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The best female comedy and theatre shows at Edinburgh Fringe 2018

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With topics ranging from gaslighting to the NHS, this year’s female Fringe performers are pulling no punches. Here’s our pick of the must-see shows…

Whatever your taste in comedy, theatre and cabaret, you’ll be able to find something to suit you at the Edinburgh Fringe festival. More than 3,000 performers will descend on the Scottish capital this August, with shows running the gambit from the personal to the political, the extraordinarily silly to the devastatingly sad. 

This dazzling variety makes the Fringe a brilliant place to soak up culture – but it also means that planning a trip to the festival can be rather overwhelming. If you’re not sure where to begin, we’ve rounded up 10 must-see shows by women below.   

1) Jessie Cave: Sunrise 

Cave has made social sharing an artform through her doodles. Her comic show is a raw and creative (puppets feature) look at balancing motherhood and a complex break-up.

The Stand, 1-26 August, 2.25pm; edfringe.com

2) Athena Kugblenu: Follow the Leader 

Ever felt like the world is getting stupider by the day? You’ll relate to this stand-up show, in which comedian Kugblenu dissects the idea of idiocy to hilarious effect. (In a nutshell, she doesn’t think she can blame the American people for electing Trump, when she also routinely picks the wrong men.) Politics, race and identity tackled with lively, self-deprecating wit.

Underbelly, Bristo Square, 1-12 and 14-26 August, 5.30pm; edfringe.com

3) Natalie Palamides: Nate

LA comic Palamides won best newcomer at last year’s Fringe. She’s back, but this time in drag as Nate, a young man in a post-#MeToo world.

Pleasance Courtyard, 1-26 August, 6pm; edfringe.com

4) Queens of Sheba 

This powerful four-woman drama is based on a real-life incident from 2015, when a Soho nightclub refused entry to black women it deemed “too dark”. Never seen a witty, passionate play about misogynoir? Now’s your chance.

Cowgate, 2-26 August, 6.50pm; underbellyedinburgh.co.uk

5) Luisa Omielan: Politics For Bitches

With an upcoming BBC Three series, Omielan is a prescient voice in troubled times. After recently losing her mother to cancer, Omielan talks with fire, warmth and wit about the NHS, cannabis oil and housing.

Gilded Balloon Teviot Debating Hall, 1-26 August, 9pm; edfringe.com

6) Alissa Anne Jeun Yi: Love Songs 

Jeun Yi’s one-woman show covers a lot of ideas in a lot of different ways. A blend of Beyoncé bangers, comedic rap and spoken word, it sees the writer, performer and comedian explore everything from the hypersexualisation of East Asian women (Jeun Yi is half-Chinese) to teenage crushes and sexual assault.

Underbelly, Cowgate, 2-14 and 16-26 August, 2.40pm; edfringe.com

7) Sh!t Theatre: Dollywould

Sh!t Theatre (Louise Mothersole and Rebecca Biscuit) tell of their pilgrimage to Dollywood – and forge a connection between Dolly Parton and Dolly the cloned sheep.

Summerhall, 14-26 August, 6.25pm; edfringe.com

8) Apphia Campbell: Woke

Woke sold out at 2017’s Fringe, and this year’s one-week run is likely to follow suit. It’s a gospel and blues-set story of two women’s civil rights fight.

Gilded Balloon Teviot, 20-27 August, 6.45pm; edfringe.com

9) Flo & Joan: Alive on Stage 

Musical comedians Flo & Joan have a cult following on YouTube, where their deadpan, satirical songs about everything from dating to bees have reached 50 million views. Their show at this year’s Fringe addresses weddings, sex robots and Leslie Ash (although not all in the same song).

Pleasance Courtyard, 1-10 and 12-26 August, 4pm; edfringe.com

10) Hoard by Bim Adewunmi 

Adewunmi has built up an adoring fanbase for her long, thoughtful essays and savvy pop culture takes (she’s a senior culture writer at BuzzFeed News and a Guardian Weekend columnist). Hoard, her first play, tells the story of tight-knit siblings Rafi and Ami, whose first meeting with their sister’s boyfriend goes explosively awry.

Underbelly, Cowgate, 2-26 August, 5.20pm; underbellyedinburgh.co.uk

Words: Moya Crockett, Helen Bownass. Images: Getty Images