As we head into the final Fringe weekend, how about taking in a magic show? What do you mean you saw a magic show earlier this Festival and you're done now?

You do know that's the same as saying "I saw Frank Skinner, so I've done stand-up". Morgan & West explain. Click here to read the column.
Lizzie Bates is no natural-born rebel, so she has been getting serious kicks out of performing a host of naughty female characters in her show 'Lizzie Bates: Reprobates'. If you have neither the will nor the inclination to stick it to the man with big, flashy, obscene shows of rebellion, then fear not. Lizzie is here to school you in the ways of a humbler sort... the 'everyday rebel'. [click here]
We're nearly at the end of Fringe 2014. Have you had your 'werewolf hour' yet? If it's still to come, Rhys Mathewson has some tips for coping. [click here]
Tired of reading about the Fringe? Then listen instead! Check out all our podcasts from this year's Festival, online to stream or download. [click here]
The Edinburgh Comedy Awards have been presented for 2014, with John Kearns taking the overall prize this year, which is quite a rise to the top of the Fringe comedy tree, given he took the Best Newcomer prize at the same awards just last year.

Kearns is quoted by Chortle thus: "I felt I did everything last year and this is crazy. Thank you for these awards, they have changed my life. I quit my job and am now a comedian. I wanted to come back and show I could do it again". And that, I think, he definitely did.

Kearns is still performing on the Free Fringe, and his win of the overall Comedy Prize is confirmation of just how important the free shows strands at the Festival have now become, especially on the comedy side of the proceedings.

Other Edinburgh Comedy Award winners this year were Alex Edelman who won Best Newcomer, and the Phil Ellis led comedy kids show 'Funz And Gamez' which got the Panel Prize.
The ThreeWeeks editors presented their annual awards at the Surgeon's Hall Library this morning, celebrating the ten shows, performers and ventures that the ThreeWeeks team feel made this year's Edinburgh Festival particularly special.

And the winners were:
Bec And Tom's Awesome Laundry
Tamsin Clarke for 'Manuelita'
Cariad Lloyd
Matt Panesh aka Monkey Poet
Unbound Productions for 'Travesti'
Divallusion with Christina Bianco and Velma Celli
The cast and crew of the Jethro Compton trilogies
Will Franken
Ricardo Garcia

Look out for details on why the ThreeWeeks editors picked each of this year's winners plus photos from the event in the final proper edition of the ThreeWeeks Daily for Festival 2014 tomorrow.


Human Child (Collapsing Horse)
'Human Child' is inspired by changeling myths - tales of fairy folk taking human children and leaving imposters behind in their place – and, against the backdrop of a cleverly used set, trots along at a highly stimulating speed. The cast are pretty much flawless, and multi-talented, playing instruments and their different roles with humour, humanity and skill, and the performance, in line with the script, is alternately gentle and fast paced; serious, yet full of humour. The tale we bear witness to has its moral, but it's not preachy, and is easily related to by a broad age range. I was expecting it to be better suited to older children, but its vivacity also engages a younger audience, even if they don't quite get the plot, giving this show a very much universal appeal.
Underbelly Cowgate, until 24 Aug.
tw rating 5/5 | [Caro Moses]

The Reluctant Dragon (Not Cricket Productions)
With this non-intimidating tale of a dragon who has no desire to be scary, Not Cricket Productions offer a very solid slice of story-telling performed by an able company of actors. The set and props are extremely basic, but the dragon itself is a thing of attractively metallic beauty, shiny enough to attract magpies as well as children (who queued up at the end to 'meet' and have photos taken with it). The somewhat knowing and clever air of this story, which subverts the St-George-kills-dragon myth, is probably lost on, and possibly even confusing for, younger children, but older ones with a degree of exposure to dragon stories – and even those without - should be easily engaged by it.
theSpace @ Surgeon's Hall, until 23 Aug.
tw rating 3/5 | [Caro Moses]

Under The Erl Tree (Turn The Key Productions)
If you are not familiar with it, Erl King is a term for the king of the fairies, or king of the elves, which has variously found its way in to literary culture, not least via Angela Carter's 'The Bloody Chamber'. This all-female company tell a fantasy tale of three step sisters' battle with this supernatural entity, capably taking on multiple roles each, and conveying the story in an accessible and engaging way, particularly for older children. I don't think it's just my angry-feminist self reading into this a subtext of women sticking together and sticking it to the men, but a) if that is an intention, it's an admirable one, given the misogyny still latent in so many stories aimed at young people and b) if not, this is still a great story, with the message that you don't have to be blood related to form a tight family unit.
theSpace @ Surgeon's Hall, until 23 Aug.
tw rating 4/5 | [Caro Moses]


Kids With Beards - Quest For The Golden Beard (Kids With Beards Comedy)
First off, there are no kids with beards. And just one bearded adult on stage. But it's a silly name for a silly sketch show. Silly in a good way. The writing is particularly worthy of mention, because for a new sketch troupe the script is strong, and pretty consistent throughout. It's at its best with the more surreal moments and awkward lines, maybe a little influenced by League Of Gentleman, though it reminded me more of the Cowards. The ensemble cast do a good job of setting scenes with minimal props and costumes. The performances are a little more variable across the show, and some polish in that domain would be good. But the writing generally carries it along, making for a fun hour of Fringe comedy.
Just The Tonic at The Caves, until 24 Aug.
tw rating 3/5 | [Chris Cooke]

Rachel Parris - Live In Vegas (So Comedy by arrangement with Troika)
Rachel Parris was the darling of the free festival last year, her musical comedy a charming combination of sweet and scathing. This year she's moved onto character comedy, but the result is much less successful. Despite obvious musical talent and stage presence, Parris is sorely lacking in material. She fizzes with energy on stage, the quick costume changes covered by adverts from her "sponsors", but her characters are almost painfully obvious: a posh indie singer trying to be edgy; a fading diva with a huge ego; a liberal Country and Western singer. There are a few laughs from the audience, but they're mostly polite. 'Live In Vegas' has plenty of sequins and glamour, it just needs a few more jokes.
Pleasance Courtyard, until 25 Aug.
tw rating 2/5 [Gemma Scott]

#meetandtweet (Declan Dineen)
'#meetandtweet' is the Dave Gorman-lite tale of writer @DeclanDineen and his attempt to meet all (well, 150) of his Twitter followers. The story went viral, ending up everywhere from the Daily Mail to an Iraqi news channel. There's no real sense of peril or quest here, no frantic deadlines or round-the-world adventures, just one man who has set himself a silly challenge. But it's told in a warm, genuine way- here's a performer who's really interested in other people's stories. It's a relieving change from the usual tales of trolls and weirdos lurking on the internet; a nice exploration of the "social" in social media. Follow him on Twitter, then offer to buy him a pint.
Just The Tonic at The Mash House, until 24 Aug.
tw rating 3/5 [Gemma Scott]

Spencer Brown (Spencer Brown)
For a show advocating the rediscovery of innocence, Spencer Brown's comedy show is at least 85% sex jokes. As he covers a range of subjects, from nipple-less women to his toddler's nickname for his penis, the innuendos keep on coming. Nevertheless, Brown proposes that whilst we lose our child-like innocence as we grow up, this self-delusion and blissful optimism is revived when we fall in love. Which is quite sweet. This show started strong but, rather like a pre-pubescent who just woke up to their nakedness, lost its confidence along the way. Brown persistently commented on audience response to jokes; I'm fairly certain that asking the audience 'Am I losing you?' is the quickest way to do just that. Still: everyone likes sex jokes.
Laughing Horse @ The Free Sisters, until 24 Aug.
tw rating 3/5 | [Hannah Cutting]

Caution To The Wind (Chris Boyd)
Chris Boyd likes tornadoes. Not fire tornadoes, though; those are not real tornadoes (the impostors), they are dust devils containing burning debris. That's just one of the nuggets of information to be gleaned from Boyd's comedy show. With the lazy charisma of a delinquent schoolboy, Boyd chats all things windy alongside the more standard interjections on subjects such as ex-girlfriends and his late father. The show flip flops between stand-up and narrative comedy so that neither are wholly successful, yet if further developed, tales of his American storm-chasing adventures or the abstract exchange with a personified fire tornado could be more engaging. As is, the production felt incomplete but Boyd's charming buoyancy kept the show afloat.
Banshee Labyrinth, until 23 Aug.
tw rating 3/5 | [Hannah Cutting]


God's Own Country (Fine Mess Theatre Company)
Fine Mess have taken a risk in adapting Ross Raisin's disquieting novel set in darkest Yorkshire, and it's paid off. Here the complex story of isolated and damaged farm boy Sam is becomes a punchy and absorbing one-man show. The specific man in question changes as the cast alternates nightly, but even judged on writing alone, this is a strong play. Joel Samuels gave a great turn as the troubled protagonist, flicking confidently between motor-mouthed enthusiasm, moody introspection and well-judged humour. The staging is sparse and perhaps unambitious, little more than some scattered straw, and jarring blackouts are the only markers between scenes. Still, it's an unsettling tale confidently told, building to a powerful climax.
Zoo Southside, until 25 Aug.
tw rating 4/5 | [Dave Fargnoli]

Barge Baby (Bricks and Mortar)
I have to hand it to the cast of 'Barge Baby' for soldiering on despite some disruptive, drunken audience members in the front row. It's a testament to their commitment to the show that they didn't miss a beat. The weak link here is the writing. Barge Baby sees a family congregate on their house boat for the birth of a grandchild. As inevitable themes of love and malcontent bubble to the surface the characters begin to dissect their own status, with grandmother Mary the most interesting and thoughtfully portrayed. However these ideas are never convincingly explored. Disjointed scenes are punctuated by an extraneous chorus of ducks who waddle their way around scene changes. This production brims with unrealised potential.
C nova, until 25 Aug.
tw rating 2/5 | [Hannah Cutting]

Candy Cigarettes (The Rat Pit and Hot Hail)
Every so often the Fringe throws up something completely off the wall, and audiences leave wondering what they've just witnessed. 'Candy Cigarettes' is one of those shows. Bags of sweets, huge rat masks and strange odours are meant to evoke nostalgia through an 'Alice in Wonderland' context... but really what emerges appears more experimental drama student on hallucinogenics than enjoyable theatre. The concept of evoking nostalgia sounded like a good one but it just didn't come across; there was little connection between elements and quite frankly, those rat masks are beyond creepy. If I was to find one positive of this bizarre hour it's that the acting was largely okay, but what exactly they were meant to be acting, I will never understand.
theSpace on the Mile, until 23 Aug.
tw rating 2/5 | [Stephanie Gray]

Race By David Mamet (South African Season / The Playhouse Company and Assembly)
This is the epitome of great theatre: David Mamet's 2009 Broadway hit, revived by The Playhouse Company as part of the South African Season. Slicing through our social squeamishness, Mamet's trademark biting dialogue and razor-sharp wit shine an uncomfortably bright light on universal issues of guilt, blame and shame in this black comedy-drama. 'Race' sees three lawyers, two black and one white, struggling with the practicalities and ethics of representing a white man accused of raping a black girl. Effortlessly exquisite performances here; the tangled barbed-wire relationship of Susan and Jack, portrayed by Nondumiso Tembe and Andre Jacobs, is exhilarating to watch unfold. You'd be lucky to find theatre of this calibre on the West End.
Assembly George Square Studios, until 25 Aug.
tw rating 5/5 | [Hannah Cutting]

Totally Devoted (Sweet Thames Productions)
Ever wondered what it would be like to meet your favourite celebrity? Monica and Cecilia have, and they're determined to make their dreams come true by camping out all night to meet their idol, Robert Pattinson. When they meet Rose though, a fan more experienced in queuing and premieres, they get far more than they bargain for. Julie Ford's characters are instantly likeable, especially security guard Harry, and her script is clever – a shallow plot on the surface examines deeper issues than were initially expected. 'Totally Devoted' is an examination of our obsession with celebrity culture, as the devoted fans old enough to be Pattinson's mother sacrifice one night of real life for a night of dreams and fantasy.
theSpace @ Surgeons Hall, until 23 Aug.
tw rating 3/5 | [Stephanie Gray]

3000 Trees By George Gunn (Grey Coast Productions)
'3000 Trees' is based on the true story of William MacRae, an anti-nuclear campaigner, SNP politician and lawyer. He was found dead in an apparent suicide in 1985, but there are suggestions that he was killed because of the information he had uncovered. This play, set in a petrol station, takes place in the hour before his death. It's an understated, almost stilted piece, relying heavily on the poetic script. All three actors (Jimmy Chisholm, Adam Robertson and Helen Mackay) are excellent, handling the rhymes in a relaxed, confident manner. As the current debate over Scottish independence intensifies, '3000 Trees' is a timely reminder of the power of words and what freedom really means to people.
Gryphon@WestEnd, until 24 Aug.
tw rating 3/5 | [Gemma Scott]

Sirens (Ontroerend Goed)
Less like mythical seducers and more like the shrieks of an ambulance, these sirens explore misogyny and feminism in a brutal, modernist quasi-opera. Following hymn sheets on music stands, they sing ear-piercing screams or list cosmetics and their prices or deliver a deeply discomfiting litany of misogynist jokes – atonal arias on a grim theme. Ontroerend Goed tackle the complexities and contradictions of feminism and being a woman, of a world where how you want to behave is at odds with how you are told to behave. Although problematic in parts - undermining moments of horror with humour – 'Sirens' is an unstifled, deliberately provocative question: for each individual person who claims the label, what does it mean to be a feminist?
Summerhall, until 24 Aug.
tw rating 4/5 | [Tim Bano]

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