Seems like every major and minor city boasts a fringe festival these days but none as ambitious, provocative, and entertaining as Edinburgh’s.
This year’s tantalizing offerings include an Orestes from Japan, a Hurt Locker-style staging of Macbeth, Janáček’s thrilling opera ‘The Makropulos Case’, and an ‘Alice in Wonderland’ that examines pornography’s impact on modern pop culture.
The dance programming is just as arresting: Deborah Colker’s imaginative resetting of ‘Eugene Onegin’ in modern-day Brazil, Angelin Preljocaj’s mind-blowing vision of the Apocalypse,’And Then, One Thousand Years of Peace’ (a collaboration with the Bolshoi Theatre), the irresistible Leigh Warren + Dancers, the mesmerizing exploration of Kathak by Aditi Mangaldas, and Alexei Ratmansky's contemporary take on 'Cinderella' for the Ballet-formerly-known-as-Kirov-now-Mariinsky.
Not content to entertain us in theatres, cabarets, and on street corners, the Festival celebrates the physical splendor of Edinburgh, man-made and God-given, with the ingenious Speed of Light, a choreographed high-tech endurance running event up and around Arthur’s Seat, featuring thousands of local athletes equipped with special lighting effects that illuminate the iconic mountain. “Each of the walker’s light sticks contains an individually encoded micro-computer. The score, created by Resonance Radio Orchestra, is uploaded to these computers. Movement and altitude trigger the music, causing the pitch and volume to alter. As the walkers ascend Arthur’s Seat they create a layered and ever-changing musical effect which will never be the same twice.”
The eye-candy that was the Royal wedding, the sentimental pomp of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, the glory of the London Olympics… may all be surpassed by the brilliance that is Edinburgh in August.