fringe2018 Credit David Monteith Hodge

Image: David Montieth-Hodge | Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society

The Edinburgh International Festival and Fringe Festival is upon us! Your loyal friends at the FC Scotland blog are making their way through the crowds each morning to get to their desks at Silvan House, and bring you the news from Scotland’s forests. While we’d often rather be visiting a Forest Park or messing about in the woods with the family, there’s no denying that for the duration of the Festival, Edinburgh is a carnival of wonders. The trick is knowing what to see. How to pick the right show from the thousands vying for your attention?

Our team have picked out six of the best shows at the Fringe this year, all with a woodland, wildlife, conservation or countryside connection. There’s something for everyone here, from storytelling to puppetry, from experimental theatre to a musical, and a brilliant kids show. We hope you’ll find something to enjoy - and if the crowds get too much for you, you can always hit the forests!

Spoken word / storytelling:
Witches, Wee Folk, and Watery Beasties

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Image: Scottish Storytelling Centre

One of two picks at the Scottish Storytelling Centre, a beautiful venue situated at the bottom of Edinburgh’s historic Royal Mile. An intimate venue with just over 100 seats, it is custom designed for spoken word and storytelling performances, with a strong focus on Scottish themes and folktales running through their August programme.

This show features storyteller Dougie Mackay, who will introduce you to a riotous cast of “chiefs, crones, fishermen, fools, faeries, selkies, kelpies and giants” from Scotland’s rich mythology. Evoking the spirits of the forest, the sea, the mountains and the glens, it’s suitable for children over 8, and a brilliant introduction to how Scotland’s ancient oral traditions are being kept alive today by contemporary performers.

2-12 August, Scottish Storytelling Centre, 3pm, £9. Book here.

For kids:
The Adventures of Sam Swallow

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Image - Katsura Miyamoto

This enchanting play by the team behind well-loved kids’ show ‘Shakespeare for Kids’ tells the story of the flight of a migrating swallow. The production arrives in Edinburgh following an acclaimed tour of South Africa, Namibia and Botswana.

It’s a positive, uplifting show with real heart, and an important message about climate change, having respect for nature, and preserving native species. Combining theatre, movement and storytelling, this is a show to bewitch and delight those aged 3 and up, and will keep the grown-ups entertained too.

6-12, 14-27 August, Cee Too, 11.45am, £8.50/£6.50/£4.50. Book here.

Base Camp, by Fever Dream Theatre

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We don’t know much about this mysterious, intriguing piece of experimental theatre by Fever Dream, but it sounds compelling. The rivalry between two climbers plays out at base camp, as they prepare to climb a dangerous summit. To make the action even more intense, the play takes place literally (excuse the pun) in tents, set up on the grass outside C Venues.

There’s nearly always a production with a strange twist on the small venue at the Edinburgh Fringe, so quite how an audience will manage to cram inside two tents to watch the performance is part of the fun of booking a ticket. With themes that touch on notions of truth and lies, Base Camp explores the dark side of the competitive rivalry so often found among athletes.

6-13, 15-27 August, C Venues South, times vary, £10.50/£8/50/£6.50. Book here.

Go Wild on the National Cycle Network

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The National Cycle Network (NCN) is a vast span of traffic-free paths and quiet, on-road cycling and walking routes that connect to every major town and city in Scotland. Developed in partnership with several local and national organisations including Forestry Commission Scotland, these cycle paths link up rural and urban areas, and give those who cycle or walk on them a chance to connect with wildlife and nature.

During August, you can visit part of the route that meanders through Edinburgh alongside the Union Canal - there you’ll find some fantastic photos captured by NCN users, showcasing the breathtaking wildlife and scenery they have encountered while out and about on foot or by bike.
Venue 528 - Lochrin Basin Hoardings. Free (unticketed).

Musical theatre:
Armour - A Herstory of the Scottish Bard

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Image - Fearless Players

It’s well known that Scotland’s national bard Robert Burns was something of a womaniser and a rogue - whether that adds to his charm or casts a shadow over his more romantic verses is of course up to interpretation. With plenty of Burns-related shows on offer in Edinburgh most years at the Fringe, this musical theatre piece offers something a little different.

The show depicts an imagined meeting between the bard’s long-suffering wife Jean Armour and long-term lover Nancy Maclehose, following the poet’s death. In verse and song, Fearless Players explore the voices, the viewpoints and the legacy of the women behind Scotland’s most famous son’s familiar poems and lyrics. The perfect Burns show for the age of ‘Me Too’ and ‘Time’s Up’ - we can’t wait!

6-11, 13-18, 20-25 August, The Space at Jury’s Inn, 2.10pm, £8/£7. Book here.

The Man Who Planted Trees

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Image: Scottish Storytelling Centre

We round up our recommendations with this intricate, charming piece of puppet theatre, also on at the Scottish Storytelling Centre, towards the end of the Festival. Masterminded by Edinburgh’s own Puppet State Theatre, this green-fingered fable is a bona fide 5-star sensation, with rave reviews from The Guardian, The Scotsman and more.

Winner of multiple awards, it is an adaptation of Jean Giono's classic environmental tale, and a highlight of previous years’ Fringe favourites. The show has been touring internationally for the past twelve years, so this is a triumphant return for a delightful piece of home-grown storytelling paired with delightful hand-made puppets. Tried and tested, it’s proved popular at ten Edinburgh Fringes so far, and shows no signs of stopping.

20-27 August, Scottish Storytelling Centre, 2.30pm, £12/10. Book here.

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