The 2017 edition of Death on the Fringe featured the following:

Death on the Fringe Showcase

A night of death-themed performances to kick off the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. Featuring music, theatre, comedy, dance and storytelling, the evening will showcase excerpts from a range of Fringe shows that explore themes of death, dying and bereavement.  All of this, set to the backdrop of Edinburgh University’s historic Anatomy Lecture Theatre.

Friday 4th August, 19.00, Old Anatomy Lecture Theatre, Edinburgh University.



When a fiercely independent, workaholic police officer finds herself on the street where her brother once lived, she is propelled back to her vibrant childhood and forced to confront a tremendous loss. Replay is an intimate, funny and moving new monologue, written by Nicola Wren (501 Things I Do in My Bedroom) and brought to you by Edinburgh Fringe favourites DugOut Theatre (Swansong, The Sunset Five and Inheritance Blues).

Wednesday 2nd – Monday 28th August (not 15th), 14.15, Pleasance Courtyard, Edinburgh. £9.50 – £12

Rosco McLelland: How I Got Over

Scottish Comedian of the Year Rosco McClelland delves deeper to find out what makes him tick, using psychedelic storytelling to traverse through a life-changing event. Expect clinical wit and a few shades of darkness from a sell-out show at the Adelaide Comedy Festival. Twice nominated Best Newcomer at Scottish Comedy Awards, now Scottish Comedian of the Year.

Wednesday 2nd – Monday 28th August (not 14th), 22.45, Gilded Balloon @ Rose Theatre, Edinburgh. £7 – £9

Bright Colours Only

Sadly missed after a decade pushing the daisies, Pauline Goldsmith resurrects her legendary Irish wake. This once in a lifetime theatrical send-off was a huge hit at the Fringe back when Pauline could squeeze into a size ten shroud. Her polished coffin has since toured from Belfast to Brazil. So, pull up a chair, grab a sandwich and enjoy a dram at this wickedly funny funeral!

Thursday 3rd – Saturday 26th August (not 14th), 14.25, Assembly Rooms, Edinburgh. £12 – £15


‘I’ve been dead for three days.’ A woman. A suicide. A choice. A fly on the wall. A funeral. A Bakewell tart. A life. A lie. A truth. An ending. Of sorts. Life, Alice thinks, isn’t worth living. So, Alice kills herself. Sort of. Forced to watch the aftermath of her suicide and its ripple effect on her family and friends, Alice quickly learns that death changes people. And that death isn’t the change she hoped for.

Thursday 3rd – Sunday 27th August (not 15th), 16.40, Underbelly Cowgate, Edinburgh. £9 – £11

Death Part 7: The Last Word

A one-man darkly comic cabaret act on the theme of death featuring outrageous comic storytelling and killer songs from the likes of Sinead O’Connor, Kate Bush, Adam Guettel, Hall & Oates amongst others.  The songs explore subjects such as ghostly love, stillbirth, near-death experiences, and living with a fatal disease.  This show explores death in a way that allows the audience to laugh, cry and be with the discomfort surrounding this difficult subject which unites us all.

Friday 4th – Saturday 26th August (not 13th or 20th), 13.45, Greenside @ Infirmary Street, Edinburgh. £6 – £8

Pushing Up The Daisies Presents… Is This It?

With Poet and Storyteller, Margot Henderson 

A one-woman show that looks death in the face and tells it like it is, straight from the corpse’s mouth.  A warm wry take on the journey from cradle to grave, through love and loss and all that death brings in its wake. This piece brings us up close and personal and asks some of the big questions:

How do we deal with death when it comes to the door? What binds us together, what tears us apart?

“A startling, honest raw, warm piece. No shying away from death or grief, all the more amazing for that.” -Wendy

“Its all the things that grief is if we allow ourselves to feel it, heartfelt, amusing, irrational.”  –Kate

Friday 18th August, 21.30-22.30, St John’s Church, Princes Street, Edinburgh.  Book tickets here: Book tickets

When The Sky Falls In

When broadcaster Janet Gershlick lost both her beloved mum and stepfather within three months of each other she decided to write about her devastating loss, the journey of grief and how to survive it. Developed into a one person performance she speaks with honesty, passion, emotions and a little humour. It tells of Bertie the cat who came and went and how people try to deal with your grief. She believes that the performance will resonate with all those who have lost and all those who have to deal with a life changed forever.

Tuesday 22nd – Saturday 26th August, 10.50, theSpace @ Surgeon’s Hall, Edinburgh. £5 – £7

Sad Little Man

‘Stop me if you’ve heard this one before.’ Written by Josh Overton, winner of The Times Playwriting Award 2015 and created by the Pub Corner Poets, Total Theatre’s Emerging company 2015 award nominees. Sad Little Man is a stand-up tragedy set performed by the mind of a young man in shock. Described as ‘shatteringly beautiful’ and ‘drenched in sadness’ by the New Diorama Theatre, a combination of performance poetry, physical theatre and projection tell the story of the many lives of Lee and someone he loves.

Wednesday 23rd – Sunday 27th August, 19.30, Paradise in the Vault, Edinburgh. £8 – £10


It Takes a Village: Portraits & Personal Stories

An exhibition by the Scottish Partnership for Palliative Care and Colin Gray.

There is an old African proverb – ‘It takes a village to raise a child’ – meaning, children need the input and support of their whole community to grow into well-rounded adults. But doesn’t it also ‘take a village’ to support someone who is dying?

The Scottish Partnership for Palliative Care has worked with award-winning Glasgow based artist photographer, Colin Gray, to produce this powerful and challenging series of portraits and personal stories. It Takes a Village explores the idea that as people’s health deteriorates, care and support comes in many guises.

The exhibition will be accompanied by a range of interactive activities and information resources provided courtesy of St Columba’s Hospice, Marie Curie and Good Life, Good Death, Good Grief.

Part of the Reading the Final Chapter series of events at Edinburgh Book Festival.

Saturday 12th & Sunday 13th August, 10.00-17.30, The Greenhouse 1, George Street, Edinburgh. Free & drop-in.

Death Lunch

As part of the Edinburgh International Book Festival theme of ‘Reading the Final Chapter’, the Marie Curie and St Columba’s Hospices together with The Scottish Partnership for Palliative Care invite you to bring your own (death) lunch and have an open, informal discussion about death and dying.

There is no agenda; it is simply a space for you to discuss death with other like-minded people.

Water and light refreshments will be provided; please bring along your own lunch.

Saturday 12th & Sunday 13th August, 12.00-13.00. The Greenhouse 1, George Street, Edinburgh. Free & drop-in.

Rebel Rebel – how Bowie shone a spotlight on palliative and end of life care

A lecture by Mark Taubert, Clinical Director and Consultant Physician in Palliative Medicine at Velindre NHS Trust, Cardiff.

Has the world gone mad since David Bowie’s death? The answer of course is ‘yes’, and ’42’, but we appear to be quickly adapting. Can a completely relaxed, even humorous chat about your own future dying moments become part of this crazy ‘new normal’? In this talk, Dr Mark Taubert will talk about life in his various NHS and hospice work settings after David Bowie’s death and how numerous conversations cascaded off into something much larger; including an unwanted visit from the Daily Mail. Some of these conversations about dying still feel like taboos in 21st century medicine, where defying death still seems to be a primary objective amongst many doctors, nurses, patients and their loved-ones. Mark will share anecdotes and stories from work in a hospice and the wider NHS.

Thursday 17 August, 7.30pm – 9pm, Quaker Meeting House, Edinburgh.  

Doctors, dying and death since the nineteenth century

Prof David Clark in conversation with Mark Hazelwood.

In 1854 Edinburgh medical student Hugh Noble wrote a thesis on the care of the dying. He called it ‘euthanasia’, meaning an easeful death and was keen to distinguish that from the deliberate shortening of life. Although Noble disappeared into medical obscurity, his ideas were developed by others that followed him. Slowly, western societies began to wake up to the growing challenge of providing appropriate care at the end of life.

Doctors took advantage of new pain relieving drugs and created elaborate concoctions to alleviate the distress of the dying. They looked to the importance of nursing care, as well as religious and moral support.  Modern palliative care was being born. The meaning of ‘euthanasia’ also started to change. Even as death became a taboo of contemporary life, the mid-20th century saw growing interest in care of the dying and how it could be improved.

In this session sociologist and writer Professor David Clark can be found in conversation with Mark Hazelwood, Chief Executive of the Scottish Partnership for Palliative Care.  They will discuss David’s new book on the history of palliative medicine – To Comfort Always (Oxford University Press 2016)Come along for an insightful and at times wry look at one of the great challenges facing medicine today.

Thursday 24th August, 7.30pm – 9pm, Quaker Meeting House, Edinburgh.