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  THREEWEEKS EDINBURGH EDAILY: TUESDAY 10TH AUGUST
It is the very first edition of the ThreeWeeks Radio Show tonight, so if you're anywhere near a PC at 8.30pm tune into Fresh Air and listen in.

Chances are you won't be, of course, but never fear because you will be able to listen on demand via the ThreeWeeks website from tomorrow as well - more info on that in tomorrow's eDaily.

Though you should still go and check out Fresh Air, because they are broadcasting live from the Festival every day. Why not tune in now while you read this here eDaily? And while you're at it, do these things too...

1. Make sure you have a copy of the ThreeWeeks preview edition in your pocket before our Week One issue takes over on the streets of Edinburgh.
 
2. Follow both ThreeWeeks on Twitter and the ThreeWeeks Twittique service.
 
3. Tell all of your friends and colleagues and pals and enemies and occasional acquaintances to sign up to this eDaily: they can subscribe for free here.
 
4. IF you have an iPhone, make sure you install the iFringe app to receive our reviews and lots more besides.
 
5. And ASSUMING you're not squemish about these things, click here for info on the Blood, Sweat & Theatre mass Fringe blood donation thing happening tomorrow.

More reviews, Fringe words and drinking tips to come, but first this...

Writing as Week Zero ended, Baba Brinkman raves about the Free Fringe
Two days into the Fringe, two shows down (of 'Rap Guide To Human Nature', Gilded Balloon Teviot, 3.45pm), and things are about to get interesting. Today is the tech-in at Cabaret Voltaire for my new show 'Rapconteur', which premieres Saturday at 8.45pm on Peter Buckley Hill's Free Fringe (yes, that's two shows a day for me).  'Rapconteur' is a hip-hop storytelling show with comedic adaptations of great world literature - Beowulf, Gilgamesh etc - and if that tickles your fancy, keep in mind that it only exists because of Peter Buckley Hill. 

I first met Peter at one of Robin Ince's science/comedy gigs last year. It was my first taste of the Free Fringe, and frankly it looked too good to be true. The show, hosted by Robin, was packed with quirky and delicious comedy, including Peter on guitar; the seats in the venue were completely filled, and on the way out people eagerly dropped cash into a bucket, too irregular a flow to tally by eye, but a good hour's wage nonetheless (I estimated £200-£300). But is the Free Fringe all this good, or this well attended? Like most people I have an innate suspicion of anything free, an instinct to reply "okay, so what's wrong with it?" 


But in the case of Robin Ince's show, it really did seem to have everything going for it, the sold-out happy crowd, the cash take for performers, and a deal that doesn't require the acts to sacrifice their lives or their livelihoods to make it happen. No fee to participate, no ticket price to get in, just a show and a bucket at the end for contributions. Sounds like a utopian dream really, and definitely one that seduced me (a typical lefty Canadian), but I'm not the only one.

As of tomorrow, 230 shows will be launching the PBH Free Fringe, including 'Rapconteur', which was written specifically for the slot. The Free Fringe is a grand and beautiful social experiment – one potent enough to get me pouring over the 'Epic Of Gilgamesh' to adapt it into rap just so I could get involved – and hopefully one potent enough to get you to come and check us out. It might cost you nothing but your skepticism (yes, I spell it that way, deal with it).

Rap Guide To Human Nature, Gilded Balloon Teviot, 4 - 30 Aug (not 9, 16, 23), 3.45pm (4.45pm), £8.00 - £10.50, fpp 113.

Rapconteur, Cabaret Voltaire, 7 - 28 Aug (not 9, 16, 23), 8.45pm (9.35pm), free, fpp 282.



     
     

   
IT'S ADDY'S FRINGE DICTIONARY #04

LYORY – telling a comic that you are having a fantastic Festival – possibly the best you've ever had – when in fact you are almost ready to kill yourself / kill your agent / kill your PR / kill your flatmate / kill your next audience of seven people.

Expand your Fringe vocabulary with Addy each day in the eDaily. Addy's show Advanced Mumbo Jumbo' plays daily at 5.25pm at The Stand.

   
IT'S JIM'S FESTIVAL DRINKING TIP #03

Jim recommends places to drink your Fringe away. Today the "courtyard
in front of 'the cow' – because it's a good place to meet people after the gig".

More drinking tips from Jim every day in the eDaily. Jim's show Alcoholocaust plays daily at 10.30pm at the Udderbelly Pasture.

 
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Sell A Door Gemma Goggin News Revue Matt Tiller Richard Tyrone Jones
 
Listen to the very second ThreeWeeks iDaily podcast right now! Featuring Featuring Sell A Door theatre company, Gemma Goggin and NewsRevue plus a song from Matt Tiller and a poem from Richard Tyrone Jones. Presented by Chris Cooke. Click here to listen, download and subscribe.
 
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Links:
www.theCMUwebsite.com
www.dinosaurplanet.co.uk
Click here for tickets

MJ Hibbett compiles a Spotify soundtrack for Fringe-goers
ThreeWeeks is teaming up with it's sister media CMU to provide Edinburgh Fringe-goers with a weekly Spotify playlist, compiled by a different Fringe performer each week, to tune into during any Festival down-time.

The first playlist is programmed and ready to go. It's been put together by MJ Hibbett who, with his backing band The Validators, released the album 'Say It With Words' in 2000. Four years later, one song from the album, 'Hey Hey 16k', became an internet hit thanks to an animated video created by Rob Manuel of B3ta.com. Numerous subsequent album and single releases over the last decade have gained him cult status in the indie world.

All of this and more was chronicled in Hibbett's first Edinburgh Fringe show, 'My Exciting Life In ROCK!', in 2008. With that out of his system, he set to work on another Edinburgh show. Called 'Dinosaur Planet', the lo-fi rock opera promises "dinosaurs, giant robots, space invasions, high quality academic research and the outright destruction of Peterborough". This year Hibbett brings that show back to Edinburgh for a second run, boasting an expanded cast (there's now two of them), at The GRV until 14 Aug. Find more info at www.dinosaurplanet.co.uk

Ahead of the show, we asked MJ to put together this playlist for us, and here's what he had to say about it: "This mixtape reflects the inner workings of my BRAIN at the moment, as I'm up to my ears in all sorts of stuff, notably 'Dinosaur Planet', my two-man musical that we're taking up to the Edinburgh Fringe, and the Indietracks Festival, general PANIC about whether I've got everything sorted out, and some songs which have just got stuck on The Walkman In My Head. Listening to this should give you an idea of what it's like to be in my head at the moment - for which, apologies!"

Click here to find out more about MJ Hibbett's musical selection over on theCMUwebsite.com.

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Links:
freefringe.org.uk

'Confidence' is all about changing the order
If, in this internet-iPhone-Sky-Plus age, you prefer your entertainment to be a little bit interactive, then Apostrophe Theatre Company might have the show for you. Although their play 'Confidence' is already written, the nine scenes can be peformed in any order, and the audience choose the order at the start of each performance.

Apostrophe's Keziah Warner told ThreeWeeks: "Amongst the many hundreds of shows being performed what is unique about our show is that the order of the scenes changes every day. There are nine scenes in total and at the beginning of each performance the actors will ask the audience to choose the order in which they would like to see the play performed - so the story is seen from a different angle everyday".

Explaining the motivation for the show, Warner continued: "We really wanted people to come away from the show each day with completely different ideas of what the story is that they have just seen. And the best part is that it's free so there's no excuse not to come - and come again and again to see it done totally differently!"

'Confidence' is on at Bar 50 as part of the Free Fringe daily at 3.30pm until 28 Aug. 

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Links:
click here for tickets

 

Ginny Davis on how she became double booked
Ginny Davis has been talking to ThreeWeeks about her new Fringe show 'Double Booked', which is playing at the Pleasance this Fringe, and again sees the writer and actress adopt the character of stay-at-home mother Ruth Rich.

"It's a show about every day living in a family with teenagers", she explains. "The premise is that parents think that their children are hopeless and disorganised but that the parents are just as capable of telling lies, turning off their mobile phones when they are needed and generally getting themselves into hot water in their daily dealings with each other, their children, their children's friends, and, best of all, their children's friends' parents".

Asked about the inspiration for the show, Davis continues: "Seventeen years of hands on research as a parent! Early on in my own children's lives I realised that their own playground rivalries, tussles, troubles and friendships simply mirrored what went on at home and that the goings on between parents - the rivalries, tussles, troubles and friendships - were a rich source of comedy".

'Double Booked' runs daily until 29 Aug at The Pleasance.

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Links:
www.threeweeks.co.uk

Three very different columnists line up for ThreeWeeks
With the ThreeWeeks Week One weekly edition hitting the presses as I write this, now seems like a good time to reveal who will be writing exclusive columns for us this year. And there's three of them lined up to entertain you.

First up, we'll be hearing from Laura Mugridge, whose show 'Running On Air' is set inside a VW campervan that has been parked in the middle of the Pleasance Courtyard. Laura explains: "Joni the campervan is now properly installed in the Pleasance Courtyard and has already had several adventures. She is attracting quite a crowd, ranging from people who used to holiday in a VW when they were a child, to people who own one now, to people who have never been in one but have always wanted to. I'll be updating you on these advertures and people each week in ThreeWeeks".

Next, we'll have a weekly update from Mrs Moneypenny, who you would more usually find writing a weekly column for the Financial Times. She is in Edinburgh to perform a daily show at the AGA Showroom and she'll be documenting the experience and recommending some shows for ThreeWeeks readers. Says Mrs M: "I've just arrived in Edinburgh for a month, complete with three children, one husband, his best man from our wedding 21 years ago, two cars, a plane and my hairdresser. I'm determined to make the best of the fest, and will be taking in shows to recommend to ThreeWeeks readers between my own show, on at the AGA Showroom each day at 12.30pm".

Finally, and this is a bit of an exclusive, every week a certain Ian D Montford, Fringe medium extraordinaire, will be conducting an interview just for us with another dead celebrity. Says Ian: "For my first interview I will be joined very graciously in visitation by a lovely gentleman, an eminent playwright known to many of you here at the Festival. I talk, of course, of William Shakespeare".

Look out for Ian's interview with the Bard, and all our columns this year, in the main ThreeWeeks weekly edition, and online here.
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CHILDREN'S SHOWS

Herbie Treehead's Mixed-Up Fairytales
Piggywood/Laughing Horse Free Festival
Zany entertainer Herbie Treehead claims his pop-up book is the largest in the world. That said, it's seemingly only large enough to hold two fairy tales, rather than the 'breathless dash through forty' we are promised in the programme blurb. The show is stilted because of Herbie's disorganised manner, as he claims to have forgotten vital props and repeatedly asks us to "bear with him", and although initially amusing, the unnecessary gaps and interjections eat up a fair part of the show; some children start fidgeting and the whole affair is a little lacklustre. Still, there are a handful of good gags involving a sellotaped Cinderella and a turtle puppet, and his final song is catchy. The format has potential, but needs more polish and practice.
Laughing Horse@The Newsroom, 5 - 28 Aug, times vary, free, fpp 13.
tw rating 2/5
[gjs]

Andrew Clover's Almost Famous Story Show
Andrew Clover
Kids are always told never to accept sweets from strangers, but this golden rule is temporarily suspended for a buoyant hour of storytelling fun and frolics. Andrew Clover is a curiously gangly and affable chap, and his animated and goofy demeanour seizes the attention of every child in the room. Armed with fizzy worms and fruit chews, a welcome and effective bribe for participation, Clover treats us to a comical explanation of his fundamental rules for good storytelling, as well as improvised stories made from audience suggestions, and a large helping of good old-fashioned silliness. Clover's performance is wickedly snappy, whilst an abundance of balloons and whoopee cushions helps create a mirthful party atmosphere. Guaranteed to put big smiles on children's faces.
Pleasance Courtyard, 7 - 29 Aug (weekends only), 11.00am (12.00pm), £7.00 - £9.00, fpp 8.
tw rating 4/5
[gjs]

COMEDY

Julie Jepson - Being Julie Jepson
Julie Jepson
Delivering stand-up comedy to a sober audience in the middle of the day is a tough task, and Julie Jepson certainly makes a game attempt with her free show comprising unstructured and amiable banter with the audience. It's hard not to like this energetic northerner, but unfortunately, it's also easy not to laugh. Her punch-lines are rather predictable, and her off the cuff interaction is uninspired; faced with an audience member named Archimedes she capitalised by squawking "Fucking hell! Archimedes is in the audience!" repeatedly. More than once her chat committed the cardinal sin of being... well... boring. Still, a free, and pleasant enough way to pass an idle hour - just don't expect wild belly laughs.
Laughing Horse @ Espionage, 5 - 29 Aug (not 16, 23), 2.45pm (3.45pm) free, fpp 82.
tw rating 2/5
[kc]

Those Bloody Teenagers - Free
Heatham House Comedy Club/ Laughing Horse Free Festival
Comedians come in all different sizes. Actually, by sizes, I meant ages. 'Those Bloody Teenagers' really are group of teenagers. These young stand-ups come up with some good material but lack experience; the chuckles in the audience were not really abundant, but when they did laugh it was obvious that the teenage comedians were getting their message across. Of the ensemble, the first comedian, who was of Nigerian extraction, was the most seasoned. Whether it was due to maturity or experience, he definitely connected with the audience and responded to feedback with ease. Overall, I admired their daring in tackling controversial subjects but the sets were not executed as well as they might have been; it's a problem that a bit more time and experience might cure.
City Cafe, 7-12 Aug, 3:45pm (4.45pm), free, fpp 131.
tw rating 3/5
[ssg]

Twonkey's Cottage
Paul Vickers/Laughing Horse Free Festival
Twonkey's Cottage and its infantile menagerie of madness initially arouses anticipation; trudging around behind a barrier of toys, Paul Vickers resembled Barney Gumble making a foray into children's television presenting. However, after inexplicably flashing strobe lighting into our eyes for ten minutes, this tenuous cabaret quickly falls flatter than Vickers' singing. These forty minutes of storytelling manifest an absurdist style, but lack the charm required to make the transformation from weird to wonderful. Rapport with the audience was so strained that half the room actually walked out, and either the second row rests in a sound vacuum, or the entire show failed to raise any audible laughter. I remained, hoping that the ending would tie up the nonsensical narrative. Sadly, it didn't.
Laughing Horse @ The Counting House, 05 - 29 Aug (not 12, 19, 26), 12.10pm (1.00pm), free, fpp 137.
tw rating 1/5
[np]

The Big Value Comedy Show - Early
Just The Tonic
This is what watching stand-up is all about - sitting in a dingy cave on a Saturday night, surrounded by semi-wasted locals, not even knowing the names of the four acts about to appear before you. On this occasion, The Big Value Comedy Show yielded a quartet of good calibre comedians. The raucous weekend crowd challenged the performers to think on their feet and find witty comebacks to rowdy hecklers, a task they all approached differently: Nick Helm, for example, channelled some impressive rage to literally shout his detractors down, while Geordie Kai Humphries' tactics were more subtle, winning his audience over with solid gags and boyish charm. Muscular and entertaining stand-up all round: pretty good value actually.
Just The Tonic at the Caves, 5 - 29 Aug (not 16), 7.30pm (9.00pm), £9.00 - £10.00, fpp 35.
tw rating 4/5
[ac]

AAA Stand-Up
Bound & Gagged Comedy
Far from being a cheap gimmick to secure an early spot in the listings, the triple A in 'AAA Stand-Up' really is an indicator of quality; though you may not know the names - yet - you won't be disappointed. The first performer, Matt Rudge, was cheeky and personable, effortlessly winning over the crowd within moments. The second, Paul McCaffrey, was equally good, offering a mix of confessional and observational humour. The final act, Marlon Davis, was less confident, taking time to warm up, but although his act was the least polished, it was by no means poor; all three acts were very funny, and if you like stand up and fancy seeing some new faces, this is the show for you.
Pleasance Courtyard, 4 - 30 Aug, 7.15pm (8.15pm), £7.00 - £9.50, fpp 20.
tw rating 4/5
[al]

Tiffany Stevenson: Dictators.
Tiffany Stevenson/ The Stand Comedy Club
What makes good comedy? The charisma of the comedian, or the quality of their jokes? The best acts combine the two, but stand-ups like Tiffany Stevenson prove that a bubbly and likeable stage presence can redeem a show with slightly weak material and a clumsy format. This routine is structured around the theme of dictators, and it doesn't really work: genocide and torture don't mix too well with comedy, and while Stevenson avoids being crude or offensive, the results aren't exactly side-splitting. She's more witty and animated when talking about subjects closer to home, such as embarrassing parents and the evils of OK! magazine, but mainly it's her innate charm and energy that make this show worth watching.
The Stand Comedy Club III & IV, 4 - 29 Aug (not 5, 16), 2.05pm (3.05pm), £7.00 - £8.00, fpp 132.
tw rating 3/5
[ac]

His Eyes Were Like Oysters
Oyster Eyes
"It's a bit weird, isn't it?" a member of sketch group 'His Eyes Were Like Oysters' remarks during the show. He's not wrong: this is one of the most peculiar - in a good way - hours of comedy I've ever witnessed. Combining grotesque character acts and bizarre sketches with an unhealthy fixation on June Sarpong, these four performers aren't afraid to push their surreal ideas to the limit, and any resulting moments of perplexity or discomfort for the audience seem to be part of the script. The act treads a fine line between obscurity and genius, but overall, genius wins out. It's certainly funny - but whether funny ha ha or just funny strange is for you to decide.
Just The Tonic at the Caves, 5 - 29 Aug (not 17), 6.15pm (7.15pm), £4.00 - £7.00, fpp 70.
tw rating 4/5
[ac]

Jollyboat
Amazing Tom And Ed Brothers/ PBH's Free Fringe
While not as piratey as the name might suggest, this three man comedy-musical-magical medley is still undeniably choc-full of jolly. Featuring weevils, superheroes, balloon cutlasses, guitars, fish-shops and Jesus, all sandwiched around a chunky filling of magic tricks, the show may have skipped around a little but had plenty to offer. Like an evening with the sweet but odd boy next door, this was bizarre, entertaining, and only dragged occasionally; specifically, the magic was fun but far from spectacular, and provided more of a foil for the magician's excellent chat than anything else. A free show worth seeing, if only for the boys' truly inspired pirate pop songs.
Opium, 7 - 28 Aug (not 16), 7.45 pm (8:35 pm), free (non-ticketed), fpp 81.
tw rating 3/5
[es]

Keary Murphy's Travelling Circus - The Greatest Show on Earth
Fit o' the Giggles
Standing on-stage in heels like some Glaswegian Amazonian, Keara Murphy introduces her Travellin' Circus focusing on the clownish antics of life. Her material ranges from unhealthy emotional attachments to sex toys to impersonations of Oprah Winfrey's televised world domination, and her tone is warming and indulgent; she speaks with a constant undertone of incredulity, as if perplexed by her own eccentricity. Material is sometimes a mite predictable: reliving her Catholic education conjures up familiar jokes about clergymen. Failed jokes, meanwhile, are repeated rather than abandoned, and it's all a bit forced after the fourth repetition. Yet Murphy is endearing enough to help you live with these faults, and overall, her homage to the carnival of life will definitely tickle your fancy.
Laughing Horse @ The Three Sisters, 4 - 29 Aug (not 16, 23), 8.30pm (9.30pm), free (non-ticketed), fpp 83.
tw rating 3/5
[np]

Monster Of The Deep 3D
Claudia O'Doherty
If I were asked who the most creative people at the festival were, I could easily put Claudia O'Doherty in the top strata. In her overwhelmingly original show, we are told the story of a secret underwater colony called Aquaplex which exploded, leaving Claudia as the sole survivor. Claudia's stunning world is brought to life, not with 3D glasses, but with lovingly crafted scale models, detailed descriptions and a hilarious surprise at the end which you simply have to see. However, it was quite a complex tale, and I might have enjoyed it more if it had been simpler. Nevertheless, it is well worth going to see, just to see the lovably enthusiastic host and listen to her creative tale.
Gilded Balloon Teviot, 4 - 30 Aug (not 16), 6.30pm (7.30), £5.00 - £9.50, fpp 99.
tw rating 3/5
[dc]

Roman Around: A Guided Tour of the Eternal City
Ryan Millar
Ryan Millar's one-man show, 'Roman Around,' is a whimsical, witty account of his time as a tour guide in the Eternal City. A Canadian who trekked to Rome for love and spent two years shepherding gormless punters around the city's most famous sites, Millar's droll personal anecdotes are intercut with several of the Italian capital's choicest historical and mythological yarns. Millar would make a most excellent drinking buddy, with chat educational enough to make you feel like downing a pint with him was a virtuous undertaking, and he can segue seamlessly into a good Michelangelo joke - quite the rare find. Millar's show is a perfect example of the gems to be found in the Free Fringe.
Laughing Horse @ The Hive, 5 - 11 Aug, 12.30pm (1.30pm), free non-ticketed, fpp 116.
tw rating 4/5
[kc]

Speed... Mating...
immaculate concepts
Rapist ducks, penguin prostitutes, promiscuous bonobos - youjizz.com suddenly seems tame in comparison to the sexual antics of animals in the wild. A German zoologist entertainingly explores their mating rituals, with a menagerie of interesting facts as well as a few rounds of the ever-popular game 'Spot the Pervert'. Regrettably, this cheerful collision of David Attenborough and 'Eurotrash' was structured around Aidan Killian's dreary and interminable anecdote about some girl he was trying to 'ride' (for her sake, I hope she was fictional). Killian's jokes, more pedestrian than a zebra crossing, served as an unwelcome intrusion to proceedings, reminiscent of an irritating recessive gene holding up the evolution of this new and potentially enjoyable species of comic lecture. theSpaces @ Surgeons Hall, 6 - 30 Aug (not 8), 8.33pm (9.23pm), £4.00 - £6.00, fpp 126.
tw rating 2/5
[gg]

DANCE AND PHYSICAL THEATRE

Cento Cose
Compagnia Della Quarta
Cento Cosa translates as "100 things", and this playful, high-tempo Italian physical theatre piece certainly touches on many themes. Unfortunately, however, those budding ideas are too little developed in this whirlwind performance, which fails to mine the potential of its ambitious premise. The energetic performers skilfully incorporate the set into their dance, also using costume, masks and simple projection to create a variety of scenarios which parody the superficial aspects of contemporary corporate, commercial, political and social life, but the choreography often tries our interest and can be repetitive to the point of self-indulgence. Set to a thumping soundtrack, this piece grapples with challenging questions, even if its message is somewhat unclear.
The Zoo, 6 - 30 Aug, 8.30pm (7.20pm), £7.50, fpp 144.
tw rating 3/5
[hm]

Scottish Dance Theatre: The Life And Times Of Girl A
Scottish Dance Theatre
A French actress, ten bewildered party goers and a camera; this eclectic mix comes together to create an interesting and unusual piece of contemporary dance that is thoroughly entertaining. The leading female, who acted rather than danced her way through the piece, was stunning in her stand out role, while individual and small group dances were breathtaking, and allowed the young cast to really show off their talent. When the performers came together, the group dances lacked the synchronicity and sharpness required to really produce the wow factor but despite this flaw, the combination of contemporary dance and traditional elements of comedy seems to be a winning mix. Finally, the piece was just the right length; short, sweet and enjoyable.
Zoo Southside, 7 - 21 Aug (dates vary), 7.00pm (7.40pm), £12.00, fpp 154.
tw rating 4/5
[sj]

EVENTS

The Royal Mile History And Legends Tour
Edinburgh Free Walking Tours
A free historical tour like this one on the Royal Mile is the perfect introduction to Edinburgh, a place with as rich and varied history as any great city around the world. Here, guests are told tales related to Edinburgh's most famous thoroughfare, from the sieges and battles that have punctuated the cobbles of the Mile, to interesting features such as the gold plaque marking John Knox's tomb, which is unexpectedly located in the Parliament Square car park. There's little new here for the hardened Edinburgh veteran, but for those seeking a taster of the sights that will this month be hidden under piles of show flyers and posters, this is for you.
Outside St Giles' Cathedral, 6 - 28 Aug, 12.30pm (2.00pm) and 2.30pm (4.00pm), free, fpp 163.
tw rating 3/5
[ef]

Rebus - The Body Politic
RebusTours
The two-hour walking tour promised to trace the steps of Detective Inspector Rebus, the protagonist of Ian Rankin's famous series of novels. Unfortunately, after our first pit stop at the mortuary frequented by Rebus, all mention of the morose detective disappeared. Colin, our very Scottish tour guide, regaled us with tidbits of history and a long soliloquy on the Roberts (Ferguson and Burns) as he led us around parts of Edinburgh ignored by conventional tours. Had he not stopped to read passages from the Rebus series, one could be forgiven for thinking they had joined the wrong group. A fascinating walk from a real local, but die hard Rebus fans may leave feeling short changed.
The Royal Oak, 6 - 30 Aug, 12.00pm (2.00pm), £9.00-£10.00, fpp 163.
tw rating 3/5
[ka]

MUSICALS AND OPERA

Piramania! The Swashbuckling Pirate Musical
Bubonic Productions
Piramania might not be the musical to turn to if you're looking for something deep, meaningful and long on plot. However, if you're after something unashamedly light-hearted and very funny and you'd like it delivered with great voices and tons of panache, this journey aboard the Maiden's Ruin might be just the show you're looking for. It sends up everything - from pirate clichés to classic literature to the Fringe itself - and is kept flowing along by a wonderfully laconic narrator who works the audience with a boundless repertoire of cheerfully jaded insults. The show embraces its own rough edges and papers over the cracks with clever, slick choreography and delightful daftness. C, 4 - 30 Aug, 8.30pm (9.55pm), £8.50 - £11.50, fpp 215.
tw rating 4/5
[jm]

Jump
Tank Productions
You can jump for joy or jump out of despair, and our flawed protagonist seems torn between the two. The charm of this musical is that everyone will know at least one of the characters already - the privileged art student failing to live up to expectations, the catty gay best friend with a heart of gold, the borderline perverted and racist parents. Although frequently outrageous, the sheer humanity of the characters remains strong and gives 'Jump' real heart. The songs may not stay with you for long, but the ensemble cast make them zing and the staging is inventive. When jump time comes, you find yourself caring about the lives of these troubled, if not very likeable, individuals.
Pleasance Dome, 4 - 30 Aug (not 16), 2.05pm (3.20pm), £6.50 - £10.00, fpp 213.
tw rating 4/5
[lj]

Tick, Tick...Boom
Triple Threat Theatre
This is a musical for those of the slacker generation; drifting through life, about to hit thirty and realising how little has been achieved. It exploits a few standard clichés about the importance of friendship and the difficult choice between living for your art and 'selling out', but a witty book and lyrics save it from becoming banal. The score manages to be forgettable in spite of being repetitive, but it is performed with such gusto by a talented trio of performers that this is easily overlooked. The use of four live musicians is a nice touch and keeps the piece connected to its pop and indie roots. A flawed but likeable show.
TheSpaces @ Surgeon's Hall, 7 - 14 Aug, 5.00pm (6.00pm), £6.00 - £8.00, fpp 220.
tw rating 3/5
[jm]

Adventures Of A Singing Acupuncturist: Olivia in Caledonia - Free
Diamond Wave Productions/Laughing Horse Free Festival
Rejuvenation is what this show advertises. Rejuvenation is what I needed after this hour-long tragedy. Olivia Rhee's story about her struggle to find fame as a singer and happiness as an acupuncturist felt disjointed and un-involving. Instead of being entertained I felt like I was a shoulder to cry on for an hour, and by the end I felt pity for Olivia because her pleas for fame are likely to fall on deaf ears following this unintentional mess. This show's only saving grace was a small collection of songs, scattered throughout, that were sung well and had their comedic moments. However, these were not enough to save this sorry show.
Laughing Horse @ The Argyle, 5 - 29 Aug (not 9, 16, 23), 2.30pm, free, fpp 208.
tw rating 2/5
[dc]

The Wild Party
Dulog
This musical tells the story of a group of performers, theatre impresarios and wannabes who gather for a long, boozy and sex-filled house party in the 1920s. Two separate versions of this show appeared in 2000 on and off-Broadway; this is the Broadway version, performed by the Durham University Light Opera Company, and it's a solid production boasting strong singing and acting from the ensemble cast, and in particular from the leads. The dancing is highly charged and precise; it's outside the choreography that the performers look a little out of place in this liquored up, erotic milieu. Still, topped off with a stylish on-stage band, this well-rehearsed piece is a late night piece of entertainment to be noted.
C too, 5 - 30 Aug (not 17), 9.50pm (10.50pm), £ 8.50 - £10.50, fpp 221.
tw rating 3/5
[ve]

THEATRE

Blood Brothers
The Lincoln Company
Some mothers do have 'em. Both of 'em, as the case may be in 'Blood Brothers', a woeful tale of twins separated at birth and kept apart across the class divide. Willy Russell's eighties kitchen-sink drama reminds us that we've never had it so good, or that perhaps some still don't. After a melodramatic start the play really comes alive with the appearance of the brothers; their chemistry positively bubbles over and they handle the transition from childhood to adulthood superbly. The other strong principles have their moments to shine (and some inventive things are done with dust bins), but the script lets them down. They aren't magicians; they can't pull a rabbit out of a hat if the hat is full of holes.
C too, 5 - 30 Aug (not 16) 6.15pm (7.35pm), £7.50 - £10.50, fpp 232.
tw rating 3/5
[cnm]

For Your Entertainment
Wavelength Theatre
'For Your Entertainment' is a jaunty, witty play about paedophilia, cancer, and fractured families. Really though. The well-constructed script deals deftly with 'difficult' subject matter drawing surprisingly sympathetic characters, given their self-absorption and weakness. By understating the most horrific of occurrences and emotions the script achieves a quiet resonance, and the assured writing is ably served by a talented, charismatic cast. One major hindrance prevents the play from true greatness; it's sullied by an irritating and redundant narrator. His philosophical observations, intended to be wry and thought-provoking, are merely facile and serve to distract the audience from drawing their own moral conclusions from this dark fable. Nevertheless, go - here's young talent that deserves your support.
theSpaces on the Mile @ The Radisson, 6 - 28 Aug (not 8, 15, 22), 11.10am (12.25pm), £6.50 - £8.50, fpp 254.
tw rating 4/5
[kc]

Cake
Hurtwood Theatre Company
Three ragged characters represent stereotypes loosely based around those of 'Alice in Wonderland' in what is, overall, a quite mature and intelligent devised piece. It's set at a never-ending tea party, during which the characters seem to find themselves inexplicably locked inside a hot and stuffy hotel room; this leads to a claustrophobic accentuation of an already panicked and intimate atmosphere. Although rather bewildering and nonsensical at times, the surreal explosions of language and physical interaction, as well as the set, are oddly captivating. Opening with a girl yelping and breathless with pain is slightly baffling, and the relevance of this to the rest of the piece isn't clear, but there is some interesting exploration and raunchy manipulation of issues such as sexuality, desire and purity.
Sweet Grassmarket, 6 - 22 Aug, 2.00pm (2.40pm), £6.00 - £7.00, fpp 236.
tw rating 3/5
[gjs]

No Child...
Barrow Street Theatre and Scamp Theatre
Featuring one of the best one-woman performances you are ever likely to see, 'No Child...' was an unexpected but entirely welcome delight. The show details the hilarious and heart-rending tale of a teacher trying desperately to motivate her hellish students to put on a school play. Brimming with gags, this show is wondrously brought to life by a force of energy called Nilaja Sun who transforms herself into a variety of very different characters in chameleon-like fashion. The frantic pace makes the performance slightly hard to follow. Nevertheless, this tour de force must be seen to be believed; she thoroughly deserved her standing ovation, and Nilaja Sun is definitely a name to remember.
Assembly @ George Street, 5 - 30 Aug (not 9 or 23), 2.20pm (3.25pm), £5.00 - £12.00, fpp 274.
tw rating 4/5
[dc]

Performance Postponed/Reporte La Performance
Graduates
The performers in this physical two-hander deserve credit for their ceaseless commitment to the project - a mosaic view of the lives and dreams of two jobbing actors. Beyond that there is little to commend here among the bland, childish choreography, weak slapstick and thin monologues. The difficulties in the struggle for fame (unsupportive parents! demoralizing day jobs!) intended to seem poignant, end up seeming irrelevant and beyond any intelligent concern. In a particularly awkward moment, one of the 'funny' monologues, screeched at the end, starts to reference the sources to which the show is loosely indebted ('what do you think of Samuel Beckett?'). A piece of meta-pretence designed to lend false profundity to a somewhat shallow piece of theatre.
C aquila, 6 - 21 Aug, 11.30am (12.10pm), £6.50 - £9.50, fpp 278.
tw rating 2/5
[kb]

Tales From The Blackjack
Bluestreak Arts
Who on earth actually thought gambling was a glamorous business? 'Tales From The Blackjack' is a performance that explores the addictive effects of gambling and its power to ruin individuals' lives. Despite my low expectations (generated, I must admit, by the title) this performance was surprisingly good; the script was satirical and witty, which made up for the preachy tone of the message that was hurled at the audience at regular intervals. The best thing about this show, however was undoubtedly Alex Moran: you wouldn't expect it, but this is a one man show, and Moran effortlessly transforms into four different characters on-stage to support the narrative, and his energy appears to be boundless. He makes you forget that time's going by.
C central, 5 - 30 Aug, 8.30pm (9.20pm), £7.50 - £10.50, fpp 294.
tw rating 4/5
[ms]

Beauty Is Prison-Time
Zoe Mavroudi With Support from Ramapo College of New Jersey
'Beauty Is Prison-Time' combines a fluid script with innovative direction and enchanting acting. Based on an inmate's efforts to enter a beauty pageant held in a Siberian prison, this one-woman piece tackles difficult political issues in a confident yet deeply emotional way. Interest is captured from the very beginning as the likeable and intriguing protagonist invites the audience to get to know her. The talented Zoe Mavroudi builds a variety of invisible characters and scenarios through the precise execution of cleverly choreographed physical movements combined with well-timed insertions of sound and imaginative use of props. Reaching a poignant climax, this provocative piece raises political questions in a truly endearing manner. Definitely worth a watch.
theSpaces@ Surgeons Hall, 6- 28 Aug (not 8, 16, 23), 12.55pm (1.55pm), £5.00- £7.00, fpp 229.
tw rating 4/5
[sh]

Knights
Hand Stitched Theatre Company
A dressing-gowned vigilante, an underground fraternity of crime-fighting 'Knights', the occasional dragon: this new play is laden with promising ideas, though they don't quite come together into a convincing whole. The plot - an intriguing dark super-hero fantasy in the style of Christopher Nolan - is unfortunately confused by some rather overwrought monologues by the amoral sleepwear-clad protagonist, off-set with some slightly cringey slang (of the 200 people he killed, he let one go because she was 'fit as'). The other actors, especially the girl, are rather under-served by the script. At its best it's as if Sarah Kane had survived to write a sequel to 'Kick Ass'. At its worst it's a ranting nineteen-year old in cartoon pyjama bottoms.
theSpace on the Mile @ Jury's Inn, 6 - 14 Aug, 5.00pm (6.00pm), free, fpp 264.
tw rating 2/5
[gg]

Women Laughing
Big Girls Don't Eat Soup
This decent student production bears all the signs of improving during its run. The script is difficult and the actors sometimes struggle with the complex timing, but when everyone's on the same page the scenes come alive. A special mention must go to John MacCormick who delivers a delightfully twitchy performance as aggression-riddled Colin. The direction could highlight the play's satisfyingly dark turns better, and more effort in the design would have been appreciated; for a play set at a luncheon, empty bottles of Budweiser and tortillas in place of crepes don't really suit. All in all though, 'Women Laughing' is an inoffensive early afternoon play - and cheap too.
theSpaces on the Mile @ the Radisson, 6 - 28 Aug (not 8, 15, 22), 12.40pm (2.00pm), £5.00 - £7.00, fpp 306.
tw rating 3/5
[tm]

Yo Girl!
Natalie Kim
Natalie Kim is dynamic and funny solo performer, and her account of life as a Korean adoptee navigating her way through an American upbringing is warm and even inspirational. This is storytelling with attitude: Kim has excellent delivery and shares anecdotes on everything from Internet dating to Buddhist retreats. Add in some music, poetry and a few dance moves, and you get a great show about the life and loves of a city girl with a difference. At times the pace drags a little and there are some repetitive moments, but the climax of the piece, in which Kim takes on the roles of her three mother figures in turn, manages to be both tender and comic.
theSpaces @ Surgeons Hall, 9 - 21 Aug (not 15), 12.05pm (12.55pm), £8.00 - £10.00, fpp 306
tw rating 3/5
[crc]

Blackout
ThickSkin
'Blackout' is a fascinating true story about a Glaswegian young offender with a script that has been adapted from a number of interviews with a youth serving a probation sentence for committing violent crime. The play follows how the changes in James' life contribute to a build up of anger, hate and violence, illustrating the pressures that come to bear on a person, and the pain that grows from loneliness and bereavement. This innovative adaptation cleverly combines visual and physical effects with a deep and powerful script, creating a captivating, emotional and brilliant piece of modern theatre. ThickSkin's production is an original debut show from an extremely talented group of young actors. A must see.
Underbelly, 5 - 29 Aug, 2.55pm (3.30pm), £6.50 - £10.00, fpp 232.
tw rating 5/5
[sr]

The Big Bite-Size Breakfast
White Room Theatre Ltd.
Like many of us in the morning, this show gets off to a shaky start, and the first of the four ten-minute sketches somewhat misses its mark. However, the acts quickly gather pace and the rest of the show proves to be slick, fresh, and surprisingly moving. The energy of the performers is contagious, with Penny Scott-Andrews in particular delivering a splendid performance as the neurotic on a blind date, tortured by a cruelly comic inner voice. The theatrical equivalent of a morning-after fry up, this is guaranteed to help you shake off last night's excesses with intelligent and varied short plays: a refreshing menu of coffee, croissants and comedy that slips down a treat.
Assembly @ George Street, 5 - 29 Aug (not 24), 10.30am (11.30am), £10.00, fpp 231.
tw rating 4/5
[lw]

Call Mr Robeson
Tayo Aluko And Friends
This gem of a production is as multi-faceted and talented as its protagonist. Fusing political speeches, sound clips, live musical numbers and biography, Tayo Aluko plays Robeson with remarkable energy and passion. His charismatic performance is often humorous, never dull, and very convincing, confidently speeding through several bumpy patches in the script. Although some of the notes were oddly out of reach for the lead's otherwise powerful voice, most numbers, accompanied by a live pianist, were sensitive and resonant. These moments of beauty, coupled with music hall sparkle, provided support for inspiring, persuasive speeches. This accomplished show hits almost all the right notes and calls for equality just as it does for quality evening entertainment.
Zoo Southside, 7 - 30 Aug, 6.15pm (7.30pm), £6.00 - £8.00, fpp 237.
tw rating 4/5
[jcl]

The Flat - Free
Mad Props Productions.
A hot mess of a play. There are some good gags, nicely observed moments and appealing performances, but sadly, it's all about characters who are not as interesting as they think they are - that is, a bunch of twentysomethings; seriously, we're a dull breed. 'The Flat' centres on the lead-up to an epic, messy flat-warming party, and its tragic aftermath - a mystery regarding a dead body that's never satisfyingly resolved. Part of the Free Fringe, 'The Flat' is a pleasant enough way to wile away an hour, and has plenty of energy and a wilful desire to entertain. But you'll emerge sort of wondering what the point was, and wish it had pulled itself together more.
Laughing Horse @ The Hive, 6 - 29 Aug, 2.30pm (3.30pm), free (non-ticketed), fpp 252.
tw rating 2/5
[kc]

Are You There?
Muckle Roe Productions
This occasionally rambling comic play is wonderfully textured; as a couple's domestic sphere is invaded by the supernatural, we are shown the rough and smooth of relationships. Spiky accusations, coarse declarations, soft affirmations and supple retractions fuel the drama. Particularly skilled at nuancing her performance with shifting emotion is Charlotte Duffy, who dedicates every muscle to portraying her character's complex reactions to the frustrations of her and her lover's reality, or unreality as the case may be. Yet despite its accomplished, humane performances this show errs on the side of light-hearted. Billed as exploring grief it rather jests with the characters' complete denial of grief. However, the denial is sufficiently idiosyncratic and interesting to make the show worthwhile.
Zoo Roxy, 6 - 30 Aug (not 11, 17, 25), 5.00pm (6.10pm), £5.00 - £8.00, fpp 227.
tw rating 3/5
[dp]

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