Fringe Preview: Gilded Balloon


Kerry Teakle, who once headed up the GB Fringe press office herself, recommends her choice of shows this Fringe.

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As Karen and Katy Koren bring Gilded Balloon into its 32nd year, they’ve added a new venue to their growing portfolio, in the form of the Rose Theatre, in association with Danish choreographer and director, Peter Schaufuss, who bought the former Charlotte Bapist Chapel in 2016 and has spent ¬£1.8m on its conversion and refurbishment.

The venue is situated in an iconic New Town building on Rose Street, and is a stone’s throw away from the Book Festival, breathing new fringe life into this part of the city.

Musical Theatre

The Rose Theatre will be showcasing the finest in musical theatre from Captivate Theatre: Annie, Les Miserables, Oliver and Sweeney Todd; some edgy cabaret with the Lulu Show, a witty show on shoes, finance and other perversities; Mother’s Ruin, which promises to be a raucous journey through the history of gin; midnight drag in Late Night Lip Service; and the long overdue return of Craig Ferguson, for the first time in 24 years.

Other gems happening at the Rose Theatre include the returning smash-hit, Doris, Dolly and the Dressing Room Divas, telling the irreverent tales from the dressing rooms of Doris Day, Dolly Parton, Judy Garland and Liza Minelli, told from the views of three make-up girls; and Assessment, a new play from theatre critic turned playwright, Robert Dawson Scott, which gets its premiere here.

Gilded Balloon at the Museum

At the museum again for the second year, Gilded Balloon will be rolling out a politically-charged programme. America a cappella drag queens The Kinsey Sicks take on Trump in Things You Shouldn’t Say, former Labour advisor Ayesha Hazarika addresses the¬†State of the Nation and lifts the lid on what it really is like behind the scenes of Westminster, and the brutally intense This Is Not Culturally Significant literally strips back the thin veneer of modern society in a one-man show performed entirely in the nude.

One of Scotland’s favourite stand-up comedians, Fred MacAulay is branching out with a new lunch-time chat show and will be joined In Conversation with guests from worlds of sport, entertainment, business and politics.

And for night-time entertainment, join Gilded Balloon for their flagship, madcap improv show, Night at the Museum, where the best comedians from across the globe blur the line between arteFACT and arteFICTION in a wholly improvised set.


As always, the wonderful Teviot building continues as Gilded Balloon’s main festival hub.

Be sure to catch photographer Steve Ullathorne’s Annual Photo Fest. It’s free and is found in the cafe area.

Theatre wise, Borders by Henry Naylor, has the potential for being another Fringe award winner, if his last offerings, Angel and Echoes are anything to go by. In his new play, he turns his attention to the refugee crisis by highlighting the epic story of one young Syrian’s journey to Europe.

After the 2014 and 2015 hit show Black is the Colour of My Voice, Apphia Campbell returns with a brand new play, Woke, which tells the story of the African-American experience.

African Influences

Umshado: Marriage of Heritage, is a new musical theatre gem at the Rose Theatre and is a pot pourri of African heritage, music and dance, capturing the magic of love, conflict, family, ceremony and rites of passage, whilst reinforcing social cohesion.


There’s no shortage of comedy at Gilded Balloon. Ones to look out for are Chris Forbes, Adam Kay, Bec Hill, Jan Ravens in Difficult Woman, Patrick Monahan (he’s got three shows, including a kids’ show) and George Egg: Anarchist Chef, who will appeal to any foodies, as he cooks really good food on stage using the most unconventional equipment, and you get to try what he’s made at the end of the show. Just don’t tell the health and safety guys.

And finally, Ray Bradshaw: Deaf Comedy Fam will be signing his show in British Sign Language (which just happens to be Ray’s first language) and in spoken English, recounting hilarious tales of growing up with two deaf parents, in a bid to make comedy more accessible to deaf people.

Full Gilded Balloon programme at www.gildedballoon.co.uk

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