FRIDAY 12 AUGUST 2016 THREEWEEKSEDINBURGH.COM
NJAMBI MCGRATH: ONE-LINERS, BIG ISSUES
Born and educated in Kenya, before attending university in both the US and UK, and now London-based, Njambi McGrath has been garnering lots of attention in recent years as she's worked the comedy circuit and new talent competitions.

Adept at writing very fine one-liners, while also delving into some serious topics in her shows, Njambi brings '1 Last Dance With My Father' to this year's Festival. We had a quick chat to find out more about her move into stand-up, her style of comedy, and what this year's fascinating show is all about. Read the interview here.

Njambi McGrath performs '1 More Dance With My Father' at Laughing Horse at Espionage until 27 Aug.



SEAN KEMPTON: THE HORROR OF AUDIENCE PARTICIPATION
Cirque Du Soleil clown Sean Kempton is presenting his first solo show this Festival, 'Stuff', described as a "highly energetic and entertaining physical piece that takes its audience on a journey through the fragility, hilarity and awkwardness that love can sometimes entail".

As a performer very used to interacting with his audience, we asked Sean to offer some tips to the Fringe-goer who suddenly finds themselves part of the show. And here they are!

Sean Kempton's show 'Stuff' is on at Assembly George Square Theatre until 29 Aug.
LINE UP CONFIRMED FOR TW:TALKS LIVE: MARK THOMAS, BRENDON BURNS, SUSAN CALMAN, LUCY PORTER, MARK WATSON
We have the final line-up sorted for our TW:TALKS Live podcast recordings taking place at theSpace @ Symposium Hall next week, and it's looking really very good indeed.

This is somehow ThreeWeeks' 21st year covering the Edinburgh Festival, and to celebrate co-Editor Chris Cooke is going to interview five former cover stars: Mark Thomas, Brendon Burns, Susan Calman, Lucy Porter and this week's cover star Mark Watson.

Each interview will be recorded for TW:TALKS, the brand new podcast from ThreeWeeks Edinburgh and ThisWeek London which will be going online all year round from next week, featuring our favourite performers, directors, writers and entrepreneurs from the Edinburgh Festival each summer and London's cultural scene the rest of the year.

Not only that, be we're inviting you to join us at these informal recordings – listen in, hear the full un-edited interview and ask your own questions. Each recording is taking place at the brilliant theSpace @ Symposium Hall, slap bang in the middle of the Fringe's Southside hub, each morning next week at 10.30am.

It's free to come along, you just need to book a ticket online. The schedule is as follows:

Tuesday 16 Aug, 10.30am: Mark Thomas – book tickets
Wednesday 17 Aug, 10.30am: Brendon Burns – book tickets
Thursday 18 Aug, 10.30am: Susan Calman – book tickets
Friday 19 Aug, 10.30am: Lucy Porter – book tickets
Saturday 20 Aug, 10.30am: Mark Watson – book tickets

And look out for details of when each podcast goes live in our TW Weekly bulletin that comes out every Thursday afternoon. Sign up to receive that here.
Three to see at the Edinburgh Festival tomorrow...

Mark Thomas: The Red Shed | Traverse Theatre | 1.15pm (pictured)
The only performer to ever appear on the cover of ThreeWeeks twice, we'll be chatting to Mark Thomas at one of our TW:TALKS Live podcast recordings next Tuesday. You can book tickets for that here. Meanwhile you can try and get yourself a ticket for his latest 5/5 show which, says our reviewer, is "slick, crafted, compelling, poignant and bloody funny, capped off with a singalong and a deserved ovation".

All Quiet On The Western Front | Pleasance Courtyard | 1.45pm
Also highly recommended is Incognito Theatre's adaptation of 'All Quiet On The Western Front'. "Scenes flit from humour to horror, camaraderie to chaos", notes our reviewer, "drawing the audience in to the desperate lives of the young men sentenced to fight and die on the Western Front". To conclude: "Enthralling, moving and fundamentally, beautifully human". And recommended.

Thrones! The Musical Parody | Assembly George Square Studios | 5.00pm
The musical parody of 'Game Of Thrones' from Baby Wants Candy is back, and scores 5/5 from our reviewer. "Jam packed with clever jokes, visual gags, catchy songs and a lot of heart", says she, "its source material might often be bleak, but this fan service musical is anything but".
WEEK ONE ISSUE OF THE THREEWEEKS MAGAZINE IS OUT NOW - DOWNLOAD OR PICK UP YOUR COPY

The Week One edition of the ThreeWeeks magazine is out now! Pick up your copy from a Fringe venue of your choice.

Inside you will find interviews with Mark Watson, Goodbear, Holly&Ted, Hui-Chen Tan, Jonny & The Baptists, Martha McBrier, Njambi McGrath, Robert Shaw and This Glorious Monster, plus columns from Bob Slayer, Henry Maynard and Yeti's, and lots of reviews.

CLICK HERE to check out the Week One edition online
.
5/5 HIGHLY RECOMMENDED | 4/5 RECOMMENDED | 3/5 GOOD | 2/5 MEDIOCRE | 1/5 BAD  

CABARET

Jeu Jeu La Foille: Frontal Lobotomy (SJA)
It's not often at the Fringe that you're treated to a show combining old school original poetry, burlesque and puppetry. But that's exactly what you get from 'Jeu Jeu le Foille: Frontal Lobotomy'. It's punctuated with scientific accounts of actual lobotomy surgeons and procedures, plus imagined conversations with John Waite –what more could you want? Somewhat erratic at times, the show can feel a little all over the place, but this is reflective of the subject matter. And, although the puppetry is crude, it is fitting within the piece and the performance is ultimately creative and engaging. Jeu Jeu La Foille clowns her way through burlesque and passionate prose – surely this is how every poetic anthology wishes it could be presented?
Laughing Horse @ Southside Social, until 21 Aug.
tw rating 3/5 | [Bethan Highgate-Betts]

COMEDY

Barbarians (Ben Van der Velde / Free Festival)
Tackling human nature, biology, identity and current affairs, Ben Van der Velde covers a broad remit in this entertaining hour at the venerable White Horse. At times he plays it safe; when discussing his own Jewish identity he covers the practical ridiculousness of religious doctrine and traditions, which is well-trodden ground to say the least. Elsewhere he takes real chances – the closing routine revolving around ISIS sees him engage in some impressive emotional honesty. Though Van der Velde clearly plans his material quite thoroughly, he's also unafraid to riff and improvise, which allows him to keep the audience onside even when a dicey gag causes a murmur (there are a few – this show's not one for the easily offended). It's a solid, fun hour.
Laughing Horse @ The White Horse, until 28 Aug.
tw rating 3/5 | [Jon Stapley]

Carnal Desire (Drama 3/4 Productions and Fringe Management)
The idea behind 'Carnal Desire' is brilliant: a hyper-faithful-thus-comic reading of two half-hour soft porn scripts, hilariously believable in their parody. For the most part, the reality was good too. The actors all did a brilliant job, and the absurd physical comedy for the 'sex' scenes was genius. However, the first half hour portrayed people drugging each other in order to sleep with them, and it was unclear whether the creators were aware this was a rape joke. Either way, it didn't feel like this was handled with the care it required; instead it was simply treated like another ridiculous thing that happens in porn, like cringey dialogue and ludicrous stage direction (both of which they did do brilliantly).
Pleasance Courtyard, until 29 Aug (not 15)
tw rating 3/5 | [Nina Keen]

Daniel Nils Roberts - Honey (Daniel Nils Roberts)
The ideas behind most of Daniel Nils Roberts' characters were good, and there were a few properly great jokes per sketch, but just never enough to sustain the momentum the show needed. His Christian fad diet promoter was a prime example of this: apart from a few stellar puns, many of the jokes were a bit too tenuous and not substantial enough. And his recurring jokes were neither strong enough to deserve callbacks nor insistent enough to be insistence gags. Roberts' one female character was uncomfortable too; the pathetic erotica author felt rooted in sexist tropes. The misses in this hit-and-miss show were just too frequent, and 'Honey' is unlikely to satisfy anyone with a sweet tooth.
Pleasance Courtyard, until 19 Aug.
tw rating 2/5 | [Nina Keen]

John Hastings: Integrity (Mick Perrin Worldwide in association with EMX Management)
John Hastings is a bit of a tornado – he bursts in, whips you up and takes you along for the ride. He is loud and dramatic as he recounts a very strange set of circumstances. It's Christmas 2015 and John is at home in Canada to renew his UK visa – he likes it here, despite our strange habits and choice of political leaders. In one testing day though, he has to deal with a bust up between friends and a murder. Hastings is mercilessly funny and his delivery is wonderful, but at times he lingers a little too long on some of the build up, before arriving at the ultimate denouement.
Pleasance Courtyard, until 29 Aug.
tw rating 3/5 | [Daisy Malt]

Loyiso Gola - Dude, Where's My Lion? (Mick Perrin Worldwide)
South African comedian Loyiso Gola's observational comedy, from a starkly different perspective to most you'll see, is nothing short of hilarious. With an easy manner he highlights things the privileged west takes for granted, like instant internet, and tackles heavier topics with a subtly careful irreverence. His unique outlook makes for wonderful jokes about everything from the political to the mundane. His longer jokes that end with something abrupt, like his bit on the phonetic alphabet, are expertly crafted. He interacts easily with the crowd and his confident delivery, with which he laughs along with the rest of us, is pleasant and affable. 'Dude, Where's My Lion?' is a real Fringe highlight.
Pleasance Courtyard, until 29 Aug.
tw rating 4/5 | [Nina Keen]

Mark Steel's In Toon (Off The Kerb Productions)
This is kind of a greatest hits/DVD extras from Steel's excellent Radio 4 series of more or less the same name, with a loose unifying narrative overlaid about the shoogly pegs on which notions of national identity are hung. He is simultaneously affectionate yet despairing of his native England, crowd-pleasingly admiring yet cheeky about Scotland, all framed by recent events in both politics and football. Steel has a particular gift for pacing: his rants are something to behold, whether it's the Adam Smith institute, Jeremy Hunt or the poncification of tea. If you've heard the radio series, this is a fine compendium, with added swearing and photographs. If not, this is an excellent way to find out why you should.
Assembly Hall, until 28 Aug.
tw rating 4/5 | Bruce Blacklaw

Neil Delamere: Ctrl Alt Delamere (The Lisa Richards Agency / Gilded Balloon)
Tales of Irish petrol stations, German bobsleighs and Peruvian hiking all make an appearance in Neil Delamere's hilarious comedy show. Whilst Delamere's prepared material is excellent, his show is at its best during his sharp interactions with the crowd, which only adds to his increasingly strong reputation at the Fringe. His speed of wit is astounding, and his ability to integrate crowd interactions into his own material is impressive. With Delamere, the audience is always in the game. Whilst the Irish comic straddles the boundary of acceptability and mostly finds the perfect pitch, at times he is a little too daring. 'Ctrl Alt Delamere' is a hysterical hour, just don't expect to leave unscathed.
Gilded Balloon At The Museum, until 12 Aug.
tw rating 4/5 | [John Sampson]

Ria Lina - Dear Daughter (Ria Lina)
From last year's excellent discussion of offence and taboo, to this year's show about death and motherhood, Ria Lina always has something to say. As ever, she is joyous in her darkness from the beginning, and weaves in smart, thoughtful, engaging discussion throughout the show. For the most part, the darkness in her humour is surreal enough for it to be clear she's joking, and her tongue-in-cheek song about how to be a woman is one of many keen observations. But her long joke about creeping her stepson into pulling his trousers up is really uncomfortable. Apart from this fist-chewingly-long anomaly, though, 'Dear Daughter' is funny, warm, and full of poignancy.
Gilded Balloon Teviot, until 29 Aug
tw rating 3/5 | [Nina Keen]

The Simpsons Taught Me Everything I Know, Free (Yianni Agisilaou / PBH's Free Fringe)
Yianni Agisilaou is back at the Fringe, and social commentary is what he does best. Paying homage to one of the most popular TV shows in history, he explores its impact both on him and the world around us. Bringing the show to life with images, videos and audio clips, this long-time Simpsons aficionado draws on bizarre parallels with real-life, and drops in some pretty cool lesser-known facts for good measure. While I have never claimed to be a massive Simpsons fan, the number of references I got during the show is making me worry about just how much I watched it growing up. Although being a fan isn't a prerequisite, it probably helps!
Voodoo Rooms, until 28 Aug.
tw rating 3/5 | [Daisy Malt]

zazU: Raisins To Stay Alive (zazU Comedy)
The bizarre world of zazU returns to the Fringe with a tale more surreal than ever. Their island will flip over in twelve hours and they're all going to die. Can Anden save them by finding the raisins to stay alive? I recommend you pop along to find out, as he meets the weird and wonderful residents of zazU; they really are a curious bunch. If you saw last year's 'A Fête Worse Than Death' you'll recognise some familiar faces, including sociopathic Timmy Spittlecheeks and busybody Isla. When I laugh a lot I cry, and these guys left me in hysterics; I really shouldn't have been wearing mascara. It's silly, strange and, of course, very, very funny.
Gilded Balloon Teviot, until 29 Aug.
tw rating 5/5 | [Daisy Malt]



DANCE & PHYSICAL THEATRE

If There's Not Dancing At The Revolution, I'm Not Coming (Julia Croft)
Physical, erratic and very clever, this show is a visceral collage of film, dance, elaborate costume changes and feminist theory. Performer Julia Croft plays with the idea of the female body - how they are treated, viewed and fantasized about. She takes well-known scenes from film, advertisements and popular music and quite literally shines a light on them. This makes for an often uncomfortable hour of anger, as Croft highlights the violence that women and their bodies face everyday. Presenting a revolution of her own body and her authority over it, the show is creative, energetic and above all important. There's even confetti. It's a party, a lecture and a reclamation all rolled into one!
Summerhall, until 28 Aug.
tw rating 4/5 | [Bethan Highgate-Betts]

THEATRE

Ada/Ava by Manual Cinema (Underbelly Productions and Manual Cinema)
Using overhead projectors, live music and hundreds of shadow puppets, Manual Cinema weave a tale of loss, grief and sisterhood, all without uttering a word of dialogue (well, almost). The company name is well chosen: the projections effectively appropriate the visual language of film, with pans, tracking shots, soft focus and close-ups. The staging itself lays everything bare, allowing us to view both the process and the result – so while we see the projection of Ada on the suspended screen, we also see the prosthetic-wearing actor representing her. Where do you look? It's up to you. The story takes some unexpected turns and draws you in, a slightly-too-sharp tonal shift towards the end notwithstanding, and the show fizzes with creativity.
Underbelly Potterrow, until 29 Aug.
tw rating 4/5 | [Jon Stapley]

Alix In Wundergarten (difficult|stage and The Other Room)
What just happened? Alice probably asked herself the same question after visiting Wonderland. In some ways, Alice's journey has many synergies with the mental deconstruction that takes place during rehearsals, and this is what difficult|stage brilliantly picked up on. 'Alix in Wundergarten' starts like an innocent play, with a group of stressed actors trying to record a radio version of 'Alice in Wonderland'. But here, theatre is Wonderland and the actors the quaint creatures that inhabit it. They have a tendency to break into song and dance and German... and to slip out of reality. But what is reality on stage? Both realistic and surrealistic, unsettling and hilarious, offensive and touching, 'Alix in Wundergarten' leaves you confused and in awe. It was unforgettable.
Underbelly, until Aug 29.
tw rating 5/5 | [Aida Rocci]

The Convolution Of Pip And Twig (PEP)
Step into the intimate world of twins Pip and Twig: never apart, never doing anything on their own. Watch as they struggle against their entwined lives and take their first steps into independence. Billed as an 'epic adventure', the show doesn't quite live up to its description. Although the performances are very good, the structure of the piece lets it down, making it hard to follow any sort of plot at times. The choreography is impressive, however, well thought out movements helps develop the relationship between the two characters, even where dialogue is lacking. With singing, dancing and DIY props this is an entertaining 50 minutes, even if you're not always completely aware of what's going on.
SpaceTriplex, until 27 Aug.
tw rating 3/5 | [Bethan Highgate-Betts]

The Glass Menagerie (American Repertory Theatre)
Tennessee Williams put more than his own story into 'The Glass Menagerie': he also meant it as an artistic manifesto. Sixty years later, John Tiffany rediscovers the poetry and symbolism of the world Williams created, with delicate attention to the text, and an unforgettable design that captures the fragile beauty and sadness of memory. This stunning 2013 production premièred at American Repertory Theatre at Harvard, sold out on Broadway and is now part of the International Festival. Cherry Jones gives a brilliant performance that breaks clichés and delivers a natural, complex, funny, pitiful Amanda. This production establishes a new standard for 'The Glass Menagerie', making the classic play feel surprising and new.
King's Theatre, until 21 Aug.
tw rating 5/5 | [Aida Rocci]

The Humble Heart Of Komrade Krumm (Babolin Theatre)
A story set entirely around one table, much of which is related in a made-up language – no-one can say Babolin Theatre aren't brave. In a frozen wasteland following multiple ice ages, a group gathers to tell and hear the story of Krumm, legendary hero from the Britain of old. Only it's not Krumm's story, not really. Director Tom Penn has been given a great gift in the form of his young ensemble, who are fiercely talented, versatile and possess some serious comic chops – Krumm's luckless devotee Timpkin is an exceptionally funny standout. The story builds to a moving conclusion, bravely tackling some big and complex themes. It'll linger with you, for all the right reasons.
Bedlam Theatre, until 13 Aug.
tw rating 4/5 | [Jon Stapley]

Intergalactic Nemesis: Twin Infinity (The Robot Planet)
Billed as a "live action graphic novel", this is a live audio-drama (complete with pianist and foley artist) performed against a backdrop of comic panels depicting the action. The plot is a loving pastiche of golden age pulp sci-fi: time travel, mutants, and evil Nazi scientists abound. As is often the case, much of the amusement comes from watching the foley artist create disparate sound effects, as well as seeing the actors assume multiple roles, often at the same time. There's no denying the talents of the cast, but the experience itself feels a little over-long. If you love science fiction, you'll enjoy this show, though you might just wish you could time-travel to skip the quieter moments.
Pleasance Courtyard, until 29 Aug.
tw rating 3/5 | [Andy Leask]

Last Dream (On Earth) (Kai Fischer in association with National Theatre Of Scotland)
In one time, a small group gathers on a Morocco beach, preparing to trust a flimsy rubber dinghy to carry them to a better life. In another, Yuri Gagarin prepares for the first successful manned space flight – not that he knows the 'successful' bit yet. A story of journeys and human endurance, 'Last Dream' is told through wireless headphones, blending spoken words with live music in your most personal space. The experience has a singular intimacy, heightening the emotional stakes – one moment, when characters are confronted by something apocalyptic, is heart-in-throat tense and terrifying. The production is staged simply – just five people looking out at us, some telling stories, some making music. But that's all it needs to transport you.
Assembly Hall, until 28 Aug.
tw rating 4/5 | [Jon Stapley]

A Midsummer Night's Dreaming (ST@UIBE)
'A Midsummer Night's Dreaming' is the first part of a double feature, the result of a lovely initiative between the universities of Leeds and UIBE in China. Inspired by Shakespeare and Tang Xianzu, the students explore the theme of dreaming. The premise of the show fires your imagination, yet the reality of the performance is underwhelming. The young cast take on the lovers' parts of the Shakespeare play, and the company make some daring changes to the characters, adding iPhones, modern speech, and three Chinese spirits into the mix. It has innocence and good intentions, but lacks precision and complexity. I had a nice time, certainly, but nothing that got me dreaming.
theSpace on Niddry St, until 13 Aug.
tw rating 2/5 | [Aida Rocci]

My Name Is Gideon: Songs, Space Travel And Everything In-Between (All For One)
The blurb describes this show, and performer Gideon Irving, as "unique and unclassifiable", and you know what? That's pretty much spot on. There's an intimacy to the performance, no doubt honed in hundreds of living-room performances, and it was impossible to resist the pull of Irving's charisma. The show itself is often funny, sometimes moving, and constantly punctuated by songs that are incredibly sophisticated, both musically and lyrically. The range of instruments played, like the range of emotions they elicit, is wide and varied: banjo, bouzouki, an African instrument called an mbira (yes, I had to look that up...). At one time, even the audience was his instrument, and he made a masterpiece out of us. Unclassifiable? Yes. Unmissable? Undoubtedly.
Pleasance Courtyard, until 29 Aug.
tw rating 5/5 | [Andy Leask]

Swansong (DugOut Theatre)
On a swan-shaped pedalo, on a flood-ravaged planet, four survivors of the apocalypse remember the world that was. DugOut Theatre return to the Fringe with a show that's rich with music, gallows humour and existential debates on the merits of humanity. We don't ever learn exactly how the mismatched foursome – posh Stephen, cynical Adam, new-age Bobbi and forthright Claire – ended up in so specific a predicament, but the jokes are thick and fast enough that it's hard to complain too much. The danger of a 'people trapped somewhere' concept is that it can result in a show that's just an hour of bickering. 'Swansong' avoids that – just – thanks to its sharp writing, energetic performances and delightfully weird a capella interludes.
Pleasance Courtyard, until 29 Aug.
tw rating 4/5 | [Jon Stapley]

Team Viking (James Rowland)
When you first spy James Rowland, he's wearing a funeral suit and there's a plastic Viking helmet behind him. This sets the tone well. His storytelling show is in equal parts sad, funny and ridiculous, and never stops being entertaining even in its most emotionally honest moments. It chronicles the death of Rowland's best friend Tom, and his dying wish to be given a Viking funeral. As you might expect, the humour is the very blackest. This well-constructed show takes familiar devices and uses them effectively – music made with a loop pedal is overdone at the Fringe, but here there's a point to it. It's a show of real courage combined with warmth and lyricism, and it deserves to do well.
Just The Tonic at The Community Project, until 28 Aug.
tw rating 4/5 | [Jon Stapley]

Two Man Show (RashDash)
Words are inadequate. Seriously. What kind of task is it to summarise in words a show that so exactingly reveals their limits? RashDash's Abbi Greenland and Helen Goalen want to talk about masculinity, but language isn't enough. So while there are plenty of words, there's also music, dance, physicality, intimacy, pounding drums and earthy, primal roars that say things without 'saying' them. The story of John and Dan (Greenland and Goalen respectively) struggling with the slow demise of their father runs through the show like a spine, until something twists, and then it builds to an explosion of sound and fury. In the climax I found a tear in my eye, and I can't articulate why. I don't have the words.
Northern Stage at Summerhall, until 27 Aug.
tw rating 5/5 | [Jon Stapley]

© UnLimited Media, a division of 3CM Enterprises Ltd

ThreeWeeks Edinburgh
UnLimited Media, Kemp House, 152 City Road, London EC1V 2NX
t: 020 7099 9050 (editorial) 020 7099 9060 (sales)

publishing@unlimitedmedia.co.uk | complaints@unlimitedmedia.co.uk