Fringe 2012 Programme Launched
The world's biggest arts festival is showing no signs of getting any smaller. Come August, the Edinburgh Festival Fringe will be spilling out from every corner of the Scottish capital, delighting the crowds with street theatre, cabaret, stand-up comedy, major international drama productions and first-timers trying their luck in this great open-access event, some 40,000 performances strong.
The exuberance and excitement never changes, but each year, the shape of the Fringe alters a little. In 2012, there will be renewed energy in the New Town, not least because of the return of the Assembly Rooms on George Street. Back after an 18-monthrenovation costing £9.3m, the elegant 18th-century building is under new management and offering a mixture of theatre, comedy and music, including visits from comedian Stewart Lee, chanteuse Camille O'Sullivan and the National Theatre of Scotland.
Particularly striking will be the arrival of the Famous Spiegel Terrace which will extend the Assembly Rooms onto the street, adding to the area's festive spirit.
Not far away, the Institut français d’Ecosse is significantly increasing its Fringe contribution with nine shows, ranging from intimate object theatre to the songs of Jacques Brel, fuelling the cosmopolitan atmosphere. Also turning heads on this side of town is St Stephen's Church with a programme of work from the North East of England, as well as old favourites such as the Stand Comedy Club and Hill Street Theatre.
Meanwhile, there's no shortage of competition from the south side of the city, where major players such as the Pleasance, Gilded Balloon, the Underbelly and Assembly programme round-the-clock performances. Among the stars to look out for are Miriam Margolyes and David Hasselhoff, but the joy is always in the unexpected discoveries you make: will it be the two-man rendition of Mike Oldfield's Tubular Bells or the 60-second show called One Minute Birdwatching? There's only one way to find out.
Edinburgh Festival Fringe, 3–27 August, www.edfringe.com