Five must-sees at the Edinburgh International Festival

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The Edinburgh Fringe is currently well underway in Scotland’s capital but the Edinburgh International Festival (EIF) doesn’t officially kick-off until this Friday (August 9).

Traditionally seen as elitist and stuffy compared to the anything-goes inclusivity of the Fringe, the EIF still offers a remarkable mix of the arts and can genuinely claim to offer something for most tastes.

Director Sir Jonathan Mills seems to have reined in his love of the avant-garde slightly, resulting in a more balanced programme than in recent years.

Here we select five of the must-sees for visitors to Edinburgh over the coming three weeks.

Leaving Planet Earth

Anybody who has been to a performance of one of Grid Iron theatre company’s site-specific works knows that they are a bit special. Previous productions have seen pubs, parks, museums and even airports transformed into theatres. This year they are tackling their most ambitious project yet - turning a climbing centre into a ‘New Earth’, which provides the backdrop to a story of human survival.

La Belle et la Bete

Composer Philip Glass has stripped the original score from Jean Cocteau’s 1946 classic film and replaced it with his own music and sung dialogue. The resultant work will be played live by the Philip Glass Ensemble and guest vocalists as the movie is screened - promising a magical and unique experience.

Kafka’s Metamorphosis

There’s been a strong emphasis on the Far East at recent Festivals and this year sees another strong contingent welcomed west - particularly from China. A highlight will be the return of Wu Hsing-kuo, whose one-man Hamlet lit up the Festival two years ago. This time he’s taking on the similarly well-worn story of Metamorphosis. He’s certain to offer a unique spin on Kafka’s tale of transformation though, starting with that famous first line.

The Tragedy of Coriolanus

China is also the source of the most bizarre looking offering of 2013. This version of one of Shakespeare’s less-performed plays features music from not one, but two heavy metal bands. One of China’s most famous actors, Pu Cunxin, will take to the stage to play the title character, backed up by the music of ‘Miserable Faith’ and ‘Suffocated’. It’ll certainly not be dull.

Fireworks Concert

Watch from the streets or pay for a seat in Princes Street Gardens. Wherever you are the closing fireworks spectacular, featuring the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, is always a treat.