If you've so much as walked past your television set in the last couple of decades, you will surely recognise Philip Whitchurch from his extensive work on such programmes as 'The Bill', 'Wire In The Blood', 'Holby City' and 'My Hero'.

What you might not know is that Whitchurch is also an accomplished playwright, and this summer he has come to the Fringe not only to present a play, but to appear in it too, alongside his wife Sally Edwards. 'Shakespeare, His Wife And The Dog' has garnered great reviews, not least from our own ThreeWeeks reviewer. We spoke to Philip to find out more about what inspired him to write a show featuring the bard. Click here to read the interview.
So every comedian's been there. The night you died on stage. But you know what, you can survive it. You will survive it. And Dane Baptiste has some tips for doing just that. [click here]
Dan Clark is back at the Fringe with his first full Edinburgh run in seven years. To celebrate we catch up with him in our Week Three edition later this week, and ahead of that we tracked the man himself down at the Pleasance Dome to take some photos. [click here]
RIA LINA: FIVE LESSONS TO TEACH IN HOMESCHOOL Having decided to homeschool her kids, Ria Lina suddenly realised what fun she could have devising her own curriculum.ith her 'School Of Riason' performing daily at Gilded Balloon, we asked Lina to tell us the most important life-lessons contained within her teaching plans – worldly advice for old and young alike, that's for certain. [click here]
There are many reasons performers come to the Edinburgh Fringe, but an important one is the opportunity to showcase work in front of both audiences and cultural decision makers from across the globe.

And so good is the Festival for such showcasing, cultural bodies in numerous countries and regions now assist performers and companies to help them get the most out of their Edinburgh experience. One new initiate in this domain is the Welsh Dance Strand taking place at Zoo this week, featuring four dance theatre companies from Wales. It's organised by Coreo Cymru, an organisation set up in 2012 to promote "dance talents and dance products" in Wales.

"Last year we presented the Dance Dome at the Fringe" says Coreo Cymru's Carole Blade, "and the Arts Council Of Wales developed the Wales In Edinburgh Fund, which helped support Welsh companies being presented at the Festival. The Welsh Dance Strand is an extension of that idea to have a stronger presence at an international festival for Wales. This international exposure is a key part in developing the touring opportunities and professional practice for our artists".

"We have an electric mix of dance makers and styles in the Strand", Blade says, outlining the four productions being presented under the umbrella this week. "Renowned dance artist Jo Fong brings 'An Invitation...' a unique piece developed through extensive research, investigating the relationship between the audience and performer and how those boundaries can be dissolved".

She continues: "TaikaBox presents 'Beyond The Body', a multi sensory mix of beautifully crafted choreography with stunning visuals and soundscape. Harnisch Lacey Dance brings 'SPIN', an action packed mix of contemporary, parkour and break dancing. And Kitsch And Sync will bring their unique cabaret style of comedic dance theatre, featuring electro swing hop movement styles, audience participation, and toe tapping music all tied together with a loving bow".

Coreo Cymru is supporting the featured companies in a number of ways, including on marketing, PR and promoter engagement, "allowing artists to develop their practice while minimising the risk involved" Blade adds. "It's important that Welsh work is seen outside Wales", she concludes, further explaining the rationale for the Welsh Dance Strand project, "giving artists the opportunity to develop their practice, build international relationships and acknowledge the quality of their own work in a wider context".

All four productions are playing at Zoo until 25 Aug.

I'm Thinking Of Leaving Facebook (Lolly Jones)
Tales of boyfriend stalking and inappropriate work selfies probably sound familiar to a lot of us who use Facebook. Lolly Jones' comic monologue shows off her considerable writing talent, providing a day-by-day commentary on life as a temp at Westminster, with some great descriptions of over-privileged peers and bureaucracy-mad colleagues. The slideshow also helps the pace, punctuating the story with the increasingly undesirable results of personality quizzes such as 'Which Tellytubby are you?'. Things start to get uncomfortable when the 'true' story takes a darker turn and the descriptions get a little too close to the bone. Still, Jones effectively taps into our collective hysteria around social media, even if it does become more morality tale than funny story by the end.
Laughing Horse @ Free Sisters, until 24 Aug.
tw rating 3/5 | [Laura Gavin]

Jody Kamali - One Man Variety Show (Jody Kamali / Free Festival)
In 'One Man Variety Show' the bizarre cast of characters, all played by Kamali via a series of costume changes, include a mentalist, a man of mystery, a vampire, a faith healer, an opera singer and, er, Jody's dad. The joke is that they are intentionally dreadful to varying degrees, though Kamali clearly puts a lot of work, and even more skill, into what is essentially clowning around. While that core joke wears a little thin at times, there's plenty of entertainment and fun audience involvement. The ending, which sees him brings out the acts one-by-one for a bow, at a pace quicker than his ability to keep up with the costume changes, neatly sums up a surreal and silly hour of fun.
Laughing Horse @ Espionage, until 24 Aug.
Tw rating 3/5 | [Bruce Blacklaw]

Phil Wang - Mellow Yellow (Avalon Promotions Ltd)
Phil Wang wants a one star review. Not out of masochism, but to complete the set, having already had a 2, 3, 4 and 5. The title comes from what he reckons are his two main characteristics: a calm demeanour and, well, he's half-Chinese (he said it, don't write in!), a heritage from which he taps a rich vein of humour. It's not all gold – the use of foot pedal effects, for soundtracks to imagined adult remakes of kids' films, grows tiresome and probably peaked at the start when he used it to ask people to turn their phones off. Overall though, deploying a nerdy charm and ready wit to fine effect, he's gone the wrong way about getting that one star.
Pleasance Courtyard, until 24 Aug.
tw rating 3/5 | [Bruce Blacklaw]

Le Flop (Le Flop)
'Le Flop' is like a tin of chocolates: bright, colourful but ultimately disposable. The idea behind the show seems to be that mind-numbing stupidity is funny, but it's impossible to sum up what 'Le Flop' is actually about. "Four clowns muck about for an hour" doesn't quite seem like enough of a description, but it's accurate. Clearly 'Le Flop' is trying to be ironic, hoping to score laughs by being deliberately awful, but around half the audience left within the first ten minutes, when it became obvious that a man with a whoopee cushion was going to be the highpoint of the show. The whole show was tedious to watch, a real disappointment.
Underbelly Cowgate, until 24 Aug.
tw rating 1/5 | [Charlotte Taylor]


Bromance (Underbelly Productions in association with Barely Methodical Troupe present)
Fusing circus with comedy, brotherhood with romance, and sex appeal with stunts, 'Bromance' is brought to you by Barely Methodical Troupe, winners of Circus Maximus, the UK's first circus competition. Using powerful music and spotlights, the troupe perform an array of acrobatics around the central theme of friendship. The trio are both sweet and sexy, performing moves to make mothers cringe and girls swoon. Acknowledging the audience's presence, the performers incorporate humorous interactions in the production, often pausing to simply sit, whistle and while away the time. These scenes, though providing some comedic relief, slowed down the pace of the production, which is my only complaint. A charismatic and talented troupe with a bright future.
Underbelly Bristo Square, until 25 Aug.
tw rating 4/5 | [Keara Barnes]

Bottle Mail From Okinawa (Ship of Ryukyu)
'Bottle Mail from Okinawa' tells the story of the journey of an ancient letter, transporting the audience back to a long lost kingdom. The show is fantastically put together, each section flowing easily into the next, while the costumes are bright and beautifully detailed, really adding to the dancers' movements. With the live traditional music, the audience is treated to a real taste of something gone but not forgotten. The dance routines are expertly put together and energetically executed, and this whole show seems to be bursting with its liveliness and bright colours. The only part of the narrative spoken in English is the letter itself, so what happens in between is sometimes hard to follow, but for sheer spectacle alone it's still very much worth a watch!
Spotlites @ The Merchants' Hall, until 24 Aug.
tw rating 4/5 | [Bethan Highgate-Betts]


Concerto Without Orchestra (Worbey And Farrell)
If Franz Liszt had met a daft friend to collaborate with, instead of bumping into Richard Wagner, these side-splitting, clever arrangements for many-handed pianos could have been the result. Those who remember Victor Borge and Gerard Hoffnung's musical humour will enjoy this; it's funny and intelligent - particularly the making of cocktails whilst playing Beethoven's 'Für Elise'. The inclusion of the performers' own serious composition interrupted the hilarious mood, however, and the illusion that the orchestra was joining them remotely by live broadcast was not convincing. Their jokes and stage manner were wonderfully witty, with musical slapstick and exaggerated gestures; only the break in the fun stopped this from being a 5 star show.
The Assembly Rooms, until 24 Aug.
tw rating 4/5 | [Louise Rodgers]

Elsa Jean McTaggart and Miss Irenie Rose
A sibling duo from the Isle of Lewis, Elsa Jean McTaggart and Miss Irenie Rose offer a session of melodic folk, lifted by ethereal harmonies, soulful songwriting and accomplished musical skill. Though Irenie Rose looks less comfortable on stage than her older sister, the two are matched with equal talents on a collection of instruments including the melodian and fiddle. The frequent smiles and visible bond between the two adds a real dose of warmth to the performance. One tune on the tin whistle is wistful enough to leave me welling up a little, and songs of the Highland Clearances, departed relatives and journeys of all kinds are tinged with bittersweet nostalgia. A lovely respite from the milling festival crowds outside.
SpaceCabaret @ 54, until 22 Aug.
tw rating 4/5 | [Laura Gavin]

Free Fringe Music (National Museum Of Scotland)
Spent all your ticket money? Well, there's still good music to enjoy for free, every day in the eclectic National Museum of Scotland in collaboration with Live Music Scotland. Today's performers were young Latin jazz guitar duo Knox and Ion. They wasted no time creating a relaxed, airy cafe atmosphere in these vibrant surroundings, not far from the legendary Millennium Clock; even toddlers found them irresistible and tried to storm the stage. Their music was a mixture of their own compositions (including the lively, quirky 'Mary', in memory of Tom Ion's granny) and standards such as 'Isn't She Lovely?' for Frazer Knox's new fiancée. Accomplished and likeable, with a talent for composition, this pair's offerings made for an enjoyable working lunch.
National Museum Of Scotland, until 24 Aug.
tw rating 4/5 | [Louise Rodgers]

Mosaico Flamenco (Alba Flamenca)
This exciting collaboration between jazz, folk and flamenco musicians was an intense labour of love. A recreation of the album 'Tierra' by Vicente Amigo, the album made a lasting impression on Spanish guitarist Andrew Robinson, so he called together some skilled musicians with diverse styles and personalities - this foot stomping night is the result. Fiddle player Heather Kennedy was a school friend and he met the others on his journey from classical to Spanish guitar. I was taken by the passion of singer and palmos artist Danielo Olivera and by the cheekiness of drummer David Montes. If I had been able to close my eyes I could have been in Spain! But close my eyes and miss this? No way, José!
Alba Flamenca, until 24 Aug.
tw rating 4/5 | [Louise Rodgers]


O Is For Ofsted (Make Theatre Company)
A failing school faces a visit from Ofsted inspectors, with some of it set to music. Although, really, there's not actually that much music. Make Theatre's new musical is a cheerful send-up of bureaucratised education, aiming its ridicule at students and teachers alike. Sadly, the music lets this piece down: one song is set to the tune of 'Baa Baa Black Sheep' while another has an eerily similar melody to 'The Life I Lead' from 'Mary Poppins'. Every rhyme, in unvarying couplets, is predictable and the subject matter is uninteresting – one of the songs is about tea and coffee. This energetic group of performers has talent, certainly, but it needs a better vehicle.
theSpace @ North Bridge, until 16 Aug.
tw rating 2/5 | [Tim Bano]

Company (The Bancroft's Players)
Sondheim's complex reflection on marriage and middle age has been condensed into 90 minutes here, but there are still many impressive moments. The large cast is accompanied mainly by a piano, with two performers alternating between acting and playing sax and trumpet. Chorus scenes have a powerful sound, and the cast uses the small stage to good effect, but it's a couple of performances from the young cast that really stand out: a word-perfect rendition of Amy's song 'Not Getting Married', and Charlie Layburn's 'Bobby' – effortlessly cool, comfortable with being the centre of attention, hiding a desire to be loved. Most of the songs plod along too slowly, but there is talent and potential in the young cast.
theSpace @ North Bridge, until 16 Aug.
tw rating 3/5 | [Tim Bano]


147 Questions About Love (Volcano Theatre)
One Show, 147 questions; some incredibly thought provoking, some vastly simple. '147 Questions' was created by and stars performers Paul Davies and Catherine Bennett and was inspired by the book 'The Interrogative Mood,' a book which exclusively lists and proposes endless questions. This two person piece incorporates dialogue, audience participation and movement. While Paul asks the audience question after question, Catherine performs an accordant dance move. Despite Catherine's obvious capabilities, I felt she did not display any impressive choreography and it would have been preferable to hear more insightful and intellectual questions from Paul. A creative and original idea for a production that needs to be developed more fully.
The Dance Base, until 16 Aug.
tw rating 2/5 | [Keara Barnes]

The Piece Of Paper Paradox (Blue Moon Theatre Company)
In a hypnotic, rhythmic fashion, four identically-suited office workers stamp white paper. When one of them comes across a red sheet, it sparks an awakening in all of them. They exist in some kind of stifled world governed by strict rules: they are not allowed to feel, to talk, to stand up. Plato's Cave or the Wachowskis' Matrix films seem like inspirations, as unquestioning obeisance to the rules yields to a deeper understanding of individuality. The tedium of regularity, routine and repetition comes across well as the actors play out their mechanical movements, accompanied by the constant ticking of a clock. Lightened by moments of humour, the play prods at big themes in an enjoyable, unsettling way.
theSpace @ Surgeons' Hall, until 16 Aug.
tw rating 3/5 | [Tim Bano]

Mmm Hmmm (Verity Standen)
Whispers of narrative emerge from the collage of songs that comprises Verity Standen's a cappella experiment, but narrative is not the point here. Standen, Ellie Showering and Dominie Hooper play with unity, unison and counterpoint, and with how lights, movement, facial expression and body percussion can flavour and accentuate the music their voices make. Amid more conventional songs are odd set pieces: hooded and bowed like monks they sing mundane phrases, breaking them into individual syllables – 'Have you swiped your Nectar card?' – with each singing a syllable in increasingly quick succession. "Mmm hmmm" becomes like an 'amen' to conclude each segment. The performance brims with ideas and the three performers have absolute control over their excellent voices.
Zoo Southside, until 16 Aug.
tw rating 4/5 | [Tim Bano]

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