Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Equals among firsts

by Andrew Eaton

TODAY we are delighted to announce six winners of The Scotsman's Fringe First awards for 2006. The long-established prizes, which recognise outstanding new writing premiered on the Fringe, are given out by the newspaper every week during the festival. We will announce more winners on Friday 18 August and Thursday 24 August. In the meantime we can recommend all of these shows highly - but book now if you want to see them, because they are likely to sell out fast.

Post 9/11 global politics loom large in the first week's list. Particularly in the Heartland and (I am) Nobody's Lunch both see US liberals attempting to make sense of George W Bush's America, while Black Watch is based on the true stories of Scottish soldiers serving in Iraq. Two other shows deal with modern middle-class insecurities - Food explores the dark side of success and celebrity, and The Receipt sees a man thrown into a bureaucratic nightmare by the simple act of picking up an old receipt. The Adventures of Tom Thumb, a meditation on dementia disguised as a children's story, is more timeless, but just as effective.

All today's winners will be VIP guests at the Scotsman Fringe Awards, at the Assembly Music Hall on 25 August. We will be asking two Fringe First winners from this year to perform an extract from their show at the ceremony.

Today we can reveal more about the line-up of the awards show. The cast of spectacular streetdance show Into the Hoods, at the E4 UdderBELLY, will perform, as will the African Children's Choir, above, who are at St Andrew's & St George's Church all this month. We recommend both shows highly. The final week's Fringe First awards will be presented at the ceremony by our special guests, Tim Brooke-Taylor and Graeme Garden of The Goodies, whose show The Goodies Still Rule OK! is at the Assembly Rooms.

As we go to press there are still limited tickets available for the event. If you would like to go, cut out the form opposite and take it to the Assembly Rooms box office on George Street. But be quick!

We would like to thank our media partner, the Assembly Rooms, for staging the awards, and Coppercraft of Edinburgh for making our distinctive Fringe First plaques.

Pleasance Dome. Final performance today, noon.
SADLY, this funny and surprisingly moving children's show finishes its run today, so we can only hope we've not seen the last of it. It's based on the Grimm brothers' familiar tale, but Blue Scream Theatre make free with the plot. Their Tom Thumb is an 80-year-old retreating into dementia, and dreaming of escaping his nursing home with Mab, the fairy queen.

Traverse, until 27 August, various times
THE new show by theimaginarybody theatre company is the tale of Frank, a high-powered chef who has shot from obscurity to three Michelin stars in only four years - and becomes so terrified of losing his new-found status that he suffers a kind of paranoid episode, in which he comes close to wrecking his career, his family life and his precious relationships with his colleagues and the media.

Assembly @ George Street, 3.15pm, until 28 August
GOVERNMENTS have been lying to their citizens for centuries, but the George W Bush administration has managed to raise state mendacity to a whole new level, eroding public faith in anything and anyone.

That, broadly, is the premise behind this compelling show by New York's Civilians, based on vox-pop interviews conducted in 2003 exploring what Americans actually believe about their government. Told cabaret-style, the re-enacted interviews are interspersed with witty, beautifully played songs.

Assembly @ George Street, until 28 August, 11.30am
WILL ADAMSDALE, who appeared out of nowhere to win the 2004 Perrier comedy award for Jackson's Way, returns to the Fringe with a very different but equally superb show, created and performed with musician Chris Branch. The Receipt is an almost Gogol-like meditation on the fate of the little man in the big, modern city, following a day in the life of a man who works for a faceless corporation and hasn't a clue what he is doing.

Traverse 4 Drill Hall, until 27 August, 8.30pm
GREGORY BURKE'S new play, the first show on the Fringe by the new National Theatre of Scotland, is generating more buzz than almost anything else at the festival this year. Spectacularly staged, it's based on the true stories of Scots soldiers serving in Iraq.

Traverse, until 27 August, various times
COVER stars of today's magazine, the TEAM took the Fringe by storm last year, and now they're doing it again. Particularly in the Heartland is a vivid, surreal vision of the apocalypse, set in Kansas and full of iconic American imagery.