After two long years of confinement, we are delighted to bring back the Scotsman’s Fringe First Awards, in partnership with the University of Edinburgh.
Established in 1973, the Fringe Firsts are recognized worldwide and are the festival’s most prestigious theater awards; next year we will celebrate their 50th anniversary.
The Fringe Firsts recognize outstanding new writing created at the Edinburgh Fringe and are awarded once a week throughout the festival each year; there is no fixed number each week. Our jury is chaired by Joyce McMillan, the Scottish Chief Theater Critic, and this year includes critics Mark Fisher, Susan Mansfield, Sally Stott, Fiona Shepherd and David Pollock. We are so grateful to them for all their hard work watching and debating late into the night dozens of shows that were nominated for the award by our extended team of reviewers.
The winners of this week’s Fringe First will receive their prizes today at the Pleasance Courtyard, in a ceremony featuring special guest presenter Camille O’Sullivan, a long-time established Fringe and FEI star who has returned in Edinburgh this year with Dreaming at the Underbelly. We would like to thank the University of Edinburgh for continuing to support the awards, as well as the Pleasance for hosting our awards ceremonies.
We’ll announce more Fringe First winners on Friday, August 19. This week’s winners are:
Breathless (written by Laura Horton)Pleasance Courtyard, 3 p.m., until August 29What we said: “Laura Horton’s sensitive and finely observed script, based on her own experiences hoarding clothes, is beautifully portrayed by Madeleine MacMahon, who embodies her character like a tailored dress. The illusion of ‘normalcy’ that Sophie, sizzling with self-doubt, is desperately trying to maintain is crumbling – the irony being that she only feels ‘in control’ when she is out of control. Choosing to see the savings of buying second-hand designer clothes, rather than the cost, she is a complicated and compulsive creation that is a thrill and a horror to shop with. “Don’t we all have a little too much? she asks at one point. Of course, for many of us the answer is yes. (Sally Stott)
And Then The Rodeo Burned Down (written by Chloe Rice and Natasha Roland)TheSpace @Niddry Street, 4 p.m., until August 13What we said: “Alternatively a vaudevillian thriller and a queer cowboy Waiting for Godot, And Then The Rodeo Burns Down sends clichés of macho postures, succeeds in a moving encounter with a lost bull in identity crisis , then face the act of narrating itself. It’s expensive to keep the show on the road these days, any clown knows that. Can these ragged stragglers afford a happy ending? Or an end at all? Soundtracked, like any respectable western, by Dolly Parton, Johnny Cash and Miley Cyrus, Rice and Roland’s double act is pure Fringe spirit: joyful, rebellious and dashing around the edges. Some cowboys just want to kiss while the world burns. (Katie Hawthorne)
The Beatles were a boyband
(written by Rachel O’Regan)
What we said: “Everyday sexism is woven into everything else in daily life in Rachel O’Regan’s decidedly down-to-earth new play who refuses to let her lively young Scottish girlfriends be defined by the actions of anonymous men whose misogyny risks encroaching more and more on the cozy comfort of their long community. Rejecting the higher tone of the “problem-based play” that it is not decisive, the play instead celebrates the friendship of the three women as they try and fail, often amusingly, to navigate the #notallmen behavior without giving up their right to go out, have fun and come home, as well as listening to murder podcasts and joking about sugar daddies. (Sally Stott)
What we said: “Happy Meal tells the story of Bette and Alex, two transgender teenagers who meet on the internet, become close friends, but then experience worlds of estrangement, while Alex, relatively middle class, makes the transition to student life. as Alec, while Bette struggles to come out trans to anyone but her best friend online. Set to a witty Ben Stones setting that fully captures the intensity of 21st century teenage online life, Happy Meal features two superb performances from Allie Daniel and Sam Crerar; in a simple hour-long tale of a young love made complicated by society’s attitudes towards gender change, but now free enough to find a true happy ending, to the cheers of the Traverse audience. (Joyce McMillan)
(written by Feidlim Cannon, Gary Keegan & Adrienne Truscott)
What we said: “An absurd piece rich in comedy, clowning and dance that targets old misogynistic attitudes is brought up to date, with Adrienne Truscott questioning the attitude and very place of Feidlim Cannon (co -featured) in their show. In fact, every older white man’s continued place in the theater. What follows is empowering and disturbing, but still very dark and funny, especially as an attack on the performative male ally in enthusiastic words only. It’s beautiful, unmissable (certainly if you work in the arts) and probably divisive – Fringe at its best. (David Pollock)
What we said: “Sonya Kelly’s new 90-minute play for Druid Theater sits in the queue for returned tickets at a posh European opera house and is, in some ways, quite predictable. Easily even the quest comfort (or status) through art can escalate into aggression and violence.In Sarah Joyce’s sleek and powerful production, however, it’s all so beautifully delivered, by a formidable seven-person cast led by Fiona Bell in as the aggressive ticket hunter and Anna Healy as the gorgeous ticket lady, let all the farce and tragedy become irresistible; and if the play’s final scene looks like anything out of a dream – well, it’s clear that realism is running out of options when it comes to describing the way we live now.(Joyce McMillan)