There's a very high chance you've seen sketches from This Glorious Monster on YouTube, where their great comedy creations and high production values grabbed plenty of attention, not least from production company Hat Trick whose chief has dubbed the group "the next League Of Gentlemen".

As they perform their debut Edinburgh show 'Wrong Uns', we spoke to the group's Martin Collins about the characters, the show, the telly projects and making it on YouTube. Read the interview here.

This Glorious Monster are on at Pleasance Courtyard until 29 Aug.

Close-up magician Laura London is performing 'Cheat' at the Voodoo Rooms this Fringe. To get you in the mood, she introduces some famous female cheats from cheating history, before providing ten tips for cheating at cards. Read her column here.

Laura London performs 'Cheat' at Voodoo Rooms until 28 Aug.
It's the latest speedy news round up from ThreeWeeks...

OK, so we're nearly half way through the Festival now, meaning it's time we started reporting on some award winners. And while The Herald's traditional Angel Awards aren't happening this year, the trusty new writing prizes dished out by The Scotsman are still very much part of the Fringe proceedings. As normal, the broadsheet is presenting a set of Fringe First awards at the end of each week of the Festival.

Only one of the first batch of Fringe Firsts went to the Traverse this year, which is unusual, as they normally dominate the proceedings early on. This time Edinburgh's other year-round arts space, Summerhall, boasted 50% of the winning shows. The first round of Fringe Firsts went to: 'Heads Up' (pictured above), 'World Without Us' and 'Lemons Lemons Lemons Lemons Lemons', all at Summerhall, and then the Trav show, 'Expensive Shit', plus 'Angel' at Gilded Balloon Teviot and 'The Interference' at C. It's good to be a first Fringe first.

More awards, and the final of the BBC Radio New Comedy Award took place in the Beeb's new compound at George Heriot School last night. And the winner was Jethro Bradley. The other finalists, in case you wondered, were George Lewis, Sindhu Vee, Lauren Pattison, Catherine Bohart and Michael Odewale.

Away from awards, how about a little bit of controversy? You may remember that two years ago an Underbelly show that had received some funding from the Israeli government was ultimately cancelled after protests by pro-Palestinian groups made it impractical for performances to go ahead. Well, in a bid to "foster cultural ties between Israeli society and other countries", a one-day International Shalom Festival is due to take place at Edinburgh's Central Hall on Wednesday. This event has likewise garnered some protests, with claims that the event's backers are linked to the Israeli embassy in London, but organiser Nigel Goodrich denies that, while telling The Herald that his festival is a cultural rather than a political event. He adds that it is to "Scotland's lasting shame" that Incubator Theatre were unable to perform at Fringe 2014.

Elsewhere in potential controversies, the RMT union has announced three strikes on the East Coast mainline that links London and Edinburgh during the Fringe, as part of an ongoing dispute with the Virgin train company. The strikes are currently set for 19, 26 and 29 Aug, the latter being the final Monday of the Festival when lots of Londoners will be heading back down south. So that's fun. But don't worry, Virgin Trains East Coast says its timetable will be unaffected. Convinced? Ah well, just think of it as a piece of performance art and you should be OK.

Finally, it's still our 21st year covering the Edinburgh Festival, and to celebrate we are interviewing five former ThreeWeeks cover stars for our all-new TW:TALKS podcast live at theSpace @ Symposium Hall. Which is to say, you can come and watch the interviews live. Our guests are: Mark Thomas on Tuesday 16, Brendon Burns on Wednesday 17, Susan Calman on Thursday 18, Lucy Porter on Friday 19 and Mark Watson on Saturday 20. Grab your free tickets at – and look out for the first podcast going live online soon.
Three to see at the Edinburgh Festival tomorrow...

TW:Talks Live with Mark Thomas | theSpace @ Symposium Hall | 10.30am
The first of our podcast recordings to celebrate 21 years of ThreeWeeks at the Festival takes place tomorrow. Over the next five days we'll be chatting to five former cover stars, kicking off with Mark Thomas, who appeared on the cover of ThreeWeeks way back in our first year, 1996. You'll be able to hear the interview online very soon, but why not come and enjoy it live? You can book free tickets here and join us at the Symposium Hall tomorrow morning.

Glasgow Girls | Assembly Hall | 2.20pm
Something musical from the theatre programme next. "The songs are catchy, funny, moving and important", says our reviewer of this show from Pachamama Productions and the National Theatre Of Scotland. "It's an effective call to arms that had the audience up on their feet in rapturous support". So go join the movement.

Royal Vauxhall | Underbelly Med Quad | 10.10pm
Something else a little bit musical which is actually listed in the theatre programme now. Our reviewer explains that, "taking place over one night in London in 1988, 'Royal Vauxhall' explores the lives of three public figures that led tragically short lives". Those three people are Princess Diana, Freddie Mercury and Kenny Everett. "Highly recommended to anyone looking for some tongue-in-cheek 80s goodness" adds our glowing review.

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

We are celebrating by interviewing five former cover stars for the TW:TALKS podcast
Come watch us interview Mark Thomas on Tuesday (16 Aug) at 10.30am
TW:TALKS Live at theSpace @ Symposium Hall - Get your free tickets here


Puzzle (Dansema Dance Theatre)
So there's these three Lithuanians, all in hiding, wrapped up in colourful velvet tubes pretending to be fruit. OK, so that sounds more like a weak Daily Mail standfirst. But, every lunchtime in a Southside church basement, it's totally happening, man. My small co-reviewer was mostly busy trying to find a comfy bit of the actual performance area to snooze on, so I'm on my own here. Three dancers use the puzzle pieces, and a lot of floor work, to do interactive cavorting around with wee folk, who appeared to mostly love it. At the end, they all got to rock onto the dance floor and knock merry hell out of the props, all of which appeared entirely satisfactory.
Zoo, until 20 Aug.
tw rating 3/5 | [Bruce Blacklaw]

We are celebrating by interviewing five former cover stars for the TW:TALKS podcast
Come watch us interview Brendon Burns on Wednesday (17 Aug) at 10.30am
TW:TALKS Live at theSpace @ Symposium Hall - Get your free tickets here


AAA Batteries (Not Included) (Chris Turner)
Usually, when family shows try to appeal to all ages, they'll have some jokes for adults and some for kids, but the humour in 'AAA Batteries' was for everyone. Being patronising was very much off the agenda, and the audience interaction with both kids and adults was done really well. Both Chris Turner's straightforward stand-up and Tom Walker's more surreal act felt totally accessible, and I loved that this family show had a variety of genres. Walker's existent-but-sort-of-cracked fourth wall worked particularly well, and his creativity with physical comedy and with silence were brilliant. The show ended with Turner showcasing the most impressive improvised rap I've ever seen. I can't recommend it highly enough.
Just The Tonic at The Caves, until 28 Aug.
tw rating 5/5 | [Nina Keen]

Andy Askins: The Man With No Name (Comedy Store Management)
The man with no name Andy Askins (the 'no name' thing appears entirely based around a five minute poncho bit in the middle) introduces himself, promisingly, as a man with "no charisma". That's not entirely true, although it's perhaps somewhat understated. What he does, at times very well, is meander up deadpan - often from quite some distance – to his punchlines, some of which are belters. There's a (quite openly) contrived misanthropy at times, which doesn't bring much to the party but, add in a couple of guitar numbers - a Sting cover entitled 'Massage in a Brothel' should give you the measure of it - and you have a mostly pleasingly silly start to your Fringe evening.
Gilded Balloon at the Counting House, until 28 Aug.
tw rating 3/5 | [Bruce Blacklaw]

David Callaghan - Let's Get This Partly Started (David Callaghan)
The best thing about 'Let's Get This Partly Started' was the potential it showed. Contained in David Callaghan's ideas were some really promising premises, and a couple of times they led to jokes that really did make me laugh. More often though, they just came across as a bit clunky. Stories like the one about the death of his dog, and material like the bit about kids giving economic advice, felt overly laboured. Callaghan's best jokes were the smaller ones and the throwaway lines, for which he does have a knack. But the show's 'message', which began with a wonder at the world that felt authentic and even catching, soon grew heavy-handed, and felt less genuine by the end.
Just The Tonic at The Mash House, until 28 Aug.
tw rating 2/5 | [Nina Keen]

Foiled (Duckspeak)
'Foiled' is an all-singing, all-dancing insight into the secret lives of hairdressers. Set in a functioning hair salon on Clerk Street, the show is a bubbly burst of fun. It features hapless manager Sabrina, played by co-writer Beth Granville, stealing scenes with her bratty, self-serving, but actually quite endearing behaviour. Sabrina is a great comedy character, and is balanced by Stephanie Siadatan's talented hair stylist Tanisha - underling, straight man, and heart of the show. Rounded off by bald Richie (Dominic Morgan), who needs a full head of hair fast, the cast of characters bounce off each other beautifully in this hour of fast paced, laugh-a-minute comedy. If only every trip the hairdressers could be this fun!
Ruby Rouge, until 29 Aug.
tw rating 4/5 | [Patricia-Ann Young]

Lucie Pohl - Apohlcalypse Now! (Dixon Talent / APA)
'Apohlcalypse Now!' takes the audience through the past year or so of Lucie Pohl's life. Unfortunately, Pohl seems to have forgotten to add any jokes. I spent the whole hour genuinely confused as to which part she thought was funny, as she overly theatrically delivered a story that wasn't even particularly dramatic. It was punctuated with impressions, mainly of her family members and friends of varying nationalities, the former presumably hilarious if you know them, the latter really pretty culturally insensitive. Her tale frequently sounded entirely implausible, her characters were more like caricatures and her delivery was off-putting, Pohl's story mainly left me feeling literally nothing. Unfortunately, I didn't laugh once.
Gilded Balloon Teviot, until 28 Aug.
tw rating 1/5 | [Nina Keen]

Rory O'Keeffe: Monoglot (Rory O'Keeffe)
'Monoglot' is comedy with a linguistic twist, as Rory O'Keeffe walks us through the trials and tribulations of learning a new language. O'Keeffe is an immediately likeable and endearing host, and wins over the audience straight away with his affable, easygoing manner. The bedrock of his comedy is his cleverness and wit, and, while entertaining, he doesn't really get many huge laughs until the last five minutes, which is a long time to wait for a show to hit its stride. O'Keeffe is funny but not really, really funny, and it seems like he's languishing in support act territory. It does feel like he might be on the cusp of comedy greatness, but he's not quite fluent yet.
Pleasance Courtyard, until 29 Aug.
tw rating 3/5 | [Patricia-Ann Young]

Shit-Faced Shakespeare (Magnificent Bastard Productions)
Eight Shakespearean actors, one of them utterly pissed – it's a simple formula that has served Shit-Faced Shakespeare well over the years. This year it's 'Measure for Measure', and last night it was Duke Vincentio who pounded the Prosecco and performed while, well, as advertised. The result? Good fun, but surprisingly patchy. Every scene with Vincentio was a riot, but there were lengthy stretches where he disappeared from the stage, and it turns out getting an audience revved up, then giving them a bit of 'Measure for Measure' played mostly straight, will provide a sharp lesson on how to suck the energy from a room. It was funny, it was silly, but the anticipated feeling of 'anything-could-happen' anarchy didn't quite materialise.
Underbelly George Square, until 29 Aug.
tw rating 3/5 | [Jon Stapley]

We are celebrating by interviewing five former cover stars for the TW:TALKS podcast
Come watch us interview Susan Calman on Thursday (18 Aug) at 10.30am
TW:TALKS Live at theSpace @ Symposium Hall - Get your free tickets here


Back Of The Bus (Java Dance Theatre)
Java Dance Theatre brings you the bus ride you always wished for on school trips, sweets included. A piece of dance and physical theatre (sometimes quite physical, be warned if you don't like audience interaction), 'Back of the Bus' manages to create a blissful feeling of childlike abandonment through a series of charming scenarios. Mixing different dance disciplines and circus, the performers take over a double-decker bus and several spots around Edinburgh, bringing the audience with them. Making full use of the form of immersive theatre, the connection with the audience is the driving force behind this experience (no pun intended). Reality feels augmented when you become an accomplice in this mischievous adventure - a true joy ride.
Assembly George Square Gardens, until 28 Aug.
tw rating 4/5 | [Aida Rocci]

Whiteout (Barrowlandballet)
In 'Whiteout', the topic of race is confronted without shying away. Pain is undoubtedly present and bursts out unexpectedly, hidden beneath the lies of equality, as the dancers unsuccessfully struggle to break away from history. Although highly dynamic and physical, choreographer Natasha Gilmore amalgamates contrasting dance and music styles, which enriches the performance by highlighting the distinction between race and culture. Relationships unfold, identifying the beauty, joyfulness and lightness of love, as well as the physical exhaustion, pain and struggle of racial divisions. Videos portraying Gilmore's mixed-race children are used by the performers, who interact with the videos in humorous and interesting ways. A playful, passionate and enthusiastically positive representation of blackness, which intoxicates audiences with pleasure.
Zoo Southside, until 28 Aug.
tw rating 5/5 ⎪[Lucrezia Pollice]

We are celebrating by interviewing five former cover stars for the TW:TALKS podcast
Come watch us interview Lucy Porter on Friday (19 Aug) at 10.30am
TW:TALKS Live at theSpace @ Symposium Hall - Get your free tickets here


Bend In The River (Deep Water Theatre Collective)
'Bend in the River' is a strange but heart-warming show about people who have been ostracised from society. Set in a hospital for those suffering from Hansen's Disease, or leprosy, we follow the struggles of victims and the carers who look after them. The play is billed as having original American roots music, but it's used incredibly sparingly. This is a shame as, when featured, it immediately lifts the production, giving it the sombre, bittersweet feel director Tonya Hays is clearly aiming for. Despite a rather sweet romantic subplot, played nicely by Aubrey Hays and Kristofer Adkins, the show feels overly dignified. As a result, it's a little cold, making it a noble but inaccessible tale of woe and hope.
Greenside @ Nicolson Square, until 13 Aug.
tw rating 3/5 | [Patricia-Ann Young]

Bubble Schmeisis (Nick Cassenbaum)
Have you ever had a shvitz? Because Nick Cassenbaum has, and he'd like to share the experience of his first shvitz (that's a sauna, if you don't know) with you. Joined onstage by a talented two-piece band, who provide a live score throughout, Cassenbaum takes a trip down memory lane. As a performer he is confident and cheeky, immediately setting the audience at ease as he jumps from story to story and plays on the laughs. Effortlessly charming and infectiously funny, 'Bubble Schemisis' is everything you'd want from a show about the admittedly niche subject of a young man's first shvitz, but it's also a show about identity, what being Jewish means to a young boy growing up in Essex, and how to correctly pronounce 'beigel'.
Summerhall, until 28 Aug.
tw rating 4/5 | [Bethan Highgate-Betts]

Electric Eden (Not Too Tame)
Have you ever been at a party where the music stops, then someone makes a really boring, long-winded speech, and you can't wait for the tunes to come back on? That's what 'Electric Eden' is like. Set in a site-specific club, it focuses on a group of young people who have put on a rally to disrupt the local tycoon's opening gala. Or something. It doesn't really matter, because 'Electric Eden' doesn't actually spend a lot of time on it, instead giving its performers pointless monologues that have nothing to do with the threadbare plot. As a result, the play's 'right on' narrative feels phoney and smug, not helped by some poorly developed characters and a barely there script. It's not electric, and it's definitely not Eden.
Pleasance Pop-Up: The Club, until 29 Aug.
tw rating 2/5 | [Patricia-Ann Young]

Fossils (Bucket Club)
With simplistic set and straightforward narrative, 'Fossils' tells the story of a young PhD scientist on the search for her missing father. Its strength lies with the cast, three extremely strong naturalistic actors who multi-role, play violin, and produce all the live electronic sounds. The play is for the most part set in a laboratory, and an especially well thought out use of technology adds to the performance, as wires and electronic sound devices enhance the atmosphere. However, on the whole the story unfortunately and surprisingly did not emotionally affect me, nor interest me. I actually left feeling slightly disappointed. 'Fossils' is enjoyable, but not memorable.
Pleasance Dome, until 29 Aug.
tw rating 3/5 ⎪[Lucrezia Pollice]

Milk (Traverse Theatre Company)
Traverse Company return to the Fringe with their new production, 'Milk'. It's the story of three Scottish couples, from three different generations, all living in the same place. With beautiful sets, brilliant sound and inspired choreography it's a real shame that the story falls short, in this predictable tale where tired characters never quite feel believable. Perhaps the story tries to do too much in the space of an hour and twenty-five minutes, but all three resolutions end up feeling rushed and a little sloppy. The performances are strong, especially from the younger actors, and thanks to their excellent comic timing there are a lot of laughs. It's just unfortunate that they're at the expense of the story.
Traverse Theatre, until 28 Aug.
tw rating 3/5 | [Bethan Highgate-Betts]

Mule (Omnibus)
Cocaine is the straw that broke the mule's back in Kat Woods's bold new play. The two performers, Edith Poor and Aoife Lennon, excel in tandem, energetically traversing their way through the dynamic script. It leads them through a plethora of roles, accents and scenarios, in a dark exploration of how two desperate young women became convicted drug traffickers. 'Mule's' poignancy lies in its humanising portrayal of trafficking, juxtaposing the truth with the vilification presented by the media. The fickle nature of social media is intelligently examined, with its initial role as a force for good being quickly turned on its head. At its heart, this is a play about perceptions, which might just encourage you to think a little more before passing judgement.
Gilded Balloon Teviot, until 29 Aug.
tw rating 4/5 | [John Sampson]

Often Onstage (Figs In Wigs)
'Often Onstage' resists categorisation. Comic-dance-theatre-satire? That'll have to do. Right from their delightfully meta opening, which pretends to be the close of a previous show, Figs in Wigs delight in not doing what you expect. They want more than anything for you to have a good time, and if that means turning green and dancing in Sia-style wigs, or launching into a magnificent skewering of anti-corporate 'message' theatre, then they'll do it. The bombastic finale springs from nothing and resolves nothing, but it's so much fun who even cares? Worth noting: for the performance I saw, the Figs were one cast member down (just temporarily) due to unforeseen circumstances. They covered with consummate skill, and deserve every plaudit for it.
Pleasance Dome, until 26 Aug.
tw rating 4/5 | [Jon Stapley]

Wonderman (Gaggle Babble / National Theatre Wales)
Roald Dahl it may be, but 'Matilda' it is not. Dahl's short stories for adults are famously twisted, surreal and often murderous, and here they're brought vividly to life. We follow Dahl himself in a military hospital circa World War II, his head swaddled with bandages as he rockets through the worlds of his own stories. Director Amy Leach's production makes intelligent adaptational choices – Dahl's story 'The Landlady' for instance, originally a slow tale of creeping dread, is redressed as fast-paced black comedy. The show commits hard, plumping for Dahl's darkest stories, sometimes verging on the grotesque but always supremely entertaining. With faultless performances, toe-tapping live music and ambitious staging, 'Wonderman' is a hugely impressive achievement.
Underbelly Potterrow, until 28 Aug.
tw rating 4/5 | [Jon Stapley]

World Without Us (Ontroerend Goed / Theatre Royal Plymouth / Vooruit / Richard Jordan Productions / Summerhall)
If someday humans simply disappeared – no fanfare, no apocalypse, just gone – what would happen to the world? This is the question exhaustively answered here by Ontroerend Goed. Two actors alternate for this one-person show – I was treated to Valentijn Dhaenens' exquisite, melodious delivery as he meticulously detailed how the space we occupied would change with total human absence. It challenges us to do the impossible: respond to the unknowable, see beauty or horror in something that can only exist when these concepts no longer do. 'World Without Us' will definitely divide opinion. One person gave it a tearful standing ovation; another, clearly bored, snuck out. Personally, I thought it beautiful and bleak and strange and intoxicating all at once.
Summerhall, until 28 Aug.
tw rating 4/5 | [Jon Stapley]

Yokai (The Krumple)
This is a perfect mix of physical theatre, mime and magical storytelling. An abundance of tiny props continuously appear on stage, each brought to life by the outstanding cast. The mixture of beautiful (though absurd) images rolling into one another, coming to life with extreme simplicity, is something truly admirable. The lack of narrative can be overlooked, as the audience is drawn in, wondering what the next surprise will be, and the only disappointment is the slightly confusing ending. However, on the whole this show is genial, joyous and funny. This is the ideal family combination: children will be blown away whilst adults will be stunned. The perfect representation of the theatre's magical power.
Underbelly Cowgate, until 28 Aug.
tw rating 4/5 ⎪ [Lucrezia Pollice]

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