August in Edinburgh might not be the conventional August one expects – the rain does not leave Scotland even on the peak of summer. But who needs the sun when so much is going on in a city where culture never goes on holiday? Summer in the Scottish capital is crowded with events, from the International Book Festival to the huge Fringe Festival.
Attracting one million visitors to Edinburgh, the Fringe Festival was born as a showcase of those theatrical works which were unconventional, on the ‘fringe’ of the more canonic Edinburgh International Festival. But at the present it has outnumbered its more traditional counterpart, with more than 2500 acts ranging from stand-up comedy and improv to up-and-coming theatre companies debuting with their performances, sometimes even in world premieres. Actors from all over the world gather for a theatrical tour-de-force which lasts a full month. Every day offers show literally at any hour, starting with the ‘breakfast’ performances which often provide tea and coffee to their visitors, and lasting till the very early hours of the night for those who never have enough of some good nocturnal laughs. Comedy certainly dominates the stages – in traditional venues, and in most of the pubs around the capital, which for the occasion transform into intimate locations that host some hidden gems. Simply walking down the streets of Edinburgh, particularly down the spectacular Royal Mile, will certainly lead you somewhere, or at least will fill your pockets with hundreds of leaflets – which sometimes are given out from the actors in the productions themselves… Curiosity and chance together bring to the discovery of the most varied acts, such as a Japanese troupe who created a technological comedy made of an incredible merging of the real and the projected, with colourful and spellbinding holograms, or a physical theatre queer version of the all-time classic A Clockwork Orange, and even a post-modern one-man-show created, so the description went, ‘for drunkards and freaks’. Fear not the rain then: the venues will prove to be more than just a shelter from the showers, but endless doors to (at least) 2500 new quirky experiences. And, let’s not forget, a lot of times they do it for free. Fringe is on until the end of the month: just a couple of days, though, will be more than enough to make anyone fall hopelessly in love with it.