Revealed: The second round of Scotsman Fringe First winners
By Andrew Eaton-Lewis
Arts editor Andrew Eaton-Lewis reveals our second round of Scotsman Fringe First award-winners
THE Scotsman's Fringe First awards are almost 40 years old, and remain the most prestigious and sought-after theatre awards at the festival, recognised all over the world.
The rules are simple - the awards recognise outstanding new writing premiered at the Fringe, across all categories except comedy (an area well covered by the Edinburgh Comedy Award), music, events and exhibitions.
Well over 500 shows were considered eligible for the awards this year, and our team of critics and scouts will see all of them over the course of the month. If they see something they want to recommend for a Fringe First, our panel of judges see it too. We announce a new set of winners every Friday. There is no set number - this week there are eight.
We are, as ever, very grateful to our team of judges who have worked their way around dozens of shows, debating their merits late into the night, to come up with our list of winners. They are Joyce McMillan, Mark Fisher, Jackie McGlone, Fiona Shepherd and Susan Mansfield, all arts journalists with many years of experience.
We hope you agree with their choices, and that you'll join us to celebrate the achievements of all our winners at the Scotsman Fringe Awards next week (more info on how to attend).
TUESDAYS AT TESCO’S
IN ONE of the big hits of this year’s Fringe, at Assembly Hall, Simon Callow plays Pauline, a transsexual looking after her recently widowed dad. “The experience of not fitting in with society’s rigid expectations about gender is one of the pervasive themes of Fringe theatre at the moment,” wrote Joyce McMillan last week, “and Emmanuel Darley’s play offers a strikingly intense and precise focus on it – it’s often painful, often funny.”
THIS Assembly show is performed in the allotments off East Fettes Avenue, where we’re handed a cup of tea and a scone, and invited to spend 45 minutes in the company of sisters Dora and Maddy, who have lived their whole lives in a nearby house. “It is remarkable how much ground is covered by a short play,” wrote Susan Mansfield yesterday. “Within its own boundaries, it’s charming, thoughtful and digs deep.”
WITH music by Conor Mitchell and a libretto by Mark Ravenhill, this show at the Traverse focuses on a lone character – played with terrific nerve and intensity by Marc Almond – who is a survivor of the Great Plague of London in 1665. “The show is at its strongest in the singer’s closing hymn of survival,” wrote Joyce McMillan last week, “as a person forever changed, and unable to connect fully with those who have not walked the same path.”
ICON Theatre’s new show at the Pleasance Dome tells the story of three young people recently released from prison, and their efforts to rebuild their lives. “Icon has created one of the most compelling pieces of storytelling on the Fringe,” wrote Joyce McMillan yesterday. “It is a play that matters, even more so in the aftermath of the recent riots and the sentencing of many young people.”
THE OH F**K MOMENT
HANNAH Jane Walker and Chris Thorpe are involving their audience in a show at St George’s West about those moments in life when you realise you’ve made a terrible mistake that you can’t undo. “There’s a lovely relaxed atmosphere underpinning the show and no-one has to talk about anything they don’t want to,” wrote Sally Stott on Wednesday. “The piece uses poems, anecdotes and our own experiences to help us accept – and even celebrate – the flaws that make us human. None of us is perfect.”
YOUR LAST BREATH
CURIOUS Directive’s new show at the Pleasance Dome encompasses multiple narratives that revolve around the real-life story of Anna Bagenholm, whose heart stopped for four hours when she was trapped under ice. “Simultaneously sad and stunning,” wrote Sally Stott on Saturday.
AN INSTINCT FOR KINDNESS
CHRIS Larner wrote this play, which he performs himself at the Pleasance Dome, after accompanying his terminally ill ex-wife to a clinic in Switzerland, where she chose to end her own life. “This play was never going to be other than harrowing,” wrote Susan Mansfield last week, “but Larner and director Hannah Eidinow have managed to create a multi-textured piece of theatre which has moments of absurdity and joy as well as sadness.”
YOUNG company RashDash are on their second Fringe First win, this year for a five-star show at Bedlam Theatre about the effect of pornography on young people. “RashDash’s work takes a darker, more subversive twist this year and is all the stronger for it, “ wrote Sally Stott on Monday.