Edinburgh Fringe hits stride in month-long party

Sun Aug 3, 2008 5:35am EDT
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By Ian MacKenzie

EDINBURGH (Reuters) - The Edinburgh Fringe hit its stride over the weekend, offering a record number of productions through the festival month including comedy, drama, music, and a host of would-be stars aiming to break into the big time.

The anarchic Fringe combines with the more staid international festival of dance, music and theatre to present the biggest annual arts show on earth to tens of thousands of visitors who flock to the Scottish capital every year.

The Fringe has proved a launch pad for many of the leading names in British theatre, while the annual comedy awards are seen as a route to success from Australia to the United States.

Despite computer glitches that caused ticketing problems in the run-up to the festival, sales appeared to be holding up despite the economic crunch.

Anecdotal evidence suggested that the number of American visitors was down, while numbers from Europe were up, helped by the strength of the euro currency.

Nearly 19,000 performers, more than 3,000 from abroad, are signed up to take part in a record 2,088 shows to August 25.

These run from the dark and light side of the digital age to cutting edge satire -- including a swipe at former Prime Minister Tony Blair. But there were no shows to be seen targeting his successor Gordon Brown.