug)
(Contemporary, world music)

Drawing on a deep lifelong immersion in diverse cultures and an array of pioneering experiences, Scotland’s ‘musical alchemist’ (World Music Report) offers a revelatory new vision for the art of solo guitar. In Pashyanti [Sanskrit: the junction point between the ordinary waking state and pure consciousness] Simon explores every facet of the instrument, from ‘shimmering, fluttering delicacy’ (List) and ‘shifting rhythmic complexity’ (Songlines), to ‘primal, multi-layered sounds’ (Caleidoscope). ‘Punjabi folk song, flamenco and Sephardic music, Sanskrit alchemy and Gaelic folklore… they all seem grist to the mill for Simon Thacker’ (Scotsman). MadeInScotlandShowcase.com

mandla rae – as british as a watermelon – Watch onDemand (available from 6 Aug)
(Solo show, LGBT)

‘My name is mandla. It means power. I gave it to myself’ – mandla rae has a selective memory and they are scrambling to piece together their life. Through the exploration of mandla’s fragmented asylum and migration memories, as british as a watermelon asks questions about belonging, trauma and forgiveness. Told through an unflinching autofiction narrative weaving poetry and storytelling set within a chaotically colourful, sensory performance space and imagined entirely for the camera with film-maker Graham Clayton-Chance; join mandla as they rise from the dead and reclaim their misplaced power.

Move – 24-31 Aug (in-person at Silverknowes Beach)
(Theatre, new writing, music)

Inspired by ancient keening rituals, Move is a performance about migration, collective grief and communal healing. Weaving storytelling, choral soundscape and Gaelic song, five women build a picture of the ebb and flow of people across the globe throughout the ages. From the award-winning team behind Blow Off, Beats, Heads Up and Chalk Farm, Move has been relocated to Edinburgh’s Silverknowes Beach for a unique open-air performance. ‘…a production at once rooted and outward looking, unsentimental and sincere, with a sound, if not to die for, then at the very least to be reborn to’ (Mark Fisher, Guardian). MadeInScotlandShowcase.com

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