Chap-hop pioneer (or 'superstar', to cite the show name) Mr B The Gentleman Rhymer is back at the Fringe. And this time he's promising "chap-hop, acid ragtime, drum and brass and naughty ballads". And what more could a Fringe audience desire?

"Mr B will educate you in such matters as love, lust, how to be magnanimous after a breakup, and why hip hop is rather rubbish these days" says the blurb. Curious? We were. So we tracked down the chap himself to find out more. Click here to read the interview.
This, we can't stress enough, is not a quiz. Though if you are wondering whether or not you are eligible to attend Joey Page's show this year, then why not complete this short quiz to see if you're good audience material?Though, and we cannot stress this enough, this is not a quiz. Nor is it a circus. In fact it's more not a circus than it isn't a quiz. And here's your host Joey Page... [click here]
Maybe they're headed to the Hall Or Fame, maybe they're not, but Rayguns Look Real Enough are definitely heading to the pages of ThreeWeeks next week. So we sent our photographer down to capture "the world's greatest mash-up band" on film. [click here]
Jim Campbell knows a thing or two about personal space. Well, it's what he called his Fringe show, that is for certain. But what about your personal space at the Festival? If budgets have forced you to accept a Festival flat share that violates at least seven housing codes, Campbell has some tips for surviving. [click here]
Here we go again with another batch of award winners from the theatre Fringe.

First up we have The Scotsman presenting its second batch of Fringe Firsts on Friday, celebrating new playwriting at the Festival (and my God, only two of them went to the Trav this time). And then let's catch up on the Stage Awards For Acting Excellence, which this year are being presented in weekly batches over the month.

And so, here is the second list of Fringe First winning productions...

• 'Sanitise' from Melanie Jordan and Caitlin Skinner at Underbelly Cowgate (pictured).
• 'The Carousel' from Stellar Quines Theatre Company at the Traverse.
• 'Pioneer' from Curious Directive, NNF, Watford Palace Theatre and Escalator East To Edinburgh at Zoo Southside.
• 'The Day Sam Died' from Armazém Theatre Company at New Town Theatre.
• 'The Object Lesson' from Aurora Nova presents Geoff Sobelle at Summerhall.
• 'The Initiate' from Paines Plough at Summerhall @ Roundabout.
• 'Lippy' from Dead Centre at the Traverse.

And the Stage acting prize winners so far are...

• Benny Young in 'Unfaithful' at the Traverse.
• Olwen Fouere in 'RIVERRUN' at the Traverse.
• Rosie Wyatt in 'Spine' at Underbelly Cowgate.
• The cast of 'Animal Farm' at Assembly George Square.

Final week is an awards frenzy at the Fringe, keep an eye on the ThreeWeeks news page for regular updates.

Cocktails With The Diva
After a long day stomping the pavements of Edinburgh, 'Cocktails with the Diva', set in the beautiful surroundings of the Assembly Rooms, was a very pleasant way to round things off. This warm and quirky cabaret show features risqué original songs covering a variety of topics, from a day at the Fringe to the benefits of holidaying in war-torn and politically unstable countries. Diva Melinda Hughes adeptly leads the show, cracking out some very impressive, sometimes operatic tones, and interspersing the vocal performances with witty repartee with her beleaguered sidekick Jeremy, on piano. And of course, don't forget the cocktails; you might just be lucky enough to be served one by Melinda's belligerent protégé...
The Assembly Rooms, until 24 Aug
tw rating 3/5 | [Daisy Malt]

Tricity Vogue - Songs For Swinging Ukuleles (Tricity Vogue / Free Festival)
The sheer number of shows at the Fringe can make it hard to truly find a niche, but Tricity Vogue has managed it with her ukulele drag cabaret. Playing songs on a variety of themes, it's impressive how much enthusiasm she's able to eke out of the cramped room – her audience were up for it within minutes. Vogue involves them in almost every song: two people are hauled up as drag backing dancers, one is the object of a love song and another provides atmosphere by holding up a bike light (why yes, this is a free show!). Vogue ends on a number from an in-progress "drag action musical" that I'm now desperate to see. A storming slice of cabaret.
Laughing Horse @ The Counting House, until 17 Aug.
tw rating 4/5 | [Jon Stapley]


Land Of The Dragon - Gwlad y Ddraig (PuppetSoup)
PuppetSoup, a Welsh group that create spectacular and completely immersive storytelling experiences, have done it again with 'Land Of The Dragon'. Mesmerising puppetry brings to life the tale of the Welsh Dragon in this fantastically entertaining children's show. Swapping between Welsh and English narration, the beautifully choreographed movement of each puppeteer is delight to behold. Although billed as a piece for 5-105 year olds, it's not for the faint-hearted: there wasn't a child in the audience that didn't cry. This is a beautifully put together production, the narrative challenging only because of how emotionally evocative it is. If you've ever fancied losing yourself in Welsh folklore for 45 minutes, this is the show for you!
ZOO, until 25 Aug.
tw rating 4/5 | [Bethan Highgate-Betts]


The Chronic Single's Handbook (Randy Ross)
Dear god. Self-professed 'Chronic Single' Randy Ross presents the story of a four-month trip around the world, during which he searched for a woman to lift him out of the doldrums. Based on what resulted, I think there's a serious problem with his attitude towards women (they're "crazy", apparently). His stories frequently end on unpleasant notes, and the 'jokes' are just bizarre. At one point, Ross tells us he received a sexual favour from a South African woman, who then asked for money to feed her starving child. The joke, we discover, is that she overcharged him. In what warped universe is that funny? There are so few genuine jokes that I don't understand why this is even listed as a comedy. An uncomfortable, bewildering experience.
theSpace @ Surgeon's Hall, until 16 Aug.
tw rating 1/5 | [Jon Stapley]

Ennio Marchetto - The Living Paper Cartoon (Glynis Henderson Productions Ltd)
There's nothing like seeing a lycra-clad man in a paper Bonnie Tyler costume, mouthing along to 'Holding Out For A Hero', to remind you that the Fringe is a pretty odd place. The first practitioner of origami cabaret I've ever seen, Ennio Marchetto stitches together a fast-paced show with some outstandingly quick changes. There is a definite point, around the fifteen to twenty minute mark, when you realise that, yes, this man miming to songs while wearing paper outfits is going to be the entire show. If you make it past that, you'll be fine. Marchetto keeps the energy high and is a fabulous mover, though the shtick definitely starts to wear a little thin towards the end of the hour.
Pleasance Courtyard, until 15 Aug.
tw rating 3/5 | [Jon Stapley]

Outrageous Courageous Highly Contagious - Israeli Style Improv (Lamabati)
Improv is difficult to get right generally, but even more so when you're not performing in your first language. Israeli group Lamabati jump into the endeavour enthusiastically, but have set themselves quite a challenge. Despite the title's promise, there is nothing particularly outrageous or Israeli about the improvisations – except for the fact that English is not most of the performers' first language, resulting in non-sequiturs and slow responses to other performers' lines. The games tend to last too long, running out of steam long before they are halted, and one member of the troupe is forced to drink half a bottle of whisky as the show progresses. Lamabati are a personable lot, but their improv attempts miss the mark more often than they hit.
Laughing Horse @ The Phoenix, until 24 Aug.
tw rating 2/5 | [Tim Bano]

Rhys Mathewson - Hombre Lobo (Corrie McGuire)
New Zealand comic Rhys Mathewson openly admits that he doesn't have many real opinions on the big issues in life. He also struggles with the fact that nobody readily takes the opinions of a 23 year old comic too seriously. Two of his comedy idols once quipped, "just think how good he'll be when he's got something to say and has had his heart broken"; luckily for his career, Mathewson is now at the tail end of an emotional break-up, and this show focuses on self-loathing and discovery, with the comedian offering some genuine insights. His material is strong enough to carry an hour long show, proving he has more to say than a lot of his contemporaries.
Pleasance Courtyard, until 25 Aug.
tw rating 3/5 | [James McColl]

Shirley and Shirley - Late Night Lock In (So Comedy by arrangement with Troika)
As the crowd was ushered into the venue we were verbally assaulted by one of the Shirleys, which served, in a manner of speaking, to, er break the ice. Next, we were introduced to the second Shirley and from there the show pushed forward with games, sketches, songs and comedy dances. The crowd clearly loved it, laughing the whole way through, so the duo have clearly found their niche audience. The humour played to certain stereotypes and the whole show consists of about three recurring jokes, yet as an established double act and Edinburgh veterans, the Shirleys do know how to put a slick set together. If you want to see grown men perform an adult version of bobbing for apples then this might be just your ticket.
Assembly George Square Theatre, until 24 Aug.
tw rating 3/5 | [Bethan Highgate-Betts]

Tim FitzHigham - Hellfire (Brett Vincent for Get Comedy by arrangement with PBJ Management)
History and comedy seem to have been a popular double act at the Fringe of recent years, but this show takes it to another level. 'Hellfire' is an eccentric and passionate look into one of the world's most secret societies, nicely rounded out by Tim FitzHigham's own frenetic style of stand-up. The show was not only hilarious, but incredibly intriguing too; it's a feat that seems effortlessly achieved via the anecdotes of this veteran adventurer. His honest enthusiasm for the subject, and the energy he exudes as he bounces around the stage were a delight to witness. As the full-bellied laughs rang out, there wasn't an audience member that left without a grin across their face. A truly entertaining show that may teach you something too!
Pleasance Dome, until 25 Aug.
tw rating 5/5 | [Bethan Highgate-Betts]


Belles Amies! (The Oxford Belles - Oxford University's Original All-Female A Cappella)
There is no denying that The Oxford Belles individually have great voices, but there was something missing in this a capella show. A lack of power and confidence could be attributed to the lack of a usual seventh member, but it felt like there was more to it than that. The Belles are unsure of themselves, sing quietly and only occasionally show some of the attitude and sass that they so regularly seem to promise. There are a wide range of styles and it's all very nice and pretty, but there's nothing behind it - I keep expecting more voices to fill in the sound, but it never happens. This is a shame, because they have potential, but I left feeling somewhat underwhelmed.
Spotlites @ The Merchants Hall, until 16 Aug.
tw rating 2/5 | [Stephanie Gray]

Klanghaus (Neutrinos / Norwich Arts Centre / Escalator East To Edinburgh)
This show was good, but not true. Set in the former Dick Vet Small Animal Hospital, the Victorian building was used to impart shock and energy in this avant garde, multi-sensory music experience. The audience was led through the atmospherically lit, deserted rooms, stopping for various noise episodes in different spaces. It culminated in the former operating theatre, where there was an invigoratingly loud drums, guitar and vocals performance with lights and screen images. However, the function of the avant garde is to champion the oppressed, not misrepresent the past. The lyrics seemed to disparage the work of veterinary staff that treated sick pets here; as someone who worked alongside them in the 1980s, I don't accept that.
Summerhall, until 24 Aug.
tw rating 3/5 | [Louise Rodgers]


Inheritance Blues (DugOut Theatre)
'Inheritance Blues' is the music-infused story of how a blues trio ended up spending a booze-soaked night with three bereaved brothers, tackling themes of abandonment, alcoholism and broken families. Six strong characters are sharply delineated within the first ten minutes – the acting and the writing deserve equal credit here. Will Brown's Archie and Ed MacArthur's "Scissorhands" come across especially well – the latter's piano chops are astounding. The stand-out moment comes in the form of a saxophone battle, though everyone gets the chance to show their musical skills as we learn about the Fenwick brothers' deceased father. With brilliant acting and superb music, 'Inheritance Blues' manages to be hilarious, tense, poignant and uplifting, and it ends on a perfect note.
Pleasance Courtyard, until 25 Aug.
tw rating 5/5 | [Jon Stapley]

Lands Of Glass (Unfolding Theatre)
'Lands of Glass' is a rare blend of theatre and music that seamlessly works as a coherent piece of performance art. It is a beautiful piece that is half theatre and half orchestra, adapting best- selling Italian novelist Alessandro Baricco's most creative work. The show is set in the extraordinary town of Quinnipak, and the cast capably portray the townsfolk as they depict a story of magic and tragedy with a large amount of humour and joy. It is a shame that not all the music is played live on stage, though it's understandable given the limitations of the space on stage; yet watching the mechanics of the orchestra is part of the joy of the show, especially as it uses the array of instruments in such innovative ways.
Summerhall, until 24th Aug.
tw rating 4/5 | [James McColl]

Tea Time Story (Ornamental Theatre)
A haze of flour hangs in the air throughout Heather Lai's tale of injustice in Mao-led China. Lai, writer and performer, uses the flour to scrape symbols on the floor and releases it in puffs at dramatic moments. The visual effect quickly wears off and everything – performance, narrative and stage – gets a bit messy. YingYing and Mulan meet and form a mother/daughter bond in the harsh conditions of a labour camp. Lai plays all the characters, leaving stilted pauses between lines as she switches from one character to another, flinging around a red scarf. There is little distinction between each character, no depth of emotion, and a clunky pace. The tale should be affecting, but is given no opportunity to have its effect.
Underbelly Cowgate, until 25 Aug.
tw rating 2/5 | [Tim Bano]

Theatre On A Long Thin Wire (Future Ruins)
'Theatre on a long thin wire' involves nothing but a chair, a CD player and a mysterious voice through a phone. Total audience participation is expected as individuals take it in turn to answer the phone and echo the voice on the line. Set in a loft covered in gas taps and pipes, it initially evokes the feeling that we've been transported to the scene of a horror film, then, as things progress, it starts to feel like a potentially dodgy psychological experiment as we willingly follow the instructions of a disembodied voice. This is hardly high octane excitement, but even the most cynical of participants will start to feel involved in the subtly built up, if predictable, drama.
Summerhall, until 24 Aug.
tw rating 3/5 | [Charlotte Taylor]

Shakespeare, His Wife And The Dog (Bated Breath)
Shakespeare is waiting, his wife is losing patience and the dog is just lost. It would be fair to describe Philip Whitchurch's new play as a collaboration with Shakespeare himself, as carefully crafted dialogue is interwoven with lines from the Bard's plays and sonnets. The central characters, played by Sally Edwards and Whitchurch himself, bounce off each other beautifully, their chemistry evident in their ability to make what is essentially an hour-long conversation both engaging and insightful. It's an exploration of a man admired by millions, but also a simple look into a relationship between and husband and his wife, full of any number of delightful references all Shakespeare fans will adore. This piece is intelligent, witty and emotive, as well as being really good fun!
Summerhall, until 24th Aug.
tw rating 5/5 | [Bethan Highgate-Betts]

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