Edinburgh Fringe Festival is agog with talent.
Whether it’s right on your doorstep, or a couple of hours away on the train, it’s an ideal trip if you want to see some of the funniest, most talented and moving performances by women in the industry this August.
We mention women specifically because there’s been an all-too familiar bias towards males in the performance arts since, well … the dawn of time. We’ve all heard the tired old line of “I’m not sexist, but men are funnier than women”. We all know that just 4% of the lines in Mock The Week are contributed by women. And we’re painfully aware of the fact that, in a 49 year history of British TV and radio, there has been just one comedy programme in which the presenter and all the panel were women.
But, despite what misogynists might have you think, women are bold, and brilliant, and funny, and the organisers of Edinburgh Fringe know it, too: that’s why they’ve booked some of the quirkiest and brightest voices in comedy, drama and cabaret to perform at their epic festival this year.
So, whether you’re interested in the anti-hero of Fleabag, or a female-led take on The Last King of Scotland, there is undoubtedly a show to suit your tastes and mood. Here are just a few of our must-see recommendations…
2 Become 1
Beginning our list of bangers is 2 Become 1, a Spice Girls-themed musical that intends to bring us back to the nineties with aplomb. Get your puffa jacket, Kappa tracksuit and bubble chair at the ready as this all-female squad embark upon speed dating to make 2 become 1.
2 Become 1, £11, buy tickets here
This might be the best Fringe poster of the year, and by the sounds of it, their comedy offerings aren’t bad either. Award-winning duo Heather Shaw and Olga Koch’s hi-octane set will open up the conversation between Sigmund Freud, being a twenty-something woman and of course, ABBA.
Good Vibes, £5, buy tickets here
The Last Queen of Scotland
Following the life of a Dundee woman of Ugandan heritage, this Last King of Scotland-inspired production traces the identity of a woman who is salvaging her story under the ghostly legacy of dictator Idi Amin.
The Last Queen of Scotland, £12, buy tickets here
There’s nothing quite like the feel-good riot of female football-inspired performances, and it looks like Offside is no exception. The production, which traces players from three different centuries, explores in tantalising breathlessness how the beautiful game has changed these women’s lives.
Offside, £12, buy tickets here
Two friends bonding over crisp sandwiches and bonding over One Direction seems not that different from most teenager’s lives. But when fandom takes a hold, a love of Harry Styles sees two best pals trading in on their obsession at a dangerous cost. This topical production explores the perils of celebrity culture, Twitter fame and the real price of fandom.
Harry, £10.50, buy tickets here
For those of you who have been hiding under a rock, the magnificent Fleabag set our television screens alight as Pheobe Waller-Bridge got to grips with wanking, being a rubbish girlfriend and demolishing your Dad’s foolish partner’s art collection. This play, written by the star herself, is the original basis for the TV hit, and has landed plaudits from everyone through to The Guardian to alien forms on Mars.
Fleabag, £12, buy tickets here
Eggs Collective Get A Round
“We have vaginas. We have jobs. We have stuff that makes us pregnant. We have milk in our boobies,” says Eggs Collective’s Twitter bio. And, in doing so, the trio have made quite an astute summary of what they’re about. Soon to be bringing their comedic goods to a BBC 2 show, the critically acclaimed gang are out to entertain their audience with palaver and an endearing reek of Blossom Hill.
Eggs Collective Get A Round, £10, buy tickets here
Two Man Show
This show is about two women playing two women who are playing two men (now say that really, really fast). The returning Fringe First award-winner will see the duo discuss masculinity and the patriarchy throw the power of comedy, dance, and song.
Two Man Show, £12, buy tickets here
The performance, which is part of the Made in Scotland showcase, traces the parallel lives of two African-American campaigners fighting for equal rights 42 years apart. Set to original music and a backdrop of gospel blues, the Black Panther activist and present day university student have the choice of fighting or fleeing when it comes to demanding their rights.
Woke, £10, buy tickets here
Harriet Braine's Total Eclipse of the Art
2016 Funny Women Award winner Harriet Braine is coming to Fringe to share funny songs about the great and good of the art world – with no prior reading required. A gorgeous mix of eighties one hit wonders and bizarre characters are ready to greet your ears.
Total Eclipse of the Art, Free, buy tickets here
The up and coming talent of Micky Overman and Helen Bauer will be in duo deluxe mode at this year’s Fringe. The rapport between the oversharing Bauer and the slightly dark humour of Overman will be one to watch for those who are looking for a sweet sample of fresh talent.
Sweet Things, £5, buy tickets here
Angela Barne's Fortitude
Famed for her rip-roaring performances on Mock The Week, Radio 4’s News Quiz and Russell Howard’s Good News, Barnes will be bringing her new show, Fortitude, to the Fringe. Described as “reluctantly 40”, the stand-up has something to say about her latest decade in womanhood.
Fortitude, £10, buy tickets here
Ted-talking, former Cambridge Footlights performer and ex-lawyer Alice Fraser will be bringing a show about the likes of Disney villains and quantum physics to the Fringe this year. After former shows Savage and The Resistance earned a gamut of five-star reviews, Fraser is a clear must-see at the showcase.
Empire, £5, buy tickets here
2 Girls 1 Cup of Comedy
Ready to exorcise the fresh hell of that very dodgy video out of your minds once and for all? Replace those torrid memories with 2 Girls 1 Cup of Comedy, featuring the award-winning Samantha Baines and some mystery TV names. And as a promise, the show said that there will always be two ladies on the bill.
2 Girls 1 Cup of Comedy, £5, buy tickets here