Note: This review is from the 2016 Fringe

ZOO venues have an exciting, international programme of dance, physical theatre, and new writing in store for their sixteenth year at the Fringe. Their two venues are centrally located, with ZOO down the road from Pleasance Courtyard and ZOO Southside in the Southside Community Centre on Nicholson Street, and contain a range of different size performance spaces, including one of the biggest stages in the fringe.

In addition to their two regular venues, this year ZOO venues are supporting two site-specific performances. The Master and Margarita, an immersive adaptation of Bulgakov’s novel, is performed amongst the graves in St Cuthbert’s churchyard, while St Mary’s South Lawn hosts Still Here, a verbatim play based on a refugee’s journey from Ethiopia to the Calais Jungle.

Undermined returns after a successful run at Edinburgh Fringe last year; it tells the story of the 1984 Miners’ Strike and the impact it had on mining communities from the perspective of a young miner. It is not the only show to take its inspiration from historical events: Scorched tells the story of WWII veteran Jack, whose dementia causes him to relive battles he fought in Egypt, 1941.

Tooth + Nail return to ZOO venues with Hummingbird, a darkly humorous, acrobatic story of love and murder inspired by the Lonely Hearts Killers of 1940s America. Luna Park also looks to mid-century America: a coming of age adventure that examines the 1930s immigrant experience through magical realism and physical theatre.

Gender relations and sexual politics are something of a theme in this year’s programme. Spun Glass Theatre are bringing Stamp, an interactive game show that pits women against men and joyously challenges gender binaries, and Operation Love Story, an anti-rom com satirising the works of Richard Curtis. More sober examinations of gender politics are promised by Partial Nudity, a drama about strippers forced to share a dressing room, and I, Who Have Hands More Innocent, an adaptation of the autobiographical works of Croatian poet Vesna Parun.

Other shows to watch out for include Daniel, winner of the Award for Creative Collaboration at the National Student Drama Festival, and Echoes, a domestic horror by Living Record, whose show Reunion earned five star reviews in 2015. Finders Keepers is a modern, comic adaptation of the Moses story, performed without dialogue and accessible to deaf and hearing audiences alike.

There are a wide range of unusual physical theatre performances on offer, from explorations of serious subjects like natural disasters (Molhados&Secos – Wet and Dry) and humanity’s final moments (Terra Incognita) to comedic handbalancing on eggs (Image – Selfie With Eggs). There are also two adaptations of Macbeth: one by Fortitude Dance Theatre set in Manchester, 1989; and Macbeth: Without Words, which uses tells the story through visual imagery.

In dance, 201 Dance Company return to ZOO venues with last year’s sell out Smother, a contemporary hip hop show exploring same-sex relationships. Scottish talent is well represented in Whiteout, exploring the complexities of bi-racial relationships, Wunderbar, a contemporary duet, and And Now…, a playful reflection on the 2014 Scottish Independence referendum. Pieces from Lithuania (Feel-Link and Contemporary?), Italy (Bang! To the Heart), and Taiwan (Taiwan Season: The Sacrifice of Roaring), add international flavour.

These are just some of the shows on offer this year. With a rich programme of physical performance and new writing, from international and local companies, ZOO venues are likely to have something for everyone.

Find the full ZOO Venues Programme on their website