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Our Editors' Choice Awards for Edinburgh 2011

FMN awardThe fireworks have lit up the Castle once again, and the Edinburgh Festival is over for another year.  But before we pack up for winter, we've some important business to complete... as once again, we reveal our Editors' Choice awards for the Edinburgh Fringe.  It's a pleasure and an honour to be able to recognize those acts that left the strongest impression on us and our reviewing team.

These awards are different.  They don't automatically go to the most technically-accomplished of this year's shows - there are already plenty of opportunities to recognise those.  Instead, we've tried to find those acts which delivered something more: something heart-warming, something quirky, something filled with promise... or just, indefinably, something Fringe.  So without further ado, here - in no particular order - are our picks from the Edinburgh Fringe 2011.

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Set List

The underground sensation that everyone seems to be talking about, Set List gave a genuinely innovative twist to a format that's grown all too familiar at the Fringe.  Stripped of artifice, it gave its willing victims just 15 seconds to improvise a stand-up routine - and in the process, revealed the true talent underpinning some of the city's best-known comedy acts.  For a compelling new spin on the late-night comedy showcase, Set List wins our first award.  Full review >>

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Force Quit

For those - and there are many - who criticise the big-name commercialism of the modern Fringe, St Mary's College Youth Theatre offer the perfect alternative.  It's the second year running they've impressed our reviewers, with another visually imaginative, self-written, elegantly-presented play.  Above all though, Force Quit wins its award for a clever, well-developed concept - the unmistakable product of a new generation.  Full review >>

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The Selfish Gene: The Musical

Who'd ever have thought it?  They turned a science book into a musical - and it actually worked.  This unexpected hit featured some genuine education, a few decent tunes, and most surprisingly of all, an uplifting rallying-cry at its conclusion.  For the courage of vision needed to even contemplate such a thing - as well as a highly successful execution - The Selfish Gene: The Musical picks up our next Editors' Choice award.  Full review >>

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Morgan and West: Crime Solving Magicians

We loved these time-travelling parlour magicians' brand-new show, but that's just the final part of their all-encompassing act.  Their narrative began with a stunning YouTube video, and continued - in full Victorian character - right through till the end of August.  Never seen without their top hats and tails, their hard work's paid off with another sell-out run.  For delivering the complete package, Morgan and West earn our next award.  Full review >>

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The Beta Males: The Train Job

It's not easy to stand out as a sketch group at the Fringe... but The Train Job was more than just a sketch show.  Set in its own fully-realised world on board the East Coast mainline, a compelling plot and neatly-drawn characters kept their locomotive steaming along.  Just as important, of course, it was very funny; so funny, in fact, we went back to see it again.  The Beta Males impressed us last year too, and we're sure they're on a fast-track to success.   Full review >>

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The Historians

It's a preposterous cross between musical, comedy and theatre... and, wrote our reviewer, left its audience with a smile on the face the whole way through.  Set in glamorous Halifax, The Historians followed the life-stories of tracksuited chavs Chucker and Mucker, with a slew of political and cultural humour worked in along the way.  Filled with heart and soul, it was a compelling, oh-so-Nineties comedy with knowing relevance today.  Full review >>

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Francesca Martinez

Francesca Martinez has cerebral palsy - though she prefers to call herself "wobbly".  There's nothing at all wobbly about her solidly accomplished comedy routine, which packed in laughs and insights in equal measure.  Questioning what we mean by "normality", her show's conclusion left our reviewer torn between laughter and tears.  We make this award for a challenging, thought-provoking act, from a woman who just happens to be wobbly.  Full review >>

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Thom Tuck Goes Straight To DVD

The surprisingly extensive catalogue of straight-to-DVD Disney sequels isn't the most obvious topic for a debut solo show.  But Fosters nominee Thom Tuck, no stranger to success as part of sketch troupe the Penny Dreadfuls, made another A-list feature from this unusual tale - which, through excellent writing and performance, built something much darker and unsettling round his seemingly fluffy theme.  Full review >>

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Belt Up's Outland

And finally, it would be a travesty to overlook Belt Up, the young theatre group whose residencies in the forgotten spaces of C Soco have become such a feature of the Fringe.  In Outland, they combined some first-class up-close acting with a fascinating and dislocating plot - exploring one of Lewis Carroll's lesser-known stories, in the context of his documented epilepsy.  It was thoughtful, subtle immersive theatre; escapism at its best.  Full review >>


FMN awardCongratulations to all our award winners.

FringeGuru is proud to be part of the Festival Media Network, a trade association dedicated to building and improving standards for independent media at the Fringe.  Our Editors' Choice award winners are entitled to use the FMN Award logo.

That concludes FringeGuru's coverage of the Edinburgh Festival 2011.  We'll see you again in 2012!

The Directors of Fringe Guru Ltd would like to thank our reviewers Alice de Cent, Carmel Doohan, Mathilda Gregory, Rach Hartley-Davison, Sarah Hill, Kirsty Leckie-Palmer, Madeleine Mason, Ellen Macpherson, Eve Nicol, Hannah van den Burgh, Miriam Vaswani, Liv Watson and Lee Zhao; our sub-editors and editors Jennifer Mills and Craig Thomson; our friends at Broadway Baby, the Edinburgh Fringe Podcast, Edinburgh Spotlight, Fest, Festival Previews, FringeReview, Hairline, ThreeWeeks and What's On Stage; Neil MacKinnon and everyone at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society; the Edinburgh International Book Festival, the Edinburgh International Festival and the Press Offices of all the Fringe venues for their invaluable assistance during 2011.