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Hey, it's another eDaily full of reviews.

Read it all, then check the iDaily podcast
this weekend featuring Mark Dolan
and Tim Fitzhigham joining Chris and Clare



A Fringe comedian was injured while flyering near the Royal Mile this weekend. Jeff Mirza was dressed up as Libyan leader Colonel Gaddafi when a passer-by threw a glass bottle at the back of his head. It's not clear if the attack occurred because the man took offence at Mirza's costume, or for some other reason. According to Chortle, it's thought the attacker had asked Mirza for a cigarette shortly before the bottle was thrown.

Having reported the attack to the local police force, Mirza told reporters: "The Edinburgh Police were extremely helpful and have taken evidence from the scene. Most people at the Fringe get the joke of me being dressed up as a washed-up dictator trying to sell the show. I want to thank the Fringe-goers for taking my on-street portrayal of the Gaddafi character in the right way. The attacker in no way represents the vast majority of Fringe audiences".

According to Mirza's statement, the bottle thrower was white, slender build, average height, wearing a stone washed grey T shirt, early 30s with a tattoo on the back of his neck. Lothian & Borders Police told Chortle they are treating the incident as a minor assault and do not believe it was racially motivated.
How about another batch of those Fringe First awards The Scotsman so enjoy dishing out each Friday of the Fringe? Celebrating new playwriting at the Festival, the Fringe Firsts go to what the broadsheet's review team consider to be the best productions of brand new plays within the Fringe's theatre programme.

Among the second batch of Fringe First winners were:

'Tuesday At Tescos' at Assembly, the English language adaptation of Emmanuel Darley's 'Le Mardi a Monoprix', starring Simon Callow (pictured) as transexual Pauline.

'Allotment' by Jules Horne and produced by Nutshell, also part of the Assembly programme, though staged on an allotment in Inverleith.

'Your Last Breath' by Curious Directive, at the Pleasance Dome.

'Release' by Icon Theatre, also at the Pleasance Dome.

'An Instinct For Kindness', at the Pleasance Dome yet again, a play written and performed by Chris Larner and about his real-life experiences last year when he accompanied his terminally ill ex-wife to Switzerland's Dignitas clinic.

'The Oh Fuck Moment' at St George's West, by poet Hannah Jane Walker and Chris Thorpe.

'Scary Gorgeous' from RashDash Theatre, who won the same prize for their 2010 production, and who return to Bedlam Theatre again this year.

And finally there is the compulsory win for a Traverse presentation, with 'Ten Plagues' – aka the Mark Almond show – getting a Fringe First prize, the music for this piece by Conor Mitchell and the libretto by Mark Ravenhill.

Well done one and all and one.
Yet another of Edinburgh's August festivals kicked off yesterday, the Festival Of Politics based at the Scottish Parliament in Holyrood.

This ThreeWeeks Editors' Award winning festival consists of a series of politically-themed debates staged at the home of Scottish democracy. This year's programme takes the theme of 'Re-newing Politics In The Age Of New Media', and includes debates on social media and politics, political communication, intellectual property in the digital age, the Scottish independence vote and recent events in the Middle East. This year there will also be some drama and music events in the MSP's restaurant.

Although the political fest officially kicked off yesterday, most of the events take place between Thursday 25 and Saturday 27 Aug, so there's still time to take a look at and pick out some events to see.


ThreeWeeks favourite Piff The Magic Dragon on his worst – and best – Edinburgh Fringe experiences.


The weather: Piff doesn't like the rain. It puts him out. Mr Piffles hates it even more. When you're that small, Edinburgh is like a very hilly Venice. I've found him a discarded takeaway tray which he now uses to punt his way around town using a straw as leverage. He'll serenade you for a biscuit if you're lucky.

The tough crowd: There will be one night when, for no apparent reason, a whole room of people will turn up to see the show with seemingly no idea of who or what they've bought tickets to. They spend the next hour with arms folded, hopes dashed, glaring death at your face, itching to leave but determined to get their money's worth. Who knows how or why they go so far out of their way to come along and have a bad time.

The paranoia: What's that show? How many stars? Who's in tonight? What television deal? Who's casting a new sitcom? What did that flyerer call me? Etc etc etc. Snore. Snore. Snore. Compare and despair my friend.


The freedom: Solo shows are a great place to experiment and expand on what you do. Everything in the show is there because I want it to be. Having worked in the corporate magic scene for ten years previously, I love that freedom. I'm the boss of my own show and that keeps me warm at night. That and Mr Piffles obviously.

The food: Last year I spent the whole month with Marawa the Amazing on a steak tour. Every day a different restaurant, a different steak. This year I'm missing my food buddy, so I'm having to sneak Mr Piffles in to keep me company.

The Honing: I do about 60 shows in a month when I'm up here, and by the time I've finished I return with whole chunks of new material that has been worked under the most testing conditions. Where else can you see how material plays at 3pm and 3am in the same day?

Piff The Magic Dragon: Last Of The Magic Dragons, Just The Tonic at The Store, 4 – 28 Aug, 6.40pm (7.40pm), £8.00 – £10.00, fpp134.

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Jasper Fforde: The Comic Crime Fantasy Genre Is In Safe Hands
Fiction Island is the rich, colourful and refreshingly original world found in Jasper Fforde's immensely popular novels about a literary detective named Thursday. For a brief moment, as Fforde read from the latest book 'One of Our Thursdays is Missing,' the audience was given the chance to inhabit that world. Confronted with a clockwork butler impersonating a robot and the heroine escaping from a terrible mime-field (yes, I mean mime) it was easy to understand the audience's reluctance to leave. Fforde spoke at length about his work and the
"story dares" that make up his writing process, his future projects and the thing that worries him most, which, with four daughters, happens to be the rising cost of weddings.
RBS Main Theatre, 18 Aug, 11.30am (12.30pm), £8.00 - £10.00, eibfpp21.

John Gray: How Human Ideas Changed The World
As Gray explained the premise of 'The Immortalization Commission: Science and the Strange Quest to Cheat Death,' the extent of his wisdom was clear; he emanates knowledge in a way that is both humbling and inspiring. In contrast with other philosophers and politicians, he gave his opinions and thoughts clearly, reasonably concisely and unambiguously. The chair, journalist Ruth Wishart, brought much to the discussion: enthusiastically questioning Gray on various aspects of the book and on his political and religious beliefs. Some intriguing points about moral progress were unsurprisingly contested by members of the audience and served to highlight that one did not have to have agreed with any of Gray's views to walk away with the desire to learn more.
RBS Main Theatre, Aug 18, 3.00pm (4.00pm), £8.00 - £10.00, eibfpp22.


Monkey Music
From the minute we grabbed a spot on the beanbags that lined the Pleasance igloo, it was straight into the Monkey Music. 'Monkey Music' - a get-together for mums and children, from babies to preschoolers - takes place around Edinburgh weekly, and this session was aimed at preschool children. There was not a lot of monkey, however, though he made a few appearances to bang his drum and shake his maraca. The songs were simple and the instruments noisy; I spotted a few grannies and granddads joining in too! Some of the children began to get a little fed up towards the end, but most were reluctant to give their instruments back. Lots of musical fun for all.
Pleasance Courtyard, 4 - 27 Aug, times vary, £2.00 - £7.00, fpp26.
tw rating 3/5

Bubblewrap And Boxes
Asking For Trouble
A big pile of cardboard boxes sits upon the stage. It is home to a strange little man, who happily spends his days arranging his boxes and making sure everything is just so. His world is peaceful, until a large box mysteriously appears, containing a girl, who shatters his tranquillity by forcing him to interact with her and moving his boxes about! There then follows a fantastic hour's entertainment, as the pair display excellent clowning skills whilst gradually becoming friends. Performed almost wordlessly, as the characters can only communicate when reading out lost letters that have found their way to their cardboard world, this show is a delight. Imagine 'WALL-E', but with fewer robots and more cardboard.
Gilded Balloon Teviot, 3 - 21 Aug (not 8, 15), 10.45am (11.45am), £7.00 - £9.00, fpp20.
tw rating 4/5

Flamenco For Kids!
Ricardo Garcia's Flamenco Flow (UK And Spain)
The stage goes black at the start of the show and, I wonder, where is the kids' show?! All quiet. A lone guitarist is bathed in red light. And then, accompanied by his two dancers, Ricardo Garcia treats us to his new composition. I was completely caught by surprise - a moving, emotional, intensely passionate flamenco almost brought me to tears, for the short time it was on. Then - confusion over - the kids' show begins! And what fun it is, for children and parents alike; it is clear that everyone is enjoying the lesson in flamenco dancing thoroughly, one dad, in particular, taking it very seriously. A great children's show; I can't wait to see the one for grown-ups!
C eca, 3 - 29 Aug (not 15, 16, 17, 18, 19), 1.30pm (2.20pm), £4.50 - £8.50, fpp21.
tw rating 4/5

The Little Mermaid Ballet
Burklyn Youth Ballet
A beautiful rendition of a fairytale convention, 'The Little Mermaid Ballet' is based on the Hans Christian Anderson story, rather than the more popular Disney version; with a much happier ending, however. Expressive and wonderfully performed by a talented young cast, this lavish extravaganza presented a tale of magic, love, and oceanic escapades. Though speech was absent from the piece as it is indeed a ballet, the colourful exposure and dazzling costumes evoked reverence from the entire audience - even its youngest members, who proved attentive throughout the entire show. As the ballet drew to a spectacular close, children were invited to meet the affable cast, allowing for a unique opportunity to finally become acquainted with their storybook favourites.
Zoo Southside, 11 - 20 Aug, 10.30am (11.30am), £8.00 - £10.00, fpp24.
tw rating 4/5


Tom Bell Begins
Draw HQ
Taking inspiration from the masked avenger, Tom Bell begins his set with a jaunt through the crowd, balancing like some sort of dark cat-like knight amidst the tottering tabletops. Bedecked in a mesmerising cardigan, this cape-less crusader overwhelms the forces of sub-standard comedy with a barrage of reliable anecdotal japery. It ranges from the through-flowing and uncanny parallelisms between himself and a certain Bruce Wayne, to a surreal musical episode where he stands jigging while reciting the different species of sustainable fish. Important environmental messages aside, this is a stand-out show from a personable and charming comic. His humour is zany, his guitar-tuning zanier – if you weren't laughing, well, you just didn't get it.
Just The Tonic At The Tron, 4 – 28 Aug (not 16, 21), 3.40pm (4.40pm) £5.00 - £8.50, fpp160.
tw rating 3/5

Eric Hutton and Ben Ellwood - The
Best Of The Sh*ttest – Free
Eric Hutton and Ben Ellwood
Hailing from sunny Australia, the two stand-ups Eric Hutton and Ben Ellwood entertain the audience with not so sunny stories on subjects ranging from manual labour to a mother who believes that the film 'Valkyrie' is in fact a documentary. 'Best of the Sh*ttest' is, however, a title that fits this well – not because the show isn't particularly funny, but because of the self-deprecating humour from both comedians, with Hutton's laid-back interaction with the audience working particularly well, even though Ellwood's slightly more intellectual approach seems to baffle some audience members. With promises of different material being used over several days, this is one of the better free fringe shows, and is definitely far from being "the sh*ttest".
Laughing Horse @ The Hive, 5 – 28 Aug (not 15,16,17,18), 2.40pm (3.40pm), free, fpp72.
tw rating 3/5

Wedding Band: A Comedy
"Before others buy tickets for 'Wedding Band: A Comedy', may the reviewer who finds reason for staying away speak now or forever lose their press card". It's tempting to say "I do", as we watch this fictional band set up for a gig at a wedding. Despite the potential to make insightful comments on an event many can wistfully relate to, this sadly falls short. However, have faith: with a jazz rendition of Bucks Fizz performed live, the characters come alive, illustrating how well cast this production actually is. So take a step up the theatre aisle for something that may not live up to its potential but is still something new, and is worth it for the jazz alone.
Gilded Balloon Teviot, 3 – 29 Aug (not 15, 22), 2:45pm (3:45pm) £8.50 - £12.50, fpp164.
tw rating 3/5

Ben Brailsford – My Fortnum
And Mason Hell
Ben Brailsford
Beneath this disarmingly charming performance is an angry victim of seditious policing. He keeps the politics palpable for the plebs - jokes are sprinkled throughout - but it is less a stand-up act than a soapbox. Particularly relevant after the recent riots, Ben Brailsford's show humanises the criminalised protesters, separating them from the actual criminals, and highlights the increasingly dubious policing in our country. It begins with bassoon trivia, so the audience are, it's fair to say, knocked a little off kilter, but Brailsford quickly brings them onside with a mixture of wit and charm. Swiftly moving into his story of being arrested at Fortnum and Masons and the shocking treatment he receives, the rest of the show is a fascinating hour.
Pleasance Courtyard, 3 – 28 Aug (not 22), 3.25pm (4.15pm), £8.00 - £10.00, fpp47.
tw rating 4/5

Absolute Improv
To be Continued...
I imagine there is edgier, more risqué improv to be found at this year's Fringe, but this offering is one of good clean fun that will draw laughter from teenagers and grandparents alike. With a variety of games to which the audience contribute, the performers free-wheel through songs, rhyming sketches and rapid scene changes. My highlight was the infomercial parody in which the cast borrowed the audience's belongings as props to great comic effect. Taking a little while to get their comedic juices flowing, the troupe could have got off to a more confident start; Lauren Berning, the only female cast member, blazes a vibrantly funny trail and the others relaxed to present a diverting and droll show.
theSpaces on the Mile, 5 - 27 (not 7) Aug, 6.05pm (6.55pm), £9.50 - £7.00, fpp33.
tw rating 3/5

All The Fun Of The Unfair
Barry/Quaile/Turpin PBH's Free Fringe
This show should not be missed. Humorous compère Chris Quaile kicks off the evening, introducing three comedians who could well go on to be big stars of the comedy circuit. The instantly likeable Jack Barry delivers a strong set of one-liners, general musings and witty anecdotes. Patrick Turpin's awkward persona initially creates an uncomfortable sensation in the room before jumping into a routine that is both surreal and hilarious. And then, to top it off, we see Richard Hanrahan changing the English language, delving into the literary world of over-70s erotica and much more. These guys deliver a variety of subversive comedy and guarantee an evening of voracious laughter. Make sure you see it.
Southsider, 6 – 27 Aug (not 8, 15, 22), 9.30pm (10.30pm), free, ffp37.
tw rating 4/5

An Evening In With Henry The Hoover And Friends
Steve Aruni And Henry The Groover / PBH's Free Fringe
Some may think that the robotic sounds and censored profanities originating from the modified Henry Hoover, played to the point of aggravation to advertise the show, would discourage people, but surprisingly, audience numbers are substantial. To begin, the compère instigates a word-association game that, with its forced crude evolution, is better suited to a late-night show. Unfortunately, the show's highlights instead come from guest comedians and, in particular, David Russell, who presents a PowerPoint of funny videos with charm and comedic skill. Although the headline act of the computer-programmed Henry Hoover - which produces contemptuous quips and moves to music - is a humorous idea, the novelty soon wears off.
Ciao Roma, 6 - 27 Aug, 19.05pm (20.05pm), free, fpp74.
tw rating 2/5

Biscuit And Brawn Make A
Meal Of It
Biscuit And Brawn
Hints of great comedy fill this set of surreal sketches. However, it is let down by a loose production, weak editing, and poor performances. A general lack of polish is evident from things like indelicate sketch transitions, and the fact that they're reading from scripts indiscreetly placed around the stage and, both of which inhibited the flow of the show. Some sketches shouldn't have made it in: enacting 'Dragons' Den' with paper plates wasn't funny and broke the sense of anticipation they'd managed to establish. As their sketches don't rely on the grotesque and their stage personas are forward and likeable, there is potential to create something very good. It is worth seeing this show, but later in their run when the kinks have been worked out.
Paradise In The Vault, 8 – 29 Aug (not 14, 15, 21, 22, 28), 1.05pm (2.05pm), £3.50 - £5.00, 50fpp.
tw rating 3/5

Dicking A Great Big Hole
Jodie Dick
Come witness the place where laughter comes to die. As Dick launched her "comedy" into the oppressive silence, the box of wine on the side table never looked more appealing. Whether Dick intended her show as ironic (it wasn't) was anyone's guess. Whichever way you spin it – ironic, failed ironic, downright masochistic – it was an awkward, uncomfortable performance. Faced with leaden jokes and a baffling headset, I sat fervently counting the minutes until my release. If you enjoy burning money or experiencing the slow decay of time, then by all means buy a ticket. But with the economy as it is, you'd be safer playing the stock market for all the return you'll get.
Just The Tonic At The Store, 4 – 28 Aug (not 16), 1.40pm (2.40pm), £3.50 - £7.00, fpp66.
tw rating 1/5

Dr Phil's Rude Health Show
Phil Hammond
From the satirical to the grossly scatological, Dr Phil has got it all in hand – and a great bedside manner to boot. The GP-turned-comedian may be most famous for his NHS whistle-blowing, but as this show proves, he's no stranger to stand-up, either. A routine about the most interesting objects removed from patients' bottoms would, in any other hands, border on the unlistenable; Dr Phil not only makes it hilarious, but throws in a serious message without losing the interest of the audience – an impressive feat. It's a show at least as interesting as it is funny, full of facts both medical and political, and well worth an hour of your time. Make an appointment now.
theSpace @ Symposium Hall, 8 – 27 Aug (not 14, 21), 7.00pm (8.00pm), £7.00 - £10.00, fpp69.
tw rating 4/5

Giants of Comedy
Darren Walsh, Leo Kearse, Lindsay Sharman / PBH's Free Fringe
Upon arriving at this gig, I wondered whether the stand-up acts would indeed be giants. I also wondered whether they would make me laugh. It turns out that all three comedians in this show are both very tall and very funny. Leo Kearse (a likeable everyman) opens, followed by Lindsay Sharman (a female Michael McIntyre on a sugar-overdose). Darren Walsh finishes with deliciously weird wordplay and sound effects, where a nightmarish vision of Bruce Forsythe is a particular highlight. The whole show is delivered with such energy and aplomb that the audience is left powerless to resist. This could be one of the most enjoyable shows of the Free Fringe – and it beats a lot of paid gigs too.
Fingers Piano Bar, 6 - 27 Aug (not 8, 15, 22), 7.50pm (8.50pm), free, fpp83.
tw rating 4/5

The Pajama Men: In The Middle Of No One
Assembly By Arrangement With CAA
Aliens! Time travel! Knife fights! The South American crested give-it-to-me bird! All of these and more are created by two men in their pyjamas, using nothing more than two chairs and the power of their performances. It's extremely impressive and also absolutely hilarious. The sides of my face hurt from laughing as The Pajama Men flew through an hour of brilliantly written, high-energy sketches. They have a delightful sense for the absurd and are accomplished physical comedians; a section where they portray marionettes is an absolute triumph in both conception and execution. The quality never once drops, and the sold-out crowd were laughing from the first minute. Get a ticket if you can. They'll be selling fast.
Assembly Hall, 4 - 29 Aug (not 15), 9.00pm (10.00pm), £12.00 - £14.00, fpp130.
tw rating 5/5

Those Two
Elf Lyons & Masud Milas
As I stepped into this small Free Fringe venue, I was impressed with how big the audience was. Perhaps it had something to do with the torrential rain. As I suspect I'm not the only person unfamiliar with 'these two', I was not entirely sure what to expect. I'm pleased to say, however, I found myself laughing, quite soon and quite a lot. Elf, performing stand-up for her fifth time ever, regales us with stories from her life, including dating, boarding school and erotica ("I prefer sandwiches to sex"). Masud spoke of his international roots and attempts to write a hit record. Overall, it's an enjoyable show and particularly impressive considering how new they are to the game.
The Banshee Labyrinth, 7 - 27 Aug (not 15), 12:50pm (1:50pm), free, fpp158.
tw rating 4/5

The Leeds Tealights: Animals With Jobs
Leeds Tealights
Like the elusive needle in a haystack, a good sketch show is hard to find; 'Animals With Jobs' is excellent. In an hour of tightly-packed jokes, the laughs just keep coming as sketch after sketch hits the mark. From a board of executives to a medal-winning schoolboy, the characters and their situations get more and more ridiculous and the jokes funnier and funnier; a highlight is the recurring sketch about 'Groundhog Day'. There are a couple of lulls and a bit too much emphasis on bringing old jokes back, especially towards the end, but these are just minor niggles in an otherwise excellent show. In a few years they'll be packing out the bigger venues, so see them here while you still can.
Just The Tonic At The Store, 4 - 28 Aug (not 16), 5.00pm (6.00pm), £7.00 - £8.00, fpp109.
tw rating 4/5

Aisle16 R Kool!
Tim Clare, John Osborne, Luke Wright
This was, without question, one of the most enjoyable hours I have ever spent. The three poets perform three pieces, and the audience is encouraged to notice the "coolest" of the three as there will be a vote at the end - hence the act's title. The poetry is witty, fresh and modern, with a Tony Harrison-style awareness of the weird space the contemporary poet occupies. My favourite line is from a poem about hipsters - "You're French and underground, like the Hadron Collider" - whilst possibly my favourite poem was the brilliant 'Model'.The sweet and personal mixes wonderfully with the satirical and biting, and the three poets had the audience in stitches.
The Banshee Labyrinth, 5 - 27 Aug (not 16), 10.00pm (10.50pm), free, fpp35.
tw rating 5/5

Aidan Bishop: Misspelled
Aidan Bishop
Sadly for Aidan Bishop, an undiagnosed dyslexic until the age of twenty-eight, this educational stand-up show about the difficulties of linguistic-processing could be compared to an incorrectly written word: all necessary elements are present, but something isn't quite right about the presentation. An affable and humble American, Bishop complains of bearing the brunt of condescending family jokes as he struggled in high school during the 1990s. Although the tables have turned now that he makes his living as a punchline-writer, his good-natured humour is pleasant and interesting, though never phenomenal. 'Misspelled' will challenge Festival audience's attitudes towards this unfortunate learning condition, but won't have them rolling with laughter. Consider it a mildly diverting lecture.
Gilded Balloon Teviot, 3 - 28 Aug (not 15), 9.00pm (10.00pm), £7.50 - £9.50, fpp35.
tw rating 2/5

A Kind of Surprise
Masud Milas and Sean Brightman
This is sit-down comedy at its most meandering and affable. What little structured material there is here is essentially a plug for these comedians' other shows. So while there is certainly comedic potential, it is never realised. Mainly, this is because Masud Milas and Sean Brightman seem to view this show as nothing but a warm-up for the rest of the day's performances. Though there are moments of humour, it seemed more like they were making each other laugh, leaving the audience feeling as though they were witness to two friends having a jokey conversation. If you want to see either of these comedians, I recommend going to one of their actual shows rather than this hour long preamble.
Dragonfly, 6 - 27 Aug (not 9, 16, 23), 3.10pm (4.10pm), free, fpp105.
tw rating 2/5

About Tam O'Shanter
Bruce Fummey
Anyone who has not been to a Burns' Supper will find the majority of Bruce Fummey's set difficult to follow. A Scottish comic for a Scottish audience, the show begins with some of his older material - the science-based comedy of a funny Brian Cox. This is relatively successful and receives gentle laughter. His actual set, however, is more interesting and informative - but it isn't comedy. Those who are unfamiliar with Scottish culture may find that the majority of his set goes over their heads. Many jokes are in the standard misdirection vein and are barely surprising or original, with audience members pre-empting the punchlines. Though not particularly comedic, perhaps Fummey should begin looking into a career in lecturing.
LaughingHorse @ The Beehive Inn, 4 - 28 Aug (not 15, 22), 8.00pm (9.00pm), £3.50 - £7.00, fpp33.
tw rating 2/5

Kev Orkian: The Guilty Pianist
Kev Orkian
Some molto vivace piano medleys are plonked out. Yet there is actually not much piano involved: the set is a series of cheap shots at immigrants, gays, the Swahili language, and Essex - just like in the good old 1950s. Orkian's puncturing of classical airs - falling asleep on 'Moonlight Sonata' or yelling "BOGEY!" - is charming, as is his character's brusqueness (though it's always directed at women). Impressively, he manages to be both camp and blockish. The brief show's highlight is his comparative history of Western and "Armenian" dancing, where Orkian demonstrates a flair for movement. But this generally feels like a showcase for a longer, older show: it aims for Dudley Moore and ends up gently a bore.
SpaceCabaret@54, 10 - 27 Aug, 7:05pm, £10.00 - £12.00, fpp160.
tw rating 2/5

Late Night Gimp Fight!
Phil McIntyre Entertainments
Do you find the word "gimp" inherently amusing? If so, you will love this depraved and scatological comedy show with every fibre of your twisted being. As I was exposed to taboo sketches about abortion, bestiality and cannibalism - and that's just the beginning of the alphabet - I quickly learned to expect the unexpected punchline, which dissipated the shock-waves of every macabre conclusion. Paradoxically, their enjoyable but less than knock-out performance would have been far more controversial and unpredictable if they'd included several innocent palate-cleansers to rejuvenate such frequently repetitive proceedings. Most likely, you will snigger mischievously during the first twenty minutes, lose the battle against your increasingly guilty conscience before half time, then feel ashamed of yourself for the remainder.
Pleasance Courtyard, 3 - 29 Aug (not 20), 10.30pm (11.30pm), £8.00 - £12.00, fpp107.
tw rating 3/5

Mabbs and Justice: Love Machine
Mabbs and Justice
The audience are supposedly attending a conference led by Jeff Alesbottom, the deluded dating agent who promises very little for the agency fee of £5999.95. The show sees James Mabbett and Adam Justice transform into different characters to explain the history and art of seduction. While the concept holds a lot of promise, the show itself is woefully unfunny. Mabbett spends the better part of the hour alternately screaming in various accents and then writhing around the stage, presumably in the hopes of distracting from the weak material. Justice meanwhile takes a more reserved approach to his performance, but instead of complementing Mabbett's style, it appears disjointed. Inspiring no love from here, it's a horribly awkward hour for all involved.
Just The Tonic at The Store, 7 - 28 Aug (not 16), 3.00pm (4.00pm), £6.00 (£8.00), fpp113.
tw rating 1/5

Jessica Ransom: Unsung Heroes
Phil McIntyre Entertainments By Arrangement With Dawn Sedgwick Management
Buzzing with energy, Jessica Ransom presents us with a plethora of character-based sketches - from the Andy Serkis school of CGI to working out 'Bounty Hunter' style, most are guaranteed to raise a laugh. In a media age of celebrity culture, all eyes are focused on public figures, but Ransom wants to turn this situation around. The focus of her show is on the unsung heroes of this world - the IT technicians, dinner ladies and health and safety officers who keep the world going around. Some of the sketches don't seem to connect with the audience, but the rest make up for these. Leaping from one character to the next, Ransom provides an entertaining hour of jovial comedy.
Pleasance Courtyard, 3 - 29 Aug (not 15), 5.10pm (6.10pm), £8.00 - £10.00, fpp97.
tw rating 3/5

Mark Dolan - Sharing Too Much
Mick Perrin For Just For Laughs Live
Mark Dolan, better known for hunting out the world's tallest and smallest, is back in Edinburgh to share too much on stage - including his mother's sexual fantasies (according to him) and the details of his "walk on the dark side" - i.e. claiming not to have an advantage card in Boots knowing full well it is in his pocket... dangerous! His anecdotes are funny and quirky, as he fondly remembers the moment he was asked by a prostitute to "slow down" and the memorable time he was mistaken for a lesbian. I was, however, disappointed that he spent half the show chatting to one or two members of the audience, as I was keen to hear more of his excellent material.
Gilded Balloon Teviot, 3 - 29 Aug (not 16), 7.00pm (8.00pm), £7.00 - £9.50, fpp113.
tw rating 4/5

McNeil And Pamphilon: Which One Are You?
McNeil And Pamphilon
Never have a comedy duo been so fixated on each other's balls. If Morecambe and Wise were born in the 1980s and found themselves in dissatisfying nine-to-five jobs, then perhaps they would have written a sketch show a little like this. McNeil and Pamphilon had a marvellous bromance and a comedic chemistry that was wonderfully self-evident, spawning a series of electrifying gags which were executed with enviable panache and an endearing and relaxed comic presence. With a mix of musical numbers and exquisitely timed sketches, they played superbly off each other's foibles in a fine example of sharp, cut-and-thrust comedy. Come! Gorge your humour-bones on casually-styled, face-achingly funny comedy.
Pleasance Dome, 3 - 28 Aug (not 17), 5.40pm (6.35pm), £7.00 - £9.50, fpp117.
tw rating 5/5

Neil By Mouth
Neil Cole
With neon lights, plush leather seats and a soundtrack to match, Cabaret Voltaire's Speakeasy was the perfect venue for Neil Cole's slick act, but his routine was perhaps too cool for his audience, who only responded to a fraction of his puns. His best jokes revolved around linguistics; his bit on the etymology of the word "kangaroo" was particularly strong. At random points in the show, Neil shared meanings of the word "flush" from its "disproportionately large pool of definitions", and some fun facts about robins. This structuring of the show was cheap, gimmicky and ultimately unnecessary, since Neil's charm was in his kookiness, high energy, and non-sequitur style. The wit was there, but the delivery left something to be desired.
Cabaret Voltaire, 4 - 28 Aug (not 15, 25), 6.15pm (7.15pm), £4.00 - £8.00, fpp125.
tw rating 3/5

Ruby Wax: Losing It
Menier Chocolate Factory
In this inspirational performance, the talented actress and comedian Ruby Wax reflects on her battle against depression and shares some insight into how she finally came to find "the manual" - to life, that is. The show started out very light-heartedly, and, like a "rollercoaster ride", gained more depth and seriousness as it progressed. Featuring jazzy song numbers performed by co-star and best friend Judith Owen, as well as humorous remarks and audience feedback towards the end, 'Losing It' was as moving as it was entertaining. It was indeed heartening to see a celebrity publicly deliberating on her problems, encouraging others to do the same without the "sense of shame" that, for too long, has been associated with mental illness.
Udderbelly's Pasture, 5 - 29 Aug (not 15), 4.10pm (5.30pm), £14.00 - £17.50, fpp145.
tw rating 4/5

Samurai Grandma
This is a truly bizarre hour's entertainment as Shoko Ito performs her "solo super action comedy". It tells the tale of Samurai Grandma, who only gains her powers upon the death of her husband, and her battles against the evil Kitchen Penguin and his army of talking knives and vegetables. It's performed almost entirely in Japanese with English supertitles which adds to the eccentric nature of the whole thing. At times it's very funny, particularly when Shoko drags embarrassed audience members up on stage to take part in a dance battle, but unfortunately a lot of the time it's just plain weird. Shoko's enthusiasm is infectious though, and it's very difficult not to like her. Plus, it's certainly something different!
Just The Tonic At The Caves, 4 - 28 Aug (not 17), 3.15pm (4.15pm), £6.00 - £8.00, fpp146.
tw rating 3/5


Forgetting Natasha
State Of Flux / Escalator East To Edinburgh
Natasha has dementia. This powerful multimedia performance shows her attempt to scrape all of herself into a book before she forgets. Unfortunately she cannot, for the life of her, remember where she put it. The character of Natasha is sadly a little shallow - although the audience attempt to engage with the unravelling of her intricately knotted memories, it soon becomes clear that she hasn't been given much depth to undo. However, the breath-taking digital and live animation works powerfully together with the dancers who claim the stage with finesse. As they dance alongside the animation and swelling soundtrack, 'Forgetting Natasha' genuinely reaches the sublime, and it is not Natasha, but rather, the minor flaws of this production which are soon forgotten.
Zoo Southside, 6 - 27 Aug (not 10, 17, 24), 12.30pm (1.15pm), £10.00 - £12.00, fpp171.
tw rating 4/5

Swimming With My Mother
CoisCéim Dance Theatre
With a tenderness that is only found in the relationship between mother and child, David and Madge Bolger produce a fusion of dance and physical theatre which explores familial relationships in the context of a shared passion. Supported by an overhead narrative, delivered primarily by Madge, which outlines how her love of swimming developed from a young age and was later passed on to her children, the duo perform with an ebb and flow that mirrors the rise and fall of the sea. As heart warming as it is poetic, it illustrates an evident bond of love achieved through metaphor and genuine affection in a performance that conjures up contemplative feelings of one's own nostalgia.
Dance Base, 5 - 21 Aug (not 8, 15), times vary, £7.00, fpp177.
tw rating 4/5

Within Range
Isobel Cohen
This haunting performance is shot through with fugue-like fragments of surveillance, interrogation and torture, forming a disorientating depiction of the violence, claustrophobia and paranoia of life under the Stasi. The dance sequences are excellent: officials grasp suspects by the necks, limber spines twist and swoop, and the fragility of the body is contrasted with resilience of spirit as each delicate movement is performed with the fierce concentration of one who senses she is being watched. However, these beautiful moments are interspersed with baffling dialogue, with the result that the narrative is seemingly scrambled, encoded and frustratingly undecipherable. Whilst the precise, cryptic nature of this piece may not make for exuberant viewing, it is certainly appropriate to its subject matter.
Zoo Southside, 6 - 20 Aug (not 16), 6.10pm (7.20pm) £10.00 - £12.00, fpp179.
tw rating 3/5

My Voluntary Punishments – Another Cappadocia
Trama Cia. De Dança / Daniel Jaber
This dual program from a Brazilian company was entirely surreal and really rather brilliant. The first piece, and by far the longest, was performed by a cast of beautiful women as they explored, through contemporary dance, the daily punishments of being young and female in an urban landscape. Were it not for the blurb, I mightn't be so confident determining this as not a word of English was spoken; however neither was much Portuguese, so it can't have mattered greatly. Danced to a backdrop of weird and wonderful projections, including a woman devouring a flower pot at one point, this was utterly engrossing. The second piece - a male solo - was not quite so absorbing, but still interesting and occasionally thrilling.
Greenside, 15 – 27 Aug (not 21), times vary, £6.50 - £8.00, fpp173.
tw rating 4/5

Parallel Memories
Jean Abreu And Jorge Garcia (UK And Brazil)
Innovative and symbolically replete, 'Parallel memories' is a passionate display of interpretative dance theatre. The opening, which saw the two performers draw white lines and images on the pitch black floor, was intentionally evocative, although slightly too long drawn for someone like myself, who grew impatient waiting for the dance routine to take off. When this did appear, the choreography proved profound and expressive, though I must admit I am not entirely certain what exactly was being expressed. One would assume that is indeed the very nature of a performance of this kind: to stimulate sentimental reaction rather than full-fledged comprehension, to appeal to everyone's mind in a distinct, yet equally powerful manner. And that is precisely what it did.
C, 14 – 29 Aug, 2.15pm (3.05pm), £5.50 – £11.50, fpp174.
tw rating 3/5


CineFringe Film Festival CineFringe
The CineFringe Film Festival is one of the few dedicated film events on offer at this year's Festival and presents work selected from an open entry competition. Showing five shorts from aspiring film makers (though the line up of films and exact number varies from day to day), today's line up shows a broad variation in themes, from an emotional struggle during the First World War to a humorous reimagining of 'Interview with A Vampire' set in a modern day office. The films also diverge between being image-centric to having a more intricate plot, particularly in the case of 'Scars' by Martin Walton. While some of these shorts capture our attention more than others, with a varying programme on offer on different days, CineFringe is still an excellent opportunity to see some film in a cinema-lite Festival.
Sweet Grassmarket, 15 - 28 Aug, 4.30pm (5.30pm), £4.50 - £5.00, fpp181.
tw rating 3/5


The Queen: Art And Image
National Galleries of Scotland
She's a woman whose image is as ubiquitous as currency, yet the representation of the Queen has been - and still is - subject to shifting perceptions. This exhibition explores the evolution of imagery devoted to the monarch since her coronation, and our changing patterns of reverence. With a diverse mix of formal portraits, official photographs, media images and contemporary depictions, it offers an unbiased insight into the development of her representation, and with it a glimpse at society's changing relationship with the idea of monarchy. Underlining this shift from formality to familiarity, the exhibition combines the traditional with the informal in a way that retains a sense of mystery; a perfect, yet inevitably tense position between private individual and public persona.
Scottish National Gallery, 25 Jun - 18 Sep, times vary, £5.00 - £7.00, fpp190.
tw rating 4/5


Piaf Christine Bovill Performs Piaf
If you've ever felt shivers from hearing a musical performance, then you're half way to understanding how it feels to hear Christine Bovill sing. From 'La Vie En Rose' to 'Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien', you can almost hear the sorrow and heartache of Edith Piaf in the husky yet soaring vocals of Bovill as she transports you back to 1940s France. Between songs, Bovill speaks a bit about the background of the selected songs and how they relate to different times across Piaf's painfully short but eventful life. From her passionate performance, it is clear that Bovill strives to express the true Piaf as much as she can - something which she pulls off with exceptional sincerity.
National Library Of Scotland, 14 - 20 Aug, 7.00pm (8.00pm), £10.00 - £14.00, fpp216.
tw rating 4/5

Jazz at Centotre
Jazzmain Trio
After a sunny afternoon perusing Fringe shows, there is nothing more relaxing than having a cocktail and listening to the Jazzmain Trio playing in the atmospheric surroundings of Centotre's main dining room. With their mixture of up-tempo hits and more melodic numbers this is a lovely live band to enjoy your dinner with - and therein lies the issue. The band are really there to play to paying dinner customers, and if you want to simply relax with a drink you will have to enjoy their dulcet tones from the bar, which doesn't exactly offer a panoramic view. If you're looking for a nice dinner accompaniment this is ideal; otherwise, another jazz offering would be preferable.
Centotre, 7, 14, 21, 28 Aug, 6.00pm (10.00pm), free, fpp208.
tw rating 3/5

Kate Daisy Grant With Nick Pynn
Kade Daisy Grant With Nick Pynn / PBH's Free Fringe
With a wind-up toy bird as a backing singer and a toyshop of tiny, tinkling instruments to play with, eccentric chanteuse Kate Daisy Grant seems determinedly quirky. She takes you by surprise, then, with the strength and range of her voice as she surges into this set of short, sharp, bittersweet songs, infused with innocent wonder and worldly melancholy. It's a kaleidoscope of influences, moods and styles, mixing sweet, poppy hooks with sparse skiffle and tense indie edginess. Multi-instrumentalist Nick Pynn fills out the sound on violin and guitar, a resonant counterpoint and necessary anchor for Grant's mellifluous vocal. This is bombastic and beautiful music, deep, delicate and slightly demented - the perfect soundtrack for an offbeat evening.
Fingers Piano Bar, 6 - 27 Aug (not 8, 15, 22), 6.40 pm (7.40 pm), free, fpp209.
tw rating 4/5


2401 Objects
Analogue Theatre / Oldenburgisches Staatstheater / New Wolsey Theatre / Escalator East to Edinburgh
A powerful and highly professional show. '2401 Objects' followed the true story of a young man whose severe epilepsy led doctors to try out radical forms of brain surgery which, while curing his condition, left him with total amnesia. Frayed relationships are painted with distressingly close detail; the emotionally detached tone of suburban 1950s America is inflected with a lovelessness that is very compelling. Naturalistic acting is combined with unexpected moments of polished physical theatre that are as moving as they are unexpected. The show lags in its narrative sections - they have the feeling of material that had to be wedged in somehow - and a mawkish ending is a weak coda to an otherwise forceful piece of theatre.
Pleasance Courtyard, 3 - 28 Aug (not 9, 16, 23), 4.40pm (5.55pm), £9.00 - £12.00, fpp307.
tw rating 4/5

Beowulf - A Thousand Years Of Baggage
Banana Bag And Bodice
Beowulf wants his dragon-fight, Grendel wants his mother, and just about everybody wants to get their own back in this play about violence and vengeance that turns assumptions on their head and bulldozes through expectations. Me? I want to know where Grendel's got to: the monster has a disconcerting habit of disappearing, only to turn up later swigging beer - sometimes spewing it - somewhere in the audience. Mixing Old English with thoroughly modern diction, and swords with thumb-wars, this is high drama wonderfully combined with ridiculous comedy, not to mention great songs. It's slightly over the top in places, but this is easily forgiven when weighed against the discordant yet goosebump-giving score, admirable acting and refreshing new take on the epic poem.
Assembly George Square, 11 - 29 Aug (not 15), 4.00pm (5.10pm), £12.00 - £14.00, fpp242.
tw rating 4/5

ACE Productions
The lives of three women unravel before our eyes in Mika Myllyaho's grim comedy as they grapple with globalisation, the modern world and their own private passions. This is a female 'Fight Club' meets Alexander McCall Smith, by way of women's magazines. As the women deal with their middle-class issues, egotistical passions that lurk underneath - with the help of a little alcohol - come bursting forth. Sophia is frustrated at work, Emmy's daughter is being taken from her after an act of drunken violence, and Julia is dating a married movie-lover with a split personality. Three women play all the roles, male and female, with the scenes where Julia tries to deal with her lover's two manifestations being particularly hilarious.
Pleasance Courtyard, 3 - 29 Aug (not 15), 1.50pm (3.00pm), £9.00 - £11.00, fpp248.
tw rating 4/5

Chase The Crane
Can you love someone you've never met? Can a person ever change? Does anyone have the right to take or save a life? Playwright Lois Baldry skilfully manoeuvres through these deep questions which provoke multiple answers, but never rest conclusively on a particular one. The techniques used to show the passing of time and place are unnervingly effective at drawing the audience into the confused and lonely mind of the protagonist, Helen. The talented cast effortlessly portray the myriad effects that family trauma can have on different personalities, so one is left feeling that each jarring opinion can be completely understood, implying, perhaps, that we should grudgingly agree to disagree; a classic example of the subjectivity of morality and ethics.
C soco, 3 - 29 (not 15), 8.55pm (9.55pm), £6.50 - £9.50, fpp271.
tw rating 5/5

The Paper Birds
Three toilet cubicles, two boozy British babes, and one banjo-playing techie - when I heard that this production examines Britain's obsession with drinking I was expecting a lot of shock statistics and when-binge-drinking-goes-wrong horror stories. However, The Paper Birds manage to steer clear of this to deliver an edgy and engaging show that is funny, sad, touching and thought provoking. Sometimes they manage to hit the nail right on the head and you think to yourself "I have felt Just. Like. That". This show does verge on the grotesque, but perhaps it needs to be that way in order to heighten the juxtaposition between the incredibly funny and the incredibly sad. Thoroughly modern storytelling from two very talented actresses.
Pleasance Courtyard, 3 - 28 (not 15), 5.45pm (6.45pm), £9.00 - £11.00, fpp303.
tw rating 4/5

Sailing On
If it is originality and inventiveness you seek, then 'Sailing On' is the show for you. It revolves around a girl's poignantly suppressed memory coming to light with the help of a pretend Ophelia and Virginia Woolf. Though beautifully enacted and adeptly enhanced by the use of multimedia, it was not the performance itself that most stood out, but rather, the performance space: a place "stuck between the missing and the drowned". While the space did supply a creative element to the plot, it was also the show's greatest drawback, as the audience could not shake off the feeling of discomfort that came with having to stand shoulder to shoulder in the tiny, quasi-flooded room during the long 45 minutes.
New Town Theatre, 6 - 28 Aug (not 9, 16, 23), times vary, £7.00 - £9.00, fpp295.
tw rating 3/5.

Assembly Theatre Presents Guy Masterson - Theatre Tours International
Although a take on Shakespeare's 'The Merchant of Venice', the main character in this intriguing one man show is not the infamous Skylock, but Tubal, the Jewish antihero's friend - ultimately a smart decision as it means that Shylock can be represented in a much less biased light. The play does not only focus on Shylock the character, but also muses on Judaism, along with excerpts from the play. These extracts are essential, however, for an understanding of the play; indeed, the significance of Tubal's broodings is often lost on an audience unfamiliar with the original play. If you know the play inside out, give this an extra star, but otherwise see it merely for its original concept.
Assembly Hall, 4 - 29 Aug (not 15), 3.45pm (5.00pm), £11.50 - £14.00, fpp296.
tw rating 3/5

Helmsman Pete: Postcards From
The Edge Of The World! Tar Pit
If there's a prize for the production with the most props and sound effects, this must surely win it. This is a complicated piece in which Helmsman Pete, who communicates via spoken verse and song, tells a story about a boy in a well who writes stories on postcards which various birds carry to Pete, who then acts out or sings them. Got that? Good. The Helmsman gives it his all, but ultimately there's far too much going on – lots of loud noises and quite a lot of leaping about – and I wasn't always sure why. By the end I felt exhausted and confused; why were there so many birds at the bottom of a well? Answers on a postcard please.
Underbelly Cowgate, 4 - 28 Aug (not 16), 5.15pm (6.15pm), £8.50 - £10.50, fpp268.
tw rating 2/5

The Investigation 3Bugs Fringe Theatre
As an hour-long hard-hitting drama about the Holocaust, 'The Investigation' is both beautifully crafted and horrifically difficult to watch. A judge questions survivors and concentration camp guards in an attempt to understand the atrocities of Auschwitz. Stories made all the more horrible by the fact that they are true are spliced with physical theatre and dance, to create an absolutely heart-wrenching production. If there is one criticism to be made, it is that the play would benefit from being shorter: the material is so bleak that it is impossible to take it all in at once. It's not a show to be squeezed into a tight schedule, but if you've time for reflection, 'The Investigation' will prove worthwhile.
Zoo Southside, 5 – 29 Aug (not 14, 21), 9.15pm (10.15pm), £6.00 - £7.50, fpp271.
tw rating 4/5

The Manipulators
What is manipulation? "Lying, cheating, stealing, swindling," claims Simon Coronel, one half of illusionist duo The Manipulators. On the other hand, his counterpart Vyom Sharma says that manipulation can be beautiful; a singer manipulates sound and a painter ink. The Manipulators take this concept and, using a mixture of anecdotes and explanation, examine which version is true. The staging is excellent – very slick and mysterious. Impressively, the whole act is carried out with sleeves rolled up to give it an added dimension of difficulty. Unfortunately, aside from the Derren Brown-esque concluding illusion, the rest feels like we've seen it before: coins disappearing into handkerchiefs. The showmanship is definitely there, but the act itself needs a little work.
The Spaces@Surgeon's Hall, 12 - 27 Aug (not 15, 16, 22, 23), 8.35pm (9.25pm), £5.00 - £12.00, fpp278.
tw rating 3/5

Are There More Of You?
Hint Of Lime Productions
Amidst the many dubious shows at the Festival it's easy to lose faith; Alison Skilbeck's one-woman show will have it restored in a jiffy, as she plots the lives, loves and loneliness of four very different women. Skilbeck moves fluidly between personalities, accents, social class, and attitudes as simply as changing her shoes; both costume and stage design are minimal, which allows her tremendous skill in acting to do all the work in bringing these characters to life. There are subtle links between characters, which are chattily confided to the audience; it is over a book sale or a business dinner that we get these intimate and moving vignettes, with Skilbeck ultimately leaving you spellbound by her powers of characterisation.
C aquila, 4 – 29 Aug (not 15), 5.25pm (6.35pm), £7.50 - £10.50, fpp239.
tw rating 5/5

The World Holds Everyone Apart, Apart From Us
Stuart Bowden
With not much more than a few milk crates, a retro keyboard and a loop machine, Stuart Bowden creates a show of such beauty it will take your breath away. Set in the future after an ecological disaster, it tells the story of Avian, whose mission is to save the world from loneliness. His plan is to build a rocket, fly into outer space and find another planet to bring back to keep the earth company. The show is so fragile it's in constant danger of falling apart, but the playfulness of the writing and the lightness of Stuart's performance hold it together. Full of wit and charm, this is low-fi DIY storytelling theatre at its very best.
Underbelly, 4 – 28 Aug (not 15), 2.55pm (3.55pm), £8.00 - £10.00, fpp312.
tw rating 5/5

Unnatural Selection
Amnesiac vampires admittedly were not a premise that immediately thrilled or captivated me, but this grungy, slick, apocalyptically-tinged performance was certainly gripping. At its worst, it put me in mind of Twi-hard porn with depth, as an olive-skinned Edward Cullen figure brooded across the stage, playing the troubled romantic out for impassioned revenge. The styling was crisp if predictable, and the densely fabricated plot was weighted down by too much circumstantial politics. They create a richly detailed, cinematic, adrenaline-fuelled world, but it was a performance of overly ambitious scope. Though somewhat ill-suited to the stage (and, arguably, limited by it), this performance would make for a fairly saleable vampire novel – and God knows there's a market for those.
theSpaces@Surgeons Hall, 5 – 27 Aug (not 7, 14, 21), 7.30pm (8.35pm), £5.00 - £8.50, fpp308.
tw rating 3/5

4.3 Miles From Nowhere
Fine Chisel Theatre
A group of unlikely friends are stranded in the woods overnight after breaking down on the way to a fancy dress party. A simple enough coming-of-age plotline, you may think, but mix in some comedy, interpretive dance and, say, a live folk band and you have a Fine Chisel Theatre production. As the plot develops into a 'rich boy falls for working class girl' story, the group explore love, lust, sorrow, anger, joy, fear, courage and a whole other spectrum of emotional themes. This may sound rather cluttered, but works really well, and director Tom Spencer has written it in such a way that it is really easy and enjoyable to follow. Worth a see if you get the chance.
Zoo, 5 – 29 Aug (not 16), 3.00pm (4.00pm), £7.00 - £10.00, fpp263.
tw rating 3/5

A Funny Valentine
Mike Maran Productions
Metered jazz and measured speech interweave to create a tight, unforgettable show. Taking place at the back of a delicatessen, the show is accompanied by the smells of cheese and imported meats – perfect for this tale of an American lost in Europe and hooked on jazz and junk. Through the rich voice of Mike Maran, we learn of Chet Baker's rise to fame and his fatal fall from a windowsill in Amsterdam. Maran threads the story with cutting irony, revealing the off-stage Baker to be both violent and self centred. He's joined by pianist Dave Mulligan and trumpeter Colin Steele, and the two elements—music and speech—complement each other in equal parts. Look no further for good music and stories.
Valvona & Crolla, dates and times vary, £10.00 - £12.00, fpp264.
tw rating 4/5

Colour Me Happy
Group 13
This charming show brims with evocative details, inviting us on a nostalgic and poignant trip to the 1990s. During a slow start, three smiling actresses lovingly unpack what would seem to be my - and indeed a large portion of the audience's - bubble-wrapped childhood. Clearly the result of hard work, the piece could nonetheless benefit from streamlining – ingenious handmade props fill the stage, creatively implemented but fiddly and occasionally threatening to slow the action. Enchanting sprinkles of text gathered from a variety of sources remain sparse, leaving awkward silences despite an excellent original score. Though I was tickled rather than thrilled by this meander down memory lane, credit goes to the talented young performers for their affection and commitment.
Zoo, 5 – 27 Aug (not 15, 22) 5.10pm (6.10pm), £5.00 - £8.00, fpp251.
tw rating 3/5

Conference Of Strange
Patternfight Performance / PBH Free Fringe
In a world so overpopulated, why reproduce at all? Why not become a cyborg, like the star of 'Conference Of Strange', Sarah Ruff? This is a defamiliarising discussion of the life cycle, using visual projections that are interactive, original, and truly hilarious. The entire space at Princes Street Mall is utilised in the making of this show. With projections dotted around the room, the senses are treated to both physical art and comedy in a marvellous synthesis. The result is a clever, topical and inordinately witty display that will make you pause and think, not to mention chortle. This show is inventive, warm, and poignant, an impressive feat for any cyborg.
Princes Mall, 13 – 27 Aug (not 16, 23), 6.00pm (7.00pm), free, fpp251.
tw rating 5/5

Ibsen's Hedda Gabler
Palindrome Theatre
The consummate actors performing this clever adaptation of Ibsen's play grasp their material by the scruff of its neck, look it straight in the eye and feel its dark heart beating. The action is confined to the well-appointed respectability of a drawing room, yet the room is a melancholy world, and the play a raw landscape of human emotions where the desire to dominate others reigns. The performers embody their characters' pasts - disappointments, betrayals, shaken morals, lusts, lost loves - and Robin Thompson's manipulative Hedda is a fearsome centre; she builds up then cruelly dismantles those around her, turning against herself in the process. In the capable hands of Palindrome Theatre, Ibsen's extraordinary picture of personal relationships rings cathartic and true.
Hill Street Theatre, 5 – 29 Aug (not 10, 17, 24), 2.15pm (3.45pm), £6.00 - £8.00, fpp270.
tw rating 4/5

Medea's Children
Lung Ha's Theatre Company And Unga Klara
Telling the Medea myth through the perspective of her children is a powerful approach; recast as a tale of divorce, the tragedy takes on a different tone. The first part of the play - brimming with energy - begins strongly, but is let down by the latter act which drags and concludes rather abruptly. Perhaps most poignant and powerful is the prologue, a fast paced exposition which is deftly handled through song and a tight montage. Unfortunately, this competence of myth relation does not continue throughout: later references to the myth are thoughtlessly employed, in what seems a clumsy attempt to tangentially crowbar in references to the source text. That said, there is much else to enjoy from this creative adaptation.
St George's West, 13 – 29 Aug (not 16, 17, 23, 24), 10.30am (11.30am), £6.00 - £8.00, fpp279.
tw rating 3/5

Martin Figura / Escalator East To Edinburgh / Apples and Snakes
It begins with a quiet stage on which the only illumination is photographs on a slideshow screen; a man in black steps out of the shadows, and the lyrics begin. This hour-long poetic autobiography - accompanied by images from the poet's 1960s childhood - pivots around the murder of his mother by his schizophrenic father. Martin Figura's story is a fascinating one, observed with wry humour and gentle wit, and the keenly-observed richness of the world he conjures up allows the audience to almost taste his emotions. The complexity of the poetry means it's difficult to comprehend at times, and although some might find the show to drag, it is carefully paced for the most; an emotional and powerful performance on the whole.
Zoo, 5 – 29 Aug (not 15, 25), 1.45pm (2.45pm), £5.00 - £7.50, fpp311.
tw rating 3/5

Shanghai Repertory Theater
Dark, moody clouds drift across Oriental-style screens at the opening of this emotive piece following two dispossessed, fractured families in China and Singapore. As each individual struggles to find something or someone to hold onto in an unstable world, the play evokes questions of "What is 'home'?" and "Where does your soul reside?" Unfortunately, the Western accents and bearings of the majority of the cast are jarring and prevent full immersion in the story; moreover, some of the narration is pompous and costuming, uninspired. However, Thomas Caron's wide-eyed Du Wen De is beguiling and the vibrant video component complements the well-paced action. The play's notion that wherever one is, one always feels that "life is elsewhere" will speak to any traveller.
Udderbelly's Pasture, 3 - 29 Aug (not 17), 1.00pm (2.00pm), £8.00 - £10.00, fpp257.
tw rating 4/5

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ThreeWeeks 2011 Review Team: Jennifer Ajderian [ja], Katie Allen [ka], Maryam Ansari [ma], Daisy Badger [db], Jessica Ballance [jlb] Jennifer Bayne [jb], Andrew Bell [ab], Julian Benson [jfb] Neville Billimoria [nb], Ellie Blow [eb] Camille Burns [cb], Emily Carson [ec], Katie Chapman [kc], James Chew [jc], Sophia Clarke [sc], Lisa Clarkson [lc], Paul Collins [pc], Mark Conway [mc], Laura Cress [ljc], Katie Cunningham [klc], Nadiya Cunnison [nc], Cathal Delea [cd], Lucinda Dobinson [ld], Harriet Dodd [hd], Celia Dugua [cld], Anna Eberts [ae], Dave Fargnoli [df], Joseph Fleming [jf], Ella Fryer-Smith [efs], Nina Glencross [ng], Zulekha Grace [zg], Danielle Grogan [dg], Anna Hafsteinsson [ah], James Hampson [jh], Clemmie Hill [ch], Samuel Johnston [sj], Megan Joyce [mj], Ivan Juritz [ij], Veronika Kallus [vk], Emma Keaveney [ek], Lauren Kelly [lk], Ciara Knowles [ck], Jessica Lambert [jl], Andrew Latimer [ajl], Gavin Leech [gl], Kate Lister [kl], Alice Longhurst [al], Michael Mackenzie [mm], Kirsty MacSween [km], Lynsey Martenstyn [lm], Felicity Martin [fm], Iain Martin [im], Louise Mawson [lam], Anna McDonald [am], Lisa McNally [lmm], Cheryl Moh [cm], Kathryn Moore [kjm], Sarah Mulvenna [sm], Eleanor Pender [ep], Dora Petherbridge [dp], Marcus Pibworth [mp], Alistair Quaile [aq], Tracey S Rosenberg [tsr], Poppy Rowley [pr], Rosalind Scott [rs], Leonie Sheridan [ls], Ross Sweeney [rss], Simon Thornton [st], Alison Treacy [at], Rohanne Udall [ru], Hannah Van Den Bergh [hb], Taylor Wallace [tw], Kirsten Waller [kw], Thea Warren [tfw], Hilary White [hw], Ellie Willis [ew], Ellen Wilson [emw], Nathan Wood [nw].

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