'Picnic In The Cemetery' is one of three shows brought to the Fringe by the Macao-based collective Point View Art Association. It's a piece of work that almost seems to defy categorisation; the composer himself struggles to place his style within a conventional genre, and while this show has music at its heart, it's only a part of what's on display.

Our reviewer was won over by this experimental and avant-garde acoustic performance, and her enthusiasm inspired us to find out more about the show from its creator, Njo Kong Kie. Click here to read the interview.
Director Damian Sandys isn't in Edinburgh this Festival. So he wrote this letter instead. [click here]
It's another packed 'extras edition' of the ThreeWeeks Podcast. There's more from 'A Roaring Accordion' and 'The Ingenious Gentleman Don Quixote De La Macha', plus theatre snippets from two 5/5 rated shows, 'We Were Kings' and Jethro Compton's 'The Capone Trilogy'. More theatre comes from another ThreeWeeks tipped show 'Fragile', while the comedy is provided by The One-Eyed Men. [click here]
We put the same question to all three members of a Fringe trio. What gift would you take home (for yourself or a loved one) from the Edinburgh Festival Fringe? [click here]
His Fringe programme having generated both an Edinburgh Comedy Award and two Malcolm Hardee Awards last August, Bob Slayer has decided it is he who should be handing out the prizes this year.

And somehow he's managed to find a gap in the Edinburgh awards spectrum, a prize that celebrates comedians' knowledge about all things beer. It's obvious when you think about it. Though presumably any knowledge of a certain Australian lager brand counts against contenders.

"It's the first proper award judged on proper criteria", Slayer boasted to ThreeWeeks. "And it also has a proper prize too. The winner will get the chance to brew a beer with BrewDog at Brew HQ and all the worldwide critical acclaim they could ever dream of!"

Every performer at the Fringe was invited to compete, "decent beer credentials" the only entry requirement. And as we went to press some top acts were already lined up to compete for the award at a special show on 20 Aug at 3pm, including Will Hodgson, Tim FitzHigham and Phil Kay.

It's a line-up that suggests this is, in fact, an area where comics have long wished to prove their worth. "I do believe this will become the highest accolade in comedy", added Slayer. "I mean, who doesn't want their own beer?"

The competition will take place at Bob & Miss Behave's Bookshop, the Fringe venue Slayer is co-running for the second time this year, albeit in a new location. "We had a lovely shop last year, and this year we have gone even better with our lovely spot at the bottom of the Pleasance on Holyrood Rd".

"We rented an empty space, knocked down walls, pulled up floors, put some stairs into the basement, added toilets and most importantly a vibe that feels far removed from the commercial Fringe. Everyone should pop their head into the Bookshop at least once, and maybe come along for the anarchic, anything goes late night show".

Biff! Bash! Bosh! - Free (Topsy Turvy Productions)
What do custard, a paddling pool and eggs have in common? They all feature in this show! Topsy Turvy Productions present an energetic new show full of dancing, singing and a lot of silliness. Getting the audience on their feet, the show is full of participation - lots of opportunity to get up and jump about, and even several chances to join them on stage. Classic comedy props grace the stage, and brightly coloured t-shirts make the cast instantly recognisable. Relying on physical comedy and loud noises, the show is extremely entertaining and there wasn't a moment where children weren't giggling or singing along. The perfect way to keep you little ones entertained in the morning.
Laughing Horse @ Free Sisters, until 24 Aug.
tw rating 4/5 | [Bethan Highgate-Betts]


Cal Wilson - It Could Have Been Me (Token Events)
With wigs, neck braces, Billy Joel and a few more wigs, Cal Wilson takes a journey through the versions of herself she could have been had her life turned out differently. Multiple characters grace the stage, occasionally even at the same time, but unfortunately they all felt stereotypical and one-dimensional. For me, the main issue with the show was the format: Wilson jumped from brief stand-up routines into sketches, pausing everything for a couple of one liners, and so the whole thing felt jumbled, with no real rhythm or flow. That being said, the crowd seemed to really enjoy it, laughing in all the right places and eager to participate all that they could.
Gilded Balloon, until 24 Aug.
tw rating 2/5 | [Bethan Highgate-Betts]

Cook And Davies Present - Planet Earth And All Who Sailed In Her (Cook And Davies)
Planet Earth has been destroyed. All that survives is this sketch show, where Cook and Davies deliver a series of post-destruction sci-fi sketches from aboard their spaceship. Some of the sketches take a Douglas Adams-esque look at the mundane relics salvaged from earth; others are zany, weird or wordplay-based, presented in a 'This Morning' style rundown. The material is well written and tightly structured, though the duo break into ad libbed moments as they forget lines or comment on prop failures, adding an even more ramshackle feel to the already lo-fi show. Cook and Davies muddle through their fun sketches with silly glee, and the show is entertaining throughout – an acceptable memorial to our once great planet.
Just The Tonic at The Caves, until 17 Aug.
tw rating 3/5 | [Tim Bano]

Dizney Rascal (Rebecca Humphries / Freestival)
At its best, Rebecca Humphries' cabaret Disney-fest is a sharp, feminist, revisionist critique of princess plots in childhood favourites like 'The Little Mermaid' and 'Sleeping Beauty'; at its worst, it's bad karaoke. Humphries comes up with clever, witty lyrics which she sings to Disney tunes, and she constructs an amusing meta-narrative that follows the typical story arc of a Disney film. Her 'Disney Princess Song' is brilliantly observed and performed, and projected videos add an extra element to the singing. Unfortunately she doesn't quite manage to unpick the tricky themes she addresses: the latent misogyny, heteronormativity and predominantly white characters (or lions) in happy ending stories. Disney fans will love it but, like a Disney movie, the moral lacks any real depth.
Fingers Piano Bar, until 23 Aug.
tw rating 3/5 | [Tim Bano]

Croft & Pearce - Give And Take (Vivienne Smith Management)
From middle aged women buying a milk pan, to a young couple putting a table on eBay, Croft's & Pearce's sketches cover a range of histrionic, middle class characters. There are no costume changes and no props, so instead they must rely on their facial expressions and voices. The duo inhabit their characters well and the show is tightly structured, interconnecting all the characters in subtle ways, but each sketch is dragged out too long, and each idea is bled to the marrow. Still, Hannah Croft and Fiona Pearce have created an enjoyable world here, including interaction with the audience to offer some variety - all it needs is a bit more humour.
Gilded Balloon, until 24 Aug.
tw rating 2/5 | [Tim Bano]

GIRAFFE: Let's Talk About Sketch Baby (Giraffe)
Giraffe, a three piece comedy sketch troupe, have brought a new show packed with new material and colourful characters to the Fringe. This is a tight, hilarious production, offering an array of silly and surreal sketches. The fast turnover rate means that if you don't enjoy one sketch, chances are you will enjoy the next, and the group's versatile performances keep the show from becoming repetitive or boring. They're certainly not short on good ideas or material and the recurring characters are strong enough that you're happy to see them return. Some of the shorter sketches didn't seem to work as well, however, and a punchier ending would have helped solidify an otherwise great show.
Underbelly Cowgate, until 24 Aug.
tw rating 4/5 | [James McColl]

Hennessy And Friends - Murmurs (in association with James Grant Comedy / La Favorita Freestival)
As I entered this hot, sweaty venue, the audience were so tightly squeezed in that there was barely room for one more. Squeeze in I did though - thankfully. Such is the popularity of Hennessy And Friends, an English sketch comedy group currently performing their show 'Murmurs.' Miranda Hennessy, David Seymour and Steven Shapland all excel at laughter-inducing gags, physical comedy, and vocal variety. Performing a plethora of rotating spoofs, gags and charades, some fictional and some factual, the performers had the crowd clapping and cheering throughout. I especially appreciated their undeniable exuberance and the quick pace of the production. A sketch comedy show for people who don't like sketch comedy...and for those that do.
Cowgatehead, until 25 Aug.
tw rating 4/5 [Keara Barnes]

Sarah Kendall - Touchdown (Mick Perrin Worldwide in association with PBJ Management)
Sarah Kendall starts strong, with a foul mouthed intro which neatly establishes the theme of her show and sets up a couple of robustly amusing running jokes. Focusing on a series of seminal teenage moments, Kendall's set has decent laughs and she brings the audience along with her, even those too young to get the eighties references. However, the high school memories are recalled in too much nostalgia-tinted detail and the punchlines lose their punch around the middle of the show. The serious finale is well handled by Kendall but, because of the slow middle, the end result is more melancholic than devastating or cathartic. Well-crafted and generally funny, 'Touchdown' just isn't quite sharp enough to be great.
Pleasance Courtyard, until 25 Aug.
tw rating 3/5 | [Andrew Bell]

Will Franken - The Stuff They Put In Sleep (Laughing Coyote Presents)
Emerging from Will Franken's show is like waking up from a dream: at first shocking, surreal and unsettling, but ultimately reassuring. It's inspiring to know that such out of this world, high quality comedy exists - here's a comedian guaranteed to genuinely impress. The production requires your focused attention so you don't miss anything, as it's energetically and speedily performed, with barely a pause between scenes. Discussing a range of ideas ranging from politics to art, Franken is clever, eccentric and hilarious. He comes across as more actor than comedian, immersing himself in the stories and detailed impersonations. 'The Stuff They Put In Sleep' is an enjoyably dreamlike show.
Just The Tonic at The Caves, until 24 Aug.
tw rating 5/5 [Keara Barnes]


Simon Thacker's Ritmata (Simon Thacker)
Oh lucky, lucky Edinburgh. Simon Thacker is – in my opinion - one of the most important musicians of his generation. His world class quartet of classical guitar, bass, piano and drum kit played a stunning hour of significant world music that left this reviewer thrilled. Thacker's compositions – most of the programme – are based on music from across space and time, containing influences from Azerbaijan, Dagestan, India and thirteenth century Spain to name but a few. There was even the world premiere of 'Asuramaya' - giving each of the group a chance to improvise, breaking away briefly from the precision and discipline of playing this exacting, demanding, breathless music. This was a night of rhythm, excitement and genuinely wonderful musicianship.
Summerhall, until 23 Aug.
tw rating 5/5 | [Louise Rodgers]

Choral Evensong/Choral Eucharist (Robin Chapel Choir)
This lovely little memorial chapel (Robin died in WW2) resembles a mother's teardrop, and the music tonight was equally tender and beautiful; appropriately it was the feast of the Assumption of Mary, Jesus' mother. The choir are professional, with their superb technical ability they certainly did justice to this service, commemorating the Chapel Dedication in 1953. Howell's Gloucester Service was used and the piece that really made the hairs on the back of my neck stand on end was the 'Nunc Dimittis'. Familiar to many, I know, but on this occasion it was unusually emotional and powerful; I heard it afresh in the voices of this magnificent choir. Looking for a lasting memory of Edinburgh? This is it.
The Robin Chapel, until 24 Aug.
tw rating 5/5 | [Louise Rodgers]

Music For The Book Of Deer (Strangeness And Charm)
This synaesthetic experience originated in a medieval illuminated manuscript, 'The Book of Deer', from Aberdeenshire. Original pages were projected onto a screen behind the five musicians. With woodwind (including bass clarinet and midi wind synthesiser), keys, brass, percussion and guitars, they played an exciting 12 movement suite using traditional and electronic techniques. I knew it would be a really great night when the bass guitarist brought out his bow! Personal favourites were 'A Prayer For The Soul Of The Wretch Who Wrote It' - a maelstrom of unusual noises and rhythms, and 'Dancing In The Margin' - a sound representation of the intricate marginal pen work. Words and pictures are not enough; go hear 'The Book Of Deer'.
Scottish Storytelling Centre, until 19 Aug.
tw rating 4/5 | [Louise Rodgers]


Parade (Oneoff Productions)
In 1915 a Jewish man was lynched by a mob in Georgia. Jason Robert Brown wrote the incident into this historical musical - a fierce, sprawling epic that combines Brown's restless musical style with period folk songs and a persistent military snare rattling along underneath. Oneoff's production (complete with stunning period costumes) deals fearlessly with the musical. Steve Nicholson and Lauren Hutchinson as Leo and Lucille Frank, the central couple whose love flourishes in adversity, are near perfect. Nicholson is twitchy, timid and out of place; Hutchinson the calm, determined wife. Clumsy ensemble scenes and backing music that loudly drowns out the singing let the production down, but Oneoff is an amateur company really punching above its weight.
C too, until 24 Aug.
tw rating 4/5 | [Tim Bano]


Monkey Poet - Shit Flinging (Matt Panesh / PBH's Free Fringe)
Quite a lot of people have a low opinion of poetry, admits Matt Panesh, aka Monkey Poet, as he kick-starts his spoken word gig with something of an apologetic disclaimer. But through this hour of cheek-achingly funny lines and friendly banter (with some poems prompting laughs by their titles alone) he pretty much proves them wrong. Covering topics like gay rights, religion and ethnic identity with astute social awareness and well-reasoned philosophy, some of his material is downright filth, but it's delivered with such charm that Panesh nails it nearly every time. His low-key, welcoming manner makes it clear that he values every single audience member and the resulting atmosphere is like watching one of your mates tell funny stories at a packed-out party. Highly recommended.
Banshee Labyrinth, until 24 Aug.
tw rating 5/5 | [Laura Gavin]


Chlorine (Three Reasonable Woman)
'Chlorine' takes an interesting look at a twenty-something's short stint in a mental institution. Set over the course of a summer, it focuses on a young, ordinary woman named Biddy, who has a mental breakdown during a music festival. Written with authority, the show focuses on the human element in this very personal tale. It's also able to find some humour in the under-exposed reality of young people who are institutionalized. Music plays an important part in Biddy's life and also in the show, which has a live musical score performed by the cast. In its weaker moments this piece feels like an A Level production, however, overall it is an informative and entertaining show.
Zoo Southside, until 25 Aug.
tw rating 3/5 | [James McColl]

Linwood No More (White Stag Theatre)
One room, one bench, one man, one life. Set at the dawn of the millennium, this one man play takes us on a journey through the life of someone who becomes homeless. From childhood camping trips to his first job, we see how his life changes – at first for the better, but soon taking a different path. The beautiful performance brings endless emotion to the evocative script, as what is essentially one man sitting on a bench becomes so much more than that. As he speaks, we walk through his life with him: we're there in the factories, by the hospital beds, we understand and relate to him. An incredibly relevant work, the piece gives a voice to the voiceless.
theSpace @ Jury's Inn until 23 Aug.
tw rating 5/5 | [Bethan Highgate-Betts]

On The Upside Down Of The World (New Zealand Season / Auckland Theatre Company)
Adapting Lady Martin's 1884 memoir, 'Our Maoris', into a solo show, 'On The Upside Down Of The World' charts the experiences of an English gentlewoman in colonial era New Zealand. Laurel Devenie's performance as Lady Martin is excellent – stiff upper lipped and emotional in just the right amounts – while her subtle changes of accent throughout the play are a nice aural measure of Lady Martin's journey. Drawing from a true story, the play does suffer from a slightly muddled narrative – concentrating solely on Martin's relationship with her foster son may have provided a stronger story arc – and the ending is a bit of a damp squib. Despite this, this is a strong performance in good show.
Assembly Roxy, until 25 Aug.
tw rating 4/5 | [Andrew Bell]

Show Off (Figs in Wigs / Escalator East To Edinburgh)
Though they're dressed in 70's style day-glow jumpsuits, Figs in Wigs' ironic, satirical show couldn't be more contemporary. It's a daft deconstruction of social media, narcissism and mediocrity, posing as a clunky variety act. Though it takes a while to warm to the sandpaper-dry humour, the company boast solid performance skills. In an hour, they work in wince-inducing puns, juggling, hoola-hooping and a tightly choreographed dance with smart-phones in hand. There's no denying that this will divide audiences, specifically into those who leave, and those who get the joke. However, as baffled chuckles give way to steady laughter, it becomes clear this sharp company have pulled off something very special - simultaneously sharp, sarcastic, stupid and brilliant.
Pleasance Courtyard, until 25 Aug.
tw rating 4/5 | [Dave Fargnoli]

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