Paris-based stand-up Yacine Belhousse, who supported Eddie Izzard on a recent French tour, is in Edinburgh this month to perform an all-English show for the very first time.

Though, of course, he's not the only French comedian to make Edinburgh his summer home, oh no. A certain Marcel Lucont has been long flying the flag for La France in these parts for quite some time. So we asked Lucont to interview his fellow countryman as he headed towards the Festival City. Click here to read the interview.
You may not be familiar with the story of Manuela Saenz but you possibly should be. A revolutionary in the Latin American wars of independence, the history books often mainly refer to her as the mistress of 'The Liberator' Simon Bolivar, but that wildly underplays her life and her role in the revolution. Setting to put that right is Popelei Theatre's Tamsin Clarke with her show 'Manuelita'. [click here]
If you're bored of all this reading, why not download or stream the ThreeWeeks Podcast, our weekly magazine programme with interviews, performances and tunes? This week's podcast features Dean Friedman and Richard Tyrone Jones, while on the Week Zero edition you'll find Baba Brinkman discussing his return to the Fringe [click here]
We put the same question to all three members of a Fringe trio. A question for BEASTS: What one thing is guaranteed to split up a sketch group? [click here]
The cast of the cancelled Fringe show 'The City' hope to stage a one-off protest performance in Bristo Square later today, but with no words.

As previously reported, 'The City' was due to be performed at the Underbelly, but came under fire after it emerged that the production had received funding from the Israeli Ministry Of Culture. As the current conflict in Gaza erupted, the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign called for the show to be cancelled, with a string of significant Scottish artists supporting that call.
The SPSC pledged to protest outside all and any performances of the show which, given it was due to be performed at one of Underbelly's spaces in the middle of the Fringe's Bristo Square hub, created logistical and security concerns. After just one performance the show was put on hold, with Underbelly hoping to find an alternative location that could cope with the protests, but earlier this week the venue announced it had not been able to find such a space.

One of the producers of the UK production of 'The City' had previously insisted that, while Incubator Theatre, the company behind the "hip-hop opera", had received state funding in their home country, the group were an "active force in developing an urban climate of pluralism and openness [in Israel], that accommodates a wide spectrum of opinions and world views".

With political causes colliding in this dispute, Incubator Theatre say that the SPSC's protest has deprived them of their freedom of speech, with Artistic Director Arik Eshet telling the Scotsman earlier this week that he felt like the Fringe was "giving up" on his company, handing a victory to "political gladiators".

A spokesman for the Fringe Society told the paper: "The Edinburgh Festival Fringe is underpinned by our open access principles. These principles guarantee artists the freedom to present their work to the public without the intervention of a curator or the need for official approval. We are therefore deeply saddened when any artist or show is prevented from taking part in the Fringe. We have done what we can to support Underbelly and Incubator Theatre as the situation has developed and we respect the difficult decisions that they have taken".

It went on: "To be clear, our commitment to freedom of expression means that we support the right of all participants of the Fringe and members of the public to hold and express differing political views, but we also believe in an artist's right to freedom of expression, and that the curtailment of this freedom is contrary to the fundamental ethos of the festival".

Having insisted that they will stay in Edinburgh for the duration of the Festival in the hope an option may emerge to perform their show, Incubator Theatre told ThreeWeeks yesterday: "[Our] show was cancelled as a direct result of political demonstrations. Having had our freedom of speech taken away by the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, we will perform the full play, with absolutely no sound".

That silent protest performance is planned for 4pm this afternoon near the venue where the company was due to perform.

Jonny Awsum: Sexy Noises. (Lee Martin for Gag Reflex)
In an empty room, Jonny Awsum would find a way to raise a laugh. In a room full of willing participants, he puts on a truly magnificent show. Obviously, this is an hour full of noises, some of them sexy, all of them hilarious. Awsum produces parodies, sing-a-longs, raps and local references - essentially everything you could hope for from a musical comedy act (or any comedy act for that matter!). A note for the cautious: this does involve audience interaction, but it's all good fun. In fact, if you don't leave this show with a smile on your face, then laughing just isn't for you. If the X Factor had a comedy entry, he would be too good for it.
Gilded Balloon, until 24 Aug.
tw rating 5/5 |[David O'Connor]

Andrew Maxwell Hubble Bubble (Brett Vincent For Get Comedy)
An Irishman's views on the Scottish referendum? Not only that but he's a London-based one: this could turn nasty. Maxwell draws attention to this at the start of show, pointing out that this is likely to divide the room instantly. Fortunately for the audience he has the wit, charm and intelligence to pull it off. Maxwell clearly has a good-humoured taste for ridiculousness, and takes delight in mocking the paranoid proclamations of the Yes and No campaigns. He's clearly in his element when making topical jokes about almost anything newsworthy. Perhaps it's a bit too preachy at times (Maxwell certainly seems pleased with his soapbox), but it's still the most enjoyable lecture that I've ever been too.
The Assembly Rooms, until 12 Aug.
tw rating 4/5 | [Charlotte Taylor]

Austentatious: An Improvised Jane Austen Novel (Austentatious)
A rare chance to see some of Jane Austen's more, ahem, obscure works, 'Austentatious' riffs off audience suggestions to bring us a side of the regency era previously unseen. All of the cast were on top improvisational form, but Joseph Morpurgo excelled, getting some of the biggest laughs just from a well-timed glance at the audience. Cariad Lloyd hit the scenarios with such a quick, sharp wit you'd swear the material must have been carefully scripted beforehand. Of course, every show is different, but the only niggle here was that the show didn't feature any hints of the ol' Austen romance (not even a rejected marriage proposal!) Still, Austen for the modern era is sure to become a new classic.
Pleasance Dome, until 25 Aug.
tw rating 4/5 | [Patricia-Ann Young]

Gary Little, The Thing Is (Gary Little)
The thing is, Gary Little is a big, muscular Glaswegian who's done proper jail time. When he brings this up, it's not directly a warning to reviewers but, well, let's press on...A big stage presence and a properly good, crude storyteller, Little paints vivid comedic vignettes, peppered with wry observational detail and fine Glasgow banter. In between a strong start and finish, the tales are a little uneven in quality, with a bit about a (not very) romantic encounter in Sao Paulo proving strangely predictable. It's not quite a coherent, consistent hour, but there is some cracking stuff here. Respect is particularly due for a genuinely funny (and genuinely inoffensive) Auschwitz yarn. Now that really is a thing.
The Stand, until 25 Aug.
tw rating 3/5 | [Bruce Blacklaw]

Tony Law: Enter The Tone Zone (Tony Law / Show And Tell)
Madness, mayhem and mourning comprise the latest Tony Law show. From the moment he bursts through doors onto the stage, until the moment he bursts back through them on his way out, he is a non-stop tornado of energy and fun. He talks about trying not to ruin a career that is at an all time high; the passing of a beloved pet and attempting to be a responsible adult and parent. For those uninitiated, Tony Law's manic approach to his own material might seem pretty odd, even the idea that he has material to get through seems alien to him. However, Law's brilliance lies in his ability to weave together planned and improvised material into a cohesive hour of comedy.
The Stand Comedy Club III & IV, until 24 Aug.
tw rating 5/5 | [James McColl]

Bulletproof (Shazia Mirza)
Looking at the power that words can have, 'Bulletproof' borders on being an hour of "I'm not a Daily Mail reader, but..." , with Mirza's ironic (or is it?) comedy occasionally missing the mark. She has an acidic wit and a lot of strong material, but some of the punchlines don't do justice to the build-up, and there's always a feeling that she is capable of so much more. There are occasionally glimmers of brilliance, and Mirza is charismatic and endearing enough to get away with resting on her laurels, but it's frustrating to see someone this talented be so lazy (I mean, who hasn't heard that Catholic joke before?). Mirza is full of potential, but she's not quite bulletproof here.
The Assembly Rooms, until 24 Aug.
tw rating 3/5 | [Patricia-Ann Young]


Sinatra: Final Curtain (Kingdom Theatre Company)
With vast experience as a professional Frank Sinatra impersonator, Moray Innes doesn't disappoint here: close your eyes and you could believe Ol' Blue Eyes was actually standing in front of you. Listening to his beautifully melodic voice belting out Sinatra classics is the absolute highlight of this show, prompting sing-a-longs and smiles from the audience. Similarly, Steve Worsley gives a charismatic performance as 'Drunky' Dean Martin, his voice and mannerisms reminiscent of the star. Unfortunately I can't say the rest of the production was as impressive. A strong plot is executed poorly in terms of performance and script, with abundant overacting and little emotional connection. With interweaving dialogue and song, the production has potential, but ultimately fails to excite.
theSpace @ Surgeons hall until 23 Aug.
tw rating 2/5 | [Keara Barnes]


Japan Marvelous Drummers (Japan Marvelous Drummers)
The title of this show is not misleading; there are indeed eight marvellous drummers involved in this musical extravaganza. What the title doesn't mention, however, is the unexpected element of humour and theatrics. It doesn't mention the displays of phenomenal strength, co-ordination and stamina. It doesn't mention the wonderful aggression that all of the musicians display when playing the drums, nor how this contrasts beautifully with the peaceful solo played on Japanese flute and with the other traditional instruments. It doesn't explain the synchronised nature of their movements that borders on dance, each member of the group playing in perfect time. Turn up to see a drum show, leave having witnessed a true spectacle of Japanese music.
Assembly George Square, until 25 Aug.
tw rating 5/5 | [Stephanie Gray]


Pornography And Heartbreak (David Lee Morgan / PBH's Free Fringe)
David Lee Morgan's latest show explores our collective perception of sexual fantasies, both in our minds and in pornography. The audience's good will towards Morgan, a hugely likeable figure, is truly tested in this intense and brutal piece. Morgan holds nothing back, stopping to neither explain nor apologize for his actions. Instead, he displays an honesty that is rarely given so freely. He delves into his own history and drags his (arguably) most shameful sexual experiences into the public eye. Occasionally Morgan's stories, specifically ones involving his family, waver from the theme of the show and do little to flesh it out. However, this stripped back and intimate performance will leave you needing time to digest afterwards.
Banshee Labyrinth, until 24 Aug.
tw rating 4/5 | [James McColl]


Life With Crayons (Bilborough College Players)
Absurdist theatre can often feel like it has no real meaning. In this double bill, we begin with a highly stylised piece about madness, domestic violence and paedophilia. The play was much funnier than you might expect, and this talented young cast handled the serious themes with real maturity. The narrator was a real stand-out, addressing the audience with confidence and professionalism. The second piece, however, was disappointing. They've clearly studied classic clowning, but this felt more like an end-of-term exercise than a Fringe show. Few of the actors really committed to their roles, giving a slight air of embarrassment to the whole thing. Unfortunately, the two pieces just didn't fit together, leaving both as less than the sum of their parts.
Spotlites @ the Merchants' Hall, until 9 Aug.
tw rating 3/5 | [Gemma Scott]

Notoriously Yours (Five Point One - Australia)
Debuting earlier this year at Adelaide Fringe, 'Notoriously Yours' is both a slick noir-style thriller and a modern parable about the dangers of sacrificing your privacy online. A chance encounter on dating app Tinder plunges a young woman into a world of international crime and surveillance, in a piece that gives an obvious nod to the Edward Snowden affair. The play makes use of some nice technological conceits, with characters projected on a screen as they speak on stage and scene changes announced like silent movie title cards. The pacy, engaging plot is somewhat let down by an indistinct ending, but the message is clear: in a world where even the watchers end up being watched, you should be careful what you reveal in that Facebook update.
C south, until 25 Aug.
tw rating 4/5 | [Laura Gavin]

...and This is my Friend Mr Laurel (KPS Productions)
This is a sad, charmingly human one-man-show about one of the last encounters between Stan Laurel and a mute, bed-bound Oliver Hardy. Jeffrey Holland, playing one half of the revered comedy duo, gives an impressive, nuanced performance, perfectly capturing the doddering reminiscences of an actor past his prime. Here Laurel is both world-weary and innocent; optimistic yet realistic about his beloved partner's chances of recovering from a stroke. On occasion, his anecdotes feel contrived and lack the authenticity of real speech, tending to be directed more towards the audience than to his partner. However, such unnaturalness is soon lost in an otherwise great performance. It may be a one-man-show, but that single man is convincingly fractured.
Pleasance Courtyard, until 25 Aug.
tw rating 4/5 | [George Robb]

To Chekhov With Love (Syracuse University Department Of Drama)
'To Chekhov with Love' is exactly what one would expect: an homage to Chekhov, celebrating him and the characters he crafted. The production consists of two plays: 'The White Peacock', based on his love letters, and 'Afterplay', in which Sonya (Uncle Vanya) and Andrey (Three Sisters) meet. 'Afterplay' is undoubtedly the stronger of the two, as the former often feels tediously sycophantic towards an author who is already celebrated enough. Nonetheless, the overall production is actually rather engaging, thanks to some well-honed performances from Leslie Noble and Joseph Whelan, who seem to inhabit their roles like a second skin. Although solid enough, the lingering issue with this production is - is it necessary?
Quaker Meeting House, until 9 Aug.
tw rating 3/5 | [Charlotte Taylor]

The Tulip Tree (Oriel Theatre Company)
A sensitive portrayal of a controversial figure, 'The Tulip Tree' is a true account of love in the early life of Enoch Powell. Whatever your opinion of the right-wing politician, this award-winning production peers behind that often misquoted Rivers of Blood speech, to give a very human insight into the man himself. A poet, philosopher and romantic, he sees the rare blossoming of a tree in aristocrat Barbara Kennedy's garden as a fateful symbol of his love for her. The disillusionment that follows is both painful and convincing to watch. Alexander Shenton's tight-lipped and reticent Powell is riveting, showing someone who is ultimately isolated by his own intellect and who is very hard not to sympathise with.
theSpace on Niddry Street, until 23 Aug.
tw rating 4/5 | [Laura Gavin]

15% Of The Seagull (Mayer And Martin)
Thespians are an endless source of comedy, and Chekhov's 'The Seagull' is ripe for picking. Here we see Liberty Martin, the highly strung half of this duo, desperate to direct, produce and act in 'The Seagull' despite only having one actor left - Cheryl Mayer, the seemingly dull half of the act. But, of course darlings, the show must go on. The final result is a mix of wig-and-accent acting alongside intelligent jokes, preposterous props, good acting and, ultimately, a very likeable show. The scenes in which they mock pretentious am-dram members were undoubtedly the highlights of the show, and perhaps more humour could have squeezed from these. Overall, '15% of the Seagull' is a gloriously silly comedy.
Spotlites @ The Merchants' Hall, until 17 Aug.
tw rating 3/5 | [Charlotte Taylor]

The God Box: A Daughter's Story (The God BoxProject)
In this one woman show about coming to terms with the death of a parent, and the secrets you discover after they're gone, Mary Lou Quinlan tells her sad story with aplomb and affection. The story is compelling and emotionally involving, making the audience really want to learn more about her and her family. Quinlan narrates her early years; her feelings about her mother and the events leading up to her death with warmth and passion. The performance was excellently crafted and delivered, although some of the sound effects seemed to clash with the moments on stage. 'The God Box' is a sweet, touching and heart-rending show, which will make you want to call your mother afterwards.
Assembly Roxy, until 25 Aug.
tw rating 4/5 | [Vicki Baron]

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