You're sure to recognise Hollywood character actor Stephen Tobolowsky from the countless films and TV shows he has appeared in. Though you might also be as familiar with his voice as a result of the brilliant Tobolowsky Files podcast he launched in 2009. In it he recounts myriad true stories, from what happened when he was held hostage at gunpoint, to the time he broke his neck in five places while horseback riding in Iceland, to his experiences as an accidental drug dealer. And now he is bringing those stories to the Edinburgh stage. We caught up with Stephen for a very quick chat.

ThreeWeeks' Chris Cooke chats to Stephen about his show here
Three recommended shows for Friday at the Edinburgh Festival 2015.

Women's Hour (Sh!t Theatre)

"Sh!t Theatre have one hour in which to deconstruct the way women are presented by the media, wielding comedy like a hammer against the ridiculous constructs and constraints that are associated with womanhood" said our reviewer, after being wowed by this Camden People's Theatre commission. "Visual, physical, frantically funny and unapologetically forceful, this show isn't just a must see, attendance should be compulsory".
Summerhall, until 30 Aug.

Roughs (For Radio)

This show is a real Fringe experience executed brilliantly. "To be led, blindfolded, into a room, then seated amid the sharp hiss of static, strangled voices and discordant music is a profoundly disorientating experience. We are left isolated, alone in the dark, to enjoy two of Samuel Beckett's less well known works; voices and sounds assault our ears, disquieting and compelling in equal measure". Go experience.
C nova, until 31 Aug.

BARBU Electro Trad Cabaret (pictured)

"This show is not for the faint-hearted" say we. But we're assumed you're not one of the faint-hearted, so you should go. "Sound-tracked by its own astonishing electro trad band, this is a silly, sexy circus rave, crammed with breathtaking, gravity-defying manoeuvres and tests of skill".
Underbelly's Circus Hub on The Meadows, until 29 Aug.

Look out for a daily Three To See each day in the ThreeWeeks Daily, and for Three To See recommendations all year round in London click here.
Look out for copies all over Edinburgh or read the online version here.

Inside: Michael Legge, Ian Smith, Puddles Pity Party, Ben Norris, Angella Kwon, Ali McGregor, Moby Alpha, Stephen Tobolowsky, Barely Methodical Troupe, Elvis McGonagall, James Bran, Chris Dugdale, plus Festival news and lots of reviews.
It's the TW Podcast at the Edinburgh Festival. And a little bit later than advertised (host Chris had a show to perform, OK?) here comes the very latest edition featuring Neil Henry, Penny Ashton, 'Wendy Hoose', Mid-Brow and 'Jesus Camp: The Musical Comedy'.

Listen and subscribe to the TW Podcast here
Keith Farnan is at the Fringe with a child in tow for the first time this year. So here he is with a few pointers. For the children of Fringe performers forced to live in amongst all this madness for a month.

Check out Keith's ThreeWeeks column here
More awards for you now, and one of our favourites amongst the long line of Festival gongs. The Total Theatre Awards have been celebrating the 'total theatre experience' at the Fringe almost as long as we've been covering it, And today they announced the shortlists for their 2015 programme.
There are five categories this year: physical and visual theatre; innovation, experimentation and playing with form; emerging; circus; and, for the first time, a standalone prize for dance.

That new final category is being presented in association with London venue The Place, and its Director of Theatre & Artist Development explained to ThreeWeeks earlier today: "There are lots of great, bold dance shows in the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and thousands of people there to see them. There are shows that deserve to be talked about and, in joining forces with Total Theatre to sponsor this new award, The Place is hoping to fuel the conversation amongst the audience and the critics about what makes a unforgettable piece of dance performance".

So, let's get that conversation started. Here are this year's Total Theatre Award shortlists, chosen from no less than 522 eligible shows. Overall winners will be announced on 28 Aug.

Shows By An Emerging Company/Artist
Angry (The Pub Corner Poets), Sweet Grassmarket.
The Beanfield (Breach), theSpace on the Mile.
The Downhill Journey Of Little Tommy (Theater aan Zee and Richard Jordan Productions), Summerhall.
Jack Rooke: Good Grief (Jack Rooke), Underbelly.
Just A Few Words (StammerMouth), Clouds And Soil.

Physical / Visual Theatre
4×4 Ephemeral Architectures (Gandini Juggling), Assembly George Square Theatre.
Antiwords (Spitfire Company in association with Aurora Nova), Summerhall.
Douglas (Robbie Synge), Zoo.
Grandad And Me (The Letter J), Summerhall.
Oog (Al Seed), Dance Base.
Underneath (Fishamble: The New Play Company) Dance Base.

Innovation, Experimentation & Playing With Form
Can I Start Again Please (Sue MacLaine and Nadia Nadarajah), Summerhall.
Le Gateau Chocolat: Black (Assembly Festival, Soho Theatre and nitroBEAT), Assembly.
The Gideon & Hubcap Show (Groundswell Theatricals / Something For The Weekend), Underbelly.
Jamie Wood – O No! (Jamie Wood), Assembly.
Now Listen To Me Very Carefully (Bootworks), Pleasance.
Paradise Lost (Lies Unopened Beside Me) (The Place Presents: Lost Dog), Summerhall.
Portraits In Motion (Volker Gerling in association with Aurora Nova), Summerhall.
To Sleep To Dream (EarFilms), Summerhall.
Tomorrow (Vanishing Point, in co-production with Brighton Festival, Tramway, Cena Contemporanea), Traverse Theatre.
The Voice Thief (Catherine Wheels Theatre Company), Summerhall.

Total Theatre & The Place Award For Dance
Boys Who Like To Plays With Dolls (Tereza Ondrová and Peter Savel, ALT@RT),
Dance Base.
Correction (VerTeDance/Jirí Havelka/Clarinet Factory), Zoo.
Give Me A Reason To Live (Claire Cunningham), Dance Base.
Idiot-Syncrasy (The Place presents: Igor and Moreno) Summerhall.
Vertical Influences (Le Patin Libre), Assembly.

Total Theatre & Jacksons Lane Award For Circus

B-Orders (Palestinian Circus Company in association with Aurora Nova), Underbelly.
Elephant in the Room (Underbelly Productions and Cirque Le Roux), Underbelly.
La Meute (The Wolf Pack) (Underbelly Productions and La Meute), Underbelly.
Ringside (Ellie Dubios), Summerhall.
Smoke and Mirrors (theRICOCHETproject), Assembly.

The Jabberwocky (UCLU Runaground)
'The Jabberwocky' is a brillig modern re-imagining of Carroll's beloved nonsense poem, gently nudging at issues of single parenthood and bereavement. A truly dreamy design, all bunting and origami birds, with the ingenious shadow puppetry projections making things crisp and cinematic. Under fives were CBeebies-charmed from the start, while parents were humoured with some metatextual jokes ("We can't tell you what happens next!" chant the trash trolls, "That would ruin the narrative structure!"). Elements of the macabre, namely the haunting of our hero by a puppet projection of himself, had more echoes of 'Coraline' than 'Alice', maybe? But I found myself tensing as the eponymous beast finally appeared, in all its papier mâché glory, complete with some whiffling and burbling vocal pyrotechnics.
Zoo, until 22 Aug.
tw rating 4/5 | [Sarah Murphy]


Good Kids (Gridlock)
Good kids Tom Dowling and Kieran Ahern bring a colossal amount of childlike energy to this sketch show, about 90s nostalgia and "being nice". There's no system 'Good Kids' is trying to screw- fizzy pop replaces cider, and a ten minute sketch features father Donald accidentally throwing his watery spaghetti in the bin. It's cleverly scripted and often witty, yet sometimes marred by weak delivery. Ahern, a natural performer, is the strongest of the pair, as Dowling feels slightly miscast, and the heartfelt 90s Brummie world of 'Good Kids' never manages to entirely convince. Yet it's still heart-warming, if imperfect. The duo show bags of potential, even if their current show is in need of some minor repair.
Just The Tonic at the Mash House, until 23 Aug.
tw rating 3/5 | [Robert Stevens]

Marny Godden: Flap 'Em On The Gate (Marny Godden)
In her solo show, Marny Godden (one third of sketch group the Grandees) introduces us to six highly individual, highly weird characters. Featuring such eccentric personalities as Mick, a kipper-loving wheeler-dealer; Josie with her cat Drusilla and Little Wula, a hirsute 15-year-old boy, Godden's style is hilarious nonsense, reminiscent of 'The Mighty Boosh'. She quickly won the audience over with her quirky charm, embracing the shouts of a keen young boy in the front row – he soon became as much of a personality as one of her characters. Most of all, Godden clearly has a lot of fun playing each of her unpredictable personae, drawing the audience into her funny, peculiar world.
Underbelly, until 30 Aug.
tw rating 3/5 | [Daisy Malt]

Nick Hall: Dodekahedron (Milwaukee People's Theatre Academy)
Nick Hall begins his debut character comedy strongly, with a brilliant parody of a party political broadcast that promises a quick, intelligent show to follow. From there Hall goes on to sketches of various professions; from commercials and TV watchdogs, easily understood and moderately funny, to a skit about animation that was lost on almost the entire audience. I would also issue a word of warning: the show is listed as PG, but the final minutes saw Hall, playing a Halford's employee, portray something that was not only inappropriate for younger audience members - one of whom had to cover her eyes – but also horribly awkward for the rest of us.
Underbelly George Square, until 31 Aug.
tw rating 3/5 | [Stephanie Gray]

Papa CJ: Naked (Papa CJ/Laughing Horse Free Festival)
Papa CJ's autobiographical show is built on humour and honesty. He lays his life bare, giving the audience an insight into his childhood in India, his love life, his family and his heartbreaks. Combining satire with seriousness, he makes intentionally abrupt shifts between comedy and tales of hardship. There were moments I was waiting for a punchline when it suddenly hit me that there wouldn't be one. It appears that comedy has been a saviour for Papa CJ, a platform to help him find the positives in the struggles he's faced. It's an unusual style that works surprisingly well, and had the audience engrossed. He might make you cry, but he will definitely make you laugh.
Laughing Horse @ Espionage, until 23 Aug.
tw rating 3/5 | [Daisy Malt]

Rhys James: Remains (Live Nation in association with Glorious Management)
It's not easy being young, white, male and comfortably middle-class. Well it is, but not if you aspire to artistic greatness which, according to Rhys James, requires you to endure some sort of hardship. Aware that he hasn't much of consequence to say (his main message here is "fuck Umbro"), James wants to fast-track himself to an artistic legacy by sorting out his last words and, moreover, delivering them here and now. His confident rapid-fire delivery mostly gets him past some weaker bits, not least when he steps over to his knowingly pretentious "poetry mic" and rips out a couple of lyrically dexterous efforts. He's good and clever and he will get better, whether or not some useful misfortune befalls him.
Pleasance Courtyard, until 30 Aug.
tw rating 3/5 | [Bruce Blacklaw]

Sajeela Kershi: Shallow Halal (Invisible Women – Sajeela Kershi/Free Festival)
Sajeela Kershi's stand-up is an entertaining mixture of storytelling and supposition. The stories include tales from her childhood, and her suppositions are mostly based on life lessons. She also describes herself as sitting firmly on the "faith fence", happy to pick and choose lessons from all religions. Kershi's performance is warm and inviting, as she creates a positive relationship with her audience very quickly. Stories which should be harrowing (one of them concerns her uncle being abducted by the Taliban) are told with warmth and humour. Her interactions with the audience turn the show into an interesting conversation, fuelling her enthusiasm and keeping us fully engaged. This is a thought-provoking and heart-warming show about family, religion and maintaining a positive outlook.
Laughing Horse @ The Newsroom, until 30 Aug.
tw rating 4/5 | [Vicki Baron]


Blind Man's Song (Theatre Re)
An imagination unlatched, ever flowing, and unrestricted. A blind musician lets his creative power take over him and keep him company. These mime artists explore his inner needs, desires and ambitions, as his music stops, starts, and interprets the world they encompass. An absolutely entrancing creation, time accelerates as we delve into this musician's mind. You'll find yourself feeling the joy, sadness and confusion that is generated and mimed out of thin air, and observe it as it drifts and changes as quickly and as easily as the musician's melodies. Stunning original music, minimalistic staging, crisply performed - this piece could not be more beautiful, and will stay with me a while yet.
Pleasance Dome, until 30 Aug.
tw rating 5/5 [Zita Campbell]

Da-Da-Darling (Impermanence Dance Theatre)
There's a lot of experimental dance at the Fringe, but not all of it is exactly brilliant. 'Da-Da-Darling' achieves everything lesser productions hope for: I had no idea what was happening next, but I was on the edge of my seat the whole time. This was largely due to the material's originality. That's not a word to throw around lightly, but this is the real deal: surprising, disturbing, exciting, perplexing. Impermanence's inspiration is a collage novel by Max Ernst, and this prompted the striking images of twisted burlesque and Victorian Gothic. As well as unusual, the choreography is also precise and ambitious, while the costuming and soundtrack are both killer. This is what dance should be.
Zoo, until 31 Aug.
tw rating 5/5 | [Lucy Diver]

Vertical Influences (Le Patin Lebre)
Become entranced by the kinetic response of body movement, as it flows from one human being to another. In 'Vertical Influences', the ice skaters form patterns in waves of progression and rebellion, until something entirely new is shaped. Powerful, fun, serious and exciting, these performers will captivate you with their skills, lure you with their ambiguous plot and surprise you with their street style. There aren't many shows that could get their audience to endure sitting on ice for longer than ten minutes, but Le Patin Lebre have people willingly, and excitedly, sitting there, awaiting the second act. Nobody minds, however, as it just means observing these performers defy gravity, and twist at the speed of light, on an even closer level.
Assembly at Murrayfield Ice Rink, until 29 Aug.
tw rating 5/5 [Zita Campbell]


MUSE (Sophie Jugé)
A muse is meant to be the inspiration for great art and beautiful things. But in 'MUSE', a musical about the real woman behind Christopher Isherwood's Sally Bowles, there's very little to be inspired by. Potentially interesting tales of German unrest, backstreet abortions and international travel are brushed over in about two lines, so we can hear yet another story about yet another affair with yet another unsuitable gentleman. The songs are all perfectly nice, but every moment appears so over-rehearsed that not a single breath feels spontaneous. The live band are a nice touch, but Sophie Jugé's clipped tones are grating and she gives no sense of the glamour and decadence of the cabaret singer, made famous by Liza Minnelli in 'Cabaret'. 'MUSE' certainly didn't inspire me.
SpaceTriplex, until 29 Aug.
tw rating 2/5 | [Gemma Scott]

Witches (Music Theatre Warwick)
A new musical written, composed and performed by Warwick University students, 'Witches' is a professional, well constructed piece. It's spellbinding to watch - think 'Sabrina the Teenage Witch' meets 'Wicked'. We see modern witch Leah look back at her ancestors' suffering during the witch trials, as she starts discovering the secrets of the past. The talented company showcase their singing and dancing ability through skilful choreography and complex harmonies. I felt the ensemble scenes and the staging worked fantastically well, though the framing narrative was not as engaging and felt a bit repetitive. Though the acting may not have reached the high standards of the singing and dancing, all was forgiven due to the overall magical pizazz.
C, until 22 Aug.
tw rating, 4/5 | [Stephanie Withers]


Poetry Can F*ck Off (Brainfruit)
"Poetry makes nothing happen," said W H Auden. What happened here: tears were streaming down my face, my feet would not stop tapping, and I was whispering along, wanting to be chanting. Spellbindingly performed with live music, this show opens with Auden's provocative statement and proceeds to demolish it, by travelling through poetry's intersection with politics. Ranging widely in time and space, from Tahrir Square to Fukushima to Mesopotamia, this is not canonical school stuff – it's electrifying and erudite, passionate and political. This deserves to be sold out, packed out, standing room only. I'm going again, taking everyone who cares about anything. In my book, if you're not going to 'Poetry Can F*ck Off', you can fuck off.
Summerhall, until 22 Aug.
tw rating 5/5 | [Lucy Diver]


Fiction (Fuel, David Rosenberg and Glen Neath)
I sat there, immersed in the claustrophobic blackness, leaning to the right because I didn't want the lips whispering over my shoulder to touch my ear. Ridiculously, the voice was coming through headphones but it was so perfect that I shied away from the intimacy. This collaborative, experiential piece was written as an exploration of incoherent dreamscapes - but whose dream? Surreally, it often felt that I was being dreamt, that I was an imagining of the voice's dream rather than the voice being an imagining of mine. 'Fiction' is wonderfully innovative as a piece of theatre - at times it felt a little like those roller coaster simulators circa 2007, but it was simultaneously thought-provoking and curiously psychologically unsettling.
Pleasance Dome, until 30 Aug.
tw rating 4/5 | [Patrick Galbraith]

The Glorious Damnation Of Eddie Small (Zut Alors Theatre)
The spirit of blues legend Robert Johnson is resurrected in this inspired and original work by Zut Alors Theatre Company, a collaboration of young, talented graduates. This bluegrass musical, about stardom and the lengths we'll go to get it, holds great potential. However, I later found out that it's midway through a rewrite and alterations to the script are paramount. The characters come across as one-dimensional, and therefore the narrative turning points fail to engage us. This consequently leads to distaste for the protagonist, and a lack of empathy towards his decisions. Nonetheless, the cast's energy is superb - they are obviously talented, and have exceptional performance ability. I just want to understand their characters more.
Bedlam Theatre, until 16 Aug.
tw rating 3/5 | [Zita Campbell]

I'm Not Here Right Now (Dancing Brick and Soho Theatre)
Testing your faith in reality, this play questions the nature of truth. If one individual sees something that falls outside of the objective reality that we all unquestionably trust, who will believe them? Will they just be seen as "crazy"? This play explores important themes - the subjective nature of reality, and the human instinct of believing what everyone else regards as true. Although performed beautifully by Valentina Ceschi, the play felt longer than it needed to be, as it takes a long time to build up to the point of the story. Nonetheless, this play has a satisfying storyline with an exceptional finish, and the performances from both Ceschi, and her narrator, play out stunningly.
Roundabout @ Summerhall, until 30 Aug.
tw rating 4/5 | [Zita Campbell]

The King Of Monte Cristo (Watch This)
Birmingham University's 'The King of Monte Cristo' is a meta-theatrical wonder, a hilarious play about putting on a play. An award-winning writer, played by Tom Lofkin, and a melodramatic director, Phoebe Creswell, have teamed up. Unexpectedly, the writer turns up to the first rehearsal with a completely new script - "mostly about symbiosis". But symbiosis proves impossible, as the narcissism of all involved causes everything to descend into farcical disaster. Bradley Carpenter, the first actor - a man with three Coronation Street credits – stands out as a pretentious thespian, and in a particularly funny moment, 'Tech Guy' speaks from the blackness, the lone voice of reason. 'The King of Monte Cristo' is superb satire, student theatre at its best.
theSpace on the Mile, until 29 Aug.
tw rating 4/5 | [Patrick Galbraith]

Mabinogion (BEDS)
I don't enjoy slagging off student companies. They're trying hard, but they have to be judged by the same standards as other Fringe shows. And other shows are (often) just... better. 'Mabinogion', a collection of ancient Welsh stories, has been adapted in this stilted, meandering production. The stories, presumably once grand and enthralling, are let down by poor acting. There were stifled giggles (in all the wrong places) from the audience as we heard tales of valour, of sorceresses being outwitted and romances blossoming. The actor playing Gwydion had at least some stage presence, and I groaned inwardly every time he left the stage. With some polish this could be a passable kids' show, but right now it's a little short of epic.
theSpace @ Surgeons Hall, until 22 Aug.
tw rating 1/5 [Gemma Scott]

Molly (Squint And The Pleasance)
Molly has done some very bad things in her life. Both the hero and villain of our story, she is to appear before us, to explain how she ended up like this. In some sort of twisted TV show, reminiscent of Charlie Brooker's 'Black Mirror', she must replay all the horrible, hurtful and hateful moments of her life. The production values are high in this play - everything glossy, colour-coordinated and brightly lit. The acting is unquestionably high quality too, despite the irritating, high-pitched, actors-playing-small-children moments at the start. As the clock counts down and the play surges towards its unavoidable, tragic ending, we're left questioning who is responsible: can you blame a bad childhood, or are some people just born that way?
Pleasance Courtyard, until 30 Aug.
tw rating 4/5 | [Gemma Scott]

One Above (PALP)
In a bizarre, interview-type situation we are introduced to Person A, Person B and Person C, three persons who really want to be the best. Depicting their every opportunity to try and outdo one another, this show offers 45 minutes of one-upmanship and competitive drive. It's simply staged, the characters are the only thing in the small space. A comment on how the world we inhabit forces us to adopt a "me against them" attitude, this piece has compelling glimpses but ultimately leaves too much to the imagination. The acting is strong and really pulls the piece through, but ultimately 'One Above' feels like a play that has yet to really find its feet.
theSpace @ Jury's Inn, until 29 Aug.
tw rating 2/5 | [Bethan Highgate-Betts]

One For My Baby (Now You Know Theatre Company)
Frank Sinatra's tempestuous marriage to Ava Gardner is the subject of Anthony Orme's writing and directing debut. The topic is handled with respect and tenderness, and Orme's work shows great promise for future endeavours. The audience sees Sinatra stumble into a bar and, through flashbacks, explain to the bartender how his marriage fell apart. The flashbacks are exquisitely performed by Matt Concannon and Holly Sumpton, but the storyline itself could afford to be developed. The cast sing songs on the "jukebox" – in reality Colm Molloy and Monika Valkunaite on the piano and saxophone respectively – including Billie Holiday's classic 'Can't Help Lovin' Dat Man'. The only thing missing from this show is the velvet voice of Sinatra himself.
theSpace on the Mile, until 29 Aug.
tw rating 4/5 | [Vicki Baron]

Paradise: Lost (3Bugs Fringe Theatre)
Adam and Evelyn are trying their best to do exactly what 'He' tells them. But things are not as they seem here, as John Milton's classic is unexpectedly reimagined as a dystopian fantasy, where being good is compulsory and there's always someone watching. Is Eden really the paradise it's made out to be? The narrative can be confusing, but the five actors are compelling, as the facade begins to crack and Evelyn is faced with a terrifying choice. Though the ending is a little unsatisfying, the claustrophobia of the couple's bedroom leads to a sense of taught, psychological horror. 3Bugs consistently bring engaging, exciting theatre to the Fringe, and it seems that this year is no different.
theSpace on Niddry Street, until 29 Aug.
tw rating 3/5 | [Gemma Scott]

© ThreeWeeks is published by UnLimited Media

ThreeWeeks, UnLimited Media, Kemp House, 152 City Road, London EC1V 2NX.
t: 0131 516 8842 |