DOORS OPEN TO UNDERBELLY VENUES FOR THE EDINBURGH FRINGE

Underbelly has officially opened the doors to its incredible venues and line-up at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2023, set to entertain locals and visiting crowds alike.

Last night, Underbelly’s iconic McEwan Hall got the party started with the official programme launch. Lucky guests sampled a flavour of what’s on offer this year with a spectacular mix of comedy, dance and circus. The event was hosted by comedian Sooz Kempner and comedy crime podcasters Kathy and Stella opened the show with a number from their hit musical Kathy and Stella Solve A Murder. Also performing were stand-up comic Emmanuel Sonubi, Untapped Theatre Award winners Dugsi Dayz, family entertainer Mario The Maker Magician, comedy dance act TUTU, circus troupe Sophie’s Surprise 29th, visionary acrobatics from Circa’s Peepshow, US Drag Race winner Monét X Change and world-class circus performers The 7 Fingers.

An eclectic programme of over 150 shows across the four venues offers everything from dazzling circus performers, awe-inspiring cabaret, captivating theatre, vibrant dance, fun-filled family entertainment, and side-splitting comedy – there’s truly something for everyone at Underbelly.

 

“What a wonderful night for our opening event! It’s brilliant to be back in Edinburgh for 2023 and we’re so excited to open the doors to another incredible Underbelly programme.”

Underbelly’s Co-Directors Charlie Wood and Ed Bartlam

 

For those looking for a good deal, 2-for-1 tickets are available now for a range of shows on the 7th and 8th of August. Families can also make the most of a Book 2 Tickets get 1 Free deal on weekday viewings of the family programme (Aug 16 -28th).

Highlights include:

  • For one night only in McEwan Hall Underbelly’s fifth Big Brain Tumour Benefit will host a massive line-up of Fringe stars in a raucous evening of comedy to help the fight against brain cancer. This year’s performers include Frank Skinner, Ivo Graham, Chloe Petts, Adam Kay, Hal Cruttenden, Lara Ricote and Emmanuel Sonubi, with more acts still to be announced! All box office income goes directly to The Brain Tumour Charity.
  • At McEwan Hall, join TUTU on a “hugely entertaining and hilarious” (BroadwayBaby) tribute to dance, where comedy and incredible dance skills intertwine seamlessly to delight crowds of all ages. Featuring an all-male cast of six dancers decked out in flamboyant costumes, this show is a humorous celebration of dance in all its glory… Yes, a bare-chested tutu-clad man can perform a stunningly graceful pointe solo!
  • Taking over McEwan Hall, Havana Street Party is an exhilarating explosion of urban movement direct from Cuba; Sara Pascoe‘s Success Story flies in for one night only; Foil Arms and Hog: Hogwash, the Fringe favourites returns with a five-star comedy for an exclusive limited run; Drag Race double crown winner Monét X Change shares anecdotes and opinions on life in the tireless comedy Life Be Lifein’; and You Can’t Stop the Beat the Fringe’s ultimate musical theatre party night out.
  • In the iconic upside-down purple cow, the Udderbelly, Mario The Maker Magician brings robot magic direct from New York, with a wild and original family show; Choir! Choir! Choir! is a show where the crowd is the star and you’ll be harmonising to well-known classics in no time and a home-grown Drag Race winner joins the line-up in their debut solo tour Danny Beard & Their Band.
  • At CowgateUnderbelly’s new, late night comedy experience is BATSU! Currently a hot ticket in New York and Chicago, audiences join comedy warriors testing their wits to avoid electric shocks, paintballs, giant chickens and other jaw-dropping punishments. Bill’s 44th – a poignant puppet tragicomedy for adults, called “Buoyant, mesmerizing, joy-inducing” as the New York Times Critics Pick; and identical twins Patrick and Hugo McPherson return with Pear: But Braver, after the smash-hit success of Pear in 2022.
  • The winners of the Untapped award, in partnership with New Diorama Theatre, Concord Theatricals and Nouveau Riche; It’s A Motherf**king Pleasure at Bristo Square, a witty satirical delight straight off the back of a smash-hit London run; Dugsi Dayz is a heart-warming tribute to The Breakfast Club, subverting Somali folktales and exploring friendships; and One Way Out, a powerful drama about four friends on the cusp of adulthood, exploring young British Caribbeans’ experiences of the Windrush crisis.
  • Over in Circus Hub, East London’s The Revel Puck Circus make their Fringe debut with an exhilarating new show The Wing Scuffle SpectacularAloft returns with Brave Space after selling out their innovative 2022 season and also presents Sanctuary, a punk-rock cabaret with a revolving line-up of internationally renowned circus artists backed by a live band.
  • For six dates only, McEwan Hall hosts An Afternoon with Anton Du Beke and Friends. The Strictly Come Dancing legendary judge takes to the stage with a live band, a guest singer and his dancers. Performing some of his favourite songs and dances that have inspired his career, expect behind the scenes stories from Anton’s time on Strictly.
  • Matt Forde will bring his hugely successful podcast The Political Party to McEwan Hall for one show only on Friday 18th August. Matt will be joined by one of the most charismatic, compelling, and outrageous politicians in Britain – Deputy Labour Leader Angela Rayner as she delves into her political career during this special live podcast.

 

CIRCUS, CABARET + VARIETY

Underbelly’s Circus Hub celebrates the daring and the different. The 7 Fingers present their world premiere of Duel Reality – circus on a whole new theatrical level – a must for fans of Romeo and Juliet and wondrous acrobatics. Alongside Sanctuary and The Wing Scuffle Spectacular is Brave Space, a stunning, all-female piece of physical theatre that paints a picture of the world we want to live in and Reclaim which draws the audience close to examine life and imagine a sustainable future. Set in Circus Hub’s Spiegeltent, The Beauty, it features circus and acrobatics interwoven with two cellists and a live opera singer.

In addition to their debut solo tour show Danny Beard & Their Band, join RuPaul’s Drag Race UK winner Danny Beard and their best friend, DJ Billy Andrew for a very special live recording of their hilariously camp podcast Gossip Gays for one night only in Bristo Square. And, for four dates only (4th – 8th Aug), get involved with Drag & Draw, the art class with a difference, featuring lip syncs, audience interaction and drag queens.

Experience the extraordinary as Suhani Shah, the world’s highest-subscribed mentalist, brings her Edinburgh debut Spellbound to Bristo Square. India’s most famous mind reader has captivated global audiences with her charismatic persona, linguistic deception and comedic charm – an unforgettable evening is guaranteed!

 

MUSIC & MUSICALS

There is exciting music and musical programming, across all four venue hubs. You Can’t Stop The Beat is a party for musical theatre fans, turning McEwan Hall into a sing-along celebration of all your favourite shows; The Magnets, famously the UK’s number one acapella group; catch the sensational five-voice sound machine to relive the magic of the greatest musicians of all time; and one part sermon, one part purge and three parts house party, House Of Life is a travelling musical cult collective with one mission; to get you happy, at any cost. With a host of 5-star reviews in their wake, the acclaimed Sheep Soup company promise to achieve their goal.

Debut show 2020 The Musical is a joyful new musical, celebrating human resilience in every form, depicting the true, uplifting stories of everyday heroes and turning the events of 2020 into a heart-warming party (and unlike Downing Street, everyone’s invited); God Catcher reimagines the story of a woman turned to a spider as punishment from the Ancient Greek Gods, exploring the legacies of truth and bravery through catchy tunes and heartfelt lyrics; tender musical Fabulett 1933, sees a liberal queer society in Berlin protest as the authorities close off every opportunity for freedom and expressionism; We’ll Have Nun Of It is a masterpiece, blending contemporary pop, soul and funk music into a unique new musical that navigates the angst and joy of Ireland in the sixties; and Tink is a nostalgic love-letter to our past selves through the eyes of a very familiar fairy.

THEATRE

Joining Bill’s 44th and the Untapped award winners; The Way Way Deep, blends bold storytelling, spoken word and original music, by sell-out playwright Patrick McPherson, previous writing includes The Man and Colossal; in his Fringe debut, star of stage and screen Declan Bennett brings Boy Out The City, telling a raw survival story of a man in his search for identity, throwing us into a turbulent world of toxic masculinity, homophobia and men’s mental health.

The programme also pioneers wonderfully current topics with shows such as; PLEASE LEAVE (A Message), a devised piece set in a karaoke bar on Yucca Mountain, where a group of scientists are experimenting with time travel, in which ClusterFlux can give a fearful yet joyous address of the impending climate crisis; Temporarily Yours, a journey into sexuality and prostitution, a show made from true stories and earnest questions, pondering our body, soul and relationships; and The Brilliance of Broken Glass, a true story about rising from rock bottom, exploring the aftershock of a medical crisis and championing laughter as the ultimate medicine.

Solo show, Pleasure Little Treasure, takes us back to the downfall of the Soviet Union; a story about growing up in the first strip club in Estonia during the tumultuous 1990; My Dad Wears A Dress is a hilarious yet sincere one-woman show about growing up with a trans female parent; Life With Oscar is a tragicomic satire set in the underbelly of Hollywood (no pun intended); and Looking For Giants is a perplexing and seductive tale about self-discovery, from emerging theatre company That What’s Wild.

In Bristo Square, The Gaffer explores how the beautiful game can turn ugly quickly. Football manager Shaun Woods discovers his private life is set to make the back and front pages. For Shaun, the game doesn’t last 90 minutes, it’s a battle with no full-time whistle. Performed by Fringe First Award winner Chris Larner, this new short play written by acclaimed journalist Rob Crossan is not to be missed.

Ringer is Hughie Shepherd-Cross‘s fifth Fringe production, a comedy that sees a heartthrob actor’s reputation left in the hands of his feckless double; winner of Dublin Fringe’s Bewley’s Little Gem award, Frigid is a tender coming-of-age comedy about sexuality in early 2000s Dublin, performed alongside a live DJ; extremely silly, and extremely ruthless The Death of Molly Miller is a pitch-black satire on our world of influencers, inequality and addiction; with performers from The Wardrobe Ensemble, International House of Vape: Redefining Theatre Experience goes where no brand has gone before in a new corporate venture; The Four Worst Things I’ve Ever Done is a wild ride of confessions and consequences; and pitch-black comedy BUTCHERED is a dynamic physical theatre piece with a killer soundtrack, this absurd thriller is set in the kitchen where dreams come to die.

 

COMEDY

Joining Sara Pascoe in the comedy programme; Pear: But Braver sees identical twins Patrick and Hugo McPherson return after the 2022 hit show Pear, a riotous hour of sketch comedy by two brothers heralded as “like Reeves and Mortimer” (The Recs). Joining them in Cowgate is Adam Riches as he returns to the Cow Café with a site-specific show; Adam Riches is The Guys Who, a fresh take on the guys who you meet everywhere.

Sounds Like… is a unique improvisational panel show, from Doc Brown and quick-witted wordsmith hosts, based around rhyme and rap with special guests from the world of music and comedy. It’s seriously funny, stupidly clever and addictive. The Retreat is a camp variety number that mimics a corporate event, questioning our toxic workplace methods, brought to you by stars of Parks and Recreation and Glow including UK songstress Kate Nash and featuring a rotation of incredible and iconic comedy names.

The programme features some special limited-run shows throughout August. Mr Thing, favourites at the Fringe, returning for two nights only to celebrate all the best bits from the past five years; Drag Queens vs Zombies, as Haus of Dench’s monstrous hit returns from the dead for two nights only, as drag superstars Kate Butch and Crudi Dench try to save the audience of their cabaret show from a gruesome death in a camp comedy horror; and Werewolf: Live appears for one night only in a charity spectacular. An all-star line-up of comedians backstab, manipulate and fight for survival in this cult gameshow; with previous guests including Rose Matafeo, Nish Kumar, Ed Gamble, and plenty more, you know it’s going to be a wonderful kind of chaos.

Meanwhile in Bristo Square, Perrier Award winning Will Adamsdale: Show of Just Songs will regale audiences with the ballad(s) of a man adrift in the modern age (though enjoying heated car seats), for tales of CD hoarding, failed citizen’s arrests and a film career playing murdered schoolteachers, medieval lookouts, and Nigel Havers’ son.

For six nights only at McEwan Hall “Broadway’s greatest comic storyteller” (Deadline) Mike Birbiglia brings his show The Old Man & The Pool to the Edinburgh Fringe. Chronicling his coming-of-middle-age story Mike presents his tale of life, death, and a highly chlorinated YMCA pool that will resonates with audiences ages 12 to 112.

Kelly McCaughan‘s show exposes the impossible standards of the confines of religion in Catholic Guilt; performed by US comedian Lane Kewderis and directed by Matt GehrinSex Job is an empowering show about the good, bad and often hilarious ups and downs of being a sex worker, following the inside life of a financial dominatrix; Holly Spillar’s Hole is a muff-busting comedy about sex, pain and the brain, showcasing one woman’s determination in the face of a tough diagnosis.

For one night only on 24th August, Bristo Square welcomes the Straight Comedian of the Year ‘Grand Final’ where crowds will bear witness to the epic conclusion of ex-gay comedian Simon David‘s search to find the UK’s funniest heterosexual. The biggest breeders of the Fringe will battle it out for the title and a Fiat 500.  Following a sell-out run in 2022, 4 x Fringe Awards winning clown comic Garry Starr returns for five dates only (23rd-27th) with Greece LightningStarr will perform all of Greek Mythology – never before has Medusa been looser, Achilles more sillies, or Uranus so heinous – an anarchic masterclass not to be mythed!

Healing King Herod is a wild, interactive, drag-clown therapy session featuring improvised songs, political parody and cult-like rituals where Herod, famed for massacring innocents, now leads a self-development pyramid scheme, and; Jeromaia Detto: MUSH, nominated for Best Comedy at Sydney Fringe, is a whimsical and absurd clown show, with five stars all round; Max Norman invites you to cross the seven seas with him on a night of nautical nonsense, with piratical puns, 90’s nostalgia and the ultimate audience prize in A Pirate’s Life For Me; and award-winning MANBO is a dead-sexy action-hero mission filled with chaos.

For the theatrical comedy fans out there, Rosalie Minnitt presents Clementine, a debut character comedy-drama involving a hilariously unhinged quest to find love set roughly ‘in the past’; in Dead Dad Show Simon David tackles the ‘dead dad’ cliché, in a show, directed by Fringe First winner Chris Larnerwith dangerously high levels of heart; struggling to make sense of a breakup, Sophie hires a life coach in Sophie Santos… Is Codependant and 2022 Best Comedy winner from Hollywood Fringe, A Terrible Show For Terrible People is a raunchy, absurdist physical comedy with 2 spoken words “for perverts, feminists and your mom (not mutually exclusive).”

AAA Stand up and AAA Stand Up Late, return with brand-new line-ups of comedians, including Ross McGrane, Ridwan Hussain, Josh Elton and Sachin Kumarendran, having sold out Edinburgh from 2005-2022, it’s filled with clever wordplay, whimsical observations, and mischievous twists. For those who are intrigued by games of social deduction, Blood on the Clocktower: Live is a night of gothic chaos and carnage, featuring a revolving cast of comedians.

More stand-up includes Charlotte Fox encountering a series of crooked and macabre characters in her dark and manic comedy; Ouroboros The Return. Robo Bingo by Foxdog Studios, an interactive show for people who don’t want to talk to anyone; Alice Cockayne is unhinged and outrageously funny in the clowning drama I Showered Before I CameChris Turner shares stories of touring with Cirque Du Soleil and his newborn child in Vegas, Baby!; Sara Schaefer teaches how to unlock potential in this perfect mockery of a seminar, Going Up; Maggie Crane‘s darkly funny Side by Side, an autobiographical story about family and disability. Internet sensation Josh Baulf with new show Bulldog; Paddy McDonnell in Paddy McDonnell Live, a show full of tales of everyday life; Dan Rath, discussing the ups and downs of neurodivergence in All Quiet Carriage Along The Inner Western Line; Ed Gaughan brings his first solo show in 18 years, Words and Music, with stories, clowning around and plenty of surprises; and award-winning comedian Leif Oleson-Cormack, who pushes confessional stand-up to its limits in The Disney Delusion.

For tickets and more information head to: www.underbellyedinburgh.co.uk

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