Edinburgh Festival Day 20: Festival Eye

THE FRINGE Festival has proved almost uniquely recession proof. By Thursday, the central Fringe Box Office had grossed pounds 766,901.50, selling 146,147 tickets - 15 per cent more than by the same date last year. The number of tickets sold by all venues is estimated at 612,500 which compares to the 563,882 tickets sold last year. The number of performing companies has also risen from 510 to 540 this year. This year's Fringe featured approximately 10,650 performances of 1100 shows, and 244,000 Fringe programmes were distributed. Tourists visiting Edinburgh during August have increased by an estimated 13 per cent from last year.

A BRIEF guide to where the best of the Fringe can soon be seen: the Independent Theatre Award winner, Clyde Unity's A Little Older will be at the Hampstead Theatre (071-722 9301), 26 Oct-14 Nov. Communicado's Cyrano de Bergerac will be touring, the principal dates are: Dundee 15-19 Sept (0382-23530); Cambridge Arts Theatre 22-26 Sept (0223-352000); Glasgow, The Tron, 29 Sept-11 Oct (041-552 4267); Bradford Alhambra 26-31 Oct (0274- 752000). Orlando plays at the Lyric Hammersmith (081-741 2311), 15 Sept-3 Oct. A Stop in the Desert will be at the Watermans Arts Centre, London (081-568 1176), 8-19 Sept. Perrier Pick of the Fringe (see below for details) drama includes The Snarling Beasties' The Woman who Cooked Her Husband, Eleanor Bron's Desdemona - If You Had Only Spoken] and Emily Woof's Sex III. Woof is also taking her show to the Battersea Arts Centre (071-223 2223) as part of the British Festival of Visual Theatre, 23-25 Sept. The four other fringe shows appearing in this festival are The Show's Not Over 'til the Fat Lady Sings, Ennio Marchetto, Face to Face, and How Far Can You Go?

Where the comedians are going: the Perrier Pick of the Fringe season will be at the Purcell Room, South Bank (071-928 8800), 29 Sept- 18 Oct. Among the shows sharing the season with Perrier Award winners Steve Coogan and John Thomson will be John Shuttleworth's Guide to Stardom and Ben Miller's Gone with Noakes. The Best of the Gilded Balloon (though without Steve Coogan and Eddie Izzard) is being exported to the Shaw Theatre, London (071-388 1394), 14 Sept-3 Oct. Comedians appearing include Michael Redmond, Karl MacDermott and Paul Morocco. Many other comedians (including Lee Evans, Jack Dee, The Posse, Mark Thomas, Kevin Day and Mark Little) will be heading straight for the Manchester Festival (061-228 1166) which begins on 11 Sept. Mark Little and Perrier nominee Jo Brand will be two of the many fringe performers appearing at the Bloomsbury Theatre (071-387 9629) as part of the Holsten Pils Comedy Festival, 27 Oct-15 Nov. Thea Vidale will be at the Hackney Empire (081-985 2424) for one night only tonight, while Lily Savage will be appearing, 17 & 18 Sept.