Summerhall is a maze of a venue and could possibly be one of the most exciting locations in Edinburgh during the Fringe. The former Edinburgh University Vet School really is a hub, with a bar, a restaurant and various art exhibitions to take up your time. You could easily spend several days at Summerhall and still only experience a fraction of what the venue has to offer.
Theatre is Summerhall’s strong point and there is lots of it to experience. Stand out events include Abacus, a ‘baroque presentation’ that looks at how technology and screen media has infiltrated our lives and Alien Lullabies – Songs from a Decaying Future, a multimedia piece that combines animation and electronic music to offer an engaging form of cinematic theatre. Multimedia may be an underlying theme in the Summerhall programme with Portraits in Motion bringing together spoken word and projected photographic flipbooks to present what appears to be an original method of theatrical storytelling.
Spoken Word features more heavily in the Summerhall programme than previous years. Poet Hannah Jane Walker teams up with theatre maker Chris Thorpe to give us Human Resources. Previous collaborations between the pair have felt more like conversations with the audience to create unique spoken word theatre, so expect an immersive show. Poetry is also present in the performance Shift/ – A Best of Spoken Word where seven different poets present seven different shows for each day of the week. Performers include Scottish Slam Poetry Champion Bram E Gieben and performance poets Sam Small, Rachel McCrum and Jenny Lindsay. With a different performance every night it might be worth checking out this show on several occasions.
Music is also on offer at Summerhall, where the successful year round Nothing Ever Happens Here series of gigs continues into the festival season. Dutch punk rock band The EX return to Scotland and will bring some jazz inspired noise to the Dissection Room. Scottish performers also feature in the music programme, with local acts Supermoon and We Were Promised Jetpacks showing why the Edinburgh music scene should not go unnoticed during the Fringe.
Stand up comedy is absent from the programme at Summerhall but several comedians are presenting theatre shows. Activist Mark Thomas showcases Mark Thomas: Trespass – Work in Progress where he follows up his 2014 Fringe hit Cuckooed with a theatre piece that looks at cities, environment, and the places we live. Daniel Kitson is another comedian who likes to take the leap over to theatre. Polyphony is Kitson’s new show and the description in the programme gives little away. Kitson’s previous Fringe shows have been extremely successful so Polyphony may well be worth the gamble. Sh!t Theatre are a company that never stray too far away from comedy and they return to Summerhall with Women’s Hour, a show looking at feminism through comedy theatre and performance art. Another comedy theatre piece to watch out for is Islands by Caroline Horton and Co. Tax Havens and greed are the topics covered in a performance which looks to be ambitious and also lots of fun.
With so much theatre, dance, family shows, music and visual art on offer it is possible to get lost just walking around Summerhall and taking in the atmosphere. It is definitely worth putting aside several days in your Fringe timetable to spend at Summerhall, as there will likely to be something to suit your taste and you will almost definitely discover something new and exciting during your visit.