Fringe on a Theme: 5 theatre shows on grief

With grief emerging as a key theme to the 70th Edinburgh Festival Fringe, we look at a selection of plays that explore the various and sometimes complicated state of bereavement

Feature by Amy Taylor | 28 Jul 2017
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Bright Colours Only
Returning to the Assembly Rooms after a long absence, Pauline Goldsmith’s Bright Colours Only takes the form of her own, now legendary Irish wake, which first caused a stir at the Fringe in 2002. Featuring sandwiches, a dram of whisky and a perfectly polished maple coffin which has toured around the world. This show is a funny, yet deeply affecting hour that might make you a little less afraid of meeting your maker, maybe. Assembly Rooms (Venue 20), 3-26 Aug (not 14), 2.25pm

From Jessica Barker-Wren and Lucy Wray, COW follows a girl returning to Devon to help her widowed father on the family farm. Touching upon her own personal grief, as well as that of her father, the play is about dealing with sudden change and asking for help. COW is also raising money for the Plymouth charity, Jeremiah’s Journey, who support bereaved children and their families. Underbelly Cowgate (Venue 61), 3-27 Aug (not 16), 12.10pm

Part of the 2017 British Showcase, Selina Thompson’s salt. uses film, performance and sound to explores the route and lasting legacy of the Transatlantic Slave Triangle, which operated from the 16th-19th century. Based on her experiences aboard a cargo ship that retraced the route of the slave traders, this politically urgent piece explores grief, identity and what it means to be Black in the UK today. Northern Stage at Summerhall (Venue 26), 5-26 Aug (not 9, 16, 23), 2.30pm

The Man on the Moor
In December 2015, the body of an older man was discovered on Saddleworth Moor in the Peak District. He carried £130 in cash, train tickets from London and crucially, no ID. Max Dickins explores the story of the unknown man from the perspective of an adult son looking for his missing father. This is a story of missing people, of those looking for them and the grief that unites it all. Underbelly, Cowgate (Venue 61), 3-27 Aug, 3pm

Translunar Paradise
Returning hit show Translunar Paradise made its successful Edinburgh Fringe debut in 2011. Inspired by the death of his father, director and performer, George Mann's silent play uses masks, dance and music to tell a love story from the youthful beginning, and first meeting over cups of tea, until the final heartbreaking end. Pleasance Courtyard (Venue 33), 2-28 Aug (not 9, 15, 22), 3.45pm

If you want to watch more plays about death and grieving, check out Death on the Fringe and see what other shows and talks are available about our least favourite subject.