Panti Bliss’s Top LGBT+ Fringe Picks

Drag queen and activist Panti Bliss shares her top LGBT+ picks at this year's Edinburgh Fringe, across theatre, comedy and cabaret

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Panti Bliss
Published 22 Jul 2017

Pollyanna

“If you’re a queer and going to Edinburgh, you can’t not go,” says Bliss of cabaret showcase Pollyanna at dive bar, veggie restaurant and purveyor of "local tropical", Paradise Palms. “It’s hosted by a queen called Pollyfilla, who is wildly nuts and fun and brilliant. Every night it’s a different lineup of people doing bits from their Edinburgh shows. It is one of the most fun things, and one of the most queer things, at the festival.”

Wild Bore

Bliss’s reason for this pick is simple: “Anything with Ursula Martinez...” Martinez is one of three female performers in Wild Bore, a show that talks back to critics who have savaged works of art. “Artists’ revenge against mean critics,” says Bliss, gleefully. “It’s bound to be hot.”

Appropriate Adult

Bliss saw a preview of Appropriate Adult by Chortle Award-nominated comedian Kiri Pritchard-McLean, and confesses herself a fan. “She may not be specifically queer herself, per se, but she has a queer sensibility about what it’s like to be a woman in the standup comedy world,” she explains. This new show is an ‘immoral comedian’s morality tale’ about mentoring vulnerable children.

DollyWould

DollyWould is multi-awarding winning company Sh!t Theatre’s tribute to the ‘Dolly Lama’, Dolly Parton. “It’s clear that they’re huge fans,” says Bliss. “Every queer should be worshipping Dolly Parton, so that’s definitely on my list.”

Hot Brown Honey

“Not specifically queer, but quite queer,” says Bliss, describing Hot Brown Honey as “defiantly feminist and female”. Winner of the 2016 Total Theatre Award for Innovation, the show is “sort of an Australian, feminist Black Lives Matter... about women’s rights and race in Australia, but in a sexy, fun, poetry-slipping-in kind of way”.

Eve

"Transgender issues are more prominent than they ever have been,” says Bliss, explaining why Jo Clifford's Eve, the story of a child raised as a boy when they know that this is wrong, is among her top picks. “Jo Clifford: transgender performer, been around a long time, always interesting, always important,” she says.

Lear

Legendary dancer and actor Valda Setterfield plays the title role in a gender reversed King Lear at the Fringe. “It’s a dance show,” explains Bliss. “I sometimes think the dance shows get overlooked a little bit.” This interpretation of Shakespeare’s masterpiece features only four performers, with Goneril, Regan and Cordelia played by male dancers. “I always find these shows interesting because they raise so many questions about what it means to be a man, what it means to be a woman,” observes Bliss, adding that, “I don’t think that the show specifically has any sort of queer agenda, but it has one whether it wants to or not, you know?”