With Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2019 kicking off this week, Theatre Editor Daniel Perks picks some of the top theatre shows he's most looking forward to. Read on for some of the best that Edinburgh has to offer:

Theatre makes up over a third of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2019 offering – more if you count musical theatre!

2019 is the return of the biennial British Council Showcase, bringing with it such powerhouses as Frankenstein: How To Make A Monster; I’m A Phoenix, Bitch and Oh Yes Oh No.

It’s a place where legends are born – see Six, Fleabag, Stomp, Mischief Theatre (of The Play That Goes Wrong fame) and the Showstoppers! as prime examples.

But Edinburgh is also the place of new writing, where companies try their hand with new material and hope to find success. Read some of my top theatre picks below:

Incident Room Edfringe 2019`
David Byrne and Olivia Hirst’s The Incident Room (image courtesy of Guy Sanders)

The Incident Room

New Diorama Theatre pack a punch down in London. Open fewer than ten years, and with a main space at just 80 seats, this top theatre consistently supports emerging and mid-career theatre companies under the wise annd watchful eye of David Byrne. Byrne’s own plays have caused quite a stir in Edinburgh, with Secret Life Of Humans transferring to off-Broadway after its 2017 run.

The Incident Room is “New Diorama’s biggest, most ambitious project to date”, according to Byrne. Co-written with Olivia Hirst, it delves into the five-year search for The Yorkshire Ripper in the 1970s.

A transfer back to London is unsurprisingly already on the books for 2020 in this co-production with The Pleasance and Greenwich Theatre.

Catch The Incident Room from 31 July – 26 August at Pleasance Courtyard.

Bible John Edfringe 2019`
Poor Michelle’s Bible John

Bible John

The last two recipients of the Charlie Hartill Theatre Reserve have gone from Edinburgh on to acclaimed success. In 2018, Freeman was further nominated for the Amnesty Freedom of Expression Award and two Offies.

And in 2017, winners Flesh and Bone went on to a run at the Soho Theatre and an Olivier Award for Outstanding Achievement in an Affiliate Theatre.

Bible John is in good company.

Another true crime production, theatre company Poor Michelle draw from the Barrowlands Ballroom murders in Glasgow in the 1960s to examine the nature of victimhood. This story has never been solved, so Caitlin McEwan‘s script allows the four performers to seek solace and closure for the three women murdered by an Old Testament-quoting serial killer.

Catch Bible John from 31 July – 26 August at Pleasance Courtyard.

Illegal Edfringe 2019`
Illegal (image courtesy of Claire Fraser)


From true crimes to current injustices, Illegal presents the reason why immigration is such a global problem in this current political climate.

A Scandal Theatre and RiotBox co-production, Jessica Phillippi‘s narrative poem – with music by Simon Liddell – shines the light on an American artist with visa issues and a Guatemalan graduate choosing whether to risk her life attempting to enter America. Two disparate tales that slowly intertwine in the choice to be Illegal, and to be safe.

Riotbox Productions have a proven track record in Edinburgh, with comedy legend Limmy‘s latest show already sold out and Amy Conway’s Super Awesome World from 2017 still touring across the UK and in New York.

Catch Illegal from 1 – 25 August at Underbelly Cowgate.

Traumgirl Traumboy Edfringe 2019`
Anne Welenc’s Traumgirl & Daniel Hellmann’s Traumboy (image courtesy of Anna Daniel)

Traumboy/ Traumgirl

Productions about the sex industry have been plentiful in recent years, with the likes of Sex Workers Opera and F**ck You Pay Me tearing up tours of the UK.

Here we have a call and response style piece from Daniel Hellmann and Anne Welenc. Traumboy comes from Hellmann’s experience within the field of sex work, and Traumgirl responds in kind.

The former has had an extensive international tour, the latter is premiering here at Summerhall for this Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2019. A double bill to be seen in either order, but not to be missed.

Catch Traumboy from 2 – 24 August at Summerhall.

Catch Traumgirl from 3 – 25 August at Summerhall.

Tricky Second Album EdFringe 2019
in Bed With My Brother’s Tricky Second Album (image courtesy of Matt Austin)

Tricky Second Album

Oh, the price of fame with your debut creation. Adele‘s 19. Harper Lee‘s To Kill A Mockingbird.

How do you follow up? In some cases, very well (Adele). In others… mmm… (Harper).

So now we turn to In Bed With My Brother, who smashed it out the park with top theatre show We Are Ian. Literally. Biscuits everywhere.

Do we believe in them? Absolutely. Are we excited for that Tricky Second Album, made now the world has gone to shit? Of course. Will it be like We Are Ian? Apparently not, and WE ARE SO READY.

Catch Tricky Second Album from 2 – 18 August at Pleasance Dome.

Burgerz EdFringe 2019
Travis Alabanza’s Burgerz


Throw a burger at Travis Alabanza and they’ll write a show about it. A climax to the obsession of how they can best reclaim the acts of transphobic violence that are still far too prevalent in the world.

Alabanza is at the forefront of intersectional discussions around race, trans-identity and class. Top theatre Burgerz has previewed in London and Berlin, and now comes to the fringe as part of the British Council Showcase 2019. A UK-wide tour follows, showcasing this much-needed powerful production to highlight the power of words that both hurt and heal.

Catch Burgerz from 1 – 25 August at Traverse Theatre.

Chatback Theatre EdFringe 2019
Chatback Theatre’s If This Is Normal

If This Is Normal

What happens when you put writer Lucy Danser, director Helena Jackson and sound designer Nicola Chang together? You get If This If Normal, a top theatre pick for Miro Magazine and what will inevitably be a DAMN GOOD SHOW.

If This Is Normal is a take on friendships, ones that start so openly and then seemingly close down as unspoken thoughts creep into the subconsciousness.

Catch If This Is Normal from 2 – 26 August at ZOO Playground.