The Best Shows of Edinburgh Fringe 2018
An at-a-glance guide to the best-reviewed comedy and theatre at this year's Edinburgh Festival Fringe, as reviewed by our writing team. This page will be updated regularly with newly reviewed shows.
It's here! The 2018 Edinburgh Fringe kicked off this weekend, with thousands of shows taking place across the city between 3-27 August. Our full review archives from the Comedy and Theatre programmes at this year's Edinburgh Festival Fringe will sit over on our Edinburgh Festivals microsite, along with interviews and spotlights on some of the Fringe's most exciting and intriguing performers.
But to make it as easy as possible to find a great show this August, we've put together this page to offer you a quick round-up of some of this year's best Edinburgh Fringe shows. You'll find all of our four- and five-star reviews here, and this page will be updated over the course of the month ahead.
The Swell Mob (★★★★★)
Flabbergast Theatre's performance is an immersive delve into a world long gone where the right questions will get the right answers
We said: "The audience are encouraged to get into the spirit of things: they're given special Swell Mob pounds, enticed to gamble it all away and borrow even more and it's clear as the audience speak to one another through the hour that there are clues hidden around the room."
Assembly George Square Studios, until 26 Aug, times vary, £13-£11 - buy tickets here
Hannah McLean's bright-eyed portrayal is chilling, charming and terrifyingly believable
We said: "McLean's performance is stellar: comedic lines are delivered with perfect timing briefly breaking the building tension before dropping back the mask and letting us see the darkness inside, tension palpable all the way down to her blood-soaked fingertips."
Pleasance Courtyard (Bunker One), 1-27 Aug (not 13, 14), 1pm, £11-£10 - buy tickets here
Trojan Horse (★★★★★)
An unflinching, unapologetic piece that pulls no punches
We said: "Trojan Horse uses verbatim accounts to bring the real story to the stage. It is challenging and uncomfortable at times, yet pulls no punches in attacking the insidious Islamophobia that sits at the story’s core."
Summerhall, 1-26 Aug (not 13), 3.15pm, £12-£11 - buy tickets here
Natalie Palamides: Nate (★★★★★)
Hilarious and unsettling – Natalie Palamides’ performance in Nate is an undoubted triumph
We said: "Palamides shows us that exploring our consciences can be both provoking and exceptionally entertaining."
Pleasance Courtyard (Beside), 1-26 Aug (not 13), 6pm, £7-13 – buy tickets here
Ahir Shah: Duffer (★★★★★)
Ahir Shah follows the Edinburgh Comedy Award-nominated Control with another phenomenal hour of stand-up
We said: "It’s a show that really connects: Duffer is accessible, tender and considerably less guilt-inducing than similarly passionate and rousing Edinburgh shows."
Laughing Horse, Cabaret Voltaire (Main Room), 2-26 Aug, 2.15pm, Free
Inspired by true events, Sarah Bebe Holmes' masterful performance tells of her misunderstood experiences of IVF treatment in a raw and elegant form
We said: "Egg conducts a symphony in emotive feelings all interlaced with biological queries."
Summerhall, 1-26 Aug (not 2, 6, 13 or 20), 18.15pm, £12-8 - buy tickets here
The third outing for a charming storyteller proves to be an uplifting, emotionally draining and vital story of love and doing the right thing
We said: "This is the kind of storyteller everyone secretly wishes they were; the kind that overconfident pub bores imagine themselves to be. It’s seriously impressive stuff."
Summerhall - Anatomy Lecture Theatre, 1-26 Aug (not 6, 13, 20), 12pm, £10-12 - buy tickets here
What Girls Are Made Of (★★★★★)
Cora Bissett's new play is a candid, punchy and exhilarating piece of autobiography
We said: "Bissett weaves a captivating tale based on her meticulous diary entries and her passionate, confident personality radiates and charms the lot of us as she thinks about the years that shaped her. Peppered with punchy songs throughout, the live band on stage, adeptly led by Bissett, transports you to the heyday of 90s indie."
Traverse Theatre (Traverse One), until 26 Aug (not 13 or 20), £15-21.50 – buy tickets here
Enter the Dragons (★★★★★)
A&E Comedy challenge both audiences and societal norms in a surreally hysterical hour
We said: "The clarity with which the duo highlight the pertinent – and under-addressed – issue of how sexism and ageism intersect is no mean feat given the surreal framework within which they choose to do so. Luckily, the concept works perfectly."
Pleasance Dome (Jack Dome), until 27 Aug (not 13), 4.10pm, £6.50-11 – buy tickets here
Fringe Wives Club: Glittery Clittery (★★★★★)
Glittery Clittery is a feminist masterpiece which will leave you feeling empowered and educated.
We said: "At no point does the show fall flat, nor does it lose its focus. The Fringe Wives Club hit the nail on the head at every turn, but never hammer it in too hard."
Assembly Roxy (Upstairs), 1-26 Aug (not 13), 8.50pm, £9-12 – buy tickets here
Waiting for Godot (★★★★★)
Druid's take on Samuel Beckett’s 1953 breakthrough play and existential masterpiece Waiting for Godot is a cruel and comic delight
We said: "You’ll find fewer funnier interpretations than this clear-eyed staging by Galway company Druid. As played by Marty Rea – tall and elegant in a long overcoat – and Aaron Monaghan – short and shouty – Beckett’s forever waylaid tramps Gogo and Didi are at their most Laurel and Hardyesque."
The Lyceum, 3-12 Aug, £17-£35 – buy tickets here
Christopher MacArthur-Boyd’s debut delivers on the promise he's built on the local scene
We said: "He moves deftly between jokes about love, regrettable tattoos, and coming to terms with the racism and idiosyncrasies of the older generation."
Gilded Balloon, Teviot Row House (Turret), until 26 Aug, 10.15pm, £6-10 - buy tickets here
Everything Not Saved (★★★★)
Everything Not Saved is a fiercely intelligent exploration of memory that's both wicked smart and playful as a kitten
We said: "The three engaging performers – Breffni Holahan, John Doran and Maeve O’Mahony – blithely cross time and space as their various characters come up against questions of memory in the past and present"
Summerhall (Old Lab), 1-26Aug (not 2, 13 & 20), £8-£10 - buy tickets here
What you see with Beans on Toast is exactly what you get: his set is simple yet hearty, promoting a more wholesome and optimistic worldview, one folk song at a time
We said: "McAllister keeps the show fresh by playing a different set of songs each night from his extensive back catalogue and is more than happy to take audience requests."
Voodoo Rooms, Edinburgh until 26 Aug, 7:50pm, £10-12 - buy tickets here
Take your strongest stomach to revel in this treasure trove of visual delights
We said: "Imagine if Woody Harrelson and Graham Linehan were BFFs who loved finding the oddest things on old video tapes. Now imagine it’s a collection of the weirdest, grimmest, funniest things you’ve ever seen and has taken the internet by storm. That’s Found Footage Festival: After Dark."
Underbelly Cowgate (White Belly), until 26 Aug, 10.40pm, £10-11 - buy tickets here
This debut performance for Theatre Unlocked is nuanced and emotive, although the story fails to end with the same bang as it started with
We said: "Most women know that the ladies bathroom is where wonky make-up is corrected, bad dates are lamented and friendships are forged over the cries of “has anyone got any spare loo roll?”. Flushed is about all of this, and more"
Underbelly Cowgate (Belly Laugh), 2-26 Aug (not 13), 3:40pm, £9-10 - buy tickets here
Spoken word, looped vocals and emotionally charged lyricism combine together as Koko Brown learns where she fits in this world
We said: "Spoken word, looped vocals and emotionally charged lyricism combine together as Brown guides us through how life was for her as a young girl, a teen and then as a woman learning where she fit in in this world."
Pleasance Courtyard, 15-17 Aug (not 20), 11:30am, £9-£10 - buy tickets here
Funeral Flowers (★★★★)
Immersive and innovative piece tells a powerful story with poetry and poise
We said: " It’s an intimate act, inviting strangers into your house. On every available surface, there are flowers: grand gothic white lilies with proud amber sternum, curvaceous purple balls of allium giganteum on long thin stems, armfuls of drooping, darkening sunflowers, faded tulips in washed out milk bottles."
Pleasance Pop-Up: Power Play HQ, 4-25 Aug (not 4, 14, 21), 2:30pm, £10-£12 - buy tickets here
Jen Brister: Meaningless (★★★★)
A lunchtime show with Jen Brister is better than lunch with mum
We said: "Meaningless is an hour of sound and fury, perfectly capturing the exaggeration of our internal frustrations and all those pent-up resentments our family members have an uncanny ability to unlock."
Monkey Barrel Comedy Club (Room One), until 26 Aug, 1:45pm, £5/PWYW - buy tickets here
The Spider Glass (★★★★)
A compelling monologue opening up the conversation of what it means to be a man in 2018
We said: "The crises of toxic masculinity and male mental health affect everyone, and it’s a good time for men to be examining their own stories of masculinity and patriarchy."
theSpaceTriplex (Studio), 3-25 Aug (not Sundays), 1:35pm, £7-8 - buy tickets here
Coriolanus Vanishes (★★★★)
Coriolanus Vanishes examines a single human in microscopic detail, whose life is one tiny example for a case in which Leddy has the whole world on trial
We said: "Allen’s hands speak almost more than her fast, fast mouth; she cuts a snowflake from paper with flashing scissors, discarding shredded lines of A4 as she quips about cocaine, or she lazily waves a single finger as if conducting the world’s most pointless PowerPoint presentation."
Traverse Theatre, until 26 Aug, various times, £20.50 (£15.50) - buy tickets here
The Merry Wives of Seoul (★★★★)
A bumbling orange-haired Falstaff eats humble pie in this colourful Korean take on the lesser-known Shakespeare play, The Merry Wives of Windsor
We said: "The commitment to every role and love for drama is clear from beginning to end, as is the attention to detail in every aspect."
C Venues (C South), until 18 Aug, 5.15pm, £8-10 - buy tickets here
Fun to be Around is a well crafted, intelligent take on mental illness awareness
We said: "There will be many shows that talk about mental illness, but few will be devised as confidently and as well thought out as Nikiforuk’s."
Just the Tonic @ The Grassmarket Centre, until 26 Aug, 5.50pm, £7/PWYW - buy tickets here
The Misbehave Gameshow (★★★★)
The Miss Behave Gameshow has its roots in cabaret and drag, it turns the meaning of performance on its head by asking the audience to lead the way
We said: "Miss Behave and her glamorous assistant Tiffany, reside over the carnage with quick wit and searing humour. Both provide entertainment of their own, from dance routines to cabaret performances."
Gilded Balloon Teviot (Debating Hall), 12 - 18 Aug, 22:45, £12.50 (£10.50) - buy tickets here
Touching two-hander about an unlikely friendship, a terrifying hurricane and amazing animal facts
We said: "Zoo is a funny and poignant exploration of female friendship and responsibilities. Despite some swearing and sexual references, it is perfect for all the family, and is peppered with bizarre but true animal facts bound to make everyone laugh"
Assembly George Square Studios, 11:00, until 26 Aug, £11.50 - buy tickets here
How to Swim in Hollywood (★★★★)
Sylvester’s performance is intimate and spell-binding and captures beautifully the struggles of a woman trying to keep her head above water in the Hollywood system
We said: "The play is a stark reminder of just how little Hollywood has changed since 1979 and Daisy provides a perfect metaphor for Hollywood itself – beautiful and untroubled on the outside with dark secrets hidden away."
Greenside @ Infirmary Street, until 18 Aug, 22:00, £10.00 (£7.00) - buy tickets here
La Maladie de la Mort (★★★★)
La Maladie de la Mort is neither great theatre nor cinema, but the synthesis of the two proves thrilling
We said: "The novelty of seeing cinematic grammar in the theatre space is thrilling. If nothing else, the show proves the power of the close-up, especially when it’s focused on an actor as expressive as Dosch."
The Lyceum, 16-19 Aug, £17-35 – La Maladie De La Mort heads to the Barbican in London 3-6 Oct - buy tickets here
You Are Frogs (★★★★)
Highly captivating new piece of theatre
We said: "The performances themselves are highly captivating and easy to watch. All three cast members are able to balance slap-stick moments with comedic scripting."
Venue 13, until 25 Aug, 4pm, £10-12 - buy tickets here
The Dip (★★★★)
A hallucinatory fever dream of gay panic, featuring the Baba Ghanoush Gestapo and a very angry fish sheriff – it's wonderful chaos
We said: "The six-strong ensemble cast is what sells these utterly daft antics. They charge through scenes with a nutty intensity: rummy accents fly left and right, as do the actors themselves and their costumes."
theSpace, Surgeons' Hall (Theatre 1), 2-25 Aug (not 19), 11:30pm, £9-7 - buy tickets here
Free and Proud (★★★★)
A moving exploration of modern relationships, with tragedy running through its core
We said: "It’s love on stage before you. It’s two people getting themselves in a big, stupid mess, making mistakes and discovering that they are no longer the only ones who have to live with the consequences of those mistakes."
Assembly George Square Studios (Studio Four), 2-27 Aug, 14.55pm, £12-10 - buy tickets here
Richard Hanrahan keeps an ambitious show in perpetual motion
We said: "This is a show that will never be the same twice. With a sizeable audience, Hanrahan becomes a lecturer in a tech-heavy production, who is regurgitating his findings."
Just the Tonic, The Grassmarket Centre, 2-26 Aug (not 13), 8.30pm, £4-5/PWYW - buy tickets here
A funny, entertaining, clever play with a dark twist, performed with absolute devotion, talent and charm
We said: "A funny, entertaining, clever play with a dark twist, performed with absolute devotion, talent and charm. The stage may be rather starved of props, save the odd dish towel for cleaning glasses or a stool that serves as a toilet, but you barely notice such is the power of MacGillivray’s talent."
Assembly Rooms (Front Room), 2-25 Aug (not 20), 1pm, £9-10 - buy tickets here
Daniel Kitson: Good for Glue (★★★★)
Regrets have never been so much fun
We said: "Good for Glue is a work-in-progress told from A4 sheets, almost twice the length of most shows and it takes place in a time slot (midnight) when everyone's concentration is flagging"
The Stand (Stand 1), 5-26 Aug (not 17, 24 or 25), Midnight, £8 - buy tickets here
A semi-autobiographical play about growing up poor that is charming, angry, affecting and relevant
We said: "The focus is Niamh, who lives on the Killymuck estate with her family. Born in 1979, Niamh lives through the austerity of the Thatcher years, and she relays to us the struggle of growing up in a society that seems specifically designed to grind her down."
Underbelly Bristo Square (Jersey), 1-27 Aug, 18.25pm, £9-10 - buy tickets here
Ailsa Benson Is Missing (★★★★)
A thought-provoking, compelling and suspenseful drama
We said: "Striking just the right balance of humour and sincerity, this debut play will surely not be MacLaren’s last."
Assembly Rooms (Front Room), 2-25 Aug (not 13), 2.20pm, £9-£11 - buy tickets here
Stuart Bowden: Our Molecules (★★★★)
A story of space, love and humanity, with a woolly alien
We said: "There’s a point to it all, of course. The stupid costume, tinny lo-fi music and bizarre storytelling thinly mask a genuine, fiery anger at the way the world is going and the way people are treating each other."
Underbelly Bristo Square (Dexter), 2-26 Aug (not 13, 20), 6:50pm, £11.30-12.30 - buy tickets here
Richard Todd: We Need The Eggs (★★★★)
Shabby and eccentric are two words to describe Richard Todd's, We Need the Eggs
We said: "Todd instantly positions himself as an outsider. His slightly stunned reaction to his own audience is like someone seeing light for the first time in a week."
Pleasance Courtyard (The Attic), 1-26 Aug (not 15), 10:45pm, £6-9.50 - buy tickets here
Baby Face (★★★★)
Katy Dye pulls us head first into her visceral performance art, but who is kicking and screaming?
We said: "Katy Dye seizes our gaze and forces us to see inside extreme examples of an error which, seen in the high definition of her consistently captivating physical, vocal, and internal commitment to the performance, makes the skin crawl."
Summerhall (Demonstration Room), 2-26 Aug (not 20), 1:30pm, £9-£7 – buy tickets here
bad things happen here (★★★★)
A walk through a terrifying dystopia in this tense, thrilling hour
We said: "In a time where we’re challenged by an ever-changing political climate, bad things happen here asks how we might challenge the lies we’re told."
Paradise in the Vault (The Annex), 2-8 Aug, 6:45pm, £8-£6 – buy tickets here
Mark Jeary’s Blackout is a powerful reflection on various facets of alcoholism
We said: "Blackout casts a mirror back at us while showing that there is no stereotypical image of an alcoholic. And in doing so shows that sobriety doesn’t need to be the boring option."
Summerhall, (Old Lab), 3-26 Aug (not 8, 13 & 20), 4:20pm, £12-£10 – buy tickets here
Hot Brown Honey (★★★★)
Encourages and instigates conversation whilst being a whole load of fun
We said: "The way the performers subvert the medium is truly inspired, from Fa'alafi’s reverse striptease to Haami’s beatbox seduction and the ensemble numbers You Are Not The Maid and Don’t Touch My Hair."
Gilded Balloon (Debating Hall), 3-27 Aug (not 15, 23), 7:30pm, £12.50-£8.50 – buy tickets here
After the Cuts (★★★★)
A couple are forced to make drastic decisions in a post-NHS future, as told by playwright Gary McNair
We said: "McNair can’t resist being a little less subtle – as the couple curse the men and women in Westminster who have put them in this position and the apathy of the population who let them – but honestly, in this instance, fuck subtlety. This is something to get angry about. Go ahead and be angry."
Summerhall (Demonstration Room), 1-26 Aug (not 6, 13, 20), 12pm, £13-£15 – buy tickets here
An important and timely play addressing sexual assault in the military
We said: "A harrowing tale, but with hope on the horizon, Heroine is an important and timely play that has a bright future ahead of it."
Assembly Hall (Rainy Hall), 2-27 Aug (not 8, 21), 12pm, £9-£12 – buy tickets here
Ciarán Dowd: Don Rodolfo (★★★★)
Don Rodolfo is a masterfully crafted character from sketch comedy aficionado Ciarán Dowd
We said: "So much about Dowd’s performance as Don Rodolfo may seem like cheap, easy gags, yet somehow he manages to make it work so well."
Pleasance Courtyard (That), 1-26 Aug (not 15), 10:45pm, £6-10 - buy tickets here
A fulfilling and uncompromisingly gleeful hour of comedy
We said: "Morley expertly guides a reluctant crowd through a maze of desired responses, often triggered and prompted by his own underwhelming on-stage antics."
Heroes, Dragonfly, 2-26 Aug (not 8 & 22), 7:20pm, £5/PWYW - buy tickets here
Live and Loud Selfie Sex Harry Potter reunites three talented comedians in an hour of silly-clever fun
We said: "There are surreal elements, subtle but effective comments on politics – including a brilliant sketch about Syrian migration – and musical numbers that are so silly they will make anyone laugh."
Pleasance Dome (Queen Dome), 1-27 Aug (not 10, 11 & 25), 7pm, £7-14 - buy tickets here
Henry Paker: Man Alive (★★★★)
Cartoons and quips as strong as each other from Henry Paker
We said: "A quirky, touching piece of comedy, clever enough to work on a number of levels and which will leave audience members each with a different favourite moment."
PBH Free Fringe, Banshee Labyrinth (Chamber Room), 4-26 Aug (not 6, 13 & 19), 5.10pm, Free
A masterful central performance by Valentijn Dhaenens anchors a compelling, contemporary story of political hubris
We said: "This is the game of politics that plays out over and over again, and though the players may change and the results aren’t predictable, something has embedded itself in our system that is refusing to be rooted out."
Summerhall (Main Hall), 1-26 Aug (not 6, 13, 20), 12pm, £10-12 - buy tickets here
Buried: A New Musical (★★★★)
When a show gains sympathy for the devils, they’ve done something right. Unearth a surprisingly sentimental musical in Colla Voce Theatre's newest outing
We said: "Who wants to date when you can slaughter? These two find the right balance of the thrill, meeting people to lure them home for a quick ‘nightcap’.
Underbelly Bristo Square, Until Aug 27th, 5:10pm, £12.80/£11.80 - buy tickets here
Envy is pain, lust is pain, passion is pain - and yes most certainly love can indeed be pain. Yet, just like Marmite - we either hate or can't help love it.
We said: "With no handholding, Marmite doesn’t seek to scrutinise. Regardless of actions, both Eddie and Dylan are neither portrayed as a villain. Any intent to do so is in the audiences’ own feelings."
Gilded Balloon Rose Theatre, Until 26 Aug, 15.30pm, £10.00/£8.00 - buy tickets here
Madame Señorita: QUEST!ON (★★★★)
Paula Valluerca shows that clowning around can be lots of fun
We said: "Paula Valluerca's creation is innately funny. All bright-eyed and Jaws-like open-mouthed, she captivates the room; even if it’s through fear of what she might do next."
Black Medicine (Basement), 3-27 Aug (not 14), 9:30pm, £5/PWYW - buy tickets here
Catherine Bohart: Immaculate (★★★★)
A self-assured debut from a star in the making
We said: "A natural storyteller, Bohart weaves pathos and punchlines together with ease, taking her audience on a satisfying narrative journey which begins with her coming out as bisexual and being diagnosed with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, but doesn’t end as you might expect."
Pleasance Courtyard (Bunker Two), 2-26 Aug (not 14), £10.50-9.50 - buy tickets here
Funny, unhinged and truly original
We said: "I Love Skeleton is a relentless stream of fast-paced sketches and oddities, enhanced by optical and sound effects, all weaved together in a totally unpredictable and very funny hour."
Assembly George Square (Studio Four) 1-26 Aug (not 13), 8:05pm, £7.50-11 - buy tickets here
Stephen Bailey: Our Kid (★★★★)
An hour of cheek, warmth and charisma – Stephen Bailey is on top form
We said: "Our Kid is less concerned with current affairs and more with identity, feelings of self-doubt and imposter syndrome."
Laughing Horse, The Free Sisters (Maggie's Front Room), 2-26 Aug, 5:15pm, Free
Quickfire merriment from multimedia master Mat Ewins
We said: "Flooded with jokes, the survivors emerge almost battle-scarred from Ewins' latest show."
Just the Tonic @ The Mash House, 2-26 Aug, 8.50pm, £5/PWYW – buy tickets here
Rob Auton: The Talk Show (★★★★)
A different kind of Talk Show from the eloquent and observant poet
We said: "Auton fashions laughs from the mundane and surreal alike. If you’re exhausted with the shrill white noise of stand-up, go laugh at some poetry."
Just the Tonic @ The Caves (Fancy Room) 2-26 Aug (not 13), 6.10pm, £5/PWYW – buy tickets here
Darren Harriott: Visceral (★★★★)
A well-crafted hour which packs an emotional punch
We said: "Harriott’s delivery is warm and engaging, and he moves between light and shade with ease."
Pleasance Courtyard (Beneath), 1-26 Aug (not 15), 9:30pm, £6-10 - buy tickets here
Acerbic observation and bald confession combined in a sweet and sharp hour
We said: "She keeps you feeling that she could well be talking to you over pizza, as well as a comedy hour, and this contrasts well with her acid observations about homeware tat, and the people who own it"
Underbelly Bristo Square (Dexter), 1-27 Aug (not 13), 9:30pm, £6.50-11 - buy tickets here
Jack Barry: Tango (★★★★)
Jack Barry’s Tango is a show unapologetically about sex
We said: "The tone of the show is kept light so that there is minimal discomfort (despite the odd occasion where he jumps from light and informal to intense and outrageous in a way that shocks the audience into laughter)."
PBH Free Fringe, Globe Bar, 4-24 Aug, 8:30pm, Free
Kieran Hodgson: '75 (★★★★)
Let's join Europe
We said: "It’s the mother of history lessons, both good to know and also holds your interest in increasingly inventive ways."
Pleasance Courtyard (Beneath), 1-26 Aug, 8:15pm, £6-12 - buy tickets here
Daytime TV has never been so compelling
We said: "it’s incredibly slick and put together with some fantastic pieces of editing, there's an 'appearance' from Sir David Jason and the most affecting tape measure you’ll ever come across."
Monkey Barrel Comedy Club (Room Two), 1-26 Aug (not 15), 3:45pm, £5/PWYW - buy tickets here
Harriet Kemsley: Slutty Joan (★★★★)
A masterful hour by Harriet Kemsley from start to finish
We said: "It doesn’t take long though to realize that Kemsley had been building, and by the end you understand that all the pieces matter.
PBH Free Fringe, Voodoo Rooms (French Quarter), 4-25 Aug (not 13), 5:55pm, Free
Alison Spittle crafts comedy from challenging topics
We said: "Most of her strength lies in the personable nature of her stand-up; conversational in tone, Spittle is able to keep the heavy stuff lighthearted."
Teviot Row House (Balcony), 1-27 Aug (not 14), 5:15pm, £6-11 - buy tickets here
The Basement Tapes (★★★★)
Impressive one-hander that unearths a family secret that blurs the lines between reality, memory and much more
We said: "Directed by Jane Yonge, high-kicking dance sequences and Reid’s witty, compelling monologues bring levity to a show that builds the perfect conditions for paranoia to fester."
Summerhall, 2-26 Aug (not 13 & 20), £12-10 - buy tickets here
Ulster American (★★★★)
Brash, loud and brutal, David Ireland’s explosive three-hander is a well-drawn character piece full of supremely tasteless laughs
We said: "Things build and build to the violence that you know is coming (you’ve seen the poster), and while it is easy to get a little fatigued of the near-constant shouting as we cross the 70-minute threshold, when resolution comes it is with a swift and satisfying crunch."
Traverse Theatre (Traverse Two), 28 Jul-26 Aug (not Mondays), various times, £9.50-20.50 - buy tickets here
Steen Raskopoulos: Stay (★★★★)
Deceptively charming character comedy with a killer twist
We said: "The tight characterisation alone would set this show apart from most character comedy fare, but the increasingly wired Raskopoulos pulls the various high-wire threads together, bringing the hour to an astonishing conclusion."
Underbelly Cowgate (Belly Button), 2-26 Aug (not 13), 8pm, £7-12.50 - buy tickets here
Rose Matafeo: Horndog (★★★★)
Rose Matafeo's Horndog is obscenely good
We said: "These aren’t jokes, I’m just talking", she says, and if so then she’s a natural performer who’s obscenely good at this."
Pleasance Courtyard (Above), 1-26 Aug (not 14), 6:20pm, £6-11 - buy tickets here
Le Gateau Chocolat: Icons (★★★★)
Le Gateau Chocolat’s soulful cabaret proves that one slice is just not enough
We said: "Le Gateau Chocolat certainly doesn’t take himself too seriously, however, recounting numerous amusing stories and belting through a hilarious Madonna mega-mix that leaves everyone (including himself) breathless."
Assembly George Square Gardens (Piccolo), 2-26 Aug (not 13, 20), 7.30pm, £12-14 - buy tickets here
The Approach (★★★★)
Insightful three-hander about the breakdown of a relationship between two sisters
We said: "Throughout the play, we’re frequently left on tenterhooks, as we try to puzzle out the clues these women gave us for their stories."
Assembly Hall - Rainy Hall, 2-26 Aug, (not 15 & 22), 13:25 (65 mins) £12 - buy tickets here
Thrones! The Musical Parody (★★★★)
Returning comedy musical based on the blockbuster TV show hits all the right notes
We said: "The six-person cast expertly play multiple roles, with characters differentiated by the odd change of a wig or the addition of a cloak."
Assembly George Square Theatre (The Theatre), 2-26 August, 22.30, £14/£13 - buy tickets here
A diva with a brilliant voice
We said: "There’s a confidence in her physical performance – not everyone can pull off sequinned Lycra – that adds to her likeability."
Pleasance Courtyard (Two), 1-27 Aug, 9:30pm, £7.50-13 - buy tickets here
Heidi Regan: Heidi vs Sharks (★★★★)
A Fin-tastic first hour from the So You Think You’re Funny and BBC New Comedy Award winner
We said: "Ultimately, it’s silly, fun and mildly educational"
Pleasance Courtyard (Below), 1-26 Aug, 7:15pm, £6-10 - buy tickets here
Lauren Pattison: Peachy (★★★★)
Lauren Pattison continues her ascent with her sophomore hour in Peachy
We said: "With a renewed confidence, she embarks upon an hour of lively storytelling and illustrating the reasons why she is so much happier this year."
Pleasance Courtyard (The Attic), 1-26 Aug (not 13), 7pm, £6.50-12 - buy tickets here
In his solo debut, Beasts' Owen Roberts gets some help from the best and youngest comedian at the Fringe
We said: "The deconstruction of the writing process and their partnership provides a strong vehicle for excellent comedy by Roberts and Isabella alike."
Pleasance Courtyard (This), until 27 Aug (not 13), 4.45pm, £6-10 - buy tickets here
Larry Dean: Bampot (★★★★)
Larry Dean’s at the top of his game with this hour about an amicable breakup
We said: "He’s a naturally affable comedian even with his crazy eyes and gonnae-fuck-you-up brogue; revelling in using them to their full comic potential."
Assembly Checkpoint, 2-26 Aug (not 15), 5:00pm, £8 - buy tickets here
A fast-paced hour of intellectual and philosophical comedy that stays with you long after it ends
We said: "As funny as it is insightful, Yusuf’s show looks inward and outward, and he is critical of both his own behaviour and the behaviour of others."
The Stand's New Town Theatre (Studio), 2-26 Aug (6, 13, 14 & 20), 5:30pm, £8-10 - buy tickets here
Adam Hess: Seahorse (★★★★)
A breathless race through some of the Fringe’s strongest punchlines
We said: "Hess manages to swing between the absurd and the relatable with ease, recounting tales of playground bullying and hometown house parties."
Pleasance Courtyard (Upstairs), 1-27 Aug, 4.45pm, £6-10.50 - buy tickets now
John-Luke Roberts: All I Wanna Do Is [FX: GUNSHOTS] With a [FX: GUN RELOADING] and a [FX: CASH REGISTER] and Perform Some Comedy! (★★★★)
This man’s wilful weirdness might just save the world…
We said: "He’s come with a mission you see, determined to advocate the overwhelming importance of sheer nonsense/absurdity so humanity might be saved from its own more toxic brands of idiocy."
Assembly George Square (Studio Five), 1-27 Aug (not 15), 5.30pm, £7-10 - buy tickets here
My Left / Right Foot (★★★★)
The National Theatre of Scotland and Birds of Paradise join forces to create an unforgettable new musical
We said: "The show is fully equipped with captioning, a BSL interpreter and audio description, demonstrating that theatre can be accessible without being any the less entertaining."
Assembly Roxy (Central), 1-27 Aug (not 8, 14 or 21), £16-£12) – relaxed show on 19 Aug - buy tickets here
Famous Puppet Death Scenes (★★★★)
CanadaHub and the Old Trout Puppet Workshop's new play celebrates the best of puppetry in this rare treat
We said: "Where actors take centre stage, the mood is a little more cautious, but the wait for the puppets to return is never long."
CanadaHub at King’s Hall (Mainspace), Edinburgh, Aug 2-12, 14-19, 21-26 (not 13 & 18) - buy tickets here
Square Go (★★★★)
A riotous night of school boy insults, theatrical wrestling and perceptive insights on male aggression
We said: "The play sharply blends audience interaction with pure theatricality. Wearing vests and very short-shorts, Max and Steve banter with the in-the-round crowd."
Summerhall (Roundabout), 1-26 Aug (not 2, 7, 14 & 21), £9-£17 - buy tickets here
A Joke (★★★★)
When you dissect a joke, you slaughter it. So surely the same can be said if we delve into the heart of humour? Perhaps not…
We said: "An empty canvas, nothing more than some furniture covered in sheets, and the stage is set. The real attraction here is our cast, three exponentially gifted performers all of whom deliver stellar performances."
Assembly Rooms (Ballroom), 2-26 Aug (not 8, 14 or 21), £14-£12 - buy tickets here
On the Exhale (★★★★)
A mother’s grief sends her down a dark and terrible path in this play responding to the American gun violence epidemic
We said: "It creates a sense of constant flickering unease, which is bolstered by some excellent bass-driven sound design that knows exactly when to hold back, and when to punch (that first kick of the gun will knock you sideways)."
Traverse Theatre (Traverse Two), 2-26 Aug (not Mondays), various times, £9.50-£20.50 - buy tickets here
The Fishermen (★★★★)
Two towering performances bring a Booker-shortlisted Nigerian novel to vivid, unforgettable life
We said: "The physicality, range and energy of these two actors brings this great cast of characters sharply to life. We flick breathlessly from the younger boys, to their older brothers, to their stern, devout, hopeful parents, to the corrupt authorities that have polluted the country, and never for a second are we lost or confused.
Assembly George Square Studios, 2-27 Aug (not 13, 20), 1.20pm, £10.50-12.50 - buy tickets here
War With the Newts (★★★★)
A satirical Czech sci-fi novel from the 1930s is an unexpectedly perfect lens through which to view our current, turbulent times
We said: "This show can be uproariously funny when it needs to be, just as it can be sad, mysterious, unsettling and terrifying."
Summerhall (Basement), until 26 Aug (not 20), 5pm and 8.15pm, £10-12 – buy tickets here
A high energy hour of improvisation and sketches from a pair fizzing with chemistry
We said: "Back to Back is a whirlwind of ‘whaaaat?’. Mostly surreal, at times alarming, but always brilliant."
Heroes, Boteco, until 26 Aug (not 8, 15 & 22), 2.40pm, £5/PWYW – pre-book tickets here
Kiri Pritchard-McLean derives fine comedy from a difficult time in new Fringe hour Victim, Complex
We said: "Pritchard-McLean masterfully toys with the audience’s emotions, injecting the twists and turns at the right moments, and always knowing when to bring in the more lighthearted material."
Pleasance Courtyard (Bunker Two), 1-27 Aug, 8pm, £6-10.50 - buy tickets here
Felicity Ward: Busting a Nut (★★★★)
Triumphant return from an absent Fringe friend
We said: "Ward is pure stand up: nothing – not latecomers on the stage, loud chattering or a broken, bleeping air conditioner throws her off her game for a second. Indeed, she sweeps them all before her without missing a beat."
Pleasance Courtyard (Above), 1-26 Aug (not 13), 9pm, £7-13.50 - buy tickets here
Lucy Pearman: Fruit Loop (★★★★)
Lucy Pearman’s sophomore show is a delight from start to finish
We said: "The narrative follows a worm who wants to learn how to fly – cue some absolutely choice costume changes which gain Pearman huge laughs before she even needs to make a sound. She is a performer brimming with charisma, and her magic shines through most in the moments of wardrobe malfunctions, confusion and the like.
Monkey Barrel Comedy Club (Room Two), 2-27 Aug (not 14, 15), 6.30pm, £6/PWYW - buy tickets here
Paul Williams: Santa Fe (★★★★)
Imaginative comedy from a comedian who is literally escaping his brother’s shadow
We said: "What he also possesses is a wickedly inventive mind – the show is ostensibly a meta-journey through the perils of appearing on stage as a comedian."
Underbelly Cowgate (Iron Belly), 2-26 Aug (not 14th), 4.10pm, £6.50-10 - buy tickets here
A supremely confident hour from a pair whose stars are sure to rise
We said: "The key ingredient comes from their sheer likeability. When it becomes increasingly apparent there is an agenda behind writing a show like Richard Pictures, they do it in such a way that they carry it off with great humour."
Pleasance Courtyard, (The Cellar), 1-26 Aug (not 13), 6pm, £6-10 - buy tickets here
Maisie Adam: Vague (★★★★)
Last year’s So You Think You’re Funny? winner impresses with her candid debut
We said: "From her puppy-like greeting as you enter the room to the second she realises a man hasn’t abandoned her show, but was just too nervous to return to his seat, Adam is effortlessly charming."
Gilded Balloon, Teviot Row House (Wee Room), until 27 Aug, 4.30pm, £6-9 – buy tickets here
Olga Koch: Fight (★★★★)
An impressive Edinburgh Fringe debut from Olga Koch, who proves herself to be a confident and comfortable performer
We said: "Taking you on a journey through her family history, accompanied by a series of cleverly selected PowerPoint slides, Fight is unique, interesting and, most importantly, very funny."
Pleasance Courtyard (This), until 26 Aug (not 14), 7.15pm, £6-9 – buy tickets here
Lazy Susan: Forgive me, Mother! (★★★★)
Forgive me, Mother! is a silly sketch show – and also one with understated class
We said: "What sets Dring and Parker apart from many other comedians is that they’re confident enough in their material to let these sketches speak for themselves without dwelling on them or attempting to explain."
Assembly George Square Theatre (The Box), until 27 Aug (not 14), 4.20pm, £6.50-10.50 – buy tickets here
Sarah Keyworth: Dark Horse (★★★★)
Keyworth's superb debut about gendered language is as articulate as it is unpretentious
We said: "Articulate without being wordy, razor sharp without cynicism, and thematic while also seeming weightless."
Pleasance Courtyard (Bunker Two), 1-26 Aug, 5.30pm, £6-11 – buy tickets here
Tessa Coates: Witch Hunt (★★★★)
Tessa Coates delivers an impressive sophomore hour on one of humankind’s greatest quandaries
We said: "Featuring insights into the fearful lizard-brain, pick-up artists and why a potato gets to have more of an adventure than a girl in Toy Story, Coates explores the female psyche in a way that's both accessible and intelligent."
Pleasance Courtyard (This), 1-26 Aug, 3.30pm, £6-10 – buy tickets here
Lou Sanders: Shame Pig (★★★★)
Lou Sanders is at her shameless best in her new show at Monkey Barrel
We said: "She rings laughs from any and all subjects, telling of her own shameful exploits so we feel less bad about ours."
Monkey Barrel Comedy Club, 2-26 Aug (not 15), 12.30pm, £5/PWYW – buy tickets here
Alex Edelman: Just For Us (★★★★)
Sharp writing, relatable stories and wider social points – Alex Edelman makes a triumphant return to the Fringe
We said: "The writing is fantastic: sharp, relatable and very funny... It attacks bigger issues whilst not patronising or shouting from a pedestal."
Pleasance Courtyard (Cabaret Bar), until 26 Aug, 8pm, £6-14 – buy tickets here
The Pin: Backstage (★★★★)
The Pin are sketch comedy at its purest
We said: "There are some brilliantly clever jokes, and in among the fast-paced physical comedy the duo are able to spare enough time for a knowing look at the audience, who feel as though they too are in on the joke."
Pleasance Courtyard (Two), 1-27 Aug (not 11 & 20), 8pm, £7-12.50 – buy tickets here
Rosie Jones: Fifteen Minutes (★★★★)
Rosie Jones proves herself a master of deception in her outstanding debut
We said: "About halfway through Rosie Jones' set she shoots right off the edge of the cliff. For a second she leaves you hanging there like Wile E Coyote, wondering what just happened. It is so abrupt and so unexpected and so bloody funny that every single person in the audience is doubled over."
Pleasance Courtyard (This), 1-26 Aug (not 13), 8.30pm, £6-10 – buy tickets here
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It’s a daunting emotional wringer that Frame’s character is put through, and she proves herself more than up to the challenge, with a considered, thoughtful essaying of a character who Zimmerman’s spare script reveals to us slowly and carefully.
Spoken word, looped vocals and emotionally charged lyricism combine together as Brown guides us through how life was for her as a young girl, a teen and then as a woman learning where she fit in in this world.