MONDAY 22 AUGUST 2016 THREEWEEKSEDINBURGH.COM
DELIA OLAM: FINDING TAHIRI
When we heard about Delia Olam's show about real life Persian scholar Tahirih, we were totally intrigued, and thought it sounded fascinating – if also incredibly poignant and potentially painful – given the significant history of this woman ahead of her time.

It's a one person piece, which the multi-talented Olam has co-written and stars in, as well as writing original music for it. We found out more about her, and Tahiri. Read the interview here.

Delia performs in 'Just Let the Wind Untie My Perfumed Hair... or Who Is Tahirih?' at Assembly George Square Studios until 29 Aug.



RECIPE CORNER: A PICK-ME-UP SOUP FROM JOJO BELLINI
As we approach the final furlong of Festival 2016, your bodies may well be in need of a detox, after nearly three weeks of late nights, cramped venues and all the crepes, pizzas, chips and cheese that the Fringe food vendors have on offer.

But we're here to help. Well, specifically kitchen cook and cabaret artist JoJo Bellini is here to help, with a recipe that will stave off your inevitable lurgy via a quick vegetarian meal that is not only delicious, but also filled with all the vitamins and minerals we need to boost our immune system to ward off the bugs! Check it out here.

'JoJo Bellini's Kitchen Cabaret' is on at Stand Comedy Club 2 until 28 Aug. 
Time for some speedy news updates from across the Festival...

CHILCOT REPORT READ
So, the marathon reading of the government's 'Chilcot Report' – in the shed next to Bob Slayer's BlundaBus – reached its conclusion at 2.45pm on Saturday, after 284 hours and 45 minutes of report reading. Said Slayer in The Guardian: "[The report] wasn't expected to be read. The establishment didn't expect anyone to read it. Rather like the Latin bible, it's not for the public, it's to be shelved away. And yet it has been read here". The hour I spent listening to the report – including ten minutes of reading – seemed to consist of a stream of minutes and memos from just before the 2003 invasion of Iraq that basically said the same thing: "this is going to be expensive, we don't have any money".

TRAIN STRIKES OFF
For Londoners at the Fringe hoping for a comedy/tragedy journey home thanks to strikes affecting the Virgin Trains East Coast routes on the final weekend of the Festival – well, bad news. The strikes have been suspended which means – as we go to press – things should be operating as normal. Which I think means you can expect a comedy/tragedy journey home.

SOME FRINGE FEUDING
Followers of classic Fringe feuds will have enjoyed the piece in The Scotsman this weekend about the Edinburgh Digital Entertainment Festival which has taken over the Assembly Rooms this year. The digital fest is promoted by William Burdett-Coutts of the Assembly venues, whose Fringe operations were based around the Assembly Rooms for years, before Salt n Sauce Promotions and the team behind The Stand won the rights to stage Fringe shows there in 2012. Their stint in the New Town building ended last summer, and they reckon that having the digital festival in the complex instead hasn't worked, simply helping the Old Town regain its dominance of the Festival. "George Street is now dead a lot of the time, it looks a mess and all the work we've done trying to drag people away from the Old Town has gone backwards by five years" said Salt'n' Sauce director Kenny O'Brien. "They obviously have an axe to grind", countered Burdett-Coutts. "What we're doing is extremely valid and the reaction we've had has been extraordinary. I'd be the first to admit it has not had the enormous numbers I'd love to have through, but lots of people are very impressed with what we're doing". Whether or not Edinburgh's festival month actually needs something digital, you definitely can't beat some classic Fringe feuding.

ALL NEW PODCAST
As I think we may have mentioned once or twice, this is our 21st year covering the Edinburgh Festival, and to celebrate we launched a brand new podcast! TW:TALKS will come out all year round and see us chat to some of favourite people from the worlds of comedy, theatre, cabaret, spoken word, music, musicals and beyond. We kick things off with five interviews with former ThreeWeeks cover stars which we recorded here at the Fringe earlier this month. The first of those interviews – with Mark Thomas – is already online, plus look out for future editions in which we talk to Brendon Burns, Susan Calman, Lucy Porter and Mark Watson. Tune in and sign up at thisweektalks.com

MORE FRINGE FIRSTS
Back to awards now, and The Scotsman has dished out another batch of its Fringe First awards for new plays at the Festival. And the second batch goes to two Traverse shows – 'Daffodils (A Play With Songs)' and Mark Thomas's 'The Red Shed'; and three Summerhall shows – 'Faslane', 'Us / Them' and 'Two Man Show'; plus 'Fabric' at Underbelly and 'Tank' at the Pleasance.

AN AMUSED MOOSE
Comedy awards now, and the Amused Moose Comedy Awards took place at theSpace @ Symposium Hall last weekend. The overall winner was Larry Dean (pictured above) while Neal Portenza was runner up. The other finalists were: Eric Lampaert, Flo & Joan, James Loveridge, John Robertson, Laura Lexx, Pippa Evans, Sleeping Trees and Tom Ballard.
Three to see at the Edinburgh Festival tomorrow...

Jerry Finnegan's Sister | C nova | 12.00pm (pictured)
Three recommendations from the theatre programme today, kicking off with this C show. "The plot could have been lifted straight from a John Hughes movie, but it's none the worse for that", notes our reviewer. "A feel-good comedy with genuine heart". So go feel good.

Revolt. She Said. Revolt Again. | Traverse Theatre | 4.15pm
Next, one at the Traverse. "What stands between us and changing the way things are? This is exactly what Alice Birch looks at" in this show, reports our reviewer. It's "a frank exploration of the constraints of being a modern woman, and what would happen if we rebelled against them".

A Good Clean Heart | Underbelly Cowgate | 6.00pm
And finally, a play in both English and Welsh, though with surtitles throughout, so don't worry. "The use of the two languages helps emphasise the rift in the courses of two brothers' lives" says our reviewer. Want more? "The best play I have seen at this or any other Fringe".
WEEK TWO ISSUE OF THE THREEWEEKS MAGAZINE IS OUT NOW - DOWNLOAD OR PICK UP YOUR COPY

The Week Two 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 Patrick Monahan, Juliette Burton, Andrea Walker, Bethany Black, Frances M Lynch, Shôn Dale-Jones, zazU, Tim Renkow, Delia Olam, Stephanie Jayne Amies and Teddy Clements, plus columns from Guy Masterson, Laura London and Clair Whitefield, and lots of reviews.

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

COMEDY

Jimmy McGhie: Apologia (Live Nation & MZA)
Jimmy McGhie's defense is the trauma of his parents' divorce...over twenty years ago. However, he never actually makes it clear what he's sorry for. Despite announcing himself as "another white, middle class, male comedian", he lacks self-awareness and seems pretty proud of his boarding school upbringing and inability to speak to mechanics. His delivery and patter are polished (although he does look at his watch a lot, making the audience feel they have overstayed their welcome) but, rather than self-deprecating, McGhie reminds you of that guy who will never miss a chance to tell you that he doesn't even own a television. He looks and sounds like an established comic, but this material is forgettable.
Gilded Balloon Teviot, until 28 Aug.
tw rating 2/5 | [Francesca Peschier]

Pete Firman: TriX (Phil McIntyre Entertainment with Corrie McGuire for ROAR Comedy)
A decade ago, Pete Firman was labelled as the poster-boy for British comedy-magic – combining jokes and tricks to create what was, at the time, a rare type of Fringe show. Nowadays, magicians are on every street corner, but Firman still stands out. Sure, some of his jokes are terrible, but they're paired with his immeasurable magical talents in such a way that we really don't mind. He repeatedly plays down his act with a bad joke, only to completely blow the audience away with some magic that defies belief. And of course, as with every great show of its kind, 'TriX' boasts an utterly mind-boggling finale. Ten years may have passed, but he's still well and truly the poster-boy.
Pleasance Courtyard, until 28 Aug.
tw rating 4/5 | [Stephanie Gray]

DANCE & PHYSICAL THEATRE

The Rooster and Partial Memory (El-Funoun Palestinian Dance Troupe / SHAMS Association / Marhbtain Organization)
Energy, strength, elegance and rhythm characterize 'dabke', an ancient Arab folk dance, traditional in Palestine and Lebanon among other places, that inspires these dance pieces. Far from being a preserved series of moves, tradition and folklore bloom and evolve in these pieces to express the experiences of a generation. The dancers burst on stage full of vitality, playfulness and, in 'Partial Memory,' raw pain. There is a sense of urgency in the performances- the urgency of their message. But politics becomes poetry; the controversial issues become personal stories. It's not an easy piece, but art reveals that at the core of each problem there's a story pushing to be told, a story that we can all understand.
Dance Base, until 14 Aug.
tw rating 4/5 | [Aida Rocci]

MUSIC

Bach's St Matthew Passion (Sir John Eliot Gardiner conducts the Monteverdi Choir and English Baroque Soloists / Edinburgh International Festival)
This was three hours of a shared life experience, not just a festival concert. Picander's heartbreaking libretto was given wings by JS Bach when he wrote this Baroque masterpiece; the way these world class musicians humbly placed themselves at the service of his music kept me enthralled, moved and finally exhausted. The rise and fall of the words gave meaning to every single syllable – James Gilchrist was magnificent. The dramatic fury of the chorus and two orchestras, reserved for outbursts of raging at injustice, contrasted terrifyingly with the gentle beauty of the chorales. Reginald Mobley was a masterful alto and the period instruments were perfection itself. Completely overwhelming – how lucky I was to be there.
Usher Hall, 13 Aug.
tw rating 5/5 | [Louise Rodgers]

Elgar's The Apostles (Edward Gardner conducts the Royal Scottish National Orchestra / Edinburgh International Festival)
'The Apostles' is the story of ordinary people who did extraordinary things; the same can be said of the hundreds of musicians who came together for this performance. It was hard to remember that, apart from the RSNO and professional soloists – Karen Cargill excelled as Mary Magdalene, as did John Relya as Judas - the musicians were children, students and amateur singers, albeit superbly trained. And of course, Sir Edward Elgar rose from local church organist to composer of this masterpiece. Elgar wrote imaginatively for the organ in this cataclysmic orchestration – not hymn tunes but a sinister, otherworldly rumbling that shook the stage for this story of betrayal, death and redemption. 'Alleluia' echoed between the children's and adults' choirs – a fitting finale.
Usher Hall, 14 Aug.
tw rating 4/5 | [Louise Rodgers]

Berlioz's Roméo Et Juliette (Robin Ticciati conducts the Scottish Chamber Orchestra / Edinburgh International Festival)
They say French is the language of love, although they never mentioned helpful English supertitles. Berlioz's imaginative score was reminiscent of ballet music with two harps, woodwind including four bassoons, and lots of percussion. The SCO rose to the occasion and sparkled along, particularly harps, flutes and triangle. Soprano Magdalena Kozená as Juliette sang touchingly and The Tenebrae Consort was excellent. The Edinburgh Festival Chorus showed great personality as the warring Montagues and Capulets; their collective reaction to sorrowing Père Laurence's denouement that he had married the tragic couple ("Mariés!") was outrage personified. John Relyea, bass, commanded the stage as Père Laurence, demanding an end to the feud, and his sermon was rightly rewarded with joyful reconciliation.
The Usher Hall, 18 Aug.
tw rating 5/5 | [Louise Rodgers]

THEATRE

Dolly Wants To Die (Lung)
In a dystopian nursery, Dolly and her pal Mr. Bear are depressed. Their original, now adult, owner's life has gone to crap, seeing her return to her childhood home, and the toys' new playmate is an idiot eight-year-old obsessed with zumba. In a world of zero hour contracts, drugs and recession, only Justin Bieber is worth living for, and even his latest album is growing stale. Helen Monks is manic as the suicidal Dolly, trying to enlist the audience, armed with water pistols and brute force, to assist her in hastening her untimely demise. Monks achieves a very watchable frenzy in her energetic performance but the darkness here feels forced and Dolly's depression, treated as playtime, edges towards grotesque rather than funny.
Underbelly Cowgate, until 28 Aug.
tw rating 2/5 | [Francesca Peschier]

I Keep A Woman In My Flat Chained To A Radiator (Theatre, Apparently)
The best thing about Theatre, Apparently's new show is the intriguing title. Unfortunately, the show does not develop beyond the initial humour of the premise (Stephen keeps a woman in his flat chained to a radiator), and the same joke is belaboured for forty-five minutes. The characters lack depth and give little scope to the actors. We never find out why Stephen kidnapped the woman, or why she now feels so kindly towards him as to organise a date for him. The humour is problematic, particularly the rape joke. Getting one character to say "that's racist/sexist/homophobic" does not negate the other character's racism/sexism/homophobia. Although, admittedly, some of the audience found the jokes funny, I was not laughing.
Zoo, until 29 Aug.
tw rating 2/5 | [Hannah Greenstreet]

Shaedates: Or How I Learned To Love Myself (Shaelee Rooke)
'Shaedates' has a nice message: we should all love ourselves a little more. Sadly, that's the best thing I can say about this underwhelming production. A solo show can struggle if the character isn't likeable, and it's hard to feel anything positive towards Shae, as she meanders through life with no interests or passions and a boyfriend who clearly isn't interested in her. Her increasingly unrealistic story (including a marine-themed wedding and a psychic rock star) becomes grating, and the humour falls flat. Unfortunately, writer/performer Shaelee Rooke's message of non-ironic, wholehearted self-love just doesn't appeal to my cynical, sarcastic heart. What, I assume, is supposed to feel empowering just comes across as trite, despite the character's repeated mocking of self-help cliches.
Zoo, until 20 Aug.
tw rating 2/5 | [Gemma Scott]

Villain (Bruised Sky Productions)
'Villain' pulls no punches. A searingly honest appraisal of our tendency to judge people – strangers – harshly, in the press and on social media, it may make you regret things you have said, done, and even thought in the past. And that's where its power lies. The non-linear structure is cleverly deployed, allowing us to empathise with Rachel as she leaves uni and starts work, while simultaneously seeing the devastation wrought by her brush with infamy, as she's hounded by the paparazzi and receives online death threats. Our empathy with Rachel is absolute, as is our shame, knowing how we might judge her if we didn't know her. Timely, relevant and deftly crafted, it will leave you reeling.
Underbelly Med Quad, until 28 Aug.
tw rating 4/5 | [Andy Leask]

Equations For A Moving Body (Hannah Nicklin)
Hannah Nicklin decided that, during her thirtieth year, she would complete an Ironman triathlon event. There can't be many people who are interested in completing a 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike ride and a 26.2 mile run all in one go. But 'Equations for a Moving Body' is a look at the people who do, the people who train them, the people who support and inspire them. This solo show sees Nicklin use projected live internet pages like a PowerPoint presentation. She's an engaging performer, speaking passionately about something which she clearly cares a lot about. This makes 'Equations for a Moving Body' a delightful show, and not just for those interested in triathlons.
Northern Stage at Summerhall, until 27 Aug.
tw rating 4/5 | [Bethan Highgate-Betts]

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