Edinburgh might be famous for its zoo, but during August there’s another Zoo entirely on everyone’s lips. Zoo Venues – spread over 3 sites – are steadfastly marking their name as one of the more alternative and experimental spaces of the festival.
This year, they play host to an impressive programme of dance and physical theatre, and an unusual – but welcome – lack of stand-up comedy on the bill. In fact, Zoo pride themselves as an anomaly in the world of the Fringe, supporting lesser known companies (often making their Fringe debut) and bringing a welcoming and unique space for these pieces.
With 9 performance spaces over 3 venues; Zoo, Zoo Southside and Zoo Roxy and the ability to house intimate audiences with larger scale pieces, their aim is to be “as flexible as possible during programming and create a blend of shows that both compliment and contrast each other – strongly encouraging audience crossover between the different elements of our bill”. And what a varied bill they have.
Working again with Czech company Dot 504 in Mah Hunt, showcasing Scottish Dance Theatre’s Matters of the Heart and 2Faced Dance Company’s break infused dance In the Dust, Zoo have clearly staked their position within the Fringe programme, building over the last 5 years to become instrumental within the dance and physical theatre section. This stance is helped further with the addition of two of British Council Showcase’s pieces. Dance4 presents Hetain Patel with TEN: an exploration into cultural identity and Dog Kennel Hill Project / Escalator East come to Edinburgh with Working the Devil: delving into the joys of work in The Devil and the Details, and Hinterview.
Yet they also work with companies in their relative infancy as part of their theatre section, such as playON Theatre Company bringing their Lost Ones Season “exploring the experiences of young people in Britain today”. They alternate performances of Stacy – as Rob tries to navigate the unwritten rules of life – and Debris, two siblings attempting to make sense of a dysfunctional family unit.