There are no less than 524 drama productions at this year's Festival Fringe and a staggering 59 per cent of these are premi res. But no Fringe is ever complete without a few appearances by the Bard of Avon.
This year there are almost 20 shows that are based, however loosely, on Shakespeare; they include 12 productions retaining their original titles (if not their spirit), including four Romeo and Juliets.
The most innovative staging of Romeo and Juliet is Box Hedge Theatre Company's production, which is being mounted in the open air at Craigmillar Castle on the city's southern outskirts. Produced under the auspices of the Demarco European Art Foun-dation (Richard Demarco produced the stunning Macbeth on Inchcolm Island in the Firth of Forth a few festivals ago), this Romeo and Juliet runs from August 14 to 17.
Cygnet Theatre's traditional production plays Moray House Theatre (August 7-16); Leicestershire Youth Arts' own star-crossed lovers can be caught at St Ann's Community Centre (August 11-16); and Schhh! Theatre Company promises original music, songs, a "physical" chorus and no less than 10 Juliets in their "inventive adaptation" at Old St Paul's Church in Jeffrey Street (August 18-23).
The Demarco European Art Foundation (Albany Street) is also home to Trident Theatre's "uncut, uncompromising and vicious production" of Macbeth (August 18-23). The Scottish king also turns up in comic guise in Macbeth Pruned and Henry V Pulped, a double-bill from Flying Pig Theatre Company at South Bridge Resource Centre (August 18-30), and in Betty and Bobby's Macbeth at and by Queen Margaret College Drama Department (August 7-16).
That good King Macbeth was much abused by the English Bard is well enough known and a new production, Macbeth Speaks, finds him rejecting Shakespeare's defamation of his character at the Netherbow Arts Centre, courtesy of The Touring Company (August 7-30). And if that's not enough you can also catch Macbeth - Shakespeare's Text and Verdi's Music at the C venue (St John's in the West End), where it is being presented by Angelic Voices (August 17-23).
Two contemporary readings of Measure for Measure are on offer at Diverse Attractions: one promises "a cutting-edge adaptation . . . following 18 years of ineffectual government" (August 11-23), while the other, by No Grey Suits, similarly evokes "hypocrisy, sex scandals, parliamentary sleaze" in a "Nineties Britain" production (August 18-23).
Julius Caesar and Antony and Cleopatra are combined to produce Roman Scandals by Nottinghamshire Education Theatre Company at C venue (August 25-30); A Midsummer Night's Dream appears at St Stephen's Centre (Arkle Theatre Company, August 18-23); Othello is being produced in The Garage Theatre, Grindlay Street by Asylum (August 10-30) and you can catch Shakespeare for Breakfast at C venue (August 6-30), which also houses "Shakespearean snippets" in The Mechanicals by Z Theatre (August 6-23).
Two Tempests are on offer, one at The Bedlam by Ilyria (August 25-30) and one at South Bridge Resource Centre by Master Rosencrantz's Little Eyases, though the latter bears a subtitle A Storm in a Teacup (August 11-30). Megalomania at Moray House offers The Taming of the Shrew and As You Like It (August 8-23), and Edinburgh University Theatre Company mounts a "radical adaptation" of Timon of Athens at the Bedlam (August 11-23).
So, there you have it. Shakespeare for breakfast, lunch, tea and supper. Food for the soul and food for thought.