Pleasance dome

The death of the Edinburgh Fringe

The Edinburgh Fringe has returned after last year’s cancellation but it’s hard to find evidence of the festival on the streets. The atmosphere is weird, unsettling, ghost-like. The defining feature of the city in August is the constant din of music, but as soon as I arrived at Waverley Station I noticed that the pulsing backbeat was missing. The bars that throb with disco and heavy metal have shut up shop. So have the pubs that host free comedy shows from noon till midnight. The insistent tom-tom rhythm has been supplanted by a void. Edinburgh is on mute. Before Covid, there were more than 3,500 shows to choose from. This