The Ultimate Critics’ Pick of the Fringe 2009 – part 1

Written for The Collective Review, 13 July 2009

The 2009 Edinburgh Festival Fringe Official Programme has been available for about a month now.  All the influential voices in theatre criticism have had plenty of time to comb through it and produce lists of recommendations.  By analysing all these lists together, I’ve discovered this year’s Ultimate Critics’ Pick of the Fringe.

The Times, the Guardian, the London Evening Standard, the Scotsman and The List (the Scottish equivalent of Time Out) have all published lists of varying lengths.  I couldn’t find lists from the Independent, the Telegraph, the Financial Times or the Mail; if you know of any that are available online, please post a link in the comments!

The Numbers Game

If you strip down the lists to only include shows that belong in the Theatre section of the programme, then the Times nominates 11 shows, the Guardian five, the Evening Standard five, the Scotsman 46 and The List six.  If you cross-reference the stripped-down lists and look only at shows nominated by more than one publication, you get a shortlist of the 13 most hyped shows in the run-up to 2009’s Fringe.

Nine of the 13 get two nominations.  Three get three.  Just one production in the entire Theatre section of this year’s programme gets the nod from four out of five lists.  Not one comes recommended by all five.

Six of the Times’s 11 picks make it into the shortlist, along with three of the Guardian’s five, 13 of the Scotsman’s 46 and four of The List’s six.  All five of the Evening Standard’s recommendations are in the shortlist, which means the Standard’s Fiona Mountford hasn’t picked a single show not also nominated by at least one other paper.

The Shortlist

Shows nominated twice
Beachy Head
A British Subject
The Interminable Suicide of Gregory Church
Palace of the End
Sea Wall
The World’s Wife

Shows nominated thrice
The World is Too Much: Theatre for Breakfast

And with four nominations, the Ultimate Critics’ Pick of the Fringe – the number one most hyped show of 2009 – is:
The Girls of Slender Means

To be continued…

In my next post, I’ll reveal what these figures say about this year’s Fringe, and about the list-makers themselves.


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