Theatre Picks

Matt Trueman scours the programmes and picks out the finest theatrical work it has to offer

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Are we not drawn onward to new erA
Published 21 Jul 2019

Rich Kids: A History of Shopping Malls in Tehran

Traverse Theatre, 1–25 Aug, not 5, 12, 19, times vary

Javaad Alipoor is reshaping political theatre, pushing way past state-of-the-nation plays to examine the currents crisscrossing the globe. Having eavesdropped on online radicalisation in The Believers Are But Brothers, he’s turned his attention to the super-rich, specifically new money in the Middle East. Crazy Rich Iranians, if you prefer.

Black Holes

Zoo Southside, 19–25 Aug, 2:20pm

Where words stutter, bodies stand up. A cohort of black British artists are making their voices heard via dance. Among them, Alexandrina Hemsley (Project X) and Seke Chimutengwende (DV8) are a dream team. Their afrofuturist duet roves through space and time to ask what a white universe tends to eclipse.

La Reprise Histoire(s) du theatre (I)

The Lyceum (Edinburgh International Festival), 3–5 Aug, times vary

Right now, Milo Rau might be Europe’s most progressive director. The Swiss polymath is demanding theatre do more. In a festival full of true crime, La Reprise scrutinizes the reasons we represent real violence. Re-enacting a horrific homophobic killing—Ihsane Jarfi’s murder in 2012—it wrings that crime for its wider context to ask what we need to change.

The End

Summerhall, 15–25 Aug, not 19, 11:30am

British theatre’s odd couple are back – mercifully, this time, on better terms. Having bullied each other senseless in Eurohouse then broken plenty of plates in Palymra, Bertrand Lesca and Nasi Voutsas are dancing cheek-to-cheek in The End, a show about letting go. Sweet – but if you prefer this pair nasty, they’re trying to topple each other in One (Summerhall, 22–24 Aug, 10pm).

Happy Hour

Pleasance Dome, 31 Jul–25 Aug, not 14, 10:15am

Cristian Ceresoli had a huge hit with La Merda a few years ago: a stomach-churning, head-spinning solo about anorexia spewed forth by performer Silvia Gallerano. Happy Hour reunites the pair with another trippy text: a tale of two dancing siblings in a totalitarian world where happiness is all.


Traverse Theatre, 1–25 Aug, not 5, 12, 19, times vary

Edinburgh is two towns in one: old and new; rich and poor. They collide in Kieran Hurley’s knotty new play—his best since Beats—as a working-class teenager meets a well-to-do writer atop Arthur’s Seat. Their tangled friendship is a touching yet troublesome thing, asking all sorts of questions about art, enlightenment and appropriation.


Assembly Rooms, 5–25 Aug, not 12, 9:40pm

Now onto their second musical the Pet Shop Boys might just be pop’s answer to Andrew Lloyd Webber. Musik is a spin-off from the lads' first effort, Closer to Heaven, with a script written by Jonathan Harvey (Beautiful Thing). It brings Frances Barber back as its icon of the night – the drug-addled delight that is Billie Trix.


Pleasance Courtyard, 31 Jul–25 Aug, not 13, 4:30pm

Nouveau Riche and Ryan Calais Cameron return after last year’s cult hit, Queens of Sheba. That show spoke up for women of colour, attacking the assumptions and aggressions that accumulate day after day. Typical turns its gaze to black men. Richard Blackwood stars as an ex-serviceman battling the society he fought for.

A Table Tennis Play

Underbelly, 1–25 Aug, not 10, 12:30pm

Ping-Pong. Whiff-Whaff. Gossima. Table tennis’s terminology might be up for grabs, but Sam Steiner’s new play stakes its claim as a spectator sport—sometimes tense, sometimes hypnotic—as two strangers bat a ball back and forth. He has the makings of a mighty miniaturist, as marked by his debut, Lemons Lemons Lemons Lemons Lemons.

The Examination

Gilded Balloon Teviot, 13–25 Aug, not 19, 8pm

Judge a society by the state of its prisons, urged the dissident author Fyodor Dostoyevsky. Brokentalkers take him at his word in this interrogation of healthcare in Ireland’s penal institutions that combines personal testimony with political fury. A company that routinely breaks new ground, they’re well worth catching.

The Hospital

Dance Base, 20–25 Aug, 7:20pm

Noir or nonsense? Both share a bedpan in this dark and deranged physical classic from the Icelandic outfit Jo Strømgren Kompani. Returning to the Fringe 14 years after its first outing, it finds three nurses killing time in a remote hospital with no patients. Weird sisters indeed.

Are we not drawn onward to new erA

ZOO Southside, 2–25 Aug, not 5, 12, 19, 11:00am

Year after year, show after show, Ontroerend Goed set a firework off at the Fringe. The Belgians have bound us and blindfolded us, dated us and hated on us and watched the world end. Their latest is timely, in more ways than one. Built as a palindrome, it asks whether human history is progress or inexorable decline.