Edinburgh Fringe takes off with record show

Fri Aug 6, 2010 11:29am EDT
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By Ian MacKenzie

EDINBURGH (Reuters Life!) - The Edinburgh Fringe festival, the world's biggest annual artistic jamboree, officially swung into action in its 64th season on Friday with shows ranging from Shakespearean drama to sassy rap by a 77-year-old comedienne from California.

A record 2,453 shows from 50 countries offer a huge medley of comedy, music, theater and dance in 259 venues across the Scottish capital.

The Fringe, which runs to August 30 in parallel with the city's International and Book festivals, has given their first break to stars of comedy, film and stage over the years and is a must for impresarios and agents seeking new talent.

Neil Mackinnon, the Fringe's head of external affairs, said that despite global recession fears, the festival had opened "with more shows by more companies and performers than ever before."

"We are absolutely convinced that this August Edinburgh can genuinely offer something for everyone with as diverse a range of shows as you will find anywhere in the world," he said.

Lynn Ruth Miller, billed as the world's oldest cougar at 77, wowed a preview audience at the Scottish Arts Club in Edinburgh, "outrageous proof that when body parts drop to your ankles they can still swing."

Venues range from the grand to the tiny, where raw troupes seeking a break can still rock teensy audiences perched on titchy seats.

The Times newspaper suggested that an early contender for the strangest concept for a Fringe show was "Soap," a cabaret on bathtubs "featuring acrobatics and a very wet front row of the audience."   Continued...

<p>A street entertainer pulls a face while performing during the opening day of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival August 6, 2010. The festival runs for the rest of August. REUTERS/David Moir</p>