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So Edinburgh Fringe 2011 is reaching its finale

Find out who won our Editors' Awards

Plus read another batch of ThreeWeeks reviews


The ThreeWeeks editors this morning presented their annual Editors' Awards at the Carlton Hotel in Edinburgh, celebrating the ten things they felt made Edinburgh Festival 2011 extra special. Here are the winners, complete with the editors' notes about why they presented each award.


Our first winner is an extremely well-loved comedian who seems to live by the Fringe ethos twelve months a year, constantly coming up with great new ideas, many of which draw in and involve other comedy talent. At the Fringe, his many shows always prove popular with the ThreeWeeks review team. And this year more than ever he proved himself a true Festival hero by staging no less than four shows, three of them in the Free Fringe, another great Edinburgh institution that he continues to support. The first winner is Robin Ince.


We love shows that use unusual spaces at the Festival, and this year this company's production, staged in a wagon parked in a hidden car park in the centre of Edinburgh, particularly caught our attention. Of course anyone can choose a quirky venue, but these guys have also staged a brilliant show, creating a warm and intimate experience for their audience, and a story which, our reviewer said, while new felt "as though it had been told around campfires, under open stars for millennia". Our next winners are River People for their show 'Little Matter'.


For parents, one of the most difficult things about introducing young children to theatre is the fact that they might embarrass you by running on stage, or something similar. Our next winners reduce that fear by getting children as actively involved as possible throughout their shows. We also rate their decision to not pretend their shows are suitable for all children, and rather to tailor and promote their shows to narrower age ranges, ensuring that they are fully suitable for each age group. With their own venue at Merchants Hall, our next winners truly enhance the Fringe's children's shows programme every year. Our next winners are Spotlites.


Although best known for theatre and comedy, the Fringe is also home to a number of other cultural events, which help make this festival totally unique. Our next winners are behind a whole strand of such events, designed not only to complement the Fringe, but another of the city's August festivals. A plethora of performers and authors visit the Word Power book shop each August to take part in talks and debates in a wonderfully intimate space. A hidden gem of Edinburgh's festival month, the next winners are the Edinburgh Book Fringe.


Our next winners are the creators of a children's show that was brought to our attention last year by an appreciative ThreeWeeks reviewer, who awarded it a 5/5 rating. They returned this year and got the same rating from another reviewer, who said "Paul Nathan is a superb performer who has a sarcastic ease rarely found outside late night comedy. Sinister yet avuncular, he even manages to involve every child in a magic trick, important to parents wanting to avoid arguments later. It would be worth going just to see him banter with accompanying musician John Anaya, but the tricks too were performed flawlessly". Our next winners are Paul and John from the 'I Hate Children Children's Show'.


In a year when many of the big sketch comedy troupes chose not to do a full run, we, like many others, were looking out for the next stars of the genre. And with our next winners we may have found them. Says our reviewer: "This group's warped and perverse characters are so brilliantly constructed, and performed with such comic finesse, that the audience are in danger of unwittingly revealing their own most disturbed sensibilities in their reactions. Atmospheric musical accompaniment complements the dark and twisted writing and contributes to the more subtle, heart-wrenching scenes of tragicomedy". Not only did they score at 5/5 rating, they won more than one fan on the ThreeWeeks team this year. Our next winners are Casual Violence!


In a festival as big as Edinburgh, there will always be a number of shows which truly blow you away, but in terms of theatrical spectaculars, our next winner stood out. In their 5/5 review, our reviewer said: "The joy of this show is partly seeing the performer's gravity-defying antics as his world and ours collide. Mostly, however, it's from watching the amazing performance put in by Wegner as he presents an utterly convincing impression of altered gravity, dancing brilliantly and even playing the sax. Then, just when you think it can get no better, it amazes once more by introducing CGI effects that only we can see but with which Wegner interacts perfectly. Absolutely brilliant". That says it all really. Surely one of the shows that Fringe 2011 will be remembered for, our next winners are Circle Of Eleven for 'Leo'.


This is another show performed in an interesting venue. As our reviewer said, "A play about fudge, performed in a fudge shop, with free fudge – surely a winning concept". And we couldn't agree more. But once again, this show wasn't just about the quirky performance space, the show was really good too, and everyone we've spoken to agrees with our reviewer, that it was simply very, very funny. Their ThreeWeeks review continues: "The cast of four enjoy themselves as much as the audience, as they gleefully shatter the fourth wall and ad lib their way around an already very funny script. They frequently make each other laugh as well the punters, which in other shows might be irritating, but with the audience firmly on their side, here it just adds to their charm". Our next winners are the guys behind 'The Fudge Shop'.


The Fringe wouldn't be the Fringe without the late night shows which bring together performers from across the Festival. Such shows come and go, but every so often one comes along that stands out above the rest, normally because of an interesting concept or an engaging host. Our next winners score highly in both those areas. Although both times I saw the show the guests were of a high calibre, it was the MC and his band, their games, songs and interaction, that really made this a memorable experience. For us the late night Fringe of 2011 was led by our next winners, Alex Horne and the Horne Section.


Some of our reviewers are new to Edinburgh, and the first time we provide them with bus routes to Duddingston to review a show, they are little confused and sometimes distressed. But without fail they relish the experience once they get there, because we are sending them to one of the multiple shows staged each Fringe by our next winners. We love open air theatre at ThreeWeeks, and Duddingston Kirk Manse Gardens are the perfect venue. This company always maximise the potential of their beautiful performance space, and always garner highly positive reviews from the ThreeWeeks team for their diverse range of shows. Our final winners for 2011 are Theatre Alba.



DeAnne Smith: The Best DeeAnne Smith DeeAnne Smith Can Be
DeeAnne Smith
Offbeat charm and winsomeness could have put Smith at risk of being predictable. Yet the rapport she builds with the audience feeds off this, and instead of appearing staged and forced, her charm bleeds into the comedy, generating a gentle style of stand-up. As she offers up a mixture of jokes on homosexual identity, gags about American idiosyncrasies and tunes on the ukulele, DeeAnne's persona almost outweighs the need for astute observation, to be honest, as the chatty, convivial nature of the show proves completely alluring. The geeky get-up and smiley characterisation make up for a tendency to drift into random controversial territory on race.  If she tightened things up a bit, DeeAnne could be immensely successful.
Gilded Balloon Teviot, 3 – 29 Aug (not 15, 22), 20:15 (21:15), £7.50 - £9.50, fpp65.
tw rating 4/5

Gags, Songs And Bombs – Free!
Chuckle Sandwich: Gary Tro, Kate Lucas And Tez Ilyas
This intriguingly titled show offers a rewarding variety of comedy. A three-hander stand-up showcase compered by the charmingly spry Laura Carr, the gig kicks off with Brixton comic Gary Tro, whose piquant style of observation introduces the audience to a night of social commentary and reflection. Kate Lucas's musical skits on break-ups and our parents' secret sex lives follow, and her different style provides a neat partition between the book-ending acts. Headliner Tez Ilyas's comedy on Muslim stereotypes and perceptions is at times clumsily predictable but his persona and his challenging of the issues is necessary and topical in an increasingly segregated society.
Laughing Horse @ The Three Sisters, 4 – 28 Aug, 11:15pm (12:15am), free, fpp81.
tw rating 4/5

Prepare To Be Tuned
A sort of cross between Flight of the Conchords and Tenacious D, AFT?'s style of musical comedy could have drifted into a copycat performance. Yet built around an energetic narrative on life in Melbourne, this group manage and fashion their own comic identity fusing daft stage theatrics and chatty audience interaction with handily written songs. While the group's songs dedicated to "all the women in the room" and misleading serenades to sexy pizzas do recall the offbeat surrealism of Conchords, the craftsmanship of the song writing is refreshing and the nature of the comedy alluring. Competing with acts like Axis of Awesome this year, AFT hold their own with fiery panache.
Gilded Balloon Teviot, 3 – 29 Aug, 9.45pm (10.40pm), £8.50 - £12.50, fpp136.
tw rating 4/5

The Footlights Present...
The Footlights
Stuffed like a kalamata olive into the basement of an Italian restaurant, I found myself at yet another free comedy show, and suffice it to say, I was not looking forward to the following hour. However, 'The Footlights Present...' was an hour of comedy that I would not trade for anything. A procession of five hilarious comedic acts, (some of which were musical comedy, some of which was stand-up), this show really delivered on the laughs, thanks in large part to the phenomenal host, Pierre Novellie, and the brilliant final act, singer/songwriter/rapper Emerald Paston. For a free show, this comedy is spot on, delivering lots of laughs despite the minimal air supply in the venue.
Comedy Ciao Roma – Downstairs, 5 - 28 Aug, 3.20pm (4.20pm), free, fpp78.
tw rating 4/5

Tim FitzHigham: Gambler
Brett Vincent For Get Comedy
Life is about questions: Who am I? What am I doing? Where am I going? And, of course, can I move a cheeseboard four miles only throwing it a hundred times? Tim FitzHigham gives us an energetic, obsessional and historical look at the art of gambling. He trawls through old betting records from the gentlemans' clubs of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, finding oddities like the above cheeseboard bet, and wagering a friend the very same flutter. Mixed with video footage of his attempts to, for example, outrun a horse (a horse, unfortunately for Tim's reputation, named Cuddles), Tim spins us a wondrous yarn and takes us with him into a world of ridiculous dedication and wilful, bizarre purpose. Highly original.
Pleasance Courtyard, 3 – 28 Aug (not 15, 22 – 25 Aug), 7.30pm (8.30pm), £7.00 - £10.00, fpp158.
tw rating 4/5


City Of The Dead
Black Hart Entertainment
Have you heard the one about Bloody MacKenzie? I am now well-versed in the wicked deeds this man committed. Under cover of a (thankfully dry) Edinburgh night, we traversed around Greyfriars Kirkyard, learning fascinating and grisly facts about the city, Scotland, and our tour guide Gerry's loathing for that famous Skye terrier on the way. Crammed with drama and gruesome facts, the tour was chilling, gripping, and extremely interesting. Until, that is, the talk turned to ghosties and ghoulies, and what to do if one attacks you. I was cynical, but found myself covered in goosebumps, and more than a bit jumpy on the walk home. Not for the faint of heart. A thoroughly spooky night out.
Large Black Sign Outside St. Giles' Cathedral, dates vary, 9.30pm (10.45pm), £7.50 - £9.50, fpp181.
tw rating 4/5


An Ancient Thread: 7,000 Years Of Anatolian Kilims
The Nomads Tent
To say that looking at a kilim is like eating a sweet will probably go over most peoples' heads, although I'm sure that people from Konya will be nodding in agreement. This collection of 40 recently commissioned miniature Turkish rugs, fondly nicknamed 'tatlı' (meaning 'sweet'), are perhaps more instantly comparable to Persian carpets or wall paintings. Carefully hand-woven with vegetable-dyed wool, each kilim has its own striking and symbolic geometric design inspired by the ancient artefacts of Catalhöyük: the most common motifs range from 'bereket' (a ram-horn pattern representing fertility) to 'nazarlık' (an amulet that wards off evil spirits). Although the exhibition only considers either end of the kilim's 7,000 year lifespan, it offers an informative and visually mouth-watering experience.
The Nomad's Tent, 4 Aug – 5 Sep, 10.00am (5.00pm), free, fpp188.
tw rating 5/5

Elizabeth Blackadder
National Galleries of Scotland
It's rare for one to see the entire progression of an established artist such as Elizabeth Blackadder. From her early days as a student to art made with sixty years' experience behind it, every era of Blackadder's extensive body of work is represented at the National Gallery. The artist's close relationship with the Edinburgh art scene and the gallery itself make for insightful and detailed annotations for each of the pieces, which range from monochrome pen and ink studies to vivacious oil paintings of scientific detail. Earlier works lack personality, so to start with the collection is not entirely captivating, but by the end we can see the enthusiasm for experimentation that the artist maintains even as she approached her 80th birthday.
Scottish National Gallery, 1 - 31 Aug, 10.00am (6.00pm), £6.00 - £8.00, fpp189.
 tw rating 4/5

Phoebe Anna Traquair Murals at the Mansfield Traquair Centre
Friends of Mansfield Traquair Centre
These luminous murals by the Arts & Crafts artist Phoebe Anna Traquair are simply stunning, not only for their brilliant, scintillating colours laced with shining gilt, but also for the immense restorative project that returned them to their original beauty after years of neglect. The staff are passionate, and offer free informative guided tours to explain every detail of Traquair's most ambitious project. Glowing with jewel colours and bursting with energy, the murals depict scenes from the Old and New Testaments, and are adorned with wild menageries of animals, birds, flowers and decorative patterns. These awe-inspiring murals must be seen with your own eyes, and when the light shines through the stained-glass windows the whole place glistens and dazzles magically.
Mansfield Traquair Centre, 8 - 29 Aug, 11.00am - 1.00pm (Sun - Fri), free, fpp190.
tw rating 5/5

Found In The Fields: Lithographs And Linocuts
By Carry Akroyd With Poems By John Clare
Housed in the delightful Botanic Gardens, this small exhibition displays printmaker Akroyd's bold black and white linocut illustrations for "The Shepherd's Calendar" by nineteenth century poet John Clare. Clare's poems explore the countryside and the unavoidable onslaught of change, and to sensitively reflect this Akroyd has produced simple bucolic scenes for each month, catching the constant motion and dynamisicm that characterises the natural world. In contrast, the second half of the exhibition shows a selection of Akroyd' s lithographs set to individual Clare poems. Bursting with colour and energy, these prints are a little over complex in places, but provide a delightful, almost naïve match to Clare's rough Northamptonshire dialect. Tag this onto your trip to the Gardens.
Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, 1 Aug  –  4 Sept, 10.00am (6.00pm), free, fpp189.
tw rating 4/5


A Musical Auld Alliance
Musica' Vestys
Since Charlemagne, the Scots and the French have bonded over a mutual hatred of the English. We're told this in a rough history lesson by the too-bashful Sophie Ramsey, who explains that the Alliance we are about to witness is similar, "but less violent". Where else could one hear a Rabbie Burns song in gorgeously accented soprano juxtaposed with Clair de Lune? Or feel the smile on our faces as the whole room chimes in for a bilingual rendition of La Vie en Rose? Perfection was not far off, but more could have been done to appease the Francophiles in the audience, and one jazz-scat adaptation of a 17th century poem left us all more than a little 'perdu'.
The Edinburgh Academy, 22 - 29 Aug, times vary, £6.00 - £8.00, fpp213.
tw rating 4/5

Lillian Boutté – Blue Bayou
Outhouse Productions
New Orleans' has named two musical ambassadors over the years: one is jazz legend Louis Armstrong, the other is Lillian Boutté. With a powerful voice and boundless enthusiasm, she sings standards in a style all her own; a mix of full throated, soaring gospel and bluesy purring which captures the vitality of the music and the city she loves. The backing trio on drums, double bass and keys match her energy on up tempo arrangements spiced with spirited solos, with veteran pianist Tom Finley playing with fiery precision. Boutté dances and vamps throughout, insisting on shaking every hand in the intimate venue during closing number 'Wonderful World.' She lives for joy and laughter, she says, and leaves you with both.
The Outhouse, 22 – 28 Aug (not 23), times vary, £15.00, fpp210.
tw rating 4/5

True Love
Philip Contini And His Be Happy Band
This classy evening of nostalgia, nestled in the backroom of famous Italian deli, Valvona & Crolla, saw Philip Contini and his talented band perform some of Cole Porter's best-loved songs. As Contini belted out hit after hit, including 'I get a kick out of you,' 'Under my Skin' and 'True Love' I came to realise Porter's incredible impact on the music scene of the first half of the 20th Century. Contini's charming anecdotes about Porter's eccentric and extravagant globe-trotting lifestyle made me wish I'd been around in the 30s. Mr. Contini doesn't quite have the buttery voice or easy grace of Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin but he's loveable and entertaining and gave his enthralled audience an evening to remember.
Valvona & Crolla, Aug 6, 10 , 12, 17, 20, 13, 19, 25 – 29 (not 28), times vary, £10.50 - £12.50, fpp222
tw rating 4/5

The Caroline Carter Show
Flick Ferdinando
Plying an audience with Jack Daniels doesn't necessarily get them on side, but it helps. Fortunately, Flick Ferdinando's country singer stage persona Caroline Carter is a fine comic character with an act which stands up even if you're sober. Somewhere between Dolly Parton and David Brent, Carter is equal parts arrogant and deluded, simultaneously convinced of her own brilliance and desperately eager to please. Her musical anecdotes of life on the road in her "cosy camper van" take unexpected, subversive twists, while she keeps the audience giggling with slick timing, body language and flirtatious, unreciprocated chemistry with Barney Strachan: talented guitarist and taciturn, Stetson – sporting straight man. Underneath the silliness and the fringed jacket, this is a thoughtful, charming show.
Zoo, 5 – 29 Aug (not 15), 9.15 pm (10.15 pm), £8.00 - £10.00, fpp 247.
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].

Editors & Publishers: Chris Cooke, Caro Moses

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