All Blog posts

Claire Sweeney, Su Pollard, Brainiac Live!, Made in Chelsea stars, Hot Gay Time Machine and Adam Riches join Underbelly’s 2018 Edinburgh Fringe line-up!

14th May 2018


Underbelly announces further 82 shows completing its dream line-up for the 2018 Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

  • Claire Sweeney is one of the stars in musical extravaganza Don’t Tell Me Not To Fly featuring West End leading ladies and Burn The Floor present a newly created version and Fringe premiere of the Broadway and West End smash hit and world-wide phenomenon: Rebels of Ballroom
  • Su Pollard makes her theatre debut in Harpy, celebrated Guardian and BuzzFeed journalist Bim Adewunmi brings her debut Hoard to the Festival and much loved children’s TV hit, Brainiac Live! presents daily explosive fun for all the family.
  • In comedy, Made in Chelsea stars Jamie Laing and Francis Boulle offer their Private Parts to the Fringe audiences and Los Angeles’ leading funk band Thumpasaurus are back in Edinburgh to provide high-class late night entertainment.
  • Electro-trad Canadian circus stars Cirque Alfonse present the UK premiere of raucous circus rock musical TABARNAK and American circus legends UniverSoul Circus mark their European premiere with a large-scale spectacle bringing Hip Hop Under The Big Top.
  • Tickets on sale from 10am on Monday 14th May at www.underbellyedinburgh.co.uk.

Today Underbelly announces a further 82 shows, providing a final dazzling flurry to complete it’s 2018 Fringe programme, the most ambitious in the company’s 19th year run. Featuring a mix of death-defying circus, contagious music and dance with critically acclaimed theatre makers and unforgettable comedy, this year’s programme has something for people of all ages, predispositions and predilections to enjoy.

Theatre

This summer the West End’s leading ladies, including star of screen and stage Claire Sweeney will tread the boards of McEwan Hall! Don’t Tell Me Not To Fly presents a range of stars taking centre stage to perform songs from smash-hit West End and Broadway musicals and iconic movies for an epically special Underbelly Production. Full schedule of performers will be announced very soon.

The UK’s beloved TV star Su Pollard makes her theatre debut at Edinburgh Fringe with Harpy, a new play from Fringe First-winner Philip Meeks (Kiss Me Honey, Honey!) about hoarding. The play focuses on Birdie, a hoarder who the neighbours call a harridan and a harpy, although most have never even met her. What they see as rubbish, she considers her life’s work and it exists because years ago something deeply cherished was stolen, and Birdie’s not been able to give up anything since.

Underbelly’s ambitious theatre programme also features Angry Alan, Penelope Skinner’s first play since 2015 which promises to be another critically acclaimed hit from one of the UK’s leading female playwrights. Penelope is the winner of the prestigious George Devine Award and has written for Channel 4 (Fresh Meat) and the big screen (How I Live Now, featuring Saoirse Ronan). A darkly comic and provocative new play about masculinity in crisis and the men’s right movement, Angry Alan focuses on Roger who – just as his life is about to collapse - discovers Alan: an online activist and a voice of reason.

Continuing this year’s strong theme of sisterhood is Hoard, a new play from the hugely popular Guardian and BuzzFeed journalist Bim Adewunmi. Hoard tells the story of Bili and her two sisters, Rafi and Ami, facing up to Wura, their mother who doesn’t know of Brian, Bili’s boyfriend. An explosive secret forces the three sisters and their mother to face up to old hurts and unspoken tensions. 

KIN, a new play from the acclaimed playwright Max Dickins (The Man on the Moor and The Trunk) revolves around two estranged sisters reunited after 20 years at their father’s dying bed. In an airless room over a single night, they talk it out. How can you forgive the past when you can’t even agree on what it looks like? A gripping story of sibling rivalry examines the meaning of family.

Vessel is an urgent and insightful take on the issues surrounding illegal abortion. There is a woman. Woman is pregnant. Abortion is still illegal in her country. She will bring a court case against the government to demand a legal abortion. There is a man. Man is a journalist. He meets Woman and starts to cover her story. A story that will change the world. A story that will change his world. How far would you go for a cause you believed in? How far is too far?

Tackling the ever topical questions around immigration is Diary of An Expat, a one-woman show telling the comic story of young Italian woman, Cecilia, and her adventures in London – a contemporary El Dorado craved by generations of young Europeans. Cecilia has been trying to become British whilst remaining deeply Italian. Now, numerous dubious jobs and weird encounters later, she finds herself alone among the chaos of multi-ethnic London whilst the European dream of life abroad slowly drifts away.

OTOSOTR is a powerful story of 200,000 Koreans who were deported from the Russian-Korean boarder by the Soviet government in 1937 told from a perspective of Anatoliy Ogay, a Soviet soldier of Korean descent. This is a journey of a WWII hero who fought Nazis in Berlin in 1945, survived the communist regime in 1991 and preserved his Korean identity throughout his life – told by his grandson.

First play from a BAFTA Award-winning and Emmy-nominated TV and film director Beryl Richards, Diamond tells the story of a successful surgeon Jordan Sullivan meeting his birth mother for the first time and rejecting her. When she passes away, he realises that he may never know the truth about where he came from. The arrival of a mysterious young woman may just be the catalyst to change everything as he embarks on a journey of discovery and redemption.

New from the acclaimed Dawn State Theatre Company is Gulliver Returns: a haunting new play about broken dreams, enduring love and the weird world we live in, inspired by Jonathan Swift’s timeless masterpiece. Lil's husband is lost in Gulliver's Travels and now she has a mission of mercy to perform. No matter what the cost, she must find a way to drag this broken man out of his fantasy. She must find a way to bring him home.

Debut solo show from Barbican’s Young Poet and former Roundhouse Resident Artist Kit Finnie comes Mabel and Mickey, a ghost story for a new generation, and a fresh response to an ongoing Hollywood crisis. What happens when you try to tell someone else's story, but they're not done talking? Kit has written a show about Mabel Normand, a notorious 1910s movie star, and the murder case that swallowed her legacy. But there are pigeons cooing in the walls of the theatre and she keeps getting calls about a strange woman in her flat…

Funny and unsettling, Awkward Conversations with Animals I’ve Fucked by Rob Hayes returns to Underbelly following a critically-acclaimed 2016 run! One-night stands are awkward. One-night stands with animals are more awkward. And when you're as desperate to please as Bobby, things get really awkward…  

Onstage Dating sees Bron going on first dates - live onstage! Featuring a different person each night, this hilarious and award-winning show has thrilled at festivals all over the world with its unique insight into the world of online dating. Watch first-hand as Onstage Dating takes modern romance to the next level – all in front of the audience.

Family programme

Taking over the McEwan Hall daily at 11am is Brainiac Live! The show, based on the award-winning television series, is ‘all good educational fun!’ (The Guardian) and one of the best live science shows accessible to little scientists of all stages of advancement! Featuring exploding dustbins, combusting microwaves and loads of live daredevil stunts, Brainiac Live! takes its audiences on a breathless ride through the wild world of the weird and wonderful. Do not try this at home!

Beowulf tells the story of a nine-year-old Sophie who, similarly to the bravest of the Anglo-Saxon heroes, has to fight terrifying monsters: her mum, professor of Old English who taught her to read a language that none have spoken in this country for over 900 years, is dying and Sophie’s life is changing beyond her control. A moving tale of love and loss told from a child’s perspective.

Circus

Inspired by the village church that was once the gathering place of the small Quebec community where they grew up, the award-winning Cirque Alfonse have created their newest production, TABARNAK. This rock musical and circus extravaganza is an invitation to come together in a celebration of heaven and hell and everything in between. An unbridled high mass of entertainment reaching for the sky all performed in the inimitable style of Cirque Alfonse who brought the hugely popular BARBU to Edinburgh Fringe in 2015.

America’s ‘coolest show on Earth!’ (Newsweek) comes to the UK for the first time, having delighted over 20 million people in the US with their stunning, large-scale spectacles for 25 years! Hip-Hop under the Big Top from UniverSoul Circus combines edge-of-your-seat acrobatics, slapstick comedy, jaw-dropping contortionists, Caribbean limbo fire-dancers and global internet sensations Fresh The Clowns with hilarious audience participation, and a soundtrack that will blow the roof off the tent! The show is created especially for Edinburgh audiences for a European premiere

Circolombia is back at Circus Hub with their critically-acclaimed 2017 hit, breath-taking and adrenaline-fuelled mix of circus artistry and hip-hop bound to put a spring in everyone’s step!

Magic

Straight from a successful Adelaide Fringe run, Edinburgh Fringe favourite Kevin Quantum is back with a new show for people of all ages, Vanishing Point. Enter a zone where the rules of nature are bent and broken... impossible illusions and disappearances brought to the audiences by the magician-scientist hybrid tutored by American legends Penn & Teller.

Comedy

Made in Chelsea stars Jamie Laing and Francis Boulle are hitting the Fringe with their Private Parts ahead of a UK tour. The two lovable gents are treading the boards with the live, laugh-a-minute extravaganza developed from their hit podcast Private Parts. They have promised to share all the intimate and sordid details of their private lives, including gossip from both on and off the screen, so don't miss out!

Garry Starr Performs Everything in his first solo character comedy show. Following his dismissal from the Royal Shakespeare Company for multiple counts of gross misconduct he is determined to defy his critics by mounting his own production in which he will perform every genre of the arts in under 60 mins! Will he succeed? Probably not.

Best-selling Australian feminist author Kathy Lette presents Girl’s Talk, a psychological strip tease with tales of love, lust, men, marriage, pregnancy, childbirth, mastitis, sexist bosses, teenage-daughter-wrangling, ageing, toy boys, and Close Encounters of the George Clooney Kind, en route.

Kathy also talks poignantly about the trials, tribulations and hilarity of raising a child on the autistic spectrum. From the time Jules came home from school with a sign sticky-taped to his back saying ‘Kick me I’m a retard’ to his success playing Jason on Holby City.

In a new exciting site-specific show Adam Riches Is The Guy Who… you meet right after you come out of a long-term relationship. He has a nice smile, an easy manner and no car. The Comedy Award winner takes this intimate look at one of the planet's most deliberate men. As sensitive as soap and twice as slippery. Beware. Be very, very aware.

Following a stonking set on Live at the Apollo, Chris McCausland returns to Edinburgh Fringe with a new show, Speaky Blinder. He’s blind. He’s a dad. He’s a husband. He’s third in command. He’ll speaky about all of that, and loads more. He’s a Comedy Central regular who has also performed with Jimmy Carr and Miranda Hart on shows across BBC, ITV and Channel 4.

Two talented American comedians present Camp Be Yourself, a surreal and anarchic two-woman comedy packed with glitter, bug juice and desperation. Camp counsellors Emily and Betsy are here to help you figure it all out. This is adulthood. No one is going to take your trash out for you. Welcome to Camp Be Yourself! For those of you that can't be yourself in real life, you Camp Be Yourself here.

Los Angeles’ leading funk band Thumpasaurus is back this year to provides high-class, late night entertainment of music and comedy at the White Belly. Catch Thump letting loose with their jazz school training and spinning funky tales of aliens, animals, and the Space Barn each weekend of the Fringe. Book now to avoid disappointment!

Norwegian-American comedy duo Zach and Viggo team up with Thumpasaurus to present a brand new musical, Where Does The Love Go?. Watch this space!

Dance and cabaret

Having broken the boundaries of ballroom and set pulses racing around the world, including smash hit West End and Broadway runs for over twenty years, the phenomenal Burn the Floor: Rebels of Ballroom bring a specially created show which has been crafted over the past two years by ground-breaking Australian choreographers Jason Gilkison and Peta Rob for a sensational Fringe premiere. 

Break-dancing masters from Japan, Wasabeats Crew, present the European premiere of Break Free featuring champion break dancers, each with world titles, who are ready to carve up the floor to reach dizzying new heights! This crew are world-class urban dancers, fusing the very best in skill and technique, state of the art technology and a thumping soundscape, alongside breath-taking never before seen tricks! Break Free is the ultimate breakdance fairy-tale suitable for all the family.

First time ever at Underbelly, Silent Adventures become Edinburgh's resident silent disco troupe with their famous Silent Disco Tours. Don the magical headphones and feel the inhibitions evaporate as you groove through the city. Expect song, dance, flash-mobs and surprises in the most feel-good hour of the summer.

Following a hugely successful run at Vault Festival, American cabaret performer Tori Scott presents Thirsty, a show about drinking produced by Fringe First winning Robin Rayner (Fabric, 2016). Named one of Time Out New York's Top 10 Cabaret Artists, Tori makes her Fringe debut with a shameless musical journey of slurred autobiographical stories (and songs written by other people). Join her as she celebrates poor life choices and an unconditional love of vodka to the music of Aretha Franklin, Judy Garland, Miley Cyrus and more!

Strike a pose at the gay and glamorous Les Odalisques inaugural gala, Full Throttle! A riotous romp of light-hearted frivolity and hot-headed hijinks on and off the stage. Sultry starlets Tatiana Diavoletto and Bleu Phoenix simper and seethe with pent-up frustration as their stage ambitions are thwarted by a West End director…

Zak and Toby, as they take you on an extravaGAYnza of outrageous dances and hilarious comedy in Hot Gay Time Machine! Covering all the moments of a gay man’s life, from coming out to navigating the politics of the locker room, don’t miss this ‘riotous but subtly moving’ musical party.

Charlie Wood and Ed Bartlam, Directors of Underbelly said: “Today, Su Pollard’s theatrical debut, Made In Chelsea rogues Jamie Laing and Francis Boulle’s Private Parts and blistering ballroom with Burn the Floor join comedy legends, Rory Bremner, Helen Lederer and Nina Conti, family favourites Julia Donaldson and Dick and Dom, the finest circus from around the world alongside a raft of brave, challenging and seriously impressive theatre and new writing to complete what is our boldest, biggest and brightest programme in our 19 year Fringe history. 

“2018 is massive year for Underbelly as we return to the iconic McEwan Hall, welcome newly created venues, and maintain our core and much loved sites from the Circus Hub on the Meadows, Underbelly George Square and of course, our original home Underbelly Cowgate. 

“We are very ready for Fringe 2018. Our call is now to audiences – come frolic in our Fringe pastures, graze on our belting shows and lap up our infectious atmosphere. Get involved in a Fringe experience like no other, get involved in an Underbelly Fringe.”  

Posted by amy@underbelly.co.uk