It’s come to that time of year again, when we have a look through the press releases for the vast numbers of shows that are going to the Edinburgh Festival and try to highlight just a few of the ones written/directed/featuring/telling strong female stories or created by women. Here are our first batch. (There are sure to be more!)
Ada/Ava by Manual Cinema
In their UK debut, presented with Underbelly Productions, Chicago-based Manual Cinema uses overhead projectors, actors, live music and hundreds of shadow puppets to tell a story of the fantastic and supernatural, exploring mourning, melancholy and self. Bereaved of her twin sister Ava, septuagenarian Ada solitarily marks time in the patterns of a life built for two. A traveling carnival and a trip to a mirror maze plunge her into a journey across the thresholds of life and death. Nearly three hundred handmade shadow puppets are manipulated on old school overhead projectors to create a live animated film. Part ghost story, part suspense thriller, Ada/Ava is a very personal portrait of two characters.
Underbelly Potterow (Topside) from 3rd August at 16:00. More info
Agent of Influence: The Secret Life of Pamela More
Lady Pamela, fashion columnist and socialite, is recruited by MI5 to keep notes on Wallis Simpson and Edward VIII, suspected to be colluding with the German Embassy. But, Pamela suddenly realises that what began as an adventure has led to a deadly struggle for power in a world in the shadow of war. In the depths of a darkened bomb shelter, Lady Pamela tells a tale of adventure, espionage and intrigue, of glamorous cocktail parties, socialites and high fashion. From Jessica Beck, the director who brought Whiskey Tango Foxtrot to the Fringe in 2015, comes a journey of 1930s glamour and fear.
Underbelly Cowgate (White Belly) from 4th August at 14:40. More info
BLUSH, written by Charlotte Josephine and presented by Snuff Box Theatre, the team behind the sell-out, multi-award winning Bitch Boxer, tells five candid stories about revenge porn and all its many victims. BLUSH is a slap in the face and a call to arms. This angry, honest and heartfelt piece seeks to encourage and broaden examination of how the scarcity culture in modern society is fuelling our shame, encouraging the destructive belief systems that we are not enough. BLUSH is a fast-paced two-hander that explores where our desire to shame others comes from, the unwritten laws of gender-related responsibility and how the shame we feel at not measuring up spills out sideways into acts of violence.
Underbelly Cowgate (Big Belly) from 4th August at 18:00. More info
Staged in an actual working hair salon on Clerk Street (never before used as a Fringe venue), Foiled invites you to immerse yourself in the secret world of styling while Sabrina and her team attempt to perform mission impossible, hair-wise. ‘Bleach for the Stars’ specialises in celebrity dip dyes and off-kilter karaoke but today its doors are closed (again) so that manageress and chief style engineer Sabrina can get busy nominating herself for the prestigious Clipadvisor Salon of the Year award. When bald out-of-work actor Richie arrives for a career-saving hair-do, over-talented and under-employed assistant stylist Tanisha must convince Sabrina that you simply can’t buy success. Except, of course, when you can.
Ruby Rouge Hair Salon from 5th August at 19:00. More info
Katie Brennan’s Quarter Life Crisis
Are you crippled by student debt? Working an unpaid internship? Trying to find Prince Charming on Tinder and spending the majority of your time watching Netflix? Welcome to the life of a modern day twentysomething! Join actress and blogger Katie Brennan for a new show, packed with music, comedy and cabaret all about living that Quarter-Life Crisis. From facebook to flatshares, weddings to woeful bank accounts, career conundrums to chronically crap sex, come and raise a big glass of gin to all those twentysomethings struggling to find their place in the world.
Underbelly George Square (The Wee Coo) from 3rd August at 22:50. More info
Lucy, Lucy and Lucy Barfield
Lucy Grace explores a life less documented in this intimate show about holding onto adventure, falling through the cracks and finding your own way back. C.S. Lewis’s dedication to his goddaughter in The Lion, the Witch and The Wardrobe is often acknowledged as one of the most poignant ever written yet we know nothing about the little girl it is meant for, the same little girl who gave her name to Narnia’s heroine: Lucy Pevensie. Inspired by a childhood reading fantasy novels, Lucy Grace is waiting to find the way into Narnia. Eventually it clicks; Narnia does not exist. So, Lucy returns to her favourite book to look for tips on how to survive in a world where every door leads exactly where you’d expect. Perhaps C. S. Lewis’s dedication holds the key to another wardrobe.
Pleasance Courtyard (Below) from 3rd August at 15:30. More info
Mr Incredible is a brutal new play about modern love and old-fashioned entitlement from the award-winning writer/director team behind Edinburgh Fringe 2015 sell-out show Where Do Little Birds Go?. Camilla Whitehill’s second play is a stark exploration of control, anger, and the lengths we go to stay in one place. It asks difficult questions that call for us to explore ourselves, talk and take action, not simply to think and then forget – questions that are paramount within the vital discourse around male privilege and sexual consent. Mr Incredible is the study of one man who is forced, through circumstance, to self-reflect. Underbelly Cowgate (Big Belly) from 4th August at 16:40. More info
Poena 5X1, or How I Came To Agree With Right-Wing Thinking
Sex, politics and the power of love are explored in the world premiere of this brilliant, provocative Scandi noir thriller from Northern Ireland’s multi-award-winning Abbie Spallen. Bryony Adams is an idealistic government scientist working to create a new and humane form of punishment, within a justice system crippled by prison overcrowding. But when a cabinet minister with a reputation tries to exploit her idealism for profit she feels betrayed. Her response is extreme and unexpected and will have devastating consequences for her and those she loves. Poena 5X1 has a fierce political edge and one final terrifying twist.
Underbelly Med Quad (Ermintrude) from 3rd August at 15:20. More info
We’re all told we’re looking for something, that some part of ourselves is missing, that somewhere we fall short – we’re not political enough, not skinny enough, not sexy enough, not brave enough. The search is over. Stop looking. Part gig, part refracted and reflecting stories, Torch explores what it means to be a woman. From Flipping the Bird, in collaboration with Channel 4 Playwright Phoebe Eclair-Powell (Wink) and actor Jess Mabel Jones (Backstage in Biscuitland), comes a show that looks at freedom and celebrates choice in the world today. Torch does not set out to solve feminism but provoke it, laugh at and with it, and detonate it.
Underbelly Cowgate (Big Belly) from 4th August at 20:50. More info
*If you go to Edinburgh and want to write a review for us of any of the female-centred/-centric shows you see, then please get in touch, we’d love to feature your writing.