‘Spoiling’ by John McCann tackles Scots identity
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The Edinburgh International Festival proper kicks off next week – first to get going is the Fringe, hosting some 3,000 shows of all styles and standards. One of the joys is that there is no knowing in advance what will be the real highlights; surprise hits may emerge in hidden corners. At the Traverse, Owen McCafferty (whose Quietly was a hit last year) is back with Unfaithful, about infidelity; Chris Goode’s Men in the Cities is an experimental piece about violence and the way we live; Spoiling by John McCann is one of doubtless many shows that focus on the imminent referendum on Scottish independence.

At Assembly, in Blind Hamlet, Iranian writer Nassim Soleimanpour confronts the loss of his sight and the fact that he’s never read Hamlet, Alex Oates’ Silk Road looks at the dangers of the dark web and, in Juvenalia, Simon Callow does standup comedy that brings a whole new meaning to old jokes (last delivered in 100 AD by Juvenal). Summerhall also offers shows out and about, including Out of Water, performed at sunrise and sunset on Portobello beach. And anyone wondering where the abrasive BBC presenter Jeremy Paxman has gone will find him in a one-man show, Paxo, at the Pleasance.

edfringe.com, to August 25

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