The first Sunday of August two years ago, I wrote a feature called Edinburgh in August.

It was of course about the Edinburgh Festivals. I reported on the escalating costs of taking a show to the Fringe and the contingent costs of accommodation, and despite those it is thought that the population of the city centre doubles during these weeks of creative mayhem.

Not this year.

In 2019, there were over 3,800 pieces of work coming from artists of 63 countries hosted in 323 venues.

If you click on the What's On page of this year's online programme, there are 675 results. The venues are down two thirds to 107 and I am saddened to think that countries may be not many more than four—England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. As it happen,s it is those four plus just another 25.

For the first time, the Edinburgh Fringe has shows delivered online as well as live. There are 430 live performances, 165 can be watched on demand with a further 80 performances live-streamed with some available live and / or on demand and/or live-streamed. So, still plenty to see and enjoy.

I previewed the Edinburgh International Festival theatre programming in June when tickets went on sale so I won't repeat that exercise, but back in 2019 I allowed myself the indulgence of describing my Fantasy Fringe day and by way of preview I do the same here.

The creatives behind this year's shows are brave souls who all deserve a mention at least for their dedication, but there are only so many hours in a day, and I have just one for my fantasy, so here is my eight:

  • Allotment from Nutshell: two sisters in their allotment grapple with the tough questions like: do flowers matter as much as vegetables? Performed outdoors, this is a tale of life, death, apples and potatoes.
  • We Just Need to Get Through This from Demo Theatre Collective x Three Graces Theatre Company: a music theatre piece about a relationship under the pressure of total climate apocalypse fallout.
  • Bacon written by Jeremy Towler and Pip Utton from Pip Utton Theatre Company: a glimpse at the louche life of controversial artist Francis Bacon.
  • Catching Up from Theatre Paradok: a dark comedy about two old friends on a writing retreat forced to reassess each other when they turn to their shared history for inspiration.
  • Wish List from New Celts Productions and Bone Stuck Theatre: a hard-hitting look into mental health and class division.
  • Mediocre White Male from Will Close and Joe von Malachowski: a tragicomedy about wanting to return to the past when you're only 30.
  • Comedy Queers from Free Festival: a showcase of some of the finest LGBTQ+ stand-ups to be found on the Fringe.
  • 2020 Re-Vision—Vladimir McTavish from Vladimir McTavish: satire from the Winner of Lifetime Achievement Award and Scottish Comedy Awards.

It is a long way from the Auld Reekie to the Big Smoke and I am allowing myself full advantage of the available online shows for an EdFringe fantasy train journey:

  • Mimi's Suitcase from Ana Bayat: a humorous and heartfelt true story centred around identity, immigration, women's rights and involuntary displacement delivered in four languages (with English supertitles).
  • Ain't no Female Romeo from Lita Doolan Productions: a ten-year-long crush becomes a manhunt inspired by Romeo & Juliet when the object of her attention goes missing.
  • Cash Point Meet by Niamh Murphy from Obstreperous Young Ladies: a darkly comic look at the lives of two Irish women over the course of a year spent as sex workers.
  • Comodedia from Greemounts/Malcostume: a one-man show featuring the most famous characters of the Commedia dell’Arte; contemporary traditional Italian masked theatre.
  • Color Inside the Lines from Flying Solo: a musical in which Jenny deals with the consequences following a prediction from a palm-reading drag queen that she'll never find love.