Art + Culture Featured

Ones to Watch at Edinburgh Fringe

The Edinburgh Fringe Festival is returning this year with August jam-packed full of weird, wacky and wonderful shows!

Here’s a quick run down of shows you really won’t want to miss:

Around the World with Nellie Bly – Shedlight Stories

Venue 53, The Space at Surgeons Hall – Theatre 3


August 5-13 and 15-20

Age 5+ (6-12)

The year is 1889 and intrepid journalist Nellie Bly is about to embark on her biggest adventure yet: racing around the world to beat Jules Verne’s famous fictional hero, Phileas Fogg […] She traverses continents, faces fierce ocean storms, and even adopts a monkey! But can she make it back in less than 80 days? Shedlight Stories uses puppetry, audience interaction and a host of colourful characters to bring this amazing true story to life and prove that adventure stories aren’t just for boys.

This informative and immersive children’s show will be fun for all the family!

Edinburgh Fringe Festival
© Edinburgh Fringe Festival

The Hippie Shakes – Sweaty Palms Productions

Venue 236, Greenside at Infirmary Street – Forest Theatre


August 5-13, 15-20 and 22-27

Age 16+

Based on a true story, this new piece of gig theatre is a distinctly female story of motherhood, survival and intergenerational cycles of abuse. Chickie is a woman divided. She is torn between her desire for freedom and her responsibilities as a mother […] Set during the turbulent 60s and 70s, this one-woman show combines intimate storytelling, dark humour and live music to tell a truly incredible story.

I was lucky enough to see a very early work-in-progress performance of this show, it really is not one you want to miss.

Festival Fringe Society
© Festival Fringe Society

head/lining – Knuckledown

Venue 43, The Space at Symposium Hall – Annexe


August 5-13 and 15-27

Age 16+

A profound, thrilling mix of music and storytelling, head/lining is a lyrical deep dive inside the mind of a working-class white lad coming to terms with his life so far; from noxious upbringing to alcoholism and homelessness.

Writer/performer Charlie Heptinstall uses words and poetry in this spoken-word/indie-rock gig to confront themes of identity and mental health, examining Britain’s ever-growing prejudice and obsession with class.

The show has been described as punchy and fast-paced, offering audiences an insight into the struggles that often go unspoken.

Sobriety on the Rocks – A Tad Kiwi

Venue 36, The Space on North Bridge – Argyll Theatre


August 15-20

Age 16+

It’s Richard’s fourth day in hospital, involuntarily detoxing, and he’s itching for a drink. Cherie, his wife, is barely keeping her head above water. Jamie, their son, who’s somewhere between a boy and a man now faces what life would be like without a dad, and Kimberley, the ambulance paramedic at Richard’s crash has to face the past in order to be set free.

Written and performed by Renee Buckland and directed by Tadeas Moravec, this one-woman show from New Zealand is inspired by true experiences had by an alcoholic. This show looks truly gritty and engaging.

52 Souls – Chronic Insanity

 ZOO Playground

August 5-25

This show is an open and fun examination of death and our reactions to this terrifying inevitability. Using a pack of cards, the audience randomly generates a performance to understand humanity’s obsession with, and ignorance about, death.

Some Other Mirror – Laurie Owen

 Pianodrome at the Old Royal High

August 5-9 and 11-12

A solo show about a gender identity crisis, in the high-pressure isolation of lockdown. The performer fights to come to terms with being a trans man and is visited by alternative versions of himself who offer their advice.


There are so many wonderful shows going on at the Fringe this year, this is just a small selection. And as the Fringe isn’t always financially accessible for everyone, do keep an eye out at your local venues for any previews that may be going on. Previews are a great way to access theatre at a cheaper price and support the artists in their process.


Art + Culture Featured

Middle at the National Theatre: Understudies steal the show!

The understudies had just six days to rehearse before National Theatre performance

Last Friday, Chapter Z had the pleasure of attending a preview of David Eldridge’s new play Middle at the National Theatre. However, this performance was unlike any other. Rather than the usual cast, this performance was led by the show’s understudies  Gabrielle Jourdan and Mark Middleton.

Middle is the second of three plays written by David Eldridge. Following the sold-out runs of Beginning a few years ago, the writer and director (Polly Findlay) have reunited to bring us a raw, touching and funny portrait of 21st century married life.

The show is usually performed by Claire Rushbrook and Daniel Ryan, two extraordinary actors. However, this performance saw their understudies take to the stage, and let’s just say if, for whatever reason, Rushbrook or Ryan are unable to perform, the show is undoubtedly in safe hands.

Performs Middle at The National Theatre
Gabrielle Jourdan © IMDB

Both Gabrielle Jourdan and Mark Middleton delivered gentle yet powerful performances. Having only been cast three weeks prior, and with just six days of rehearsal, they were word-perfect and completely captivating. Jourdan brought a heart-breaking quality in her portrayal of Maggie, a wife and mother who is questioning her marriage and whether she has done enough with her life. Meanwhile, Middleton’s portrayal of a husband and father who longs to be the best he can be for his family was witty, heart-warming and devastating in equal measure.

Mark Middleton Performs Middle at The National Theatre
Mark Middleton © The Mandy Network

Ever since the pandemic, understudies have really had to step their game up. Often going out in front of hundreds of paying audience members having only had a few weeks to rehearse. Sometimes they are required to go out in roles they don’t even cover! For too long now, understudies have gone underappreciated. There was even a time when you’d turn up to the theatre to see the person you were expecting is unable to perform and your heart would sink. And yet, every single time I have turned up to watch a show to find out the understudy is stepping in, I have always been impressed by their performance.

With the landscape of theatre changing, and the industry trying to rebuild itself post-pandemic, one thing we know we can count on are the understudies, so let’s give them the credit and support they deserve.