Edinburgh Fringe is a beautiful and mesmerising collection of everything that... shouldn't really be a thing. From improvised Jane Austen to men dressing as gorillas, there's weird, wacky and brilliant theatre, comedy and performance art. While the UK's focus is firmly in Scotland, London is certainly not sitting quietly, with plays and gigs and exhibitions continuing apace for the month.
The Camden Fringe
This north London alternative is a direct substitute for the Edinburgh Fringe, launched in 2006 to allow emerging comedians and acts to have the space to perform without the expense of setting up in Edinburgh. The venues vary each year within Camden, but the intimate and unusual feel of the festival has not changed, with a multitude of improvised and small-scale performances on each night throughout August. With tickets between £5-£10 for each gig, it’s also remarkable affordable for London.
London’s brightest comedy
A number of shows have their previews in London before heading north across the border, as well as finishing off the month in the capital. With an army of comedians descending on the Scottish capital, however, there’s also a great deal of space on the London circuit – with an especially international flavour to the comedy. Stand-ups such as the Norwegian Daniel Simonsen and French Gad Elmaleh come highly recommended with quirky and hilariously hesitant performances. London of course has a rich circuit of dedicated venues, but for something a little different pay a visit to the Comedy Grotto in Soho – or don’t pay, as it operates a pay-what-you-feel policy.
Throughout 2017 in London there are a range of LGBT-focused events, particularly on the stage and screen. This summer plays include Under the Skin (Camden), And the Rest of Me Floats (Shoreditch) and Yank! (Covent Garden) while the National Theatre at the Southbank is featuring a discussion and exhibition of events over the past 25 years since its 1992 première of Angels in America. For more on London’s LGBT events this year, we’ve made a guide here.
It’s a well-trodden path for plays in Britain: they begin life in the baptism of fire that is the Edinburgh theatre scene and then make their way to the glorious stages of London’s West End. From this season we should see in the capital such hits as DollyWould and the less well-known Out of Love making their runs. London fringe theatre is, however, a more permanent fixture, with off-the-wall and more experimental shows away from the glitz of the West End running throughout the year. Venues such as the Open Air Theatre in the heart of Regent’s Park offer electrifying alternatives, including what should be an enthralling interpretation of Britten’s The Turn of the Screw next year.