Lots of real life, and a little Westlife-themed fan fiction, fill Sofie Hagen's first full hour show at the Fringe, and what a gem of a show it really is. Which is just as well, given a venue mix-up put her in a space with 500 rather than the expected 70 seats. Harking from Denmark, living in London, and winning in Edinburgh, Sofie put down the 'Bubblewrap' and agreed to answer all our questions.

ThreeWeeks' Chris Cooke chats to Sofie about her show here
Three recommended shows for Thursday at the Edinburgh Festival 2015.


A top tip this one. Say we: "Manically changing dialogues and characters, passionate, engaged, and angry; exploring multiple view points, 'Confirmation' takes a stark look at the way in which we believe. Exceptional, thought provoking theatre".
Summerhall, until 29 Aug.

Sofie Hagen: Bubblewrap
Our Week Three cover star's show is definitely recommended, and not just because she's included in the best newcomer shortlist in this year's Edinburgh Comedy Awards. Though that too. Go get Bubblewrapped (and check the bottom of our interview for latest listings, because it's a little complicated).
Liquid Room Annexe & George Next Door, until 30 Aug.

If you didn't catch these guys last year, make sure you do so this Fringe. "I must confess that I enjoyed this imaginative, original show so much that I am planning to see it again" said our reviewer. So you might have to fight her for a ticket. And don't forget to read our interview with the guys behind the show.
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: Sofie Hagen, Luke Wright, Ally Houston, Henry Maynard, Eddie Nixon and Christina Elliot from The Place, Emma Hall, Keith Farnan, Ria Lina Chris Betts, The Kinsey Sicksplus Festival news and lots of reviews.
It's the TW Podcast at the Edinburgh Festival. This week we chat to Lisa Gornick about her live drawing show combining theatre, storytelling and visual art, and to Gary Quinn about his impactful play 'The Last Kill'. Plus we get a snippet of immersive theatre production 'To Sleep To Dream', and a poem and a rap from the Zoo Venues show 'Easy For You To Say'.

Listen and subscribe to the TW Podcast here
But given the costs and the risks, it's not surprising that in recent years we've seen an increasing number of Fringe performers taking to online funding platforms like Kickstarter in the spring, to try and raise some cash to help pay production costs, and lessen the potential losses, come August. Done right this is a great way to enable supporters and fans to contribute, to get people talking about your show early on, and to raise some all important funds. Though the fund-raising campaign in itself needs work, and if it fails, it can have a negative impact on team morale just as the Festival is zooming into view.

Check out ThreeWeeks co-Editor Chris Cooke's feature on crowd-sourcing the Fringe here
So here you go then, have some Edinburgh Fringe-style comedy award shortlists to digest, dissect, debate, discuss, dismiss or delete, it's up to you really.

There are two sets to enjoy today. And once you've finished with this lot, I sense a more theatrical awards round up will be appearing in tomorrow's ThreeWeeks Daily, because it's all awards from here.

Foster's Edinburgh Comedy Awards Shortlists

Best Comedy Show
James Acaster: Represent
Joseph Morpurgo: Soothing Sounds for Baby
Kieran Hodgson: Lance
Nish Kumar: Long Word... Long Word... Blah Blah Blah...I'm So clever
Sam Simmons: Spaghetti for Breakfast
Sarah Kendall: A Day in October
Seymour Mace Niche as F*ck!
Trygve Wakenshaw: Nautilus

Best Newcomer
Adam Hess: Salmon
Daphne Do Edinburgh
Larry Dean: Out Now!
Sofie Hagen: Bubblewrap
The Story Beast
Tom Ballard: Taxis & Rainbows & Hatred
Tom Parry: Yellow T-shirt

The Malcolm Hardee Awards Shortlists

The Malcolm Hardee Award For Comic Originality
Michael Brunstrom
Richard Gadd
The Story Beast
Mr Twonkey

The Malcolm Hardee Cunning Stunt Award
Miss Behave for cardboard hashtag ads around town
Matt Roper for hacking critic Kate Copstick's Facebook account and
Abigoliah Schamaun for putting fake review stars on her posters)

The 'Act Most Likely To Make A Million Quid' Award
Sarah Callaghan
Phil Ellis
Laurence Owen
Al Porter

Ivy Paige: Filthy Rich (Bound & Gagged)
If you want to live the glamorous, showbiz lifestyle of burlesque queen Ivy Paige, her Filthy Rich programme is taking applications, and all you have to do is enjoy a boisterous hour of cabaret, comedy and music. Sound good? It is! Singing, dancing and firing out sharp one-liners with practised ease, Ivy Paige gives great burlesque, and last night's audience had a tremendous time in her company. If you've seen her before there's nothing particularly new, but Ivy Paige keeps the energy high and the jokes bawdy, and her singing voice is worth the price of admission by itself. Sit down the front row, if you dare, and you may be in for some extra special attention.
Underbelly Cowgate, until 30 Aug.
tw rating 4/5 | [Jon Stapley]


Harriet Kemsley: Puppy Fat (Live Nation)
There are some clever lines sprinkled throughout Kemsley's debut hour, in which she lists her worries and the amusing events she has encountered. There is a flavour of innocence to her delivery, and she comes across as very likeable, especially when the show takes a shocking turn towards the final third. That said, the show itself doesn't feel consistent, and several segments end abruptly with the most tentative of links to move the show along. This can often be the case with debut hours, though, and her audience interaction was suitable when called upon. Kemsley is a fresh voice that shows promise, and it will be interesting to see how she develops this for her next hour.
Pleasance Courtyard, until 31 Aug.
tw rating 3/5 | [Ben Shannon]

Fairy Tale Theatre: 18 & Over (J Michael Feldman & Lindsey Bowden)
In this salacious story session for adults, the fairytales we were told as children are adapted into narratives such as 'The Tale Of The Bipolar Bear and the Co-Dependent Eskimo', all of which are outrageous and glorious in equal measure. The cast are a whirlwind of energy, speeding us through the stories using a combination of costume and puppetry, while characters we know and love, such as Cinderella and her Fairy Godmother, are given a delightfully silly madcap makeover. There are some important ideas included - about how we live as adults – but first and foremost 'Fairy Tale Theatre: 18 & Over' is a constantly hilarious and ludicrous experience.
Assembly George Square Studios, until 30 Aug.
tw rating 5/5 | [Vicki Baron]

Liam Williams: Bonfire Night (The Invisible Dot)
With a number of award nominations from recent years under his belt, Liam Williams returns bearing a set based around the loose theme of bonfire night. His drawn out explanation for this theme makes for a memorable routine in which he details his semi-fictional interaction with the fringe office with regard to the name of his show. The creation of such scenes is a technique which Williams calls upon several times during the hour to great effect. He'll move between whimsy and hard-hitting satire with relative ease, keeping the room unsure of what to expect next. It's his first night in a bigger room than the one he's been performing in for the previous 15 dates; he has adapted quickly, and there are some genuine belly laughs from surprising subjects. A unique voice amongst many at the Fringe.
Laughing Horse @ The Free Sisters, until 30 Aug.
tw rating 4/5 | [Ben Shannon]

Sofie Hagen: Bubblewrap (Sofie Hagen / PBH's Free Fringe)
'Bubblewrap' is a sparkling gem in the free fringe crown this year. Hagen entertains a very full venue with a very laid-back delivery; not an easy feat, even for a seasoned performer, so it's particularly impressive that this is her debut hour. It's a consistent and well put together show, with the feel-good message of overcoming the negative body image pushed upon young people. She's fiercely competitive, but at no point does this cross the line into arrogance during her material, which moves from theft to car chases and of course meeting her childhood idols. The extracts from her self-penned Westlife fan fiction are well timed, the callbacks aren't crow-barred in, and ultimately it's an enjoyable hour with a winner.
Liquid Room Annexe, until 30 Aug.
tw rating 5/5 | [Ben Shannon]

Lucy Frederick – In The Wild (Vivienne Smith Management)
The staff of the Pleasance Dome (where the Gilded Balloon Study is confusingly located) assured people if they sat at the front they wouldn't get picked on. They were lying. Luckily, Lucy Frederick is a delightfully warm and friendly presence, and even those who drew her repeated attention enjoyed a convivial hour. Frederick's show this year is all about animals – from dogs to dolphins – and her breakneck delivery allows her to stuff it full of anecdotes, self-deprecation, and railing against the anthropomorphisation of pets. The set took a while to warm up, and I could have done with fewer jokes that used terms like 'retarded' and 'special needs', but Frederick's likeable stage presence carries it through the rockier moments.
Gilded Balloon, until 30 Aug.
tw rating 3/5 | [Jon Stapley]

Markus Birdman – Grimm Realities (Markus Birdman / PBH's Free Fringe)
Buying his ten-year-old daughter her first bra was a traumatic experience for Markus Birdman, but at least he got a good show out of it. A fearsomely talented illustrator, he uses a projector to weave two fairy tales, Cinderella and Red Riding Hood, into his own experiences of fatherhood. His versions of the tales revel in the darker elements airbrushed out by sanitised adaptations – I'd buy a book of them. His point that we should engage with children about adult themes like love and sex is a good one, reinforced by the Grimm tales once used for exactly that. We didn't need some lazy gender-based jokes ("Women can't park, am I right?" etc.), but this show is exquisitely put together.
Canon's Gait, until 30 Aug.
tw rating 4/5 | [Jon Stapley]

Michael J Dolan: Miserable Guts
Michael J Dolan's first and most impressive move is to get the audience onside by telling them that the show is going badly; within the first few minutes of his performance we are told that the opening was terrible, that the show is dreadful, and that he is not sure why we are there at all. Far from being put off, the audience are hooked. Dolan's melancholy observations about his marriage, the nature of the universe and rich children are all delivered with irrefutable logic and peculiar charm. His combination of intensity and cheekiness will remind you of Dylan Moran and Mark Watson simultaneously, which should not work as a combination, but definitely does.
The Stand Comedy Club 3 & 4, until 30 Aug.
tw rating 4/5 | [Vicki Baron]

Leggoland (Colin Leggo / Free Festival)
Having a leg amputated has been good for Colin Leggo; for one thing, he can wear shoes again. Leggo is wonderfully silly, engaging with his audience as if he were chatting with friends. Armed with PowerPoint and an arsenal of puns, he takes us on a humorous ten-year journey through his life before and after his below-the-knee amputation, a consequence of undiagnosed Type 1 diabetes. Dropping in tales from his childhood, Leggo isn't afraid of poking fun at himself, or of seeing the positive side to having a plastic foot. Bursting with optimism and character, this is a pleasantly uplifting and brilliantly entertaining show that proves you really can make the best from whatever life throws at you.
Laughing Horse @ The Blind Poet, until 30 Aug.
tw rating 3/5 | [Daisy Malt]

Pajama Men: 2 Man 3 Musketeers (Assembly Festival in association with Soho Theatre)
If the comedy doesn't work out, Shenoah Allen and Mark Chavez could easily fall back on careers as foley artists. Their peerless talent for vocal sound effects is put to grotesque use in their new show, a very loose adaptation of 'The Three Musketeers'. Sketches and silliness abound as the musketeers become embroiled in a nefarious plot by the corpulent Cardinal Richelieu, with the Pajama Men frenetically multi-role-ing, improvising, and having the time of their lives. They're aware that their show is not for everyone: in the best running gag they pose as bewildered audience members who are contemplating walking out. I wouldn't blame anyone for describing this as gross and bewildering – it is. But still I cried with laughter.
Assembly Roxy, until 30 Aug.
tw rating 4/5 | [Jon Stapley]


Bromance (Underbelly Productions by arrangement with DREAM present Barely Methodical Troupe)
Fusing physical theatre and contemporary circus, Bromance is a beguiling portrayal of friendship and masculinity. Beginning with a handshake, the show builds into a simple yet exquisite narrative that actually gave me goose bumps. Very few words are used as Beren D'Amico, Charlie Wheeler and Louis Gift use their bodies and cheeky personalities to develop the story, alongside very effectively selected music. Exploring trust, support and camaraderie, the display is beautifully choreographed, mixing in elements of anticipation and plenty of humour. It could only really end with a standing ovation, which the boys fully deserved for their expert performance. I must confess that I enjoyed this imaginative, original show so much that I am planning to see it again.
Underbelly's Circus Hub on The Meadows, until 29 Aug.
tw rating 5/5 | [Daisy Malt]


Japan Marvelous Drummers (NPO Kawasuji Japan Marvelous)
The description "traditional instruments of Japan" doesn't quite convey the explosion of raw power and noise that is 'Japan Marvelous Drummers'. So be prepared: this show is big, loud, and utterly wonderful. With astounding skill and stamina, eight musicians work their way through not only drums of all kinds but also Koto harps, flutes and clarinets, presenting everything with charming good humour. The feats of strength are staggering – watching a man struggle to hold up a drum the size of a tumble dryer while two musclebound drummers beat it mercilessly is an image that will stay with you. The drummers deserve to pack out the George Square Theatre before the end of their run, and I sincerely hope they do.
Assembly George Square Theatre, until 30 Aug.
tw rating 5/5 | [Jon Stapley]


Am I Dead Yet? (Unlimited Theatre)
We are all going to die. That we can be certain of. Chris Thorpe and Jon Spooner take a late night look at mortality and the process of dying in Unlimited Theatre's new show 'Am I Dead Yet?', telling three stories over the course of the hour; of a suicide, of a little girl playing on the ice, and two men in the future waiting to die. A lesson in first aid is thrown in too, as the pair bring in the Front of House Manager from the Traverse Theatre for a quick lesson in CPR. The process of dying is an uncomfortable subject for an audience, but one that is handled very well here. Funny, heart-warming and a little bit silly.
Traverse Theatre, until 30 Aug.
tw rating 4/5 | [Bethan Highgate-Betts]

887 (Ex Machina / Robert Lepage)
At the beginning of '887', Robert Lepage mentions the memory palace, a mnemonic device that involves visualising a complex place and assigning information to each room. This autobiographical solo show makes the memory palace literal: Lepage, a Canadian known for his technical wizardry, shares the stage with a gorgeously intricate reconstruction of his family's apartment building in Quebec City in the '60s. At the time, French-speaking separatists were trying to establish a separate state, and Lepage intertwines historical anecdotes with stories from his youth and musings on the slipperiness of memory. It's an overstuffed two hours - Lepage hangs the show on his attempts to memorise Michèle Lalonde's 'Speak White,' a poem resisting Anglophone hegemony - but still a visual marvel, down to the scale-model crown molding and glittering Christmas tree.
Edinburgh International Conference Centre, until 23 Aug.
tw rating 4/5 | [Rebecca Jacobson]

Stuart Bowden: Wilting In Reverse (Stuart Bowden)
It is the year 2084, and Stuart Bowden is dead. Fear not though, because a lycra-clad man who has not learnt his lines is here to tell us the story of the departed Bowden, and his separation from someone he loved on a distant terraformed planet (apparently we work out that faster-than-light travel thing eventually). A slice of wonderfully strange conceptual narrative comedy, Bowden's show is impressively unafraid to plumb some serious emotional depths even while telling stories about alien caravans. Providing his own musical accompaniment with a judiciously applied loop pedal, Bowden weaves the audience into his tale until about a third of it is involved in the ridiculous but touching climax. A courageous and lyrical hour of joy.
Underbelly Cowgate, until 30 Aug.
tw rating 5/5 | [Jon Stapley]

The Christians (Gate Theatre)
Set in an American megachurch - the sort of place with a parking lot so massive you could get lost in it - Lucas Hnath's new play unfolds as a series of sermons and theological debates. As it opens, pastor Paul (the engaging William Gaminara) announces the church is newly debt-free. But he accompanies this exciting news with a bombshell: Hell doesn't exist, at least not as a fire-and-brimstone dungeon ruled over by a horned devil. This unleashes a crisis of both faith and community among his congregants – this production features a 24-member choir in purple robes – who start to decamp to a splinter church. It's a smart and solid play, if sterile at times.
Traverse Theatre, until 31 Aug.
tw rating 3/5 | [Rebecca Jacobson]

Confessional by Tennessee Williams (Tramp)
This is Tennessee Williams – but not as you know him. 'Confessional' is a rarely performed first draft, and the script is fascinating: moments of classic Williams despair and lyricism, but there are also rough points, sudden shifts. For fans, this is a great chance to see the playwright's experimental work, and his rough version still outstrips many polished plays. It could be made clearer, perhaps with some staging tweaks, what is internal monologue and what is dialogue. The performances are all solid, but star of the show is Lizzie Stanton as the emotional but caring Leona. Her performance alone makes the piece worth seeing, but there's so much more: Williams' first openly gay character, on-stage handjobs, a fatherly bartender.
C cubed, until 31 Aug.
tw rating 4/5 | [Lucy Diver]

Fourth Monkey's Grimm Tales: Little Red Cap (Fourth Monkey)
Fourth Monkey have taken this well-known tale, about a sweet little girl on her way to Grandma's house, and interspersed it with a narrative about a young woman working in a care home. It's an intriguing concept, but when you also add in Little Red Cap's mother, popping pills and terrified of leaving the house, you're left with a show that's trying to fit too much in. Though the performances are assured, the menacing, white-faced chorus, ominously whispering the more portentous lines, feels a little dated, while the campy wolf is more panto than grown-up fairy tale. It is, however, suitably macabre, committing fully to the darker, more disturbing elements of the original. An ambitious project, no doubt, but maybe a little too ambitious.
theSpace on Niddry Street, until 29 Aug.
tw rating 3/5 | [Gemma Scott]

1972: The Future Of Sex (The Wardrobe Ensemble)
I never thought I'd find myself marvelling at the genius of a scene involving a space-hopper, but The Wardrobe Ensemble laid a minefield for all kinds of unexpected things, including Lady Chatterley and some extremely charismatic chairs. The writing sparkled: not an inch of redundant script, plus some moments of real poetry, made all the more poignant by being out of place within the snappy repartee. The dialogue incorporated stage directions, satirising the characters – and the very idea of characters – and scene changes – and plays. The story lines ran parallel like synchronised swimmers, with a potent sense of one collective, glitter-soaked, sexually-awkward voice emerging from the anarchy. The theatrical equivalent of popping candy: blissful, colourful, multi-sensory magic.
The Zoo, until 31 Aug.
tw rating 5/5 [Sarah Murphy]

Foxfinder (Master Of None)
The fox is to blame for society's ills, avows foxfinder William Bloor in this marvellous staging of Dawn King's fantastical parable. Bloor arrives at the farm of Sam and Judith Covey to root out potential infestation, representing the long arm of a government that's gone badly wrong. The dystopia is all off stage, its separation from the peaceful sanctuary of the farm emphasised by the electronic light of the foxfinder's tablet against the rustic walls. Exceptional performances, particularly Alexander Stutt as Bloor, keep the tension high as paranoia takes hold. It's not terribly subtle (the propaganda video is so obviously evil you wonder how it got past the government's PR department) but as events reach their shocking climax, you'll be gripped.
Bedlam Theatre, until 30 Aug.
tw rating 4/5 | [Jon Stapley]

The Solid Life Of Sugar Water (Graeae Theatre Company and Theatre Royal Plymouth)
This is a deeply affecting production, about a grieving young couple and the cracks that can grow in the silences. We see their relationship develop, from first meeting (he finds her deafness "exotic", she finds him "harmless") to trying to cope with a tragic loss. Genevieve Barr and Arthur Hughes are by turns tender and touching, distant and damaged. They mostly talk directly to the audience, allowing us to hear the things left unsaid between them. The play is also creatively surtitled, making it fully accessible to a D/deaf audience. Though I found the very graphic descriptions of sex a little too much for my (unexpectedly prudish) tastes, this is nonetheless a profoundly moving play.
Pleasance Dome, until 30 Aug.
tw rating 4/5 | [Gemma Scott]

A Very British Childhood (Pelican's Briefs)
It's summer in suburban sixties Britain and the sun shines relentlessly through the bay window of 37 Willow Way. But when a child goes missing, dark truths emerge and the Ladybird book facade crumbles. Pelican's Briefs production of Sarah May's period piece often feels a little like a school play, but a remarkably good one. William Castle and Megan Fudge both give spectacularly eerie performances, and Carlos Sandin is unsettling as the commuting father who can't explain why he was in the woods that day. Whilst some of the other performances feel a little vacuous, the cast succeed, collectively, in creating a dark, claustrophobic atmosphere, reminding us that there's menace in the familiar.
Pleasance Dome, until 30 Aug.
tw rating 3/5 | [Patrick Galbraith]

The Year Of The Hare (Ryhmäteatteri)
Where to start? This is certainly one of the weirder plays at this year's Fringe. A man, tired of his depressing life, drives into the Finnish countryside to get away from it all. He meets Hare, a karaoke-singing, vodka-loving manic pixie dream girl in animal form, and so begins a bizarre journey. They meet a string of surreal characters, including a Hunter S. Thomspson-inspired vet, a willing hostage and dodgy-dealing crow. It's filled with music, drugs, and lost days (weeks? months?) Though the first half of the play is absurdly, joyfully hilarious, the second half suffers slightly from a more serious tone and a heavy-handed message about climate change. 'The Year Of The Hare' is hard to describe, but even harder to forget.
Pleasance Dome, until 31 Aug.
tw rating 4/5 | [Gemma Scott]

Light Boxes (Grid Iron)
Entering 'Light Boxes' is like falling into a children's book. Wood chips cover the floor, silver balloons float overhead and the air smells of mint. The sound design - folksy strings, haunting vocals, electronic effects - is gorgeous. Scottish company Grid Iron have been creating immersive theatre for 20 years, and it shows. But the story, based on Shane Jones' 2010 novel, is a narrative morass. It's about a father, mother and daughter trapped in a perpetual February: the cold never ends, all flight has been banned, and children keep disappearing. As resistance mounts, 'Light Boxes' recalls Caryl Churchill's 'Far Away', another dystopian tale about nature and war. But the stakes never reach real heights here, and the closing sombreness feels unearned.
Summerhall, until 30 Aug.
tw rating 3/5 | [Rebecca Jacobson]

Pramkicker (Old Trunk)
We first meet sisters Susie and Jude in an anger management session, court-ordered after Jude kicked the eponymous pram. As this spiky, lively, foul-mouthed play unfolds we learn what led to the pivotal pram-kick, exploring themes of womanhood, anger, and the question of having children. It pins much on its two actors – if Sadie Hasler and Sarah Mayhew didn't entirely convince as sisters then nothing else would work. Luckily, despite looking nothing alike, they have such easy, genuine chemistry that you accept them without question. Hasler in particular (who also wrote the play) is a very natural actor who takes her time with Susie, starting out as deadpan comic relief but gradually revealing more and more. This is a mid-afternoon gem.
Assembly George Square Studios, until 31 Aug.
tw rating 4/5 | [Jon Stapley]

Heartbeats & Algorithms (Jenny Lee)
In our daily online habits, the amount of data about ourselves we blithely give to computer programs is staggering. One-woman show 'Heartbeats & Algorithms' questions what might happen if we gave ourselves completely to the programs' every detail. What might they learn? Writer Jenny Lee plays Banks, a talented programmer whose algorithm predicts her life down to minutiae, just as it starts to unravel. Those acquainted with Philip K. Dick or the series Black Mirror will be on familiar territory with this dark, subtle sci-fi. Standing with feet resolutely planted, Lee only has her voice to hold our attention, and her assured, melodious delivery handles the demanding script with dexterity. A fascinating show unafraid to explore challenging ideas.
Pleasance Courtyard, until 30 Aug.
tw rating 4/5 | [Jon Stapley]

Here Is The News From Over There (Over There Is The News From Here) – A Borderless Twitter Ballad Fresh From The Middle East
Share an experience of quality, late night, casual-yet political, and semi-improvisational storytelling. An evening filled with tweets and readings from artists in the Middle East, with every night bringing a different focus. Straight away it was acknowledged by the host, Abdelrahim Alawji, that "Tonight, we're talking about the Middle East...because you guys don't know much about the Middle East". The writer Sara Sharaawi and guest performers from The Letter Room were outstanding. There is something magical about witnessing an improvised collaboration. Sara passionately read a piece detailing her life in Cairo, whilst the musicians devised the music, and characters from her story. Cairo's essence was felt throughout the room, and the audience left with a feeling of shared, cultural enrichment.
Northern Stage @ Summerhall, until 30 Aug.
tw rating 4/5 [Zita Campbell]

The Rules – Sex, Lies And Serial Killers
What happens when you put three psychopaths in a room together? Nothing good – that's why Mel, Jay and Steven have devised 'The Rules'. Every once in a while they meet in secret to exchange stories and experiences, safe in the belief that these rules will protect them. You can be forgiven for expecting psychopaths to be difficult to relate to, but this play is crafted so expertly, the twists and turns revealed at such perfect moments, that you'll find yourself rooting for these completely believable, full characters along the way. It takes some skill to trivialise death in such a humorous fashion and still keep hold of emotion and meaning the way they do, and for that they should be commended.
theSpace on The Mile, until 29 Aug.
tw rating 4/5 | [Stephanie Gray]

Sex Rated G (Ines Wurth Presents)
In this comedy show, which looks at the ways we talk about sex, Lisa Verlo wants to get us all expressing ourselves more openly. It's an all-singing, all-dancing presentation, covering everything from repressed childhoods right up to 'the talk' with your own children. Educational at times and funny at others, this show uses quotes, Barbie dolls and anecdotes to explore sex, though it's a shame that the facts and figures are all based on American surveys. Verlo also shares her own sexual exploits, in a bid to lead the way for free speech. Slow in places, the musical outbursts don't always feel like they are naturally integrated with the sketches and presentation, giving the show a fragmented feel.
Gilded Balloon, until 30 Aug.
tw rating 3/5 | [Bethan Highgate-Betts]

Wilde Without The Boy (Cahoots Theatre Company)
Part denunciation, partly a love letter which can't help itself, this adaptation of 'De Profundis' is a thing of smoulder and pathos. I've always seen the role of Wilde as inextricable from Stephen Fry's 1997 portrayal, but not any more. Playing a heartbroken version of the literary dandy, Gerard Logan delivers epigrams, poeticisings and exquisitely-worded rants with a diction of velvet and thunder (a give-away sign he's also a Shakespearean player par excellence). The performance glistens with masterfully-controlled indignation - never angsty or enraged, though, that would be "unbeautiful". Logan is clearly in love with Wilde's words, and he'll make you fall in love too. "I must transform [everything] into a near-spiritual experience," writes Wilde in 'De Profundis', and so he must.
Assembly Hall, until 31 Aug.
tw rating 4/5 | [Sarah Murphy]

Portraits In Motion (Volker Gerling in association with Aurora Nova)
Volker Gerling calls himself a "flipbook filmmaker". Since 2003, the Berlin-based artist has been taking long walks, mostly in Germany, and photographing people; 36 shots in 12 seconds, on a loud and heavy Nikon F3. The black-and-white results, assembled into flipbooks, are a stunning twist on time-lapse photography. Sometimes he shoots solo portraits, at other times a mother and daughter or a trio of teenagers (wait 'til you see what happens there). For this show, Gerling stands before us with an unassuming but professorial air, telling stories and flipping through each book three times, images projected behind him. It's a quiet but deeply moving study - the face can adopt an astonishing range of expressions in 12 seconds - punctuated by warm and genuine humour.
Summerhall, until 30 Aug.
tw rating 4/5 | [Rebecca Jacobson]

Walking The Tightrope, The Tension Between Art And Politics (Offstage Theatre / Underbelly Productions)
WTR trod a delicate line by refusing to take a single standpoint on the artistic freedom debate, as demonstrated by its format: eight separate response-pieces. In a beautifully riled tirade, Julian Stolzenberg ties himself up in knots trying to make sense of an artistic world which can't escape politics, muddied by issues of corrupt funding, shadily-motivated censorship. He reaches boiling point before a conclusion. I can't praise the writers enough for managing to condense seething, of-the-moment controversies into clever, digestible drama, all whilst living through the realities. WTR is brutal, sometimes explicitly so - Neil LaBute's 'Exhibit A' is the obvious example here, a shock-tactic piece clearly intended to polarise audiences. Slick, razor-sharp, and simmering with righteous anger throughout.
Underbelly Topside, until 31 Aug.
tw rating 4/5 | [Sarah Murphy]

Confirmation (Chris Thorpe and Rachel Chavkin)
Nobody thinks they are wrong. Everyone thinks their beliefs to be true, obviously; but not everyone can be right all the time, so how do we justify those beliefs, and are we going about it in the same way as everyone else? Chris Thorpe explores this one idea in his eighty-minute piece 'Confirmation'. Directed by Rachel Chavkin, the set up is simple: one man in a room, one microphone, some paper and a costume change, while the audience sit around the sides of the room, creating the square stage in the middle. Manically changing dialogues and characters, passionate, engaged, and angry; exploring multiple view points, 'Confirmation' takes a stark look at the way in which we believe. Exceptional, thought provoking theatre.
Summerhall, until 29 Aug.
tw rating 5/5 | [Bethan Highgate-Betts]

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