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Edinburgh Festival Fringe: Scottish theatre company hopes the show will go on

Keith Fleming, known for his role in Outlander, plays the lead part in the show
Keith Fleming, known for his role in Outlander, plays the lead part in the show

A Scottish theatre company is hoping to bring a new show to the capital next month – despite the cancellation of the annual Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

Edinburgh-based Grid Iron Theatre Company plan to bring a world premier of their show Doppler to a limited audience of up to 20 people, starting around the 24 August – the indicative date for live outdoor entertainment announced by the Scottish Government on Thursday.

The show will also be outdoors and socially distanced to comply with the current Covid-19 restrictions.

This will be fantastic news for the theatre fans still looking to get their fix of live shows and feeling at a loss after the broader festival was cancelled for the first time in more than 70 years.

Judith Doherty, Chief Executive and Co-Artistic Director of Grid Iron Theatre Company said: “We are very cautiously excited about the possibility of bringing Doppler to Edinburgh audiences this August. We have been developing the show for over a year now and had hoped to bring it to Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

“Doppler was always meant to be an outdoor show and with our experience of producing shows in unusual spaces, we remain hopeful that we will be able to proceed with our plans. We are currently awaiting confirmation of our venue and then we can proceed with securing the required licensing.

“Having said that, we acknowledge the situation is developing fast and we might need to adapt quickly. We understand that 24 August, the date announced by the Scottish Government today as potentially the first day of live outdoor performances being allowed back in Scotland, is an indicative date which will be reviewed in 3 weeks.

“Safety and comfort of our audiences and team are always our top priority and we are simultaneously working on plans for a non-live sharing of Doppler.”

The cast rehearsing outdoors

Adapted and directed by Ben Harrison, produced by Judith Doherty, with dramaturgy by Eszter Marsalko and translated by Don Bartlett and Don Shaw, Doppler is an adaptation of a satirical novel by a Norwegian writer Erlend Loe.

It focuses on Doppler, a man who, following the death of his father, decides to abandon his family and move to the forest on the outskirts of Oslo. He is determined to live a life as far removed from his previous as possible but struggles to maintain his isolation as his existence garners a lot of unwanted attention.

Ben Harrison, Adaptor, Director and Co-Artistic Director of Grid Iron said: “Doppler has been planned for a couple of years but takes on new and unexpected resonances in the context of the pandemic. The central character is jolted out of his comfortable Norwegian existence by a bicycle accident and determines to live an isolated life in the forest away from his family and social circle.

“Determined to live a deliberately simple existence, a life fused with the rhythm of the forest, he slows everything right down. Through his comical one-sided dialogue with an orphaned elk calf that he adopts, muses on life, the excesses of capitalism, fathers and sons and the footprint we leave on the world. As the months move slowly by however, his alternative lifestyle of bartering and hunter-gathering attracts some unwanted attention, and he finds being alone not nearly as simple and straightforward as he had hoped.”

Known for the role of Lesley in Outlander, Keith Fleming is Doppler with Grid Iron-regulars Itxaso Moreno and Sean Hay portraying all the remaining characters.

The Company is also working with several talented freelancers, including Fergus Dunnet who is producing the puppets for the show, David Pollock on music and foley and Becky Minto who is responsible for design.

Following weeks of Zoom meetings, the Company has now begun outdoor rehearsals strictly following all the current government safety measures.