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The Edinburgh Festival Fringe is the biggest ever with comedy accounting for a full third and big names including Alastair McGowan, Ricky Gervais, Rho

4th August 2009

The Edinburgh Festival Fringe is set to be the biggest programme in its 63-year history and the organisers have attracted more performers and companies than ever before from over 60 countries - 34,265 performances of 2,098 shows in 265 venues. Last year there were 31,320 performances of 2,088 shows in 247 venues.   It generates tens of millions for the Scottish economy.

Big names this year include Frank Skinner, Clive James, Denise Van Outen — and Alistair McGowan, who will be singing Noël Coward.

There will also be the usual mishmash of performing misfits who make Edinburgh’s streets such fun from August 7 to August 31. Among them is Dixie Longate, who is performing her one-woman hit show at The Pleasance, telling how she became the doyenne of Tupperware-selling. The Chippendales are performing a 21-night run of their male “erotic review”.

This year, comedy makes up a full third of the Fringe programme. Performers include Ricky Gervais, Stewart Lee, Jimmy Carr, Rhod Gilbert and Jason Byrne. The Stand Comedy Club, however, is presenting serious drama: a revival of Gregory Burke’s acclaimed debut The Gagarin Way.

Fittingly for Scotland’s Year of Homecoming, a quarter of Fringe shows are homegrown — a big increase on last year. They will include two Muriel Spark adaptations. A special Made in Scotland programme, funded by the Scottish Government’s Edinburgh Festivals Expo Fund, includes two shows by the Scottish Dance Theatre.

Musicals feature heavily and this year’s offerings include the new works Chomp: A Zombie Musical and The Great British Soap Opera.

There is also a rich selection of serious theatre including Palace of The End from the Royal Exchange Theatre Company, Manchester, and, from Balancing Act Productions, A Personal War, which recounts witness testimony of the Mumbai terrorist attacks.

Click here to read the full Times article

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