If the frenetic timetable and enormous choice of shows at the Fringe is proving too much, why not also turn your attention to the more sedate International Festival which opens today. Below is a guide to what you should be booking now to make sure you see some of this year's most exciting performances.



ABC 1 (0131 623 8030) Tues

This political satire, directed by Alexander Payne, is set in an American high school where a manipulative student (Reese Witherspoon) has her student presidency campaign sabotaged by a teacher (Matthew Broderick).


FH1 (0131 623 8030) Wed & Thurs

John Sayles directs a moving love story set in Port Henry, Alaska. A local fisherman is forced to start tinning salmon in order to survive, but finds comfort in a relationship with a local woman.


FH1 (0131 623 8030) Tues

When director Donald Cammell lost his battle to retain artistic control over his last film, Wildside, he removed his name and subsequently committed suicide. This is the version he wanted.



Playhouse (0131 473 2000) 23-25 Aug

Swedish choreographer Mats Ek is the focus of this year's dance programme. His radical version of Giselle plays up the clash between the individual and the mob.


Playhouse (0131 473 2000) 1 & 2 Sept

Mats Ek's version of this Tchaikovsky classic sees Aurora rebel against her parents, take drugs, and nosedive into disillusion.



King's Theatre (0131 473 2000) Mon-Sat

Dublin's Abbey Theatre returns to the festival with artistic director Patrick Mason's acclaimed production of Tom Murphy's dark play.


Assembly Music Hall (0131 226 2428) to 30 Aug

It's the Millennium's turn to be abridged - 1000 years in 100 minutes, performed as a musical.


Traverse (0131 228 1404) today to 4 Sept

In Aileen Ritchie's startling new play, a woman travels to Africa in her grandmother's footsteps, to shed light on the mystery of the Juju.



Usher Hall (0131 473 2000) 22 Aug

The premiere of James MacMillan's trilogy: The World's Ransoming, Cello Concerto and Symphony Vigil. Osmo Vanska conducts the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, and cellist Raphael Wallfisch.


Usher Hall (0131 473 2000) tonight

Bryn Terfel, Ian Bostridge, Joan Rodgers, David Daniels, and the fast- rising Scottish soprano Lisa Milne perform Handel's Saul. Also at the International Festival is an unpredictable but culturally conspicuous Japanese production of Turandot (starting Mon). Claudio Abbado conducts the Gustav Mahler Jugendorchester in Mahler's 7th Symphony (Tues). And the wonderfuly intense American mezzo Lorraine Hunt stars in a concert showing of Britten's Rape of Lucretia (Thurs).



Gilded Balloon (0131 226 2151) to 30 Aug

Jill Benjamin and Seth Meyers provide a hilarious improvised display of how men and women behave around each other.


Assembly (0131 226 2428) to 30 Aug

Four chefs combine martial arts and juggling in this high-energy show from Korea.


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