Blythe Duff, left, and Sofie Grabol, from ‘The Killing’, in ‘The James Plays’
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The Edinburgh Fringe has already been running for a good week but now it is the turn of the International Festival to get under way. And surely the highlight of the theatre programme for the first week is The James Plays, the world premiere of a trilogy by Rona Munro. These ambitious, epic and much-anticipated three history plays chronicle the lives of James I, II and III, three Stewart kings who ruled Scotland in the 15th century. Staged in a co-production between the National Theatre of Scotland and the National Theatre of Great Britain, the plays are directed by Laurie Sansom and will be staged at the National Theatre in London after their Edinburgh run (opening August 10, Festival Theatre). The plays look at the turbulent lives of the kings, the women who shared those lives, the people they affected and the complex culture and identity of Scotland (a fascinating theme on the eve of the referendum). They can be seen separately or together on trilogy days.

The first week also brings us The War, from the Chekhov International Theatre Festival, in which Russian director Vladimir Pankov recreates the conversation between young people considering the possibility of war in 1913 and then facing the reality just a few months later (August 911, King’s Theatre). There is also Ganesh Versus the Third Reich, from Back to Back Theatre, in which the elephant-headed god travels through Nazi Germany in a bid to reclaim the Swastika (an ancient Hindu symbol). It will be performed in English, German and Sanskrit (August 9-12, Royal Lyceum Theatre).

eif.co.uk, 0131 473 2000, to August 31

Photograph: Jane Hobson

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