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  THREEWEEKS EDINBURGH EDAILY: THURSDAY 19TH AUGUST
So much to update you on in tomorrow's eDaily (not least the latest edition of ThreeWeeks, you can get a sneaky peak here), but for today one quick reminder to check out the Politics Festival which reaches its climax at the Scottish Parliament tomorrow and Saturday (read our interview with the guy behind it all here), and then this...
   
Ginny Davis on life imitating art at the Fringe
What could be better preparation for a show about the joys of parenting teenagers than to rent a house in Edinburgh for August and fill it with a flyering team of my fourteen to eighteen year olds and their friends?

I like my sleep. No, I need my sleep. Come 10.30pm and, unless there's a compelling reason to do otherwise, I am home and good for nothing. The die hard cells in my 55 year old brain demand their eight hours in order to be able to marshall themselves effectively for a 25 day run.

The body clock of a teenage flyerer is quite different, I have discovered.

On the first night I told the teenagers that I was going to bed and bid them good night as a reminder that they now had to be quiet. Later, as I lay in a haze of lavender and vegetable extract narcotics, the roof fell in. Or so it seemed. On enquiry it turned out that the teenagers had decided to rearrange the furniture in the wooden floored room above mine.

Then there was the spider. Spiders are quiet and harmless. Two boys trying to catch a spider at 1am are not.

I'm trying to be reasonable here. Fair enough – the argument about statistics and bus timetables had to be got out of the way. But at 2am outside my bedroom door? And the piano playing and wrestling and horsing around? Yes, I know it's the summer holidays and it is important to let off steam. But why, I ask myself, as I fret about tomorrow's show at around at 3am – lavender all gone and vegetable extract narcotics abandoned for the real thing - why can’t this all happen in the morning when I creep silently from one room to another, trying not to bang the bathroom door and not turning the radio on for fear of waking someone up?

But am I actually complaining here? No - far from it. The flyerers have sold out every performance so far. If this is the only way it can be achieved, well, so be it. So, I smile and ask them if they slept well and, you know what, sleep or no sleep, I wouldn't have our Edinburgh household any other way. But that's probably because I'm a mother.

--

Double Booked, Ginny Davis Productions, Pleasance Courtyard, 4 - 29 Aug, 12.55pm (1.55pm), £7.00 - £9.00, fpp 246.


     
     

   
IT'S ADDY'S FRINGE DICTIONARY #13

ALKALOSE – the look of disappointment on the face of an audience member who bought tickets to a show they saw storming it at Late n Live, only to realise they won't be seeing the stuff about drinking and shagging that was so hilarious, because it turns out to be an hour show about the migratory habits of the jellyfish.

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 #12

Jim recommends Fringe drinking haunts. Today the Rose Leaf cafe bar on Sandport Place, for the "cocktails in tea pots" apparently.

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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Shazia Mirza Markus Makavellian Colin Chaloner The Track Of The Cat
 
Listen to the latest ThreeWeeks iDaily podcast right now! Featuring interviews with Shazia Mirza and Markus Makavellian, a chat with reviewer Colin Chaloner and a performance from the cast of the 'Track Of The Cat'. Presented by Chris Cooke. Click here to listen, download and subscribe.
 
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COMEDY

Terry Alderton
CKP by Arrangement With Tim Payne
Terry Alderton is many people in one man. He is the Jack of all traits, wanting for none. This short show seems to last mere minutes as he rushes through impression after impression, imitating everything from comedians to helicopters to dogs chasing toffee. Some of his jokes work, some of them don't, but like a true master of the stage he gets to know his audience (sometimes intimately as one gentleman in the front row found out) and find their funny-bone. His vocal abilities are astonishing and he has a talent for physical comedy to match; he is a human juke-box, beat-box and jack-in-the-box. He is an absolute pleasure to watch, even more so to listen to; he is unmissable.
Pleasance Dome, 4 - 30 Aug (not 16), 9.20pm (10.15pm), £5.00 - £10.50, fpp 130.
tw rating 5/5
[cnm]

Edwards and Stubbings The Late Show
Edwards and Stubbings / PBH's Free Fringe
Any gig performed at 11pm on a Saturday night in a hot, rowdy pub will of course be difficult to pull off, but this gig was so appalling it made me want to drown my newly born sorrows at the bar all night. 'The Late Show' features compare Tania Edwards, whose banter is boring and persona unlikeable; her friend Rachel Stubbings is even worse - aggressive and confusing, her set had no punch-lines at all and the skit about therapy should never be repeated. The final comedian, who shall remain nameless, was also terrible and cut short his set as he felt the growing disdain of the crowd. His last words were thus "I'm hot, you're bored, I'm going home". Goodnight then.
Globe, 6 - 30 Aug, 11.00pm (12.00am), free, fpp 57.
tw rating 1/5
[cc]

Reginald D Hunter: Trophy Nigga
Mick Perrin for Just for Laughs Live
The Georgia born and bred Reginald D Hunter is a joyous, raucous, bolshie stand-up whose set ranges all the way from un-PC to offensive. It covers all the most volatile topics, including use of the word "nigger", cyber-bullying, women, stupid people and conservatives (audience participation included). Hunter doesn't mince words, but he does revel in them, and his idiomatic Deep South accent carries his palpable enthusiasm. Is there an over-arching theme? It could be something to do with how being bullied makes you tougher, but he bounds through topics with such delight, recounting anecdotes with such energy that we are swept along too. Those with white middle-class guilt and easily offended sensibilities beware, you are Hunter's prime targets.
Pleasance Courtyard, 4 - 29 Aug, 8.00pm (9.00pm), £12.00 - £14.00 fpp 113.
tw rating 4/5
[ve]

Footlights In 'Good For You'
Cambridge Footlights
From a scene depicting an MTV-inspired law court to a wholesome, all American family band, this high paced and original sketch show confirms all expectations of the Cambridge Footlights, and proves that this year's incumbents at least deserve their status as the most renowned of the student sketch troupes. The risqué yet well-pitched humour entertains the diverse audience, and is effectively construed through an innovative array of material, including smaller sketches, musical comedy and the occasional video projection alongside the main sketches. The characters depicted are instantly identifiable, rendered all the more comical by the actors themselves, as rappers and streetwise teens are rendered caricatures by their awkward Oxbridge counterparts. Cheek-achingly funny.
Pleasance Dome, Aug 4 - 30 (not 16), 3.50pm (4.50pm), £7.50 - £10.00, fpp 64
tw rating: 4/5
[lvs]

Jack Whitehall: Learning Difficulties
Chambers Management
At a youthful 22, Jack Whitehall is becoming a familiar face because of his many TV panel show appearances, and is establishing himself with his frantic energy and forced indignation. It is with this same vigour that he delivers his live performance and it does not disappoint. Whitehall's amazing confidence carries his routine, as his skin-tight jeans seem to be constantly striding from one side of the stage to the other. The show's most fertile ground has to be the comedian's approach to his drama school days and his achingly funny tirade towards a particular classmate who constantly stole his limelight, one Robert Pattison. Though he may never best R-Patz in the fame stake Jack's venues will undeniably get bigger as this is accomplished, quality comedy.
Pleasance Courtyard, 4 - 29 Aug (not 16), 7.15pm (8.10pm), £8.50 - £11.50, fpp 74.
tw rating 4/5
[ta]

Roisin Conaty: Hero, Warrior, Fireman, Liar
Avalon Promotions
If you had to go back to school and tell students what you'd learnt from your life so far, what would you come up with? This question is at the heart of Roisin Conaty's debut solo act at the Fringe and it serves as a framework from which to hang her giggly, self-deprecating brand of observational humour. Impossible not to like, she is frequently disarmed by unexpected audience responses, but always genuinely engages with them. Whilst not a consummate performer, often self-conscious and nervy, this is part of her charm; her material gets progressively stronger throughout, culminating in a wonderful sequence about the phantom of her childhood creepiness. Perhaps a work in progress, but definitely one to watch.
Pleasance Dome, 4 - 29 August (not 16), 6.15pm (7.15pm), £7.00 - £9.50, fpp 116.
tw rating 3/5
[tc]

Stephen K Amos - The Best Medicine
Bound & Gagged Comedy By Arrangement With Glorious Management
Saving electricity by finishing your ironing using the seat-side plug socket on the train is just one of the many spoonfuls of wise advice that Stephen K Amos offers in his newest show, which harks back to the comedian's youth: principally his diary written during his teenage years. Amos thrives when interacting with his audience, successfully and rather provocatively straddling the line between grave insult and friendly banter so that the audience can laugh heartily at the misfortune of those singled out and the unfortunate don't feel the need to cry. These fantastic off the cuff moments do outshine the scripted jokes, but overall the show is a great comedy booster: proof that laughter really is the best medicine.
Pleasance Courtyard, 4 - 29 (not 11, 16, 17, 23, 24), 9.40pm (10.40pm) £10.00 - £17.00, ffp 126.
tw rating 4/5
[sk]

The Oxford Imps
In past years The Oxford Imps have had a sterling reputation as one of the funniest, tightest improv shows in the Fringe. But, as the 'Star Wars' prequels taught us, just because you follow after a brilliant predecessor with the same name doesn't mean you yourself are automatically ace. The 2010 troupe of Imps never achieve the halcyon heights of their legendary forebears. They display frenzied levels of energy, and their extemporaneous skits are worth the odd guffaw, but a seasoned improv group should display cleverness and manic creativity, and here the Imps are sorely lacking. Clumsy rhymes and poor timing stand in the place of innovation and wit. Here's hoping the 2011 incarnation returns to the Imps former glory.
Gilded Ballroom Teviot, 4 - 29 Aug (not 25), 1.15pm (2.05pm), £8.50 - £9.50, fpp 107.
tw rating 2/5
[kc]

Phil Buckley: Jokes Not Included
Phil Buckley
Whilst explicitly stating that his stand up routine contains no jokes, but rather real stories which he has found amusing, Buckley creates an easy-listening atmosphere in which anecdotes are akin to something you might hear on Radio 2. With well structured ideas that flow smoothly from one to the other he makes for an affable listen, but one that unfortunately isn't particularly funny. Conveying experiences of six months of travelling, he has some interesting tales that keep you entertained for the full hour and are worth a drop by if you are in the area. Recommended if feeling a little hung-over and unable to manage anything too intense, but ultimately lacking in fibre.
Laughing Horse @ The Hive, Aug 5 - 29, 4.00pm, free, fpp 109
tw rating 2/5
[aq]



Storytellers' Club
This nightly love-in is incestuously intimate and pally, inviting available stand-ups to spin fireside yarns about past experiences. The gang of chums who run the thing are, in fact, so chummy that much of the show is spent in dithering, giggly tangents and tortuous in-jokes. The general atmosphere is so warm and hospitable, however, none but the hardest-hearted of critics could help but fall prey to the gleeful intoxication and camaraderie championed by the show. There is liberal flirting, mic-swapping and impromptu dialogue, and it is a relief, as a reviewer, to see comedians perform in such non-threatening, snug conditions, free from the implicit danger of nail-biting dog-heckle-dog gigs. The set-up is far from professional, but infinitely the richer for it.
Pleasance Courtyard, dates vary, 10.00pm (11.30pm), £7.50 - £10.00, fpp 127.
tw rating 4/5
[kb]

The Late Night Gimp Fight!
Late Night Gimp Fight
By the time you're sitting down, you've realised the zipped up bags on stage are full of human, and you know this will be interesting. The five gimps are strapping lads with amazing singing voices and great physicality, and the multimedia interludes splicing gimps into iconic films are hilarious. I was disappointed, however, to find that many of the sketches were university revue standard: some recurring punchlines are bland and visible for miles, there is much nudge-nudge, wink-wink at the audience, and the gimp theme seems to be an excuse to air jokes that are just off, not edgily risqué. Still, they can do some truly amazing things with hoodies, and the audience loved it.
Pleasance Courtyard, 4 - 29 Aug (not 18), 11.00pm (12.00am), £7.50 - 10.00, fpp 86.
tw rating 4/5
[ve]

Mark Watson - Do I Know You?
Phil McIntyre Management
The show's opening is refreshingly inspired as, via a laptop and a projected computer screen, Watson warms up his crowd with quips and astute observations about his arriving audience. A veteran of the Edinburgh Festival, Watson has come a long way since his famous 24 hour show in 2004 and six years later he is an incredibly entertaining performer. He's enamoured with life (and death), and his resulting approach turns up all manner of diverse, unlikely themes, ranging from Lemons to fatherhood, each anecdote flowing effortlessly between his rapid fire jocular audience banter. His fast paced incessant chatter carries you on a wave of good humour, making you laugh so hard and so long you may leave with a sore throat.
Assembly Hall, 5 - 30 Aug (not 16, 23), 10.30pm (11.30pm), £15.50 - £18.50, fpp 94.
tw rating 5/5
[ta]

Sex and Hugs and Forward Rolls
Really Lovely Comedy/James Acaster, Andrew Doyle, Ben Van der Velde
You'd be forgiven for thinking this show is soft, feathery and gently amorous; the title suggests a gambol through something that we are told "everybody likes". Despite the opening pleasantries and a warm introduction, there is nothing 'forward' about this show. Sure, some of the comedians demonstrate moments of genuine smartness that have you truly enjoying yourself, but what begins as an amenable romp soon starts to deliver a crash-course in depravity, founded on a curriculum of base humour that feels utterly recycled. The only comedian with any sardonic bite had potential, but sadly represented a stereotype of a gay man making jokes about being gay. Sometimes I felt like I was laughing just because I felt awkward. Slapdash.
Downstairs At The Tron, 5 - 29 Aug (not 16), £5.00, fpp 121.
tw rating 2/5
[mb]

The Dog Eared Collective's 'Joyride'
Dog Eared Collective
Having previously graced the Fringe with its presence, this 'comedy quintet' from Leeds is once again back for the ride. In this year's show, the collective provides an entertaining and amusing hour with sketches such as the hilarious (and very unusual) Morris dancing with missiles; there is also a recurring sketch about falafel that can only be meant for an Edinburgh audience. 'Joyride''s light tone and silly humour makes it easy to watch, and the energy from the cast is unbelievable! Fun for everyone - get on board and buckle your seatbelt!
Underbelly, Cowgate, 5 - 29 Aug (not 18), 3.10 pm (4.00 pm), £6.50 - £10.00, fpp 56.
tw rating 3/5
[cc]

Daniel Rigby - Afterbirth
Mick Perrin for Just for Laughs Live
Having recently witnessed Rigby's admirable titular performance as the 'Count of Monte Cristo' on-stage, the standards for his foray into comedy were set very high. Commendably, his comedy is as slick as his stage play. A man of evident versatility, his wryly bemused expressions are paired with a whispery tone that has him seeming always on the verge of a laughing fit. The material, centring on religious confusion and "uberstitous" fascination, merges the philosophical pedantry of Richard Dawkins, and the quizzical perplexity of an imaginative child. Discussing bored ghosts resorting to domestic rearrangements, and Noah's struggles with ark construction, whilst procreating at the tender age of five hundred, 'Afterbirth' is an enthralling debut, and a definite must see.
Pleasance Courtyard, 4 - 30 Aug (not 16), 7.15pm (8.15pm), £7.00 - £9.50, fpp 52.
tw rating 4/5
[np]

Topical Storm
Jem Brooks/Laughing Horse Free Festival
With an upbeat style accompanied by some sarcastic remarks, Jem Brooks created a show that was sadly just average. Most of his comedy was improvisation, based on audience response, and dealt with politics, countries and social classes, but I would have preferred to hear more of his witty, more polished material than his more off-the-cuff-stuff. Given his fast response to his crowd when improvising, Brooks' style was clearly aimed at the younger audience, and it created an environment resembling that of a university party, which has its own appeal. Needless to say it will be a different experience every day, and though not for me, I would recommend it for people who enjoy improvisational comedy about politics and the mainstream media.
Espionage, 5-29 Aug, 4.00pm (5.00pm), free, fpp 135.
tw rating 3/5
[ssg]

Simon Munnery: Self-Employed
Simon Munnery/The Stand Comedy Club
Simon Munnery's new show is hilarious. In trademark shambolic style, Munnery appears to have cobbled together three main sections beginning with the sketch 'La Concepta', which sees him playing a disastrous French waiter, and showcases his usual ingenious wordplay with a touch of slapstick. Then he cuts to a video where he mumbles to himself, "I'm insane, I'm insane, I'm in Sainsbury's" before starting on his 'real' set. No one can help liking Munnery's seemingly disorganised persona, or his sharply intelligent ramblings so softly bundled up with wit. A truly unique and brilliant performance from one of the Fringe's finest.
The Stand Comedy Club, 6 - 30 Aug (not 16), 3.40pm, £7.00 - £10.00, fpp 123.
tw rating 4/5
[cc]

The Ballad of Backbone Joe
Suitcase Royale
An opera show that brings together comedy, music and great acting in a junkyard deserves my respect. Backbone Joe is accused of the murder of Messy Dimes Dan, the owner of a boxing business, and his story is retold in action and music by Suitcase Royale. The members of this quirky music trio use spoons as drumsticks and luggage as a banjo, but what was most impressive was that the comedy was so vividly present in the physicality of the show, and with much direct conversation with the audience, all three of the main actors certainly knocked the fourth wall down throughout the play. For anyone looking to be entertained with fluid moves a little like that of Fred Astaire, 'The Ballad of Backbone Joe' is the show to see.
Pleasance Courtyard, 4 - 29 Aug (not Aug 16), 2.35pm (3.35pm), £8.50 - £11.00, fpp 31.
tw rating 5/5
[ssg]

Four Screws Loose Present 'Latecomers Will-Be-Shot'
Four Loose Screws Loose/ PBH's Free Fringe
Four guys who are not afraid of their sexuality make this a pretty scandalous show! The hour of sketches includes several skits where the performers introduce different plots in a slapstick style. One of the best was the opening, with a man dressed as 'a gay' and a bossy photographer who insists a couple pose in the most ridiculous of ways. Another good sketch was a conversation between two guys and a policeman, which was sung using Enrique Iglesias' pop ballad 'Hero'. Four loose screws disguised as four dashing men should never be turned down. It's Saturday Night Live but at the Fringe!
Bannermans, 8-13, 15-20, 22-27 Aug, 4.15pm (5.15pm), free, fpp 63.
tw rating 4/5
[ssg]

Hey You, Watch This!
Alex Perry & Karel Hutter/PBH's Free Fringe
Free events are always going to feel like a gamble, but the potential for finding hidden gems is there; sadly 'Hey You, Watch This' was not one of them. With a selection of bad puns and self-ridicule that was actually offensive, this show was essentially awkward at best. No hard feelings are meant toward the comedians, but their material just lacked any sort of substance, and the atmosphere wasn't improved by the predominately bolshie audience. It's sad and significant that the funniest part of the show was when the compère told a heckler to shut up as they were ruining their punch line. There are some good free shows at the Fringe but unfortunately this wasn't one of them.
Base Nightclub, 7 - 21 Aug, 7.30pm (8.00pm), free non-ticketed, fpp 69.
tw rating 1/5
[aq]

Chris Corcoran - What Goes On Tour, Stays On Tour
Chris Corcoran
When it comes to stand up comedy, Chris Corcoran is a master at improvisation. Whether speaking to the audience about his embarrassing moments or just making fun of his Canadian friend, Corcoran is a fast thinker and can make anyone laugh about the silliest things. Happily the audience was willing to try the social experiments that were part of his show - such as practicing various British and European ways of saying hello to a stranger - and though some of the Welsh slang jokes were perplexing, in the end he got the message across. Besides his being a cute guy with blue eyes, Corcoran's enthusiasm made it easy for the audience to enjoy his seemingly spontaneous style and creatively random content.
Le Monde, 6-30 Aug, 6.45pm (7.45pm), £5.00, fpp 44.
tw rating 4/5
[ssg]

DANCE AND PHYSICAL THEATRE

The Six-Sided Man
Company Gavin Robertson
Here we have an entertaining and intriguing script badly flattened by the direction. Rhinehart's novel, 'The Dice Man', offers topical characters and a fascinating plot, so I feel that this staging represents a missed opportunity. The characters feel under-researched, especially the doctor's patient: Where are the signs of madness in this actor's body and voice? The only physical demonstrations of a character's state-of-mind are done through mime, and though this does fit the plot perfectly, the suspicion that this technique is mostly played for laughs is confirmed by the abuse of it - which has the effect of slowing down the rhythm of the show. I felt that the actors were pushing the comedy element too hard. Overall it seemed that the director preferred to advance a stylistic choice rather than create dramatic tension, and as a consequence, reduces the climax of the show (the murder) to an action without power.
The Zoo, (dates vary), 12.30pm (1.40pm), £9.00 - £11.00, fpp 154.
tw rating 2/5
[ga]

EVENTS

Discover Edinburgh's Old And New Towns
Saints And Sinners Walking Tours
This is a walking tour with bit of a difference. Whilst you'll still get your quota of Edinburgh history, Saints and Sinners aim to bring the past alive with storytelling and some audience participation. Our guide had a great line in patter and was a mine of information when it comes to the curious traditions of the city. Along the way, he also pointed out free attractions and had lots to say about the various museums, so the tour could help inform the rest of your visit. Sometimes the historical side of things needed to be clearer, but this is a good walk that goes a little way off the beaten track, ideal if you want to look beyond the Royal Mile.
Outside Ryan's Bar, 2 Hope Street, Aug 3-5, 9-13, 16-20, 23-27, 30-Sep 3, 10.30am (12.30pm), £7.50-£8.50, fpp 158.
MacDonald Holyrood Hotel, 81 Holyrood Road, dates as above, 13:30 (15:30), £7.50-£8.50, fpp 158.
tw rating 3/5
[crc]

Blackwell Writers at the Fringe
Blackwell Bookshop
Edinburgh is synonymous with literature - the world's first UNESCO City of Literature, don't you know? With this fact in mind, Blackwell's series of events provides a perfect opportunity to sample some of the burgeoning present day literary talent emanating from Auld Reekie and beyond. The performance list is endearingly eclectic yet staunchly Scottish; from poetic recitals delivered in the Shetland dialect to acoustic guitar performances by emerging Glaswegian talents, 'Blackwell Writers at the Fringe' offers a simple yet enjoyable evening of storytelling. In an Edinburgh where Scots can seem scarce during the month of August, this is a worthwhile event for those in search of some genuine Celtic charm.
Blackwell Bookshop, 5, 12, 19, 26 Aug, 6.00pm (7.30pm), free, fpp 156.
tw rating 3/5
[kr]

JAZZ

Jazz At Lunchtime
Ian Millar and Dominic Spencer
Seemingly suited to playing in hotel lounges, Millar and Spencer presented a lunchtime crowd with reheated standards and a side of originals. Dominic handled rhythms on the keyboard, trying to compensate for the instrument's imperfect tone while Ian provided melody on tenor and soprano sax. Both were at their best on their own compositions, where they visibly relaxed into more thoughtful, lyrical playing. The set was backed by a video projection showing Scottish landscapes. All very pretty, but since the film was unconnected to the music it just seemed incongruous, as when they paired Sonny Rollins' 'Salvador' with their home movie of the road to Fife. Fine for a chill-out over lunch, but it's likely to leave you unsatisfied.
Radisson Blu Hotel, 6 - 30 August, 12.30pm (2.00pm), £7.00 - £8.00, fpp 189.
tw rating 2/5
[df]

MUSICALS AND OPERA

The Ark
Maeser Preparatory Academy Drama Team
Michael McLean's take on the story of Noah focuses on the emotional difficulties faced by those aboard the Ark, and what this young cast lacks in life experience it makes up for in the sort of cheerful resilience that you can easily believe would help this family overcome its struggles. Joel Drake shows off a fine voice as Noah and is ably supported by Mackenzie Brown playing a warm, comic Eliza. The score bounces merrily through a range of American styles from Broadway to gospel and there's some nifty choreography on display. Occasional moments of tuneless singing are easily forgiven in the face of the company's verve and exuberance. Good clean family fun.
Stage by Stage Academy, 10 - 11 Aug, 11.00am (12.30pm), £5.00 - £8.00, fpp 208.
tw rating 4/5
[jm]

THEATRE

Sticks, Stones, Broken Bones
Bunk Puppets and Scamp Theatre
In this brilliantly performed and outrageously inventive shadow puppetry show, Jeff Achtem transforms gloves, wigs and bits of paper into wonderful and wacky comic vignettes that have to be seen to be believed. A balloon and some cardboard becomes an old woman watching a horror film in terror; a mad doctor is made from a mop and a teddy bear; a couple play chess and blow their tongues out at each other through an ingenious contraption strapped to Achtem's chest; and an audience member fights a metre-high ninja on stage. Achtem gives voice to these hilarious characters in a consummate performance that is charming, quirky and original - one of the most innovative and fun shows on the Fringe.
Underbelly , Cowgate, 5 -29 Aug (not 17), 2.00pm, £6.50 - £10.50, fpp 291.
tw rating 5/5
[mm]

The Caucasian Chalk Circle
3BUGS Fringe Theatre
If you go to this show expecting a re-imagining of Brecht's play centred on the use of puppetry, you will be disappointed; there is only one puppet (quite predictably, the child), and it's manipulated poorly. However, this is a fast-paced performance by a cast boasting some genuine talent, and their interaction with the audience is pleasant and gives rise to humour and chuckles. The direction, which is inspired at parts, sadly fails to allow moments of emotional climax to blossom, and brushes over them at the same pace as everything else. Moreover, the occasional mention of the war in Iraq is an under-exploited attempt at imbuing the production with contemporary political relevance. Most of the good ideas here are in need of further development.
The Zoo, 6 - 30 Aug (not 17), 6.30pm (7.45pm), £6.50 - £7.50, fpp 238.
tw rating 3/5
[ms]

Flesh and Blood and Fish and Fowl
Barrow Street Theatre
Stumbling out of St Stephen's Church, most people seemed not to know what to think of this two-hander from New York-based Barrow Street theatre - critics included. For me, it was astonishing theatre, hilarious, surreal, madly beguiling and wonderfully put together. A sort of screwball cross between 'The Office' and 'Little Shop of Horrors', with Lars von Trier's 'Antichrist' thrown in, the show enacts an end of the world scenario, in which a mundane modern workplace is slowly pulled apart by the unflinching power of Mother Nature. A breathtaking treatise on humanity's place in the world, perhaps, or a meditation on the absurdity of the modern man? Complete with dazzling effects and the odd stuffed animal, the wild finale is worth the price of entry alone. Fantastic.
Traverse @ St Stephens, 3 - 28 Aug , 7.00pm (8.00pm), £6.00 - £19.00, fpp 252
tw rating 5/5
[ef]

An Acre And Change
Student Theatre At Glasgow
Two opposing groups want the same piece of land in a hypothetically occupied Cambridgeshire and neither will settle until they get it. This play about conflict begins with a promising opening scene, with the character of Francois perfectly acted: however, the tone of the piece then becomes angry and aggressive, and stays in that vein until the end. At times the dialogue feels contrived and the various accents of the cast created confusion. I felt the piece was lacking in tension and transitions between scenes were stilted; there were also moments where a character would appear in another setting without any justification. The idea of occupation that the production wanted to explore was interesting, but in the end just wasn't well executed .
Bedlam Theatre, 9 - 21 Aug (not 15), 10.15am (11.00am), £3.00 - £7.00, fpp 222.
tw rating 2/5
[cc]

Clint's Reality
Aireborne Theatre
This Joe Orton-esque farce features Clint, a major TV mogul who is always up to some dirty trick or other; from rigging votes on his show, to cheating on his wife, to giving his son Ketamine - there really are no limits to which he will not go. Taking place over one evening, the play begins with Clint's career on the verge of collapse and ends when it is pieced back together. Unfortunately what happens in between the beginning of the crisis and its resolution is too long, and I'm afraid, quite dull in parts. There are some amusing moments and the acting is good, but somehow I found that Clint's appearance was more suited to the role than his actual interpretation of it.
Underbelly, Cowgate, dates vary, 12.35pm (1.35pm), £6.50 - £10.00, fpp 239.
tw rating 2/5
[cc]

Land Of The Lost And Found
Halden Theatre
Like a fairy-tale that the Brothers Grimm forgot to write. The scene is set when young Emma wakes up from a long train ride to find herself alone in a strange forest, where she is befriended by two eerie children - Molly and Jack. Naturally, Emma wants to return home, but is told 'trains only arrive here'. However, it turns out that there may, after all, be a way to get back, so Emma's two new found friends decide to help by taking her on a journey, where it soon becomes apparent that their motives are not entirely altruistic. With its fantasy quality 'Land of the Lost and Found' is a little thin as an adults' show, but would make fine viewing for kids over ten, (as long as they are not disturbed by the subject matter of death).
theSpaces on the Mile @ The Radisson, 9 - 14 Aug, 5.10pm (5.55pm), £5.00, fpp 265.
tw rating 3/5
[sl]

Kafka And Son
Theaturtle/ Threshold Theater
Adapted from Franz Kafka's writings, this haunting one-man piece follows the writer as he attempts to understand his turbulent relationship with his dominating father. From its outset, the play displays eerie and haunting undertones, highlighted by the well chosen music. The ingenious use of set items such as a cage, metal fencing and a rusty bed frame mirror the vision of Kafka's entrapment presented in the script: imprisoned by the fear he felt for his father. Alon Nashman delivered a stunning performance, embodying the physically weak, yet intellectually resilient Kafka with every movement. In addition, Nashman's portrayal of Kafka's father, which included a dramatic voice change and exceptional lighting, really brought the conflict between the two men to life.
Bedlam Theatre, 6 - 28 Aug (not 16,17), 2.30pm, £10.00 - £12.00, fpp 263.
tw rating 4/5
[sj]

The Merry Wives of Henry VIII
Distractions Theatre Company
There's always a danger that we'll forget the real people in history and will reduce them to easily remembered basics. Richard III was a hunchback, Henry VIII was a fickle playboy. That's exactly what happens in this (deliberately?) overblown destruction of real events. The caricatures are cartoonish and basic, the Tudor court's political scheming (familiar now thanks to Philippa Gregory, Hilary Mantel and HBO's "The Tudors") is non-existent; audiences are familiar enough with the period to deserve better than this. However, the production is a pleasing enough jaunt, which makes villains out of pawns, especially for audiences less familiar with the period. However, there's some painfully OTT acting and atrocious lighting choices. Diverting, but ultimately frustrating.
Augustine's, 11 - 26 Aug (not 18, 23), 6.45pm (7.45pm), £7.00 - £9.00, fpp 271.
tw rating 2/5
[rtw]

No Tomatoes
Ginger Tom Theatre Company In Association With Bungay High School
Inside the worst pub in the county, a group of promiscuous and temperamental adults exemplify love, lust, and how badly the two mix. In a festival full of pub venues, the black box set with a few odd tables, plastic cups, and audience chairs is unforgivably lazy, though the young cast are clearly talented, and their natural ability brings an element of charm. Sadly, the play itself hinders the actors: the script is hollow, sexist, and two-dimensional, and the adults portrayed are more farcically adolescent than the actors themselves. Characters dopily jump in and out of 'love', as freely as they callously claim to jump in and out of their marital beds, creating a sickeningly cheapening and glorifying veneer of sexual frivolity.
theSpaces on the Mile @ The Radisson, 06 - 14 Aug (not 08, 09), 17.10pm (18.00pm), £3.50 - £6.00, fpp 275.
tw rating 2/5
[np]

Tales From a House of No Windows
Alchemy Troupe
The Alchemy Troupe advise us to 'prepare for bewilderment' in the programme blurb - and they're almost correct. In this first chapter of three, the group establish a grimy setting reminiscent of a nineteenth century London alleyway you'd go out of your way to avoid. A fusion of soft keyboard playing, multimedia and physical theatre is a promising combination, but although the ensemble have good voices and harmonise well, the movement is a bit limp and the weird tales of a vulnerable woman aren't enthralling. Whilst the night-time, windowless atmosphere tinged only with a candlelit glow is effective in theory, the lukewarm content means it's difficult to focus and the soothing lullabies almost sing you to sleep. Reasonably pleasant but unaffecting bewilderment.
Laughing Horse @ The Three Sisters, 5 - 29 Aug (not 12, 20), 3.45pm (4.45pm), Free Non-ticketed, fpp 294.
tw rating 2/5
[gjs]

Occupied
Everyman Youth Theatre, Cheltenham
The young cast of 'Occupied' brings you toilet humour of an altogether more interesting variety in this series of plays revolving around bathrooms. However, whilst the staging is innovative and the plays snappy, the actors are let down by writing that doesn't quite work either as serious drama or dark comedy. Whilst sketches depicting the behaviour of a group of teenage girls locked in the bathroom at a party are amusing, one feels that the actresses under-perform in these roles by having to play themselves (give or take a few years). Despite this, the acting is frequently good, and the plays refreshing. A show worth watching, if only to see exactly what people do get up to behind closed doors.
C aquila, 8 - 14 Aug, 6.10pm, £7.50 - £9.50, fpp 275.
tw rating 3/5
[lw]

After Juliet
American High School Theatre Festival
Lovers dead, culprits on trial, flimsy truce, Veronese power vacuum. Cue Rosalind, Romeo's ex, a fag-smokin', ass-kickin' Capulet ready to stir up old-time gang carnage. The plot and performances are hormonal and over-intense - if you closed your eyes you might think it was set in a high school, which would have suited the nonsense bickering and flirty calf love. Sadly, however, it's in full period dress (bulbous sleeves, gathered skirts and even a cheeky ruff!) complete with balletic, teenage sword-tiffs to the tune of Muse's 'Supermassive Black Hole'. The scenes were well-polished and it isn't the cast's fault that the play is a time honoured youth theatre howler, but their heaving, pubescent limelight grapple wore very thin very quickly.
Pilrig Studio, 11-12, 14 Aug, times vary, £5.00, fpp 223.
tw rating 1/5
[kb]

WithinTent
Little Barn Theatre Company
It seemed like a bad sign that this company hadn't even managed to submit a picture for the Fringe programme. However, this troupe managed to use their low budget to their advantage by deriving humour from the failure of their shoddy set. In fact, most of the highlights were seemingly unplanned improvisations by fast reacting cast members. The play itself was mediocre at best, with a bitty storyline which was only just plausible. Also, some of the actors failed to realise the comic potential of their lines, or perhaps they just seemed inadequate next to the truly talented George Styles, who essentially stole the show with his command of multiple roles. Altogether, I greatly enjoyed this rough-edged production, but I feel as though if thingss had gone completely smoothly, it might actually have lacked much of its spark.
The Spaces on the mile @ The Radisson, 9 - 14 Aug, 3.10pm (3.50pm), £4.00 -£6.00, fpp 305.
tw rating 3/5
[eg]

The Conical Decline of Everything
Headless Doctor Theatre Company
"What is the meaning of a traffic cone?" is the bizarre question that forms the crux of this bemusing play. Poorly conceived characters Taph and Luma introduce us to their world of order, rule and fear as they perform their daily routine in the shadow of the all-powerful leader. Seemingly a thinly veiled critique of dictatorship and repression, 'The Conical Decline of Everything' attempts to tackle difficult issues in a light-hearted manner; unfortunately this isn't successful as it is unclear whether we should laugh or cry. One character cries while the other is resolute on revolution, and the presence of an uncomfortably loud warden further adds to the confused atmosphere that leaves the audience feeling bored and bewildered.
theSpace on the Mile @ Jury's Inn, 6 - 27 Aug (not 8, 15, 22), 6.05pm (6.55pm), £6.50- £7.50, fpp 239.
tw rating: 2/5
[sh]

Dealer's Choice
Dugout Theatre Company
As a fan of Patrick Marber's 'Closer', I had great expectations for his first play 'Dealer's Choice', and this production by Dugout Theatre fulfilled them all. An entirely male cast plays restaurant staff who meet every week to play poker; despite their differences they're brought together by an addiction to gambling, which makes them human and pitiable. All the actors' performances are remarkable with Ed Smith and Jimmy Walters, playing Mugsy and Ash respectively, doing a particularly good job. The choice of playing in the round is appropriate to the story, as the audience almost feels like sitting around a poker table, and the choreography between the scenes is hilarious and one of the highlights of this production. Recommended to everyone.
Zoo Southside, 6-30 Aug, 9.00pm (10.00pm), £6.00 - £8.00, fpp 242.
tw rating 4/5
[clm]

Equus
Oikos Productions
Peter Shaffer's excellent play is revived well in this above-average student production. The role of Dr. Dysart is handled clearly and confidently, and the actor playing Alan Strang demonstrates presence. The ensemble work occasionally muddies the text; a chorus playing multiple roles repeats the occasional line, and there is lots of tiresome hissing and humming as Dysart approaches the end of his analysis. That said, the portrayal of the horses is extremely strong - two strapping (and unmasked) youths towered and glared over the comparatively miniature Strang, and during the more erotic scenes this created some marvellous tension. 'Equus' might not blow you away, but it might leave you pleasantly surprised.
Zoo Roxy, 6 - 14 Aug, 4.20pm (5.20pm), £5.00 - £7.00, fpp 248.
tw rating 3/5
[tm]

Feathers
Cougar Productions
The characters are engaged in a familiar, even ordinary, drama of sibling rivalry and a marital relationship gone sour, the set is an Ikea living room. However there is nothing ordinary about this performance: dialogue is sharp, utterly convincing and wholly owned by these amateur yet accomplished actors. Brave is the inclusion of a rape scene which is believable if uncomfortable to watch. Unfortunately, right at the end I didn't believe Edie's purported act but this does not detract from my recommendation of this performance. Whilst it doesn't leave food for thought, it's a safe bet, and a welcome change to the avant-garde which is often Fringe fare.
C central, 5 - 30 Aug (not 7), 7.25pm (8.40pm), £8.50 - £10.50, fpp 249.
tw rating 4/5
[cm]

The Ladies of the Sacred Heart
F.T.G. Productions
I'd like to be nicer about this play; the three actors are proficient and amusing and their abilities were sporadically apparent, but the play is a messy let-down. The setting is a convent, and all the traditional opportunities for innuendo are comprehensively milked: repressed Sapphic lechery, tame blasphemy and boozing on the sly, and even though these time-honoured gags are still inherently funny, the interpolation of more sombre elements never sits well against the farcical backdrop. It is laudable of the playwright to attempt a more profound investigation of the nuns' life, but these muddled snippets of complexity and mental unrest land with muted discord in a room of people paying for a bunch of smutty one-liners.
theSpaces @ Surgeons Hall, 13 - 28 Aug, times vary, £5.00 - £6.00, fpp 265.
tw review 2/5
[kb]

The Lonesome Foxtrot
Nochty Productions Ltd
The Mysterious venue at New Town Theatre was a very aptly named location for this particular endeavour; mystification was certainly the predominate emotion I experienced whilst watching it. Based loosely on Russian author Andrey Platonov's novella 'Fro', the play abstractedly follows a woman's struggle to accept her husband's absence. Taking place within a railway station, dislocated scenes and incomprehensible characters spelled out this stilted and rather anticlimactic story. It became more of a piece of visual art, the performers using smoke, light, mild contortion and several vats of water to create truly stunning images before us. So although I relished certain snapshots of the piece, in its entirety there was something I just did not get.
New Town Theatre, 5 - 29 Aug (not 17), 8.30pm (9.35pm), £5.00 - £12.00, fpp 268.
tw rating 2/5
[eg]

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