So, it's now in full swing. Nothing can stop it now. The Festival is well and truly under way.

It's hard to believe, isn't it? Well, I suspect it's especially hard to believe for those who are very much involved in it. They mostly decided around this time last year that they were going to bring a show to the Fringe this summer, but for many it will seem like only a few months have passed since then, a mere few weeks since Christmas, maybe ten days since they wrote their blurb for the Fringe Programme, a week since they began thinking about what their show would actually consist of, and about half a day since they started rehearsing. Actually, it might only be half a day since they started rehearsing, but the point is that it all comes around very quickly. For those who come back year in, year out, July is a very ephemeral thing that passes by in the blink of an eye.

It certainly was for me. The fact that it very recently turned into August caught me utterly by surprise, so caught up was I in looking through press releases, trawling the programmes for information on interesting shows, and preparing prose for publication. I thought I had ages to go, and then suddenly, it was the first day of shows, and my reviewers were out there creating work for me to edit, and the print deadline for our Week One issue was looming.

It was a good thing I did look through all those press packs and trawl all the programmes though, because it's meant I've been able to commission some very interesting articles from a broad variety of Festival-makers, and our Week One edition, out today, bears the fruit of that. You will be able to pick that very magazine up all across Edinburgh for free today. Or you can download the PDF version (9MB) by clicking here, or check it out in digital form via this page here. Some features from this edition are already available on ThreeWeeks Online, and the rest will be appearing over the next few days, with alerts here in your ThreeWeeks Daily email.

In the Week One issue we have loads of interviews for you to peruse: we've spoken to, in no particular order (actually, it is in order, the order in which they come in the magazine): Tamsin Clarke, Figs In Wigs, cover stars Axis Of Awesome, Celia Pacquola, Jessica Sherr, The Neutrinos, Rob Winlow, David Bolger and David Lee Morgan. We've also chatted to the people behind Freestival and Forest Fringe, whilst on the interviews page, the Fringe's favourite 'French Man' Marcel Lucont interviews 'fellow' French Man Yacine Belhousse.

We also have a few columns for your delectation. The Nualas, returning to the Festival after a significant absence, reminisce about Fringes of old, Paul Nathan offers you his guide to street theatre, and Maddy Carrick gives tips on how to fill a small person's day at the Festival. And as if all that weren't enough, we've got a poem from Robin And Partridge and some bite size bits from BEASTS.

Aside from all the features, of course, there is a batch of reviews in there too, penned by this year's roving team of skilled and experienced writers. You'll also fine these critiques in this edition of the ThreeWeeks Daily, and don't forget that in addition to the reviews in the Weekly, you'll get another helping each day in the email update.

You can, of course, trust our team to steer you towards what's good, but I would urge you (as I did previously, in the ThreeWeeks Preview Edition) not just to listen to our reviewers, or the next publication's reviewers. Listen to your gut, and go and see at least one show this week that doesn't have a photocopied review stapled to its flyer, a show that doesn't yet have a star count. There is a huge number of shows at this Festival, and it would be ludicrous, frankly, to only take advice on your viewing choices from people like us. Take a risk on a show with no publicity budget, and it might just pay off.
I hope you are all enjoying Week One. See you next week for more.

Caro @ ThreeWeeks
Axis Of Awesome are Fringe legends, though only one third of the Fringe's own rock band was at the Edinburgh Festival last year, with Jordan and Lee sitting it out. But they're back with a brand new show called 'Viva La Vida Loca Las Vegas'.

Though if you ask them nicely they may also perform some of the comedy hits that have garnered them over 60 million YouTube views, including the crowd-pleasing 'Four Chords'. We locked all three of the Axis in Gilded Balloon's Loft Bar and fired some questions at them. Click here to read the interview.
We are Jeremy Steam-Irons and Clarence Pennywether. Together we are Justice Radiator. Poetry on patrol. Taking down injustice with word bullets. Open your minds – we are coming in. ThreeWeeks have been kind enough to let us share some of our work. [click here]
Interviewed in the Week One edition of ThreeWeeks, we managed to tear the Figs In Wigs away from their social media existence to show off for the camera. Well, nearly... [click here]
Having previously penned the Fringe musical show 'Armada', actor, director and writer Rob Winlow returns to the Festival with new show 'Austen', as in Jane, whose life the show is based on. Ahead of its arrival at theSpace we caught up with Rob. [click here]
Yesterday we remarked on how the Edinburgh Fringe is also a festival of cultural entrepreneurialism, resulting in a plethora of exciting cultural business ventures taking place in this city each August, albeit often in a slightly erratic and confusing manner. It's this element of the Edinburgh Fringe that has resulted in there being not one, not two, but three free show strands at the Festival.

Though, when we say there are three free show strands – meaning the Free Fringe, Free Festival and the Freestival – that maths actually ignores another important programme within the wider festival that employs a pay-what-you-want philosophy. And that is the Forest Fringe. Though it operates in a very different way, and while the other free show collectives are best known for their comedy (though their programmes do go beyond that), the Forest Fringe is usually associated with other art forms.
"Forest Fringe is an artist-led organisation" the group's Ira Brand (pictured) tells ThreeWeeks, "meaning we all have our own artistic practice as well as the curatorial and facilitating roles we take on when it comes to running a venue in Edinburgh. That's really important to me, that we come at everything as artists as well as programmers or managers".

The Forest Fringe, of course, began life at the Forest Café on Bristo Place. Though since that building has been reborn as Assembly Checkpoint, the Forest Fringe team have found a new home at the Out Of The Blue Drill Hall, a big space with lots of potential.

"We're learning all the time about how to best make use of the Drill Hall" Brand tells us. "It's such a beautiful and unique space, full of possibilities, but also of course limitations, so we have to think creatively about what we can make happen. We have a 'studio', where all our daytime shows take place, and then we use the main Drill Hall space for our evening programme once the sun goes down; because of the stunning glass ceiling we can't make it dark in there artificially".

"This year the evening programme is slightly different" she adds. "Rather than the same show every night we have programmed different pieces and events for one or two nights each, so there's always something new on. We also have installations, residencies and one-off events happening around the building or out in Leith".

In both its original and new home, the Forest Fringe programme has always been very eclectic, in terms of the genres it covers, and the performers it involves. "Gruelling" is how Brand describes the process of picking who to present. "When we are programming I al ways think a lot about balance – we want a programme that is 'balanced' in terms of artists we've worked with before and new relationships, of more established or younger artists, and, really importantly, an exciting mix of types of experience on offer for an audience".

Once the programme has been selected, of course, all shows are then presented on a pay-what-you-want basis. "It's vital for us that our shows are by donation. There are enough barriers to audiences engaging with theatre and performance, especially at the Fringe where there is such a vast amount of work on, so it's really important as a way of encouraging people to take a chance on seeing something they are not familiar with".

Though that ambition creates challenges, Brand admits. "I think the commercial side of the Fringe as a whole is tricky, it's a huge financial commitment for artists to present their work here. Almost nobody expects to make money. And as an audience member it can be prohibitively expensive to see a lot of work. Of course it's commercially tricky for us. We rely on a brilliant team of volunteers who give their time for free, on the artists who present their work for donations, and for us it's always a massive labour of love".

Since its conception in Edinburgh, the Forest Fringe has taken its approach way beyond Scotland, with the team working in Lisbon, Austin, Bangkok, San Francisco, Yokohama and Hong Kong. Meanwhile, back in Edinburgh, the whole endeavour has grown and matured, but hopefully without losing its adventurous spirit.

Brand first performed at the Forest Fringe in 2008, becoming a volunteer manager in 2011 and now a co-director. She says of the venture's development over the years: "I think we've just got better, if that's not too flippant or arrogant a thing to say! I mean better at doing what we do, with slightly more maturity and rigour, whilst maintaining the playful and spontaneous nature of Forest Fringe that made me want to be part of it in the first place".

More at


Cambridge Footlights International Tour Show 2014: Real Feelings (Cambridge Footlight)
They're a famous university comedy group with an impressive list of alumni, and Cambridge Footlights' 2014 offering shows real promise, but the troupe still have a lot to learn. Like the floorboards of the theatre they came from, their act consists of well-trodden material, and sadly, this group of five young men wear their generation's cultural references too clearly upon their sleeves. Will Ferrell's ludicrous grandiosity and Noel Fielding's Hitcher character often speak louder than those on stage, overshadowing their real talent. These guys are obviously skilful and funny, they just need to find their own voices to express that. Until then, they'll struggle to appeal to anyone who's never said, "oh my god, that's soooo random".
Pleasance Dome, until 25 Aug.
tw rating 3/5 | [George Robb]

Laurence Owen: Lullabies Of Pervland
Laurence Owen is very good at trying to be funny. He's confident, he writes songs about sex and Disney (sometimes together!), and is very competent at both playing the guitar and programming music. He knows about timing, and is a virtuoso of syllables, lyrics and melodies. He's even formulated a complicated Star Wars conspiracy theory and can recite it like a master rhetorician. He can handle the technical apparatus of musical comedy like he should be very good. But sadly there's no Grade 8 in Comedic Theory. Humour is organic, and Owen's show is just too full of formulas and intricate mechanical workings. Go along to be impressed but, aside from a few moments of wit, don't expect to laugh too much.
Fingers Piano Bar, until 24 Aug.
tw rating 3/5 | [George Robb]

Richard Herring: Lord Of The Dance Settee
Richard Herring wants the critics to know that he doesn't have a theme this year. He's earned the right to make his own rules after twenty-three years at the Fringe, and here he offers up a delightful collection of miscellany: from the shame of picking fights with small children, to a feel-good finale that neatly works the eponymous settee into a self-referential bit of slapstick. Herring's observations occasionally descend into ranting and the audience are left wondering where it's all going; the answer is generally nowhere, but that's ok, because he's so zealously entertaining that I leave with one of those warm, fuzzy feelings, chuckling at the baffling but hilarious concept of a viscous Alsatian.
Assembly George Square Theatre, until 24 Aug.
tw rating 4/5 | [Laura Gavin]

Tom Rhodes: Colossus (Brett Vincent for Get Comedy)
Tom Rhodes boldly, brashly and bolshily bombards us during his hotly anticipated debut, and boy, does it feel good. Of course this is to be expected from the hoarse, coarse Floridian; with a plethora of awards under his belt and a range of flattering nicknames ("The David Letterman of Holland", "The Bad-Boy of Comedy"), it may be Rhodes' Edinburgh debut, but by no means is he a debutant. Cancer, marijuana, homosexuality and, most importantly, penises, are the topics of the day, and his are the jokes every frat-boy wishes they could make successfully but instead are left looking like homophobic morons. Yet beneath his cynicism and crudeness lies elevating enthusiasm; Rhodes is the kind of guy who would overshadow and insult you at a party, making it your best night ever.
Gilded Balloon, until 25 Aug.
tw rating 4/5 | [George Robb]

Maff Brown: Born Again Comedian (Bound and Gagged Comedy)
Maff Brown's opening quip, about where he gets his corkscrew curls, is unfortunately one of the only convincing jokes in this show. At times, it has the uncomfortable air of an 80s working men's club routine, complete with a couple of un-PC references that sound dated. Brown's comedy is of the cheeky Cockney chappy ilk, but his delivery can feel rushed, meaning some of the set-up-and-punchline jokes (that probably work when he's writing for Mock The Week) go wide of the mark. Some of his PowerPoint-style visuals work well, playing on our collective nostalgia for the Bud-Weis-Er frogs, but overall, his rather knowing on-stage persona suggests that Brown thinks he's funnier than he actually is.
Gilded Balloon, until 24 Aug.
tw rating 2/5 | [Laura Gavin]

Zombie Science: Brain of the Dead (Zombie Institute for Theoretical Studies)
Taking the form of a mock-lecture, this turned to be a little less hardcore than I was expecting; in truth, it doesn't matter if you don't know your Walking Deads from your Days, Dawns or Diaries of the Dead. Much of the humour arises from our gawky lecturer's failed attempts to relate to student life, and the entire script is peppered with funny little jokes, puns and references. At times it was eerily reminiscent of genuine university lectures, where no-one was willing to contribute or volunteer. Ultimately, the gimmick wore a little thin, and didn't quite do justice to the quality of the writing. Maybe next year an actual zombie, for demonstration purposes, would liven things up. Or undeaden them, at least.
C, until 25 Aug.
tw rating 3/5 | [Andrew Leask]

Alfie Moore: The Naked Stun (Mick Perrin Worldwide)
Ex-policeman and R4 funnyman Alfie Moore regales a sold-out studio with sleazy tales of Scunthorpe and Skegness. His punchlines are hit-and-miss, yet his kind face and beaming smile complement his plodding delivery, somehow turning his sordid anecdotes into something warm and cosy. Appreciative of the absurdity around him, his fact based wit and rational humour works in parts, and also makes him come across as the ideal policeman, reserved and restrained; this may work well when dealing with ruffians and drunkards, but it is less effective on hecklers and punters. The police use callous humour to deal with the hardships of the job, he says; sadly, this doesn't translate well into to the civilian world of stand-up, preventing him from arresting anything more than a lukewarm reception.
Assembly George Square Studios, until 25 Aug.
tw rating 2/5 | [George Robb]


According To His Need (Reds Theatre Company)
One guy, one girl and a whiteboard: those are all that Reds Theatre Company need to show you the complex relationship between politics and sex. The quirky romance is played out by Michael-David McKernan and Hannah Tucker Mamalis, both performing with real energy and charisma, though it would have been interesting to see them interact even more with their audience. Oliver Eagleton's intelligent script makes this piece an intellectual challenge as well as a very charming story, but there are some moments when the dialogue is so quick-fire that it can be hard to understand. If you can keep up with the characters' agendas, you will find this an unusual, smart and touching story.
C nova, until 25 Aug.
tw rating 4/5 | [Vicki Baron]

The Capone Trilogy: Loki (Jethro Compton Productions)
It's fitting that a play inspired by the Norse trickster god would be so playfully subversive; it flits from fourth-wall-breaking comedy to sudden threats of violence - and back - in a heartbeat. In the intimate setting of a shabby 1920s hotel room (complete with peeling wallpaper) we are fully immersed in the action, sharing the room with a motley parade of gangsters, busboys and policemen. Their lives revolve around the protagonist, Lola Keen: a glamorous nightclub singer with a dark secret. The script elevates what could have been simply stock characters, through a goodly dose of vaudevillian humour and farce, yet it never loses the constant sense of impending, inevitable tragedy, as Lola's story unravels before our eyes.
C nova, until 25 Aug.
tw rating 4/5 | [Andrew Leask]

The Duchess Of Malfi (UCLU Runaground)
Webster's classic play about love, death and betrayal takes a lot of energy to perform, and UCLU Runaground's talented and enthusiastic cast rose to the challenge. The production accurately represented the intense themes of the Jacobean tragedy and, though long for a Fringe show, skilfully got to the heart of the complex story in a mere hour and twenty minutes. The tale is a dramatic one with several twists and turns, but unfortunately the pitch of volume, energy and emotion seemed to plateau somewhat about halfway through the performance, and so ultimately, it lacked climax, which prevented the audience from remaining entirely immersed. It's a committed and engaging production, for the most part, but would benefit from further development.
C nova, until 16 Aug.
tw rating 3/5 | [Vicki Baron]

Eden Gate (Produced Moon)
This is a great concept, flawed in execution. Less a play than a post-apocalyptic role-playing game, it has its audience slowly file into quarantine: immediately the problems become apparent. You'd expect a real life queue for a medical checkpoint to take time but, as an audience member, ten minutes of tedious queuing was a bad start. Once inside, as the interactive plot unfolds, there are moments of panic and hysteria, presumably just what the creators were aiming for. Unfortunately it was all a bit toothless, and the conclusion was anticlimactic. Presented with a choice, we picked one door, walked down a corridor... only to be told it was game over, and that they hoped we'd made the right decision. A real let down.
C nova, until 25 Aug.
tw rating 2/5 | [Andrew Leask]

Forget Fire (Pepperdine University - Malibu)
As the cast individually welcomed every audience member, I realised this wasn't going to be some Luddite rant. When the blurb referred to technological barriers, it seemed an anti-technology, anti-progress agenda was certain, but this engaging, engaged troupe have devised something special here. It's an honest reflection of the tolls - emotional, psychological, interpersonal - exerted on the smartphone generation, never forgetting that "you can't go back": the internet is here to stay. There is a loose central narrative following a young woman's reaction to a social media hoax, but the whole thing is shot through with rich seams of allegory, symbolism and some wonderfully simple but effective staging. Moving and honest: a lovely piece of contemporary theatre.
C, until 9 Aug.
tw rating 4/5 | [Andrew Leask]

Hamlet (Secret Theatre)
Adapting Shakespeare's most acclaimed tragedy must be a daunting prospect: too faithful, you risk stagnation; too radical, you'll offend the purists. Secret Theatre's powerful production gets it almost entirely right. The 1960s setting isn't too intrusive, and the decision to re-imagine Rosencrantz and Guildenstern as women - swinging sixties sex-bombs at that - is inspired, complicating their relationship with Hamlet. The tweaks to Ophelia's arc are also welcome, as is the company's ability to seize on the brief moments of levity in the otherwise angst-ridden play. My only minor complaint is regarding the omission of Fortinbras, which makes Hamlet's transformation feel rather sudden. All of the cast do an excellent job, with the actor playing Hamlet delivering a mesmerising performance.
C too, until 25 Aug.
tw rating 4/5 | [Andrew Leask]

Lear's Daughters (The Footfall Theatre Company)
There's much to be said for a retelling of Shakespeare's 'King Lear' from the perspectives of his daughters, and the presentation here is certainly engaging and entertaining. Despite this, it doesn't quite live up to its excellent potential. All four actors give compelling performances, and there are moments - including one shockingly visceral act of violence - that really stand out. The problem lies in the adherence to Shakespeare's words. Though the plot has been tweaked slightly, the dialogue hails from the bard and while Goneril, Regan and Cordelia are intriguing characters, they remain just that: intriguing. This adaptation would have benefited from giving the sisters a little more depth, a little more character.
C nova, until 16 Aug.
tw rating 3/5 | [Andrew Leask]

Lavender Junction (Peppermint Muse)
Though set in colonial India, 'Lavender Junction' isn't really about colonial India. Indeed, that's its biggest fault: it's not really about anything. Rather, this one-woman show, written and performed by Lisa White, is inspired by White's grandmother's life. What emerges, then, is a lovely portrait of her experiences in India in the latter days of the Raj and the Second World War. There's no doubt that White's emotional connection to the material lends her performance a poignancy and tenderness that is affecting. We hear of her distant parents, harsh nuns at boarding school, a multitude of servants... but all devoid of any commentary, any subtext. It's a nice show, but unfortunately, I'm left wanting more: more drama, more meaning.
C nova, until 25 Aug.
tw rating 3/5 | [Andrew Leask]

Unsung (Red Mane Productions)
This is very much a play of two halves. The first half is a sharply observed comedy about two British-Asian brothers, living in England with their wives. The patriarchal values of older brother Rana are, initially, played for laughs, and it is the women - carefree Joy and more traditional Megh - who are strong. All four actors are excellent, their performances subtle and nuanced. When things suddenly take a dark turn half-way through, once the initial panache of the dramatic twist wore off, I began to question the actions of the characters, especially Joy and her husband Ash. The play's climax seeks to offer resolution, but doesn't, making the whole thing gripping, engaging but ultimately a little hollow.
C nova, until 25 Aug.
tw rating 3/5 | [Andrew Leask]

Altamont (Peppermint Muse)
The Rolling Stones' 1969 Altamont gig is notorious for the killing of a fan by a security guard. This grim end to a decade of free love serves as a background to John Stenhouse's surprisingly sedate solo performance. The script follows generic hippie Joe, a bewildered narrator lost in the crowd. Though his limited viewpoint fails to provide a sense of perspective to the unfolding events, it allows Stenhouse to concentrate on building the mood, with plenty of evocative details. After a slow start, the fleeting glimpses of stoners, freaks and Hell's Angels become increasingly tense. Though at times it feels like the volume has been set a little low, this develops into an interesting look at a dark moment in music history.
C nova, until 25 Aug.
tw rating 3/5 | [Dave Fargnoli]

Dead Letters (PropUp Theatre)
Following a pleasantly neurotic postman on a quest to get every lost letter to its destination, Dead Letters is a simple story told in an appealingly rough around the edges style. The five-strong ensemble make good use of a few props, silly sight gags and strong, clear images throughout. Flurries of envelopes and a downpour of torn paper leave the audience smiling and the space gloriously messy. The script may be a little sketchy, with characters tending to ramble, but there are touching moments as long lost messages begin to change people's lives. There's a sense that the words matter less here than the sentiment, as this charming, undeniably talented company delivers a gentle, good-natured show.
C cubed, until 25 Aug.
tw rating 3/5 | [Dave Fargnoli]

Grimm (Hypnotist Theatre Company)
Identity, innocence and memory are all expertly played with in a Kickstarter-funded show from this Oxford student ensemble. Aoife is desperately trying to remember who she is, her memories resurfacing under the guise of familiar fairytales. Black humour, a conversational script and some brilliantly visceral props bring a modern chill to these old morality stories - and any group who casts the witch from Hansel and Gretel as a forceful, manic-eyed maitre d' wins a vote from me. The truth gradually unfolds in a series of fragmented, darkly absurd vignettes that effectively mimic a damaged mind trying to put itself back together. And once all the pieces are in place, it becomes clear why some things are truly so grim, you might choose to forget them completely.
C too, until 16 Aug.
tw rating 4/5 | [Laura Gavin]

Antiquithon (Cie des Femmes à Barbe)
You should definitely seek out this quirky slice of fun Fringe freakery; it's a little off the beaten track, but well worth the walk, even though it's only 30 minutes long. You are ushered into the macabre "cabinet of curiosities", inspired by carnival sideshows, by your hosts Ourelia and Vodek Cazaniescu. Exiled from Romania with only their creepy uncle's assorted ephemera - a mummified crocodile, a tiny mermaid, the dread spiderabbit - they make a living by charging people to hear the grim mythological back-story of some of these antiquities. Things take a dark turn, however, as the occult curios reveal their secrets. A glorious mix of the comic and the creepy, with a shocking climax.
Institut Français d'Ecosse, until 23 Aug.
tw rating 4/5 | [Andrew Leask]

Awkward Conversations with Animals I've F*cked (Ten Dead Men)
First, the good: actor Jack Holden is outstanding, delivering a compelling performance, rich in pathos and humour. The problem with the play itself, though, is that it wants to have its cake and eat it. Or have its dog and, well... The central concept - awkward, morning-after conversations between a man and the animals he's slept with - is amusing. It would work as a recurring sketch, but just doesn't work as a play. So there's some heavy handed allusions to the sex-trade and gender politics, as well as a last minute bid to give the animal f*cker Bobby some depth, a tragic back-story. Yet these attempts at gravitas undermine the humour, while the humour makes the drama feel unearned.
Underbelly, until 24 Aug.
tw rating 2/5 | [Andrew Leask]

Birdwatchers' Wives (Caroline Smith / Escalator East To Edinburgh)
Something of an odd duck - an odd Great Crested Grebe to be accurate - this is a pleasantly quirky blend of theatre, comedy and performance art. The main focus of the show, devised and performed by Caroline Smith, is Rita Grebe, an avian diva who is preparing for a birdsong competition. If that sounds odd, it is, and that's just a toe-dip into the giant lake of weird that Smith serves up. Much of it is funny, though often the audience was more bemused than amused and there were times when the character's facade cracked. This won't be to everyone's taste, but it's exactly the kind of off-kilter production for which the Fringe is famed, and rightly praised.
Summerhall, until 24 Aug.
tw rating 3/5 | [Andrew Leask]

Chatroom (No Prophet Theatre Company)
Much like the internet itself, 'Chatroom' gently draws you in with some innocuous, amusing banter about Roald Dahl and Britney Spears, before revealing the dark, nasty stuff. This powerful play depicts a series of conversations between teenagers in an anonymous online chatroom, focusing on 'Jim', who is teetering on the brink of suicide, and the malicious 'William' and 'Eva', who do their damnedest to push him over. All of the performers were great, especially James Lewis as Jim: his breakdown on stage was harrowing and intense. The only real problem with the play is that despite being ably performed, the antagonists lacked depth or motivation, a surprising oversight given the otherwise authentic exploration of the adolescent psyche.
C nova, until 25 Aug.
tw rating 4/5 | [Andrew Leask]

Domestic Labour: A Study in Love (30 Bird / Escalator East To Edinburgh)
Asthmatics beware: 'Domestic Labour' stirs up quite a bit of dust. Literally. At one point a cloud of dust fills the air - while undoubtedly visually arresting, this initiated a chorus of coughs and had me reaching for my inhaler. Nevertheless, there's much to like in this entertaining blend of drama and physical theatre; the movement in particular was excellent, as was the creative use of household appliances as props. It's not simply a string of vignettes, though, and it's the overarching narrative that lets the play down: there is a story here, but it's fragmented and incoherent. As such, it doesn't lend the whole thing the structural cohesion it needs, leaving this an engaging but ironically messy production.
Summerhall, until 23 Aug.
tw rating 3/5 | [Andrew Leask]

Dylan Thomas: Clown In The Moon (Miles Productions)
This is a show about the life and mischief of Welsh poet Dylan Thomas, who died at the age of thirty-nine after a short but incredibly full life. Played by the superb Rhodri Miles, Thomas takes us through some of the most outlandish and outstanding moments of his life, interspersed with readings of his poetry in a BBC studio. The audience is treated to some sad stories, a few unbelievable anecdotes and many moments of pure joy. Miles' depiction of the troubled but talented man is truly captivating, and director Gareth Armstrong maximises the show's potential for humour as well as poignancy. 'Clown In The Moon' manages to be at once touching, educational and genuinely uplifting.
Assembly Hall, until 25 Aug.
tw rating 4/5 | [Vicki Baron]

So It Goes (On the Run)
I simply adored 'So It Goes'. It's a wonderfully inventive and moving show about grief, and how hard it is to talk about a loved one who has died. It's not maudlin or depressing though: it's uplifting. Created and performed by Hannah Moss and David Ralfe, the show was inspired by the loss of Moss's father, and the difficulty she had speaking about it. The brilliant device used to realise this difficulty is that neither performer speaks during the performance; rather, they use signs and write on whiteboards. No mere gimmick, this is an integral part of the performance; the anticipatory silences were often pregnant with tension, or expectation, or sorrow. A profoundly affecting experience: just lovely.
Underbelly, until 24 Aug.
tw rating 5/5 | [Andrew Leask]

The Sonneteer (Sebastian Michael and Tom Medcalf with Optimistic Creations)
If you have bad memories of high school English lessons, it's probably because your introduction to Shakespeare's poetry was as dry as this intelligent but flawed play. Writer Sebastian Michael clearly loves the material, convincingly weaving Shakespeare's sonnets into a backdrop for two imagined love affairs, one between a professor and his student, the other between the Bard and his patron. It's a worthy attempt to approach these timeless texts from a new angle, but it suffers from unclear direction and indistinct characterisation. Abstract movements muddy things further, making it difficult to know which storyline you're watching at any given time. You'll be reminded why Shakespeare's writing was so good, but this production ends up wandering in his shadow.
Greenside @ Nicolson Square, until 23 Aug.
tw rating 2/5 | [Dave Fargnoli]

Tea for Tabitha (Blanket Theatre / Free Festival)
Fresh from the Brighton Fringe, New Zealand company Blanket Theatre bring this intimate drama to Edinburgh, exposing the trauma of family break-ups from the inside out. Playing both parents and children, James Stephen and Jodie Ellis (also the writer) embody their characters physically and mentally, alternately capturing the petulant mannerisms of childhood and the repressed emotions of adulthood. The switches are startlingly smooth, happening mid-scene, as comic-tragic tantrums between brother and sister about dead pet spiders transform into the bitter rows of two people watching their once-joyful relationship crumble. Forced to make their own sense of matters way beyond their years, the children's exchanges are particularly intense and upsetting. A show more than worthy of your time.
Laughing Horse @ The Phoenix, until 12 Aug.
tw rating 4/5 | [Laura Gavin]

Hyde & Seek (Elsewhere and Otherwise in association with Peppermint Muse)
This is a thoroughly engrossing show that's a little hard to categorise. Actor and writer Michael Daviot presents a fascinating mix of drama and storytelling, all connected to Robert Louis Stevenson's most famous creation, 'The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde'. Daviot recounts stories from Stevenson's life - his inspirations, quirks and characteristics, as well as his own anecdotes. These were often astoundingly frank, as he delved into the darker aspects of his own psyche that have parallels with Hyde's: drugs, violence and mental health. A number of excerpts from the novel complete the play, and the interplay between these three strands - biography, autobiography and fiction - is endlessly rewarding. A fine reflection on a fine bogey tale!
C nova, until 25 Aug.
tw rating 4/5 | [Andrew Leask]

Thank You For Staring (Patrice Gerideau)
Patrice Gerideau has vitiligo, a skin disorder which she once feared would take her African-American identity, as well as her pigment. This candid piece of solo theatre lays bare not only Gerideau's struggles with her condition, but also puts a stark spotlight on how all of us judge at skin level. As she tells her story through years of family distance, relationships-gone-rotten and some rather frank arguments with God, the material occasionally feels repetitive, but builds towards a powerful ending. The title is not a sarcastic retort to those who point in the street, nor is it a mere pun. Gerideau means it in the most genuine way possible, thanking each one of us for looking and listening, on her own terms this time.
Sweet Grassmarket, until 10 Aug.
tw rating 4/5 | [Laura Gavin]

What Do You Mean (Ego Actus)
Everyone knows it's hard to make great theatre. Ego Actus get around the problem by staging this intentionally terrible show about making a terrible show. Following an egomaniac writer and a company of bickering actors, this is a play without a plot and without a point. It's energetically and earnestly performed, but interminable shrill scenes stuffed with cheap gags, slapstick and technical descriptions of theatrical tropes quickly start to grate. Continually telling the audience that what they're watching is meaningless isn't funny, it's insulting, and though this is clearly done with the best intentions, it's frustrating to watch. Ultimately, the question isn't so much "what do you mean?" as "why did you do this?"
Spotlites @ The Merchants' Hall, until 25 Aug.
tw rating 1/5 | [Dave Fargnoli]

Woyzeck (Splendid Productions)
Buchner's fragmented tragedy of jealousy and madness is rightly regarded as an existentialist masterpiece. It's just not usually this funny. Splendid Productions confidently break down the bleak text, twisting it into a dark, anarchic music hall act that's equal parts Brecht and Monty Python. Seamlessly splicing physicality, wicked asides and warm audience interaction, these three superb performers inject the show with wit, pathos and tremendous energy. It's hilarious and horrific, erotic and brutal, and the hairpin emotional shifts could easily feel forced in less confident hands. Here though it's never less than enthralling, held together with perfect timing, self assured ad-libs and a spot-on chimpanzee impression. This is a powerful, unsettling experience and a frankly brilliant performance.
Gilded Balloon, until 25 Aug.
tw rating 5/5 | [Dave Fargnoli]

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