Shôn Dale-Jones – who you may be more familiar with via his Hugh Hughes series of shows – is this year performing in 'The Duke', a new show inspired by both his own life and the current refugee crisis, which explores themes of kindness and generosity as well as loneliness.

We gave Shôn a ThreeWeeks Editors' Award back in the late 2000s, which I think proves we have always been fans of his work. But with such an interesting new show, now seemed like a good time to catch up with him, about 'The Duke', his company Hoipolloi, and his love of the Edinburgh Fringe. Read the interview here.

Shôn Dale-Jones performs 'The Duke' at Pleasance Courtyard until 29 Aug.

ThreeWeeks co-Editor Chris Cooke will be putting the spotlight on free speech and censorship when he delivers his 'Free Speech' - a free speech on free speech - at theSpace @ Symposium Hall this Friday and Saturday. As a taster, here he considers the challenges of defending free speech, especially when that involves idiots who just said something idiotic. Read the column here and book free tickets for the show here.

Chris Cooke's Free Speech is being performed at theSpace @ Symposium Hall on Friday 26 and Saturday 27 Aug at 10.30am. 
Three to see at the Edinburgh Festival tomorrow...

The Marked | Pleasance Dome | 1.30pm
A top tip from the theatre programme. "This empathetic story about London's homeless has been brought to life with care, honesty and sensitivity" says our reviewer. "The show includes wondrous magical elements, such as the dustbin transforming into a tent, monstrous creatures appearing from the darkness, and characters switching from demon to human. A marvellous journey, which ended too quickly" they conclude. "I only wish I could see it again!"

Lucy McCormick: Triple Threat | Underbelly Cowgate | 8.10pm
More theatre, and a "darkly funny show" retelling the New Testament in three acts. "With twisted comedy in tow, the show is free to delve pretty much anywhere", our reviewer observes, before concluding: "A definite must see".

Aunty Donna | Gilded Balloon Teviot | 10.00pm (pictured)
And finally some comedy that is "fast and furious and so beautifully weird". Says our reviewer of the Aunty Donna guys: "They're basically clowns in suits who will sing, dance and maybe even sit in your lap, all while generating enough heat to power the lights in the venue (probably). This is superb mayhem that is, quite simply, not to be missed". So don't miss it.

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


Aaron Calvert: Mind Games (Aaron Calvert, Mind Reader and Hypnotist / PBH's Free Fringe)
Full disclosure: Aaron Calvert read my mind, and I have been previously been sent off Derren Brown's stage for not being suggestive enough. There is nothing mould-breaking in Calvert's slick routine of hypnosis and mind games but he delivers trick after trick with a precision and pace that matches his mesmerist clicking fingers. This qualified doctor has a reassuring bedside manner that he brings to the stage, which gets the Fringe audience, often keen to spot-the-trick, easily on side and rooting for his success. There may not be much shock and awe but Calvert delivers a great bite-sized, lunchtime showcase of his abilities. And no, he read my mind, he didn't hypnotise me to say that. I think...
La Belle Angèle, until 28 Aug.
tw rating 4/5 | [Francesca Peschier]


Babushka: A Sketch Show (Little Apple Productions)
Taking Fringe promotion to the extreme, by flyering in their own show, Babushka deliver an hour of good fun sketches. This three-man group use the loose frame of Russian dolls to create sketches about anything they find funny. Mainly playing versions of themselves, the lads let the script provide the jokes using no costumes or props. A combination of clever word play and plain silly jokes means they'll hit the mark with all audiences. Some of the sketches using social stereotypes feel as if we may have seen them before, but the rest are original enough to cover this. An undeniably funny show from three very talented writers.
Just The Tonic at The Mash House, until 28 Aug.
tw rating 4/5 | [Olly Jacques]

Croft & Pearce Are Not Themselves (Croft & Pearce)
An hour-long slice of modern Britain, created by two funny performers. With their material featuring a range of subjects, from WI teapot collecting women to a children's dream-crushing Brown Owl, Hannah Croft and Fiona Pearce deliver lots of well thought out sketches, all of which link with and cross over one another. In the first few scenes they create worlds easily and effortlessly using mime, so when they start to use costumes and props in later sketches it's a little disappointing. However, their tight script and great characterisation makes up for this, with most of the laughs coming from relatable characters. They could do with a few more punchlines, but overall this is an enjoyable hour from a talented duo.
Underbelly George Square, until 28 Aug.
tw rating 3/5 | [Olly Jacques]

Laurence Clark: Independence (CKP by arrangement with Delphine Manley)
When you have a disability, everyone around you wants to help you to be independent; the trouble is, they'll often have their own ideas about what that means. Laurence Clark is here to show you that sometimes it's better to let those concerned make those decisions for themselves; even if you do need someone who can do up your jeans for you. He's got some good gags, plus a great argument for why he should be the next Harry Potter. Drawing on the funny side of disability (yes, there is one, and it's OK to laugh), Laurence invites you to chuckle at the things he can't do, and cheerfully mocks those who think they know best.
Assembly George Square Theatre, until 28 Aug.
tw rating 3/5 | [Daisy Malt]

Randy Writes A Novel (Brett Vincent for Get Comedy)
Sammy J's erstwhile comic partner Randy has written his first novel, 'Walking to Skye', and wants to read some excerpts to you. Just not until he's been off on a few tangents, and ranted about people pulled over by the police, why you should go vegan, and buying things on Gumtree. For a purple puppet he's incredibly astute, philosophising about culture and human nature, while dropping in some rather interesting literary facts along the way. A show starring a puppet might sound gimmicky, but actually - as those who have seen him in previous shows will know - Randy is a totally believable character that enhances what, on its own, would still be remarkably good stand-up. Will Randy ever get around to reading his novel? You'll have to go to find out for yourself.
Underbelly Potterow, until 29 Aug.
tw rating 4/5 | [Daisy Malt]

Robin Morgan: Free Man (So Comedy by arrangement with Troika)
With his attempts to conquer the Welsh death metal scene behind him, all Robin Morgan was hoping for by the end of 2014 was that his girlfriend would say yes. But she didn't. In his début Fringe hour, Morgan takes us through the proposal 'story' he so desperately wanted to create. While not the most riotous of stand-up routines, his love story with a twist certainly captures the hearts of the audience. Flashbacks to Morgan's youth win some good laughs, and while always softly spoken in his delivery, he is at the same time wonderfully cheeky and engaging, ensuring we never lose interest in the story he has to tell – even when we think we know the ending.
Just The Tonic @ The Caves, until 28 Aug.
tw rating 3/5 | [Stephanie Gray]

A Sketchy History (Three Men In A Boot)
Cowering below ground, due to the nuclear apocalypse triggered by Brexit, Jack, Olly and Wes are worried that human history is going to be lost. So they're going to retell it, their way. Many sketch shows use history as a basis well, but unfortunately this isn't one of them. Most sketches are predictable from the start, and those that do work are laboured over for too long, managing to raise only a few chuckles throughout. Some of the later sketches have a cruder tone, which sit at odds with the silly history at the beginning. However, worse than that is their decision to perform whole sketches sitting on the floor where they can't be seen by anyone.
Just The Tonic at The Community Centre, until 28 Aug.
tw rating 2/5 | [Olly Jacques]

Under Cover With The Naked Stand-Up (Miss Glory Pearl)
"Is this liberating or just ridiculous?" asks Miss Glory Pearl (in all her glory), as she invites the audience to dress her by vote in this lecture on underwear and its relation to body image. She informs us that she used to be a teacher and it's that quiet authority she brings to the stage, which means that despite being starkers there will be plenty of giggles (but not at her nakedness) at the back. Her lecture is not particularly in depth but wry observations such as the "bra paradox" are astute. This show slightly struggles to find its identity between its lesson-like elements, its libidinousness and the comedy, but Miss Glory Pearl inspires confidence, both in how quickly her nudity ceases to be anything shocking and in her frank laying bare of everyone's insecurities.
theSpace @ Surgeons Hall, until 27 Aug.
tw rating 4/5 | [Francesca Peschier]


Bhumi (The Bhumi Collective)
'Bhumi' is a meeting point between British and Malay music, language and identity, and a discovery for both sides. Between dance and physical theatre, it's an invitation to discover Malay culture through various sequences. It combines different styles of dancing, some energetic and martial, others slow and delicate, such as the love dance which was the high point of the show. Most elements were enjoyable in a purely aesthetic sense, but if there was a narrative to the different sections it was lost in translation. The questioning of Malay identity and culture, both ancient and contemporary, in relationship to the rest of the world isn't very clear, but it is still an enjoyable cultural journey.
theSpace @ Niddry St, until 27 Aug.
tw rating 3/5 | [Pénélope Hervouet]


Edinburgh Renaissance Band At St Marks (Edinburgh Renaissance Band)
I have something to confess to you – I love early instruments; I like their names, their funny shapes and their sound. Add to this authentic early dancing – including an Errol Flynn-type sword dance, where two men danced past each other with blades drawn like a jousting match – and I was entranced. There was community singing, where we all joined in with the last verse of psalm 42. And I learned things, like the fact that my favourite looking instrument, the serpent, was invented in 1590. The theme was inspired by the anniversaries of Cervantes and Shakespeare and therefore comprised Spanish and English compositions. This was an hour of historically accurate, good humoured entertainment and I have one last word – crumhorn.
artSpace @ StMarks, until 20 Aug.
tw rating 4/5 | [Louise Rodgers]


Chains On Sink Plugs (David Nicol)
When David Nicol was born, he weighed no more than a bag of sugar. He was put in an incubator and his parents were told that he would be akin to a vegetable. This is hard to believe when sitting in the audience, laughing along with this articulate and relaxed performer. Nichol's first solo show, 'Chains on Sink Plugs', is a look back at his life in Scotland and at what it's like to live everyday with a disability. Rooted in humour, the show is a heart-warming 50 minutes of autobiographical storytelling. It's an important story, the likes of which we don't often get the chance to hear, and one that David tells with passion, humour and charm.
Forest Fringe, until 19 Aug.
tw rating 4/5 | [Bethan Highgate-Betts]

Chopping Chillies (Guy Masterson - Theatre Tours International)
Walk a mile in someone's shoes to know them; walk 4,000 miles, and you may strike the depth of compassion reached in this quietly powerful tale of an Indian cobbler exiled in Camden. Through a captivating performance by solo storyteller Clair Whitefield, the audience follows the path of Ajna, a widower who swaps the Ganga's holy waters for the "black spine" of London's Northern Line. Struggling to make sense of both his grief and city life, Ajna becomes a reluctant taste-tester for the woman next door's gap-yah inspired Indian kitchen. Their unlikely friendship is a gently comic backdrop to an aching but ultimately uplifting portrayal of life after loss, the imprint of which lasts long after the performance ends.
Assembly Roxy, until 28 Aug.
tw rating 4/5 | [Sarah Richardson]

Dark Vanilla Jungle (Fear No Colours)
Aea Varfis-van Warmelo tries to hold the stage as Andrea, a young woman whose desperate quest to be loved has led her into surreal darkness and horror. The extreme violence just don't sound right in Varfis-van Warmelo's elegant voice, and her delivery only has two paces, either a feverish build to screaming or a stream of consciousness that sounds more like the actor attempting to learn her lines. Whilst Philip Ridley works best when stripped back to the most elemental, the table and jacket-draped chair seem to have come straight from a C Venues corridor, instead of an interrogation room. Fear No Colours have two Ridley plays at the Fringe this year, I'd advise you to see the other one.
C Nova, until 29 Aug.
tw rating 2/5 | [Francesca Peschier]

Empty Beds (Pennyworth Production)
Julia Cranney's new play subtly explores the impact of cuts to mental health services, which mean that the only bed available to a hospitalised person might be far away from relatives. 'Empty Beds' is set in a train-carriage (with an astoundingly authentic set design by Anna Reid). Tempers fray between the Wyld sisters, who, it is gradually revealed, are travelling to visit their brother in a psychiatric ward. Cranney's writing , along with superb acting by Matilda Tucker, Carys Wright and Cranney herself, deftly captures the dynamics of sisterly relationships, veering from light-hearted teasing to seriously wounding recriminations. Unfortunately the ending of the play is rather abrupt, leaving aspects of the funding crisis and the sisters' relationships with their brother unexplored.
Underbelly Cowgate, until 28 Aug.
tw rating 4/5 | [Hannah Greenstreet]

Gratiano (Grist To The Mill Productions)
Gratiano is not a character I remember from Shakespeare's 'The Merchant of Venice' (he's Bassiano's friend, who marries Portia's servant Nerissa). Grist to the Mill's work-in-progress show explores what it's like to be a "sidekick" rather than the "hero" of one's own life. What makes this show refreshingly different from the innumerable adaptations of Shakespeare plays, told from a minor character's perspective, is its political engagement. Ross Ericson sets the events and their aftermath in 1940s Fascist Italy, tracing how hateful, anti-Semitic rhetoric can lead to genocide. Ericson delivers a compelling performance in this one-man show as the brusque, heavy-drinking Gratiano. Although the set-up of the show as a police interview doesn't quite work, there is enormous potential.
Spotlites, until 28 Aug.
tw rating 4/5 | [Hannah Greenstreet]

Howie The Rookie (Revived Emmanuel Dramatic Society)
Set in the suburbs of 1990s Dublin, Mark O'Rowe's critically acclaimed 'Howie the Rookie' is a play of two intimate, affecting halves, and this summer it's been brought to Edinburgh by students of Cambridge University. Actors Tom Taplin and Ed Limb tackle O'Rowe's monologues to an incredibly high standard, simultaneously portraying both the powerful, violent energy and the intense depth of emotion written into O'Rowe's poetic, unrelenting verse. An entirely bare stage means focus is solely on the performance, and what a performance it is! 'Howie the Rookie' tells a truly tragic tale; one of two young namesakes, with only their appetite for destruction in common, drawn into a world of violence.
Paradise in The Vault, until 28 Aug.
tw rating 4/5 | [Stephanie Gray]

How (Not) To Live In Suburbia (Annie Siddons)
There is a stigma attached to admitting to being lonely in today's digitally connected world. Annie Siddons's strikingly honest new show recounts what happened when the "walrus of loneliness" came to call, following a move to the suburbs with her daughters and the breakdown of her marriage. Siddons combines solo performance (plus a helper in a red wig playing her at points) with hilarious snippets of film, co-made with Richard deDomenici, dramatising her failed attempts to fit in in "Twickenham, home of rugby". The show is packed with zany touches, such as representing her daughters with two olive trees, which make the difficult moments more bearable to watch. A relatable and surprisingly uplifting show about loneliness and living.
Summerhall, until 28 Aug.
tw rating 4/5 | [Hannah Greenstreet]

Leaf by Niggle (Puppet State Theatre Company)
As narrator Richard Medrington tells us from the off, if you came to this latest adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien's fiction expecting elves and orcs, you'll be disappointed. Nevertheless, 'Leaf by Niggle', one of Tolkien's lesser known stories, shares the hallmarks of his style that will be familiar to readers. Niggle is a fussy little painter and a procrastinator, who nevertheless has a vision and a destiny involving sacrifice and redemption. With engaging storytelling, Medrington brings Niggle's journey to life, although the lengthy discussion of props is unnecessary and stretches the piece. Still, this touching tale, with autobiographical hints, is a perfect example of Tolkien's belief in the significance of fairy tales.
Scottish Storytelling Centre, until 28 Aug.
tw rating 4/5 | [Jane Berg]

Not The Horse (Naughty Corner Productions)
Tony is in deep. He only has four days to find £250,000, otherwise terrible things will happen to him. After losing an illegal horse racing bet with a group of gangsters, Tony, along with sidekicks Paul and Stan, embarks on a crazy and hilarious journey involving horse semen and ketamine. In this gangster movie parody, gangster Dom Jones and his crew are too thick and not evil enough, while Tony and his mates are simply clueless. With an energetic cast, this hilarious rip-off is fast-paced and at times completely absurd. The high point is certainly Stan's drug trip, after he accidentally injects himself with horse tranquillizer. 'Not The Horse' is unpretentious fun for anyone looking for a good laugh.
theSpace on the Mile, until 27 Aug.
tw rating 4/5 | [Pénélope Hervouet]

The Road To Huntsville (Stephanie Ridings)
"Danielle Steel married a man who raped a woman while they were together," says Stephanie Ridings, utterly bewildered, adding, "I don't get it". With macabre fascination, she begins an investigation into why women fall in love with convicts. But does her research go too far when she begins a correspondence with Johnny, who is on death row in Texas for homicide? Ridings makes a strong case against the "state sanctioned homicide" that takes place in execution chambers such as The Huntsville Unit, and she deserves credit for finding an original inroad into the issue. Her clever synthesis of fact and fiction will leave you with the overriding question: is this for real?
Summerhall, until 28 Aug.
tw rating 3/5 | [Jane Berg]

Zero (Popcorn Productions)
"Can't wait to find out if she killed herself?" 'Zero' tells the harrowing story of Beth's relationships in the lead up to her 21st birthday, and it's a story that is all too familiar in the news these days. This one woman play, written by Rachel Ruth Kelly, flows effortlessly and naturally. Beth switches from funny and light to discussing the tougher moments in her life - from her friend Molly's larger-than-life way of saying whatever she wants, to the moving relationship with her sister. Grace Vance's Beth never becomes pitiable and she has an inner strength that makes the character intriguing. More could perhaps be left for the audience to guess at, but 'Zero' will certainly leave you with a lasting impression.
Underbelly Cowgate, until 28 Aug.
tw rating 4/5 | [Olly Jacques]

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