Wacky and wonderful arrive in Edinburgh for Fringe

Fri Aug 7, 2009 2:49pm EDT
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By Paul Casciato

EDINBURGH (Reuters) - Crowds of giggling tourists, placard-toting buskers and performers of dance, theater, comedy and children's shows arrived in Scotland's capital on Friday for the start of the 63rd Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

The annual three weeks of artistic mayhem will offer serious dance, theater, exhibitions and other artistic inventions alongside the wacky and wonderful comedy that has made the world's largest open-access arts festival a massive launch pad for performers, writers and directors.

Shakespeare and the life story of former poet laureate John Betjeman will share a bill of more than 2,000 shows with such offerings as stage star Denise van Outen's "Basildon Blonde" and a play entitled "The Assassination of Paris Hilton," a scheming gossip fest set in the ladies room of a Hollywood nightclub.

Comedians appearing at the Fringe will include top stars such as Ricky Gervais and Janeane Garofalo, Flight of the Conchords members, Alistair McGowan and rising talents such as 18-year-old Daniel Sloss alongside returning successes such as Laura Solon with her "Rabbit Faced Story Soup."

The global recession, wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, extraordinary rendition and the class system are all themes that are addressed both in the Fringe's comedy and theatrical offerings that play alongside a raft of children's shows, events, exhibitions, dance and music.

The Edinburgh Fringe Society's new Chief Executive Kath Mainland advised newcomers to drink in the atmosphere of bagpipes, bongos and thronging crowds on Princes Street, but do a bit of planning to get the most out of the festival.

"It can be daunting, the scale of it," she told Reuters this week. "You need to pick a few things that you definitely want to see."

WORD ON THE STREETS   Continued...

<p>Performers from The Aluminum Show are seen in the Royal Mile during the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Scotland August 7, 2008. REUTERS/David Moir</p>