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Edinburgh – Family drama, Partition and romance just some of this year’s theatre highlights (Preview/Listings)

Edinburgh – Family drama, Partition and romance just some of this year’s theatre highlights  (Preview/Listings)

So what’s happening in Edinburgh this year with both the Edinburgh International Festival and Edinburgh Fringe (in alphabetical order)…

By Mamie Colfox

FOUR GENERATIONS of a fictional Sri Lankan-Australian family covering their loves, disappointments and highs will be explored at the Edinburgh International Festival this year, in a play called ‘Counting and Cracking’.

Spanning the years 1956-2004, the play is set in Sri Lanka post-independence and Australia as in immigrant nation and follows Radha and her son Siddhartha in Sydney, Australia.

After receiving a phone call from Colombo, the past in Sri Lanka that they desperately tried to escape from comes spinning back to them.

Directed by award-winner Eamon Flack and written by Shakthi Shakthidharan and based on his own family’s experiences, it deals with themes of love and political strife, home and exile, as well as parents and children.

‘Counting and Cracking’, August 8-14, The Lyceum, 30b Grindlay Street, EH3 9AX

Look out for our interview with Shakthi Shakthidharan and this play which won awards and is regarded as as a seminal contemporary work in its native Australia coming soon to the site…

Now, let’s take a look at what’s available at this year’s Edinburgh Fringe Festival…

Afghanistan Is Not Funny– True story of two men’s experiences of war

‘Afghanistan Is Not Funny’ – Henry Naylor as himself

PLAYWRIGHT Henry Naylor and photographer Sam Maynard’s true story is about their time in war-torn Afghanistan in 2002 when they were researching a comedy. Performed by Naylor himself, we hear about when they were threatened by a war criminal, taken captive by the Mujahideen and almost blown up by the Taliban.

‘Afghanistan Is Not Funny by Henry Naylor’, August 3-28, Gilded Balloon Teviot, Teviot Row House, EH8 9AJ (4pm)

Apradhini – Women Without Men’- Incarcerated women guilty of crimes given voices…

PERFORMED by two actors, this show focuses on the stories of five female prisoners incarcerated in India for crimes such as armed robbery, dacoity and murder. Although guilty, the circumstances leading to their crimes include being beaten, abused and exploited by society, which led to their law breaking.

‘Apradhini- Women Without Men’, August 22-28, Laughing Horse at the Counting House, 34 W Nicolson Street, Newington, EH8 9DD (11.30am)

‘Brown Boys Swim– Coming-of-age play between two Muslim friends…

‘Brown Boys Swim’

WRITTEN by winner of Riz Ahmed’s Left Handed Films and Pillars Fund, Karim Khan, this play examines the pressures surrounding young Muslim men today.

The lyrical coming-of-age play follows best friends Mohse and Kash as they learn to swim in time for the end of term pool party, whilst learning more and more about themselves.

‘Brown Boys Swim’, August 3-25, Pleasance Dome, 1 Bristo Square, Potterrow EH8 9AL (2.30pm)

The Elephant in the Room– Identity and belonging are themes of one woman show

ACTOR and Playwright Priyanka Shetty brings us a one woman show, in which she moves from her homeland, India, to America. Its themes of love and loss, race and belonging are interwoven with humour as Priyanka finds common ground in her new, westernised home.

‘The Elephant in the Room’, August 4-25, Assembly Rooms, 54 George Street, EH2 2LR (2.20pm)

Exodus’- Politician sets sights on white cliffs of dover for PR stunt…


HOME SECRETARY in this production, Asiya Rao, is preparing a major policy announcement in a bid to become the front runner in a political race, including a PR stunt with the white cliffs of Dover. However, her reputation is not wiped clean as she hoped and she has to turn an omen into an opportunity.

‘Exodus’, August 6-28, Traverse Theatre 1, 10 Cambridge Street, EH1 2ED (times vary)

Home is Not the Place– Pre-Independence drama

WRITER PM John’s short life is the subject of this solo show, set before Indian independence from Britain. An autobiographical account, John’s story covers themes of empire, migration, identity and belonging over three generations in search of who and what we are.

‘Home is Not the Place’, August 3-27, Summerhall, Newington, EH9 1PL (7.20pm)

Kathputli Colony: A Tale of Art and Resistance– Instruments as a show of resistance…

‘Kathputli Colony: A Tale of Art and Resistance’

KATHPUTLI COLONY is home to India’s biggest community of artists, musicians, dancers, puppeteers and street-performers who are still forced from their homes into camps around Delhi today.

This production will tell their stories through Indian folk songs, puppetry, music and Dhol drumming in the same way they use these instruments as a show of resistance.

‘Kathputli Colony: A Tale of Art and Resistance’, August 10-14, Pianodrome at the Old Royal High School, 5-7 Regent Road, EH7 5BL (2pm)

Made in India/Britain– BSL play that explores confronting your past

SINCE leaving Birmingham, Rinkoo Barpaga has encountered racism and discrimination but wants somewhere to call home. Performed in BSL, this production follows Barpaga as he questions belonging and deep dives into past experiences to learn more about himself.

‘Made in India/Britain’, August 3-29, Pleasance Courtyard, 6 Pleasance, EH8 9TJ (1.40pm)

Mohan: A Partition Story– First hand account of Partition experiences with some comedy…

‘Mohan: A Partition Story’

JUST in time for the 75th anniversary of the Partition of India, this play is a retelling of renowned storyteller Niall Moorjani’s grandfather’s first- hand experience of Partition. Interwoven with the story are intriguing and funny insights, accompanied by live music, says the blurb.

‘Mohan: A Partition Story’, August 5-16, Scottish Storytelling Centre, Netherbow Theatre, 43-45 High Street, EH1 1SR (August 4-16)

Move Fast and Break Things– The hunt for the man who made Google trillions…

AMIT PATEL, the man who created Search, discovered something in our data that made Google $1.7 trillion, then disappeared without a trace. Through movement, live video and puppetry, this play plunges into the datasphere to try and find him.

‘Move Fast and Break Things’, August 3-14, Summerhall, Newington, EH9 1PL (8.55pm or 10.55pm)

The One TEEN Show– No obstacles will stand in the way of teenager staging live show…

‘The One TEEN Show’- Leeth Singhage

A SRI-LANKAN teenager, Leeth Singhage, is determined to stage a live show admist the pandemic and a country in crisis, through the lense of a comedic, musical and dramatic solo performance with multiple characters.

‘The One TEEN Show’, August 15-20, Paradise in Augustine, 41 George IV Bridge, EH1 1EL (11.10pm)

Rajesh and Naresh– Queer India love story

A FEEL-GOOD love story, Rajesh and Naresh fall in love after Rajesh visits Mumbai. This is a queer story that meets both ‘Bend it Like Beckham’ and ‘It’s A Sin’, set just after India decriminalised homosexuality in 2018.

‘Rajesh and Naresh’, August 3-14, Summerhall, Newington, EH9 1PL (2.45pm)

‘S.O.E’- Celebrated spy Noor Inayat Khan drama

‘S.O.E’- Claire Obscur (Vera Atkins) and Noor Inayat Khan

MADELEINE is the code name given to a wireless operator tasked with espionage, sabotage and reconnaissance, within WW2 Special Operations, where life expectancy is six weeks. Set in post war Germany in 1947, Vera Atkins (Claire Obscur) looks for 12 missing women agents, and uncovers the most chilling case, the celebrated case of spy, Noor Inayat Khan – otherwise known as Madeleine. There has been increasing interest in Khan in more recent times, illustrated by a blue plaque created for her in Taviton Street, Bloomsbury, London in August 2020.

‘S.O.E’, August 19-25, Assembly Rooms, 54 George Street, EH2 2LR (11.30am)

‘Tickbox’- Pakistani heritage family’s Glasgow trials and tribulations

A SEMI-AUTOBIOGRAPHICAL, one woman play performed in English and Urdu that shares the journey of a Pakistani family as they settle in Govan, Glasgow. Lubna Kerr plays all characters as they explore how to deal with discrimination, such as through food- no one knows what a samosa is- as well as humour.

‘Tickbox’, August 16-17, Summerhall, Newington, EH9 1PL (8.55pm)

Lead picture: ‘Counting and Cracking’, Older Thirru (Antonythasan Jesuthasan) ©Brett Boardman

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Written by Asian Culture Vulture