We're in at Number 28!

THE EDINBURGH FESTIVAL CAN BE overwhelming at times. With so much on offer, where on earth do you start?

Let us try to help. Our list of the 50 things you must catch this August was put together by The Scotsman's unrivalled team of critics. We're not claiming for a second that it is exhaustive - I can think of about a dozen shows off the top of my head that I was disappointed to leave out - but every one of these 50 is a solid, considered tip from an expert. To narrow things down, we've prioritised new shows - or established names trying exciting new things - over returning favourites. This could, of course, mean that some of the shows on our list will fall flat - who knows, even The Bacchae could be a disaster - but based on the track records of the people involved we think it's unlikely.

Most importantly, perhaps, we disqualified anything that's already sold out. As we went to press on Tuesday, tickets for everything on this list were still available (although we can make no promises about the choices from the Film Festival, which only made its programme public on Wednesday).

This list, of course, is just the start of over a month of the most comprehensive festival coverage that you will find in any publication, anywhere. So watch this space for many more recommendations.

• FOR over 30 years The Scotsman has been giving out its Fringe First awards, in recognition of outstanding new writing premiered on the Fringe. Over that time they have become as sought-after, and recognised, as the Perrier.

This year, for the fourth year running, we are teaming up with the Assembly Rooms to host the Scotsman Fringe Awards, a FREE ceremony on Friday 24 August to which all our readers are warmly invited. As well as finding out what the most talked-about shows on the Fringe are, audiences can watch exclusive performances from some of the best shows, and mingle with the festival's biggest movers and shakers, who regularly attend the ceremony.

Reflecting its increasing popularity, this year the Scotsman Fringe Awards move to an even bigger venue, Assembly Hall on the Mound. To find out

how to claim your free tickets to the show (first come, first served, as ever), read The Scotsman's first Festival magazine on Saturday 4 August.


The Bacchae

King's Theatre, 11-18 August

IF THEATRE in Scotland has an "A" team, then here it comes. In a co-production with the Edinburgh International Festival even more high-profile than last year's Fringe triumph, Black Watch, the National Theatre of Scotland stages a new version of Euripides's powerful and horrifying drama. Dionysus is played by Perthshire-born Broadway and Hollywood star Alan Cumming; the director is John Tiffany of the NTS, who promises a production to put even Black Watch in the shade. JM

Tel: 0131-473 2000.


Bank of Scotland totalART: Warhol

National Gallery of Scotland, 4 August to 7 October

ANDY Warhol gave the 20th century its icons. He had an extraordinary gift for taking the everyday imagery which surrounds us and making it memorable. Marilyn Monroe, Elizabeth Taylor, Mao Tse Tung, all great stars, yet however familiar, we know them best as he saw them. He managed to distil popular imagery into art. This festival exhibition is the largest collection of his work ever to be shown in Scotland. DM

Tel: 0131-624 6200.


Courtney Pine and Tommy Smith Play Coltrane

Queen's Hall, 28 July

THE UK's two top saxophonists get together on the same stage for the first time ever, united by the timeless music of their mutual idol, the great John Coltrane. Both players emerged as leaders of the new wave of British jazz in the mid-1980s, and have remained inspiring presences ever since, but have taken very different directions. It is a combination that few could ever have expected to see, and the chance to hear them together is unmissable. KM

Tel: 0131-473 2000.


Death Proof

Cineworld 7, 18 August

QUENTIN Tarantino's Death Proof was always going to be the star attraction of his and Robert Rodriquez's exploitation double bill. This is the beefed-up, 30-minutes-longer cut that debuted at Cannes, boasting more character build-up, more Tarantino-talk and, ahem, more lap-dancing. Add that to the authentically retro scratched-up visual style, the female revenge plot and Kurt Russell's scar-faced, car-crashing psycho, Stuntman Mike, and it should be a riot. AH

Tel: 0131-228 2688.


Reginald D Hunter: F*** You in the Age of Consequence

E4 Udderbelly's Pasture, 2-27 August.

REGINALD D Hunter rejects routines that might be the cornerstones of lesser comics' shows. One of the Fringe's perennially hottest tickets, the big Georgian has been range-finding some audacious material this summer, specifically on what he terms "f*** you movies". JR

Tel: 0870 745 3083.


Jane Irwin/Hebrides Ensemble

Queen's Hall, 11 August

LAST year, the Scots-based mezzo soprano Jane Irwin gave a Queen's Hall Britten recital with the Scottish Ensemble that was an enthralling landmark in the Festival's daily lunchtime series. Expectations are high for this year's programme, which is geared to Irwin's personable style and includes Edward Harper's microcosmic arrangement of Mahler's subliminal Kindertotenlieder and Luciano Berio's quirky Folksongs. Also on the Hebrides' billing are Nigel Osborne's Balkan Dances and Laments and Janacek's Mladi. KW

Tel: 0131-473 2000.


Romeo and Juliet

Assembly @ George Street, 7-27 August

IN AQUILA Theatre Company's take on Shakespeare's great love story, the cast learn all the parts, and are given their roles on the night by lucky dip, meaning one night you could quite easily get a teenage male Juliet and a middle-aged female Romeo. Already a hit in the US, it sounds like a hoot. AE

Tel: 0131-623 3030.


On Danse

Playhouse, 11-13 August

DANCE and video seem to be inextricably linked these days. In On Danse French choreographers José Montalvo and Dominique Hervieu have blended the two seamlessly. Inspired by the comic operas of Jean-Philippe Rameau, On Danse mixes ballet, contemporary, hip hop and African dance with humorous dialogue and stunning filmic images. KA

Tel: 0131-473 2000.


Manufacturing Dissent: Uncovering Michael Moore

Cineworld 6, 23 August

WITH Michael Moore's new film Sicko just out in America, this new documentary puts his movies and methods under the spotlight, revealing the extent to which he manipulates the truth. Don't expect a right-wing attack: the film-makers describe themselves as "progressive liberals" and, with Moore apparently refusing all interview requests, it sounds like a fascinating spin on his own Roger & Me. AH

Tel: 0131-228 2688.


Stravinsky Double Bill: Orpheus & Oedipus Rex

Usher Hall, 23 August

CLASSICAL tales through the neo-classical mouthpiece of Stravinsky are the stuff of this gritty double bill - a nod, perhaps, to Canadian Opera's Stravinsky package several years ago, Symphony of Psalms and Oedipus Rex. Ilan Volkov and the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra combine a concert version of Oedipus with Stravinsky's Monteverdi-inspired ballet score Orpheus. Jeffrey Lloyd-Roberts is the lead in the opera. Expect understated intensity from all concerned. KW

Tel: 0131-473 2000.


Jardins Publics

Across Edinburgh, 10 August until 2 September

FOR the first time in many years the Edinburgh International Festival is presenting a visual art programme, with work across the city by Richard Wright, Applonija Susteric and Michael Lin. DM

Tel: 0131-473 2000.


Norman Mailer with Andrew O'Hagan

Charlotte Square, 12 August

THE grand master of American fiction talks from his home in Provincetown to one of the finest young Scottish writers on stage in Edinburgh. DR

Tel: 0845 373 5888.



The Black Tent, Leith, 2 August to 1 September

THIS Argentinean cult hit has sold out wherever it's played and will be a major talking point this Fringe. Spectacular music, lights and dance in one of the world's largest touring venues. KA

Tel: 0870 745 3083.


Charles Spencer

Charlotte Square, 15 August

CHARLES Spencer's biography of Prince Rupert shows what it was about the dashing German that made him such a brilliantly effective cavalry general for Charles I - and what led to the downfall of "the last cavalier". DR

Tel: 0845 373 5888.


Vivaldi's Orlando Furioso

Usher Hall, 12 August

VIVALDI'S opera Orlando Furioso comes from a late batch of the 1720s, and marks one of several which have made it cautiously back into the repertoire. A concert performance by the Scottish Chamber Orchestra and Chorus. KW

Tel: 0131-473 2000.


The Container

George Square, 3-26 August

NOVELTY venues are a staple of the Fringe, due to lack of venue space, but this is an idea that potentially has real resonance and power. The Container is a show about illegal immigrants, performed inside the kind of freight container used by so many to try to cross the UK's borders. There are only 20 seats per show, so book early. AE

Tel: 0870 745 3083.


Julia Donaldson

Charlotte Square, 18 and 19 August

THE author of The Gruffalo Song is back with two new books on which she has worked with two different illustrators - Tiddler (with Axel Scheffler) and Tyrannosaurus Drip (with David Roberts). A true crowd-pleaser for the discerning juvenile (ages five to eight). DR

Tel: 0845 373 5888.


Ben Okri

Charlotte Square, 24 August,

THE Nigerian writer returns to launch his novel Starbook, which looks deeper than ever into the causes of political turbulance of his native land. In a year celebrating the anniversary of the abolition of slavery, Okri reminds us of its lingering afterlife in the collective unconscious. DR

Tel: 0845 373 5888.


Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra

Usher Hall, 28 August

MARISS Jansons and the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra (BRSO) present Debussy's La Mer and Shostakovich's Fifth Symphony. Many place the BRSO on a similar ranking to the Berlin Philharmonic. Expect nothing short of perfection. KW

Tel: 0131-473 2000.


Bigger than Jesus

St George's West Sanctuary, 2-27 August

THIS solo show by Rick Miller, the man behind the hugely entertaining MacHomer, promises a lightning trip through "2,000 years of Selling the Big Guy!" Bigger than Jesus has already won rave reviews in America and promises to be a must-see here. AE

Tel: 0131-623 3030.


Yuri Bashmet / Oleg Maisenberg

Queen's Hall, 24 August

UKRAINIAN viola player Yuri Bashmet has been accused of turning up unprepared, and even not turning up at all, but nothing can detract from the virile tone he produces. Britten's Lachrymae, Shostakovich's Viola Sonata and Brahms's E flat Sonata feature in this Queen's Hall recital. KW

Tel: 0131-473 2000.


Yann Martel

Charlotte Square, 26 August

IT'S five years since Martel read at the Book Festival. Within a couple of months, his novel The Life of Pi had won the Man Booker Prize and was on its way to selling millions, transforming the fortunes of Edinburgh publishers Canongate. He's back from Canada to launch a new edition, illustrated by Croatian artist Tomislav Torjanac, of the novel of which Man Booker judge Lisa Jardine said "really will make you believe in God - or ask yourself why you don't". DR

Tel: 0845 373 5888.


Simon Amstell: No Self

Pleasance Courtyard, 1-27 August

WHEN Simon Amstell took Mark Lamarr's chair on Never Mind the Buzzcocks, I realised how Baden-Powell must have felt at the Relief of Mafeking. Amstell is a hugely talented boy, cruising the high comedy ground between the user-friendly poofery of Graham Norton and the screaming velociraptor that is Scott Capurro. KC

Tel: 0131-556 6550.


Ravenhill for Breakfast

Traverse, 7-26 August

ONLY in Edinburgh, maybe, would top playwright and cultural commentator Mark Ravenhill - best known for his huge 1990s hit Shopping And F***ing - set himself the task of creating a new 30-minute play at the Traverse, every morning for 17 days. Produced by Paines Plough, the news-driven plays will feature guest artists from across the Edinburgh festivals; they'll also borrow titles from grand novels and movies of the past, in an effort to explore whether the epic experience in still possible in self-obsessed times. JM

Tel: 0131-228 1404.


Martha McBrier: So You Think You're a Good Heckler

Smirnoff Baby Bell, 2-26 August

MARTHA McBrier is, to quote the song, "strictly a female female" who makes you laugh out loud. The first night I saw her she turned shambles into a comedic art form. She has made the big move from a Leith basement to the Underbelly and I really hope her confidence makes the journey, because McBrier is, I honestly think, a kind of comedy genius. A very vague, fluffy, slightly mumsy genius. But genius nevertheless. KC

Tel: 0870 745 3083.


Benny Golson Quartet

The Hub, 3 August

HARD bop has been the modern mainstream of jazz since the 1950s, and alto saxophonist Benny Golson is among the handful of key creators still going strong from its formative decade. Golson was a key member of two of the most significant hard bop bands, Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers and his own Jazztet, co-led with Art Farmer. Jazz history in the flesh. KM

Tel: 0131-473 2000


Impressing The Czar

Festival Theatre, 18-20 August

AMERICAN choreographer William Forsythe is a little precious about his creations. Only dancers deemed talented enough are allowed to perform them, and Impressing the Czar has never been tackled by anyone other than Forsythe's own company, Ballet Frankfurt. So it's quite a coup for the Royal Ballet of Flanders to be handling this witty, flamboyant and brilliantly choreographed masterpiece. A guaranteed highlight at this year's International Festival. KA

Tel: 0131-473 2000


Seach'd: The Inaccessible Pinnacle

Cameo 1, 16 August

IF PART of going to a film festival is to experience something you've never seen before, then this should fulfil that criterion: it's the first ever Gaelic language feature film. Set and shot in Skye and drawing from the vast pool of Gaelic myths and folktales, it revolves around a young man on a quest for the truth about his parents' death - a quest aided by his dying grandfather, a storyteller who directs his grandson to the titular Munro mountain peak. AH

Tel: 0131-228 2688


The Human Computer

Traverse 3: University of Edinburgh Drill Hall, 1-26 August

FOR most performers, the Perrier - or the if.comedy award as it is now - is a launchpad towards a TV comedy career. For Will Adamsdale, it was more like a distraction. A theatre performer at heart, he's where he belongs this year, at the Traverse, following up last year's terrific show The Receipt with "a show about computers, by someone who knows nothing about them". AE

Tel: 0131-228 1404


Leitmotif Assembly

Aurora Nova, 2-27 August.

IN 2005, Andrew Dawson had audiences reaching for their tissues and critics dishing out five stars en masse. Dawson's poignant tribute to his late father, Absence & Presence, will be a hard act to follow, but he's giving it a go. Solo show Leitmotif finds Dawson collaborating with eight friends, including a choreographer, filmmaker, Aardman animator and musician. Together they have produced a series of themed vignettes which explore facets of Dawson's personality. A captivating hour awaits us. KA

Tel: 0131-623 3030


The Bad Plus/Happy Apple

The Bad Plus play The Hub, 31 July; Happy Apple play Bosco Theatre, 1 August; Bad Apple play Bosco Theatre, 2 August

THE BAD Plus's debut five years ago remains one of the great occasions in the jazz festival's history, and this project will add a new dimension to their presence. Drummer Dave King is the link in both The Bad Plus, with Ethan Iverson and Reid Anderson, and Happy Apple, another inventively experimental trio with Michael Lewis and Erik Fratzke. Both trios will play their own gigs, and then collaborate in the culminating Bad Apple concert for only the second time ever. KM

Tel: 0131-473 2000


Bombers' Row

Hill Street Theatre, 3-27 August,

THE 2007 Fringe is full of shows about terrorism and what motivates it; but none seems set to address it more directly than this dark comedy about three famous people imprisoned as terrorists, kept in neighbouring cages, and allowed to talk to one another for an hour each day. 78th Street Theatre Lab of New York won a Scotsman Fringe First in 2001 for their terrific in-your-face drama, Jesus Hopped the A Train; this show could match it, for impact and timeliness. JM

Tel: 0131-623 3030



Cineworld 7, 17 August

THE troubled life of Joy Division frontman Ian Curtis is the subject of this Cannes-wowing debut film from rock photographer Anton Corbijn. Plagued by epilepsy and depression, Curtis hanged himself in 1980 at the age of 23, leaving behind a child, his wife and a legacy of soulful, doom-laden music. As Curtis, Sam Riley is, we hear, astounding, as is the stark monochrome visual style Corbijn uses to evoke the mood of post-punk Manchester. AH

Tel: 0131-228 2688


Teenage Kicks

Assembly Universal Arts, 3-27 August

A PLAY based on the life and times of John Peel could go to either extreme. It might tap into the eclectic, uncategorisable spirit of the man himself, or it could just be reverential guff. It might even just be an hour of a man mumbling and playing Teutonic trance metal on national radio simply because he can. Playwright Paul Hodson's involvement suggests bright things, however - last year's Meeting Joe Strummer received four stars in this very paper, and compared his style to that of Nick Hornby. DP

Tel: 0131-623 3030


Shappi Khorsandi: Carry on Shappi

Pleasance Jack Dome, 1-17 August

SEVEN and a half months pregnant at the beginning of August, Shappi Khorsandi is thought to be the most far-gone performer ever to play the Fringe. The 32-year-old Anglo-Iranian has bloomed as a stand-up in recent years, with a delivery that's increasingly assured and mischievous and lately, requiring a midwife on call. Also appearing at the festival and in much of her material as the flabbergasted father-to-be is husband Christian Reilly. JR

Tel: 0131- 556 6550


Limmy's Show

The Stand II, 4-26 August

FURTHER proving Web 2.0's capacity for raising the inane from obscurity is Brian Limond (aka Limmy), Scotland's original net-centric comedy sensation. His brilliant podcast series World of Glasgow made the iTunes top 10 in 2005. His website - - is a hilarious and occasionally disturbing catalogue of surreal videos, photos and Flash-based playthings (including one very rude xylophone). Following a sell-out show at the Glasgow International Comedy Festival, he at last leaves his bedroom again to make makes his Fringe debut, promising "madcap sketches and daft videos". MJ

Tel: 0131-558 7272


Hallam Foe

Cineworld 7, 15 August

KICKING off the Film Festival in fine style, the latest from Young Adam director David Mackenzie stars Jamie Bell as a feral teenager traumatised by his mother's suicide. Escaping from his home in the Scottish Borders, he embarks on a Catcher In the Rye-like adventure in Edinburgh. Funny, sexy, disturbing and moving, it's a coming-of-age film with a difference and makes great use of the Edinburgh locales, especially the city's rooftops. There's a hilarious scene-stealing turn from Ewen Bremner too. AH

Tel: 0131-228 2688



Traverse 3: University of Edinburgh Drill Hall, 14-26 August

AFTER the international success of 2005 show The Lost Ones, Scottish-based director Matthew Lenton and his Vanishing Point company are on a roll. Their new show Subway, starring award-winning actor Sandy Grierson, is billed as a dystopian musical adventure about small acts of rebellion; watch out for Vanishing Point's signature combination of haunting text, state-of-the-art visuals, and outstanding music, in this case from a wild and brilliant band picked up on a recent visit to Kosovo. JM

Tel: 0131-228 1404


Kaiser Chiefs/The View

Meadowbank Stadium, 24 August

THE Meadowbank outdoor show is now a staple of T on the Fringe. The sound may be erratic and the stench from the burger vans none too pleasant but, the terminally contagious Kaiser Chiefs are the kind of top pop band who can transport you momentarily with a well deployed "wooooo" and some mandatory stagediving from frontman Ricky Wilson. Scruffy local heroes The View are a support band worth arriving early for. FS


The House Of The Holy Afro

Queen's Hall, 6-27 August

UNSURPRISINGLY, party shows thrive on the Fringe. Last year's euphoric favourite Havana Rumba returns, but there is also a new contender for feelgood hit of the summer in the shape of our cover stars The House Of The Holy Afro, a dynamic celebration of the words, rhythms and choreography of 21st century Africa from South African company Third World Bunfight, in collaboration with house DJ Dino Moran and street poet Odidi Mfenyana. Put on your dancing shoes. FS

Tel: 0131-623 3030


Rhona Cameron

Gilded Balloon Teviot, 18-26 August

THE world has two things to thank Musselburgh for: Luca's ice cream and Rhona Cameron. She is a comic who has been away from the stand-up mike for too long, but each time she comes back she is better. She is warm, funny and honest. And now she has come home to the Gilded Balloon. This promises to be a joyous, personal show from the heart of a seriously accomplished performer. KC

Tel: 0131-668 1633


Orpheus X

Royal Lyceum Theatre, 25-29 August

THE relationship between words and music, the birth of opera, and the role of ancient myth in shaping all forms of theatre - these are the basic themes of Jonathan Mills's first Festival, and they're all present in this dark 21st-century reworking of the Orpheus myth starring New York-based singer, composer and actor Rinde Eckert. A rock star is involved in a road accident that kills a beautiful downtown poet, and becomes obsessed with the idea of rescuing her. "Powerfully acted and gorgeously sung," said Variety, of last year's US premiere. JM

Tel: 0131-473 2000


Sean Hughes

Gilded Balloon Teviot, 18-26 August

HUGHES reckons he has "the fire back in my belly". And that has to be one of the most enticing prospects in Edinburgh since the Frozen Margarita machine in the Assembly Bar. Hughes is an Alpha Irish bad boy with that Celtic gift of words that means he can just as exquisitely split your sides as break your heart. KC

Tel: 0131-668 1633


San Francisco Symphony Orchestra

Usher Hall, 30 August

MAHLER symphonies have a strong connection with recent Edinburgh Festivals, not least the Seventh, performed so memorably almost a decade ago by the Gustav Mahler Jugendorchester. There seems no shortage of imagination, though, in its programming this year, alongside the wrought and breathtaking final scene of Richard Strauss's Salomé. The line-up is mouth-watering - the truly great Straussian soprano Deborah Voigt, conductor Michael Tilson Thomas, and the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra. It's the second of two appearances by this orchestra, but unquestionably the more appetising. KW

Tel: 0131-473 2000


Monteverdi's L'Orfeo

Festival Theatre, 11-14 August.

IT'S THE opera everyone's talking about this year, and there are plenty of productions of it happening around the world to mark its 400th anniversary. But this one - a restaging of Jordi Savall's original Barcelona collaboration with director Gilbert Deflo five years ago - promises to be among the most intriguing. For a start, Savall's musicians - the singers of La Capella Reial de Catalunya and period instrumentalists of Hespèrion XXI - are dynamic experts in the field of early music performance. The cast, with Montserrat Figueras as La Musica, is stellar. KW

Tel: 0131-473 2000


Mighty Heart

Cineworld 2, 18 August

THE latest from Brit maverick Michael Winterbottom casts Angelina Jolie as journalist Marianne Pearl, whose husband, Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl, was kidnapped and beheaded by jihadi extremists in 2002. Based on her memoir and shot documentary-style, Winterbottom's reputation for tough, complex, always-accessible political filmmaking should prevent this from being just another worthy, star-driven Oscar-chaser. American reviews, at least, suggest it's raw and harrowing, with an excellent, understated Jolie disappearing into the role. AH

Tel: 0131-228 2688



Assembly Aurora Nova at St Stephen's, 4-27 August

FOR the last half-decade, Aurora Nova has been perhaps the most exciting venue on the Fringe, bringing a true international atmosphere to the Festival scene; and three years ago, one of the main sources of that excitement was the Song Of The Goat company from Poland, with a stunningly-sung piece of musical and physical theatre about traditions of mourning in many cultures. Now, the company returns with Lacrimosa, a show built around Mozart's Requiem, and designed to explore the rage and violence of totalitarian government. JM

Tel: 0131-623 3030


Strauss's Capriccio

Festival Theatre, 28 and 30 August, and 1 September

THE one entirely new staged opera production at this year's Festival - Strauss's Capriccio - comes from Opera Köln and the Gürzenich Orchestra. It's one of opera's most affectionate works - a kind of operatic naval-gazing into the question "which comes first - the words or the music?" The beautiful string sextet; the dynamic concentration of characters; and a score so rich in its final moments it almost answers the question in music's favour: Capriccio is one of the 20th century's most enduring gems in the realm of opera. Markus Stenz conducts, and Christian von Götz directs the production. KW

Tel: 0131-473 2000


James Tait Black Literary Awards

Charlotte Square, 25 August.

THEY'VE been exclusive in the worst sense of the word, all these literary prizes, so it's good to see them at last where they belong - fully in the public arena. The James Tait Black awards are Britain's oldest literary awards, and this year's shortlist (for fiction and biography) includes such luminaries as Cormac McCarthy, Carmen Callil, Alice Munro and and Sarah Waters. James Naughtie does the honours at an event Edinburgh University used to keep to itself but is now sharing with the rest of us. DR

Tel: 0845 373 5888


Amsterdam Underground Comedy Collective

Edinburgh Comedy Room, 2-26 August

THE man behind this Dutch comedy night is Brian Hennigan, a promoter with a strong track record - most notably, he brought Doug Stanhope to the Fringe. If you're from Holland, Hennigan says, seeing the ten comedy stars on offer here is the equivalent of catching Ricky Gervais performing in a tiny bar in Amsterdam. Grab a ticket before the tourists do, and find out what the fuss is about. AE

Tel: 0131-623 3030

• Words by David Robinson, Joyce McMillan, Duncan Macmillan, Fiona Shepherd, Kenneth Walton, Alistair Harkness, Kenny Mathieson, Kelly Apter, Kate Copstick, Andrew Eaton, Jay Richardson, Malcolm Jack and David Pollock