SUNDAY 28 AUGUST 2016 THREEWEEKSEDINBURGH.COM
THREEWEEKS EDITORS' AWARDS 2016
As the Fringe reaches its grand finale, earlier today we presented this year's ThreeWeeks Editors' Awards, celebrating the ten people, productions and shows that, in our opinion, made this year's Edinburgh Festival particularly special.

Each winner was presented with their Editors' Award plaque at theSpace @ Symposium Hall this morning. And now, here in the penultimate TW Daily of the year, we outline why we felt each of the shows, people or groups that we celebrated were worthy of their Editors' Award.

#01: zazU (pictured)
We are, like a lot of Fringe regulars, always on the watch for new talent, and in the last few years our ears have been pricking up at any news of our first winners. Creating their own eccentric parallel universe in which to set their long-form character comedy shows, they first impressed us in 2014, garnering a four star review from our charmed critic. The following year, they provoked another four star review, and of course our undying respect, by having the cheesy temerity to name their show 'A Fête Worse Than Death'. Back this year with another amusingly entitled show – 'Raisins To Stay Alive' – they won the heart of our review team, and this time, full marks. Our first award winners are zazU.

02: John Robertson
I'm not sure how much introduction our next winner needs, really, because these days he qualifies as a Fringe veteran, a stalwart of the Edinburgh scene, and for those reasons alone he would gain our indulgence and respect. But he doesn't just hang around: for many years now, he's been making fans, achieving high acclaim and gathering good numbers of starry critiques from our writers. In a year when ThreeWeeks have given him two five out of five reviews, it's his collected body of work - his many brilliant stand up shows and his always-excellent returning 'choose your own adventure' style format 'The Dark Room' - that we want to honour. Our second winner is John Robertson.

03: ACJ Productions for 'Tomorrow, Maybe'
The Fringe always boasts a pretty good line up of musical theatre, but a great many are revivals of old chestnuts, or, um, classics, if you prefer. So, we are always interested in new musicals, and try to make sure we send reviewers to as many as possible. This year, we were so very dedicated to this task that we accidentally sent two different reviewers to see one particular new musical, which was mildly problematic. However, what this mistake did do, was to make us realise that the show in question must be pretty special: both reviewers - two very different writers, with differing tastes and different backgrounds - agreed that this was an extraordinary piece; modern, engaging and accessible, with outstanding music and fabulous delivery. Our next award goes to ACJ Productions for 'Tomorrow, Maybe'.

04: Gideon Irving
Our next winner is also new, in a sense, because this is the first time he has done a solo show in Edinburgh, after performing here for the first time last year. He has made a huge impact, though, on the ThreeWeeks team, many of whom rushed along to see him perform after they heard a first-hand account of the show from that one member of the outfit that we sent along to do the review. He offers just the kind of stuff we love: a show that defies categorisation, that combines an intimate performance with great skill, sophistication, humour and meaning. We are so impressed by his work, and the brilliant way he's developed his way of working. Our fourth winner is Gideon Irving.

05: Gaël Le Cornec
The next recipient is someone who has a longer history of performing at the Edinburgh Fringe – we first became aware of her when we saw one of her solo shows back in 2008. Her work is excellent, and she's a wonderful performer, writing and creating consistently watchable plays, but what has always drawn us to her is the way she picks her themes. We love the fact that she has tackled the stories of female artists whose stories are neglected, as well as current issues of war and migration, and, following yet another admiring four star ThreeWeeks review this year, we knew it was time to recognise her efforts. The next award goes to Gaël Le Cornec.

#06: Wil Greenway
Over the (many) years that we've been covering the Edinburgh Fringe, we've been pleased to see the rise of the storytelling style of show, and our next winner is a fine exponent of this craft, whose shows have been generating glowing reviews since 2013. The words our writers have used to describe him include: witty, beautifully crafted, wistful, impeccable, hilarious, heartbreaking, hugely entertaining, life-affirming, honest... and weird. We love his eloquence, his humour, his polished, well thought out performances. Our sixth award goes to Wil Greenway.

#07: Bob Slayer
There are myriad reasons for giving a gong to our next winner, an alternative comedian whose work at the Fringe, and elsewhere, inspires admiration from all quarters, and the desire to join in. His Heroes Of Fringe strand is legend, his pioneering Pay What You Want system is a clever way to evolve the free show model, and he's only gone and got himself a double decker bus and turned it into a fabulous mobile venue. To be honest, we should probably have given him an award already, but his inspirational decision to stage a non-stop reading of the Chilcot Report made us feel as though this is definitely the year to do it. Our next winner is Bob Slayer.

#08: RashDash
We've been watching our next recipients since about 2009, and in that time, we have never witnessed anything other than a great show. What they produce is not just brilliant theatre, not just entertainment, but stuff which, more often than not, explores some really important, relevant subjects: communication, gender, sex, masculinity, contemporary womanhood, to name just a few. They've already won awards, and they've already won much acclaim, but in recognition of years of achievement and awestruck ThreeWeeks reviewers, our next winners are RashDash.

#09: Electric Voice Theatre for 'Superwomen Of Science'
It's rare for a classical music Fringe show to do a full run, and it's probably even rarer to see one with such a distinctive agenda and themes. When we first read up on our next award-winning show, we were fascinated to hear that it not only featured the work of contemporary female composers, but that those composers had in turn been asked by the show's creator to take high achieving women – specifically scientists – as their inspiration. The result is a fun, theatrical, educational and important piece, which our reviewer was wowed by. Our penultimate award goes to 'Superwomen Of Science'.

#10: Goose
And finally we have a pair who don't look like a pair. That is to say, we think of them as something of a comedy double act, yet, one of them is the writer of the piece, whilst the other one appears on stage. Like many of the acts we've already mentioned, if you look at the ThreeWeeks archive of reviews, there are no duds – including the one they got when performing under a different name back in 2013, which got a resounding five star write-up. We love what they do, and the way they do it. Our final winners are Goose.
5/5 HIGHLY RECOMMENDED | 4/5 RECOMMENDED | 3/5 GOOD | 2/5 MEDIOCRE | 1/5 BAD  

ART & EVENTS

My Neighbourhood (Christian Stejskal)
Christian Stejskal has achieved something indescribably beautiful in 'My Neighbourhood'; a fusion of visual art, music and stories from his "double life" as a violinist in the Cairo orchestra while living with the Zabaleen, the city's informal rubbish collectors. But the stories are not about him, instead we hear about the brutal culling of the Girgis's pigs in the swine flu epidemic, the death of Mussa's brother during the 2011 Arab Spring, Moros' struggle to complete high school, the radiant Reda, and others. These are illustrated by Stejskal's remarkable documentary photographs of life in the garbage city and interspersed by violin pieces of intense pathos. The result is a unique and significant tribute to this community.
Just Festival at St John's Church, 26 Aug.
tw rating 4/5 [Jane Berg]

CHILDREN'S SHOWS

Alice (Cambridge University Amateur Dramatic Club)
This is a very physical version of 'Alice In Wonderland', and the acrobatics, trapeze, and rope-work very much take centre stage while the narrative seems like a punctuation of the action, and for that reason, it's not that easy to keep track of where the story is going. It could be argued that's hardly a problem when it's a well-loved and well-known tale like Alice, but I know it well, and still found myself a bit flummoxed at times about where exactly we'd got up to. All that said, perhaps the point of this is the circus elements, and they were impressive, far more so than I would have expected from an amateur troupe, and this was a deeply visually arresting show which kept audience members spellbound throughout.
Gilded Balloon Teviot, until 28 Aug.
tw rating 3/5 | [Caro Moses]

Storyteller Storyteller (Story Pocket Theatre)
This show wasn't quite what we were expecting, I must confess: it features two storytellers from two of Story Pocket Theatre's other shows – 'The Arabian Nights' and 'A Pocket Full Of Grimms' – and those shows were fairly wordy, and of course, brilliant. When those two storytellers get together, however, it's comedy physical mayhem and clowning that ensue, and not much in the way of talking whatsoever. In the tradition of this fabulous children's theatre company, it's beautifully done, a funny, accessible and engaging performance which had the adults laughing as loud as the children in the audience. The two performers, Ashley Bates and Luke Pitman, are excellent, using every part of their anatomies, as well as assorted props, to create a compelling and hilarious visual spectacle.
Gilded Balloon Teviot, until 29 Aug.
tw rating 4/5 | [Caro Moses]

The Fox And The Hound (Poorfool)
A lonely boy dreaming of a hunting hound, a man grieving his deceased dog and a young fur coat lover all collide in the search to kill a fox. The show includes live music, hound puppets and shadow puppets, as well as actors dressed as hounds, and although all these elements skilfully performed, it becomes slightly confusing as to why there are both puppets and real life human-hounds. The narrative also feels a little overloaded with its messages - animal protection, alcoholism, privatisation and the importance of friendship. However, the large young cast is dynamic and full of energy, bringing a positive atmosphere to the room and a highly physical vigour to the performance - I would advise people not to sit in the front row!
Greenside @ Nicolson Square, until 20 Aug.
tw rating 3/5 ⎪ [Lucrezia Pollice]

Shakin' Shakespeare (Captivate Theatre)
Over the course of the Fringe, Captivate Theatre have been putting on three different shows in rotation in their 11.30am slot, and we loved our first experience - 'Cheer Up Hamlet' - so much that we went back another day to see 'Brave MacBeth' and are slightly broken over the fact that we aren't able to fit in a visit to 'Romantic Romeo'. The songs are immensely catchy, and the scripts are excellent - clever, witty, sometimes cheesy, but always self aware and never lazy. The ensemble cast, meanwhile, are absolutely fantastic: every one of them gives a funny and committed performance, and their comic timing is a thing of beauty. Probably over the heads of little ones, but great for older children, and I am in my forties and I'd be happy to go on my own. More, please.
Gilded Balloon at The Museum, until 29 Aug.
tw rating 5/5 | [Caro Moses]

Michael Morpurgo's King Arthur (Story Pocket Theatre)
We do love Story Pocket Theatre so headed to this adaptation with high hopes, which were not disappointed. This was a beautifully rendered telling of the tale, featuring strong performances and the most adorable puppet-dog we have every laid eyes on. It's difficult to convey all the twists and turns of a long and drawn out story like Arthur's without it seeming rushed, or sketchy, and there were times when I felt as though we were racing through parts of the plot, but the cast are excellent, the set (as with their previous shows) was attractive, clever, and cleverly used, and there were no dull moments. A great show for older children, and of course, their parents and carers.
Gilded Balloon At The Museum, until 29 Aug.
tw rating 4/5 | [Caro Moses]

COMEDY

Aaaand Now For Something Completely Improvised (Racing Minds)
Granddad is telling the young ones a story, but cannot recall certain key details. And so the the audience has to fill them in – the name of the lead character, their remarkable secret, the place where the story unfolded and its title. From these base building blocks, this engaging troupe – four actor/comedians and one musician - construct or adapt a series of scenes, pulling characters from their golf-bag of archetypes to fit the emerging tale. They throw in gags, silly accents (Icelandic proving amusingly problematic in this performance) and have a largely successful attempt at bringing in some sort of a story, all while making the audience (and, for bonus points, each other) laugh. Solidly silly lunchtime fun.
Pleasance Dome, until 29 Aug.
tw rating 3/5 | [Bruce Blacklaw]

Adrian Gray's The 007 Conspiracy (Tweedle Comedy)
Adrian Gray introduces himself as a truth theorist (as he's keen to rebrand the much-maligned conspiracy theorist). After establishing his credentials with a selection of daft examples, some absurd character comedy ensues, centred around the hitherto unknown 2001 Bond movie, 'Mission Cheese'. Baffled to learn that none of the audience has heard of it, he proceeds to act out a series of unlikely scenes. To help convince us, he "goes online" to play through YouTube clips of other fans describing the scenes, except they don't match what he remembers and soon he becomes riddled with uncertainty until... well, you can go and find out. Some routines are milked to the point of fromage, but it's well-performed, inventive and deeply silly in a good way so, in that sense, mission accomplished.
Just The Tonic at the Community Project, until 28 Aug.
tw rating 4/5 | [Bruce Blacklaw]

Alex Kealy Is An Idea Whose Time Has Come (Alex Kealy)
As far as Alex Kealy's show poster goes, a better title might have been 'ideas whose time has been and gone'. Two of his three featured targets at time of production, Gove and Farage, have (sort of) left the stage, while Trump has, Kealy reflects ruefully, rather moved beyond the bounds of normal satirical convention. Kealy riffs on both this awkwardness and his own as a nerdy, posh lefty, and so the topical satire bumps alongside bits about relationship failures and boarding school. He could do with explaining his own convictions more succinctly: there's limited intentional comedy gold in explaining why you're voting for Owen Smith. However, he deadpans nicely, with mostly smart (and fresh) satirical comedy. His time may indeed come.
Underbelly Med Quad, until 29 Aug.
tw rating 3/5 | [Bruce Blacklaw]

Craig Campbell's Easy Tiger (Craig Campbell)
'Easy Tiger' is an entertaining hour of stand-up, though Craig Campbell never quite finds his roar. Campbell's natural charisma instantly endears him to the crowd because rather than twiddling his thumbs backstage before his show, he spends the time joking and interacting with the crowd. What follows is a perceptive and amusing hour of comedy, packed with anecdotes and observations. Campbell is full of excited energy but at times it boils over the top, and he unfortunately pads out good material with overtly expletive language. Furthermore, whilst his remarks about cultural differences are funny, they lack the real spark required to make people sit up and take notice. As one audience member summarised to me upon leaving: "he was good".
The Stand, until 28 Aug.
tw rating 3/5 | [John Sampson]

Darren Walsh S'pun (Live Nation in association with Tim Payne)
Darren Walsh won best joke of the Fringe last year. Law of averages, perhaps – this is a rapid fire pun show. There's pun improv, where he invites people to throw him a topic and he'll do a pun or three off the back of it – impressive, but with inevitably mixed comedic results. There are multi-media puns which are basically 'Catchphrase'. There's a game show element, where audience members spin a wheel to win the 'prize' of him doing a bit not involving puns (e.g. the theme from 'Fraggle Rock' in a South African accent), and a grand finale of prop-based, er, puns. If you like puns, you'll like most of this - some crackers, but a fair few stinkers too. A pun night out, let's say.
Pleasance Courtyard, until 29 Aug.
tw rating 3/5 | [Bruce Blacklaw]

Pete Otway: Six Years From Then (Pete Otway / Fluid Thinking)
Bookended by a love story, Pete Otway's debut solo stand-up show delves into a somewhat challenging six-year period of his life. He's got the traditional anecdotes about friends, family and a gap year in Australia, which all provide good laughs and help us get to know him. But it's the second half that provides the substance, as he talks of wrestling with mental ill health that leaves him afraid of being alone with people, for fear he will do them harm. It's an open, honest and important insight into an issue people need to discuss more. Obviously it's lighter on laughs, but it leads to a happy conclusion and a reminder that getting help is a lot more useful than fighting alone.
Just The Tonic at The Mash House, until 28 Aug.
tw rating 3/5 | [Daisy Malt]

Rahul Kohli: Newcastle Brown Male (Rahul Kohli)
Growing up in the north of England, Rahul Kohli encountered racial prejudice as a kid, before evolving the sort of layered identity we all have – "Newcastle" and "male" in equal parts with the "brown" - which he evokes nicely. In adulthood, that wasn't so much of a concern, until the events of this summer. Having entertainingly set out his own story, he's also established the grounds from which to offer a refreshingly nuanced perspective on why that might be. Whilst not everything hits the mark, it's largely smart, engaging and funny, while at other times pointedly edgy, poking around areas where he reckons the limitations of political correctness (which is "only for you honky motherfuckers") have shut down discussion among otherwise right-thinking folk.
The Stand, until 28 Aug.
tw rating 4/5 | [Bruce Blacklaw]

Wild At Heart - Free (Róisín and Chiara)
Probably the only act that'll hand feed their audience mints at this year's Fringe, 'Wild at Heart' is wacky and eccentric in the best way possible. Róisín O'Mahony and Chiara Goldsmith are devastatingly funny as they perform a host of weird and wonderful sketches. At times sensual, at times spiritual, at times baffling, they have a staggering ability to come out with hilariously unpredictable scenes that leave the audience thinking: how the hell did they get there? They ingeniously warp everyday scenarios, like a husband returning home or a doctor/patient meeting, turning them into something you'd never have dreamed of. To cap it all off, their improvisation is phenomenal.
Henry's Cellar Bar, until 24 Aug.
tw rating 5/5 | [John Sampson]

Committed To Mediocrity (Gary Lind - Australia)
'Committed to Mediocrity' is an observational comedy full of observations but short on comedy. Gavin Lind stands before you as an understated forty-something, gay South African who lives in Australia, expounding dark truths about the mediocrity of our lives. He touches on interesting themes, like apartheid South Africa and gay marriage, but never capitalises on them. Instead his set feels muddled, as confusing jokes about cups of genocide coffee and harbouring emigrant bees struggle to land with the audience. Granted, it's dark humour, but at times Lind is distasteful, veering into one particularly offensive sequence about cancer. 'Committed to Mediocrity': at least you can say he's a man of his word.
C Nova, until 29 Aug.
tw rating 2/5 | [John Sampson]

Gary Little: A Little Bit Of Personal (Gary Little)
Gary Little really isn't little – looks a wee bit like a big ex-con and, turns out, he is. Being Glaswegian, it took him a while to realise he had depression. His gag, not mine – don't write in. Anyway, this leads him to take an unhealthy interest in hillwalking. Literally – buys all the expensive shit on credit cards, walks nowhere beyond Glasgow. And so it goes, from dark places – depression, drugs, prison and online dating – to gleefully foolish anecdotes, littered with gems of comic storytelling detail and occasional filth. The second half, stories from jail, feels like it's still evolving - not sure a fight about farts is worth a 15 minute bit - but, overall, he spins a fine, funny yarn from what seems deceptively little.
The Stand, until 28 Aug.
tw rating 3/5 | [Bruce Blacklaw]

Good Kids: On Tap (Good Kids)
The Good Kids will need to do more to convince us to "save our boozers". 'On Tap' is a character comedy looking at the crusty characters in the corners of pubs, but rather than wittily illuminating these characters, the show makes you wish that this troupe had just left them undisturbed to get on with their drinking. There are sparky moments, but largely the script lacks any really sharp humour, or the observational incisiveness necessary to make a show stand out. It's altogether too samey, as the punters and publicans blend into a mesh of banality. Perhaps it's telling that the show's most impressive element is the amount of beers the performers manage to drink during the hour.
Underbelly Med Quad, until 29 Aug.
tw rating 2/5 | [John Sampson]

Grainne McGuire: Great People Making Great Choices (Live Nation in association with Troika)
Grainne McGuire is interested in stories. Those we tell ourselves, those we tell about ourselves, and the realities they may reflect or indeed fail to reflect in our individual and collective identities. From a mood-swinging father with possible IRA links, to musing as to how "romantic" 'Breakfast at Tiffany's' would be if Holly Golightly hadn't been played by Audrey Hepburn. While a couple of set-ups feel a little laboured, McGuire's engaging tales wander merrily and smartly over a lot of ground. Oh, and she live tweeted details of her menstrual cycle to the Irish Taoiseach, in response to what she viewed as his excessive interest in her ovaries as made manifest in draconian Irish abortion legislation. Now that's a story.
Pleasance Courtyard, until 29 Aug
tw rating 4/5 | [Bruce Blacklaw]

Mark Watson: I'm Not Here (Impatient Productions)
Even if you've seen him on the TV (and you probably have), this accomplished stand-up will undoubtedly surpass your expectations. Mark Watson's new show analyses common feelings of insignificance, identity and anxiety. These complex issues - increasingly relevant in today's digital age - are approached with respect, but also with an abundance of light-hearted jokes. Commencing with the tale of an airport mess up, the story shifts to a number of humorous personal anecodotes: his son wishing to replace him with Spiderman, the embarrassment of being an invisible famous comedian. His jokes appear extremely natural and unrehearsed, and his exceptional audience interaction and improvisation made my night. Honest, human but also completely hilarious!
Pleasance Dome, until 29 Aug.
tw rating 4/5 ⎪[Lucrezia Pollice]

Max & Ivan: Our Story (Mick Perrin Worldwide in association with Dawn Sedgwick Management )
Character/long form sketch duo Max and Ivan comically tell the story of the summer of their first encounter, whilst attending Scouts and a wrestling camp. They're undoubtedly talented, sharp and skilful actors, who adopt an impressive number of accents and physicalities, while impersonating a huge range of diverse characters. The sketches are infused with singing, music, nudity, audience participation and an overload of puns. The story however becomes a bit predictable halfway through, and seems at times too rehearsed. Trip-ups are remarkably saved by humorous improvisations, which rather makes you wish it happened more often, as the spontaneous moments brought the greatest laughter. Overall though, a truly wonderful, ridiculous but also meaningful story, which will make you roar with laughter.
Pleasance Dome, until 29 Aug.
tw rating 3/5 ⎪ [Lucrezia Pollice]

Patrick Melton: My Least Favourite Everything (Pantswise Productions)
A chronological appraisal of Patrick Melton's show: good, baaaaaaaaaaad, good. Initially he's full of witty, idiosyncratic observations about the UK but, as the American comic's set progresses, the perceptive material disappears and a far less appetising routine emerges. Melton's tactic is to shock with brash comments like "I got into a fight with a midget on Twitter," and then he deconstructs the remark in the hope of humour. Unfortunately this works with limited success and Melton too often comes across as pig-headed. It's cringey and uncomfortable viewing, as he haplessly ploughs on in the same offensive furrow, before finding a small salvation at the end. Though bookended by quality, the show's main body leaves a lot to be desired.
Underbelly Med Quad, until 29 Aug.
tw rating 2/5 | [John Sampson]

Paul F Taylor: Sour Apes (Paul F Taylor / PBH's Free Fringe)
Paul F Taylor bursts onto the stage and doesn't stop until he is wrestled off, after an amazing hour of laughs. Comics talking about the comedy industry and their position in it, as Taylor does, has the potential to become alienating. However it's kept entirely relatable here, as we can all appreciate tales about a lack of money, or the bad decisions of our past selves. Deconstructing classic jokes, and following them on flights of fancy that always stay the right side of absurd, Taylor bounds around the stage, smiling at us as we roar with laughter. Running into the depths of nonsense with twisted logic, Taylor is a comic maverick.
Bannermans, until 28 Aug.
tw rating 4/5 | [Olly Jacques]

23, Please: The Sketch Show That Never Was (Two Thirds Comedy)
'23, Please' is not quite a fantastical dream, but it's close, as bizarre happenings start to unfurl, from Genghis Khan's motivational speeches to croissant-based wordplay. There is serious promise in this Cambridge Footlights trio's debut, the 23 sketches are snappy and many showcase a creative Python-esque surrealism. Enrico Hallworth in particular has great presence and timing, encompassing a slightly wacky, very classically British sense of humour, which proved popular with the show's audience. "One to watch" is an overused phrase in comedy but, despite still being slightly immature and in need of a good edit, I truly believe 'Two Thirds Comedy' will develop into a Fringe stalwart.
C Nova, until 29 Aug.
tw rating 3/5 | [Francesca Peschier]

The Travelling Sisters (The Travelling Sisters)
Looking for some ridiculous, absurd, proficient character comedy? These Australian women perform a work-in-progress bundle of fast-paced, farcical sketches. Performing the most bizarre range of characters, they repeatedly amuse the audience with their originality, and hilarious facial expressions. There's well-conducted audience interaction - the fourth wall is constantly broken – and all tastes are satisfied, thanks to its randomness and diversity. It's this randomness, however, that creates a lack of direction, and the episodic approach makes the performance seem somewhat incomplete. The live music and singing plays an important role in some sketches but seems to be purposeless in others, yet, despite this, it adds up to a very amusing show.
Pleasance Courtyard, until 29 Aug.
tw rating 3/5 ⎪[Lucrezia Pollice]

Twins: Two Balls In A Bag (Berks Nest and the Pleasance)
Part murder-mystery, part incestuous love story, 'Twins: Two Balls In A Bag' makes for an odd and entertaining hour. Annie McGrath and Jack Barry, playing comically badly-matched identical twins, make a ridiculous pair as they guide us through a mad array of sketches in search of their grandma's murderer. The wheels come off slightly but the pair embrace it and there's something infectious about the show's looseness. Unfortunately, they're guilty of re-hashing too many misfired jokes, in the hope that they might land a second or third time, and the incestuous plot line grows increasingly crass. However, for the most part, the twins have created a suitably amusing hour of chaotic entertainment.
Pleasance Courtyard, until 28 Aug.
tw rating 3/5 | [John Sampson]

DANCE & PHYSICAL THEATRE

Once... (Derevo)
'Once...' is a story about unrequited love and unrequited death. The dreamlike, almost grotesque world that Derevo creates on stage does not appeal to logic, but to visual connections that challenge the rules of reality and beauty. It's better to let go and let it affect you. Yet, although Derevo's clowning style is smart and developed, the characters are fascinatingly constructed and the design is very special, the emotional impact of the story gets lost at some points. Without that emotional anchor, it's hard to latch on to the story and remember the images. Still, Derevo is a seasoned sailor in the clowning and physical theatre waters, and manages to create an oneiric piece that leaves a tangible impact.
Assembly George Square Theatre, until 29 Aug.
tw rating 3/5 | [Aida Rocci]

MUSIC

The Sanctuary Of The Minds (Solotronik / Ribbentrop Factory, Spain)
I watched the two computer screens in this performance with increasing bewilderment, as I listened to the dance music accompanying the projections. It started with some pictures, then effects were added and I thought "Now it'll get interesting". But it didn't. The films didn't tell an intelligible story and I just didn't think the music was particularly good. The DJ, seated at a computer keyboard between audience and screens, wore various pairs of glasses with lights on them during the performance but even that didn't cheer me up. It didn't even help when he impersonated a Japanese warrior. Had I been dancing and not sitting in a theatre I may have enjoyed the show more – I'll never know.
C nova, until 29 Aug.
tw rating 2/5 | [Louise Rodgers]

MUSICALS

The Snow Child (Bloody Chamber Opera)
This new opera is gorgeously gothic, a sliver of winter nostalgia in the midst of all the summer madness. I think Bloody Chamber Opera chose their material well - the idea of seeing Angela Carter's macabre short story set to music was hard to resist; especially because it's such a short story, barely 500 words. The opera managed to reach its advertised 30 minutes with a little help from Tennyson, whose poem 'The Deserted House' forms the prologue of the show. This worked well; the aria was enchanting and set a ghostly scene for Carter's fairy tale. And, though the whole felt a little staid, the harmonies in the opening words, "Midwinter - invincible, immaculate," will give you goosebumps.
Paradise in Augustines, until 26 Aug.
tw rating 4/5 | [Jane Berg]

SPOKEN WORD

The Glummer Twins (The Glummer Twins)
Poetic creations such as 'Middle Aged Men in Lycra' and 'Mediterranean Homesick Blues' appear in this comical spoken word show. David Harmer and Ray Globe command the stage with great chemistry and experienced ease as The Glummer Twins. Their poems are light and humorous, laced with simple, snappy rhymes. It's essentially a nostalgia trip, as the pair amusingly reflect on their lives and the changes in British society since their childhoods. A highlight is their homage to the emergence of hip-hop with their rap, fittingly entitled, 'Middle Class Fat Bloke, Elderly Rapper'. However, their show struggles to find universal appeal, gaining much more traction amongst the older audience members. All said though, it's a fun, unpretentious hour.
Paradise at the Vault, until 28 Aug.
tw rating 3/5 | [John Sampson]

The Shaken And The Stirred (Centre For Creative Learning)
It was a cosy and inspiring hour I passed at the Scottish Arts Club, thanks to four Canadian poets who shared their latest work there. It was pleasure to see four artists with such distinguished publishing careers collaborating together and creating such a warm atmosphere. We heard depictions of paternal wonder in Steven Heighton's 'A Cosmos', powerful longing in Ian Burgham's 'Eurydice', Catherine Graham delivered exquisite sylvan imagery, while Jeanette Lynes re-imagined John Clare's unconventional life. If you missed 'The Shaken and the Stirred' this year, you can read their poetry in the latest edition of 'Gutter Magazine', also launched at the Fringe. I certainly hope this Canadian contingent will return next summer.
The Scottish Arts Club, until 23 Aug.
tw rating 5/5 | [Jane Berg]

THEATRE

Bubble Revolution (Polish Theatre Ireland)
While the world was going through political revolutions, including the fall of communism, Vica was going through her "Bubble Revolution". This one-woman show will speak to anyone who remembers how, when growing up, every discovery felt like a personal revolution. But in the case of Vica, her fondness for bubble gum and Coca-Cola coincided with a radical change in her childhood Poland, from communism to consumerism. But the aftermath of a revolution is never as hopeful as the event itself. 'Bubble Revolution' shows the personal side of our recent history in a charming, bittersweet and nostalgic way. For Polish people who grew up in the nineties, the play must feel incredibly familiar; for the rest, it's more than eye-opening.
New Town Theatre, until 28 Aug.
tw rating 3/5 | [Aida Rocci]

Grey Matter (SPASM)
This play brings to life psychologist Adrian Raine's theory of how, by 2034, all eighteen-year-olds will be brain scanned to determine their potential for assault or murder; and still-innocent suspects will be locked up in neurotreatment facilities. Four LED panels, a huge industrial light and a pool table create an ingenious set, which perfectly conveys an institutional structure and is additionally complemented by elaborate projections. 'Grey Matter' is a courageous attempt to tackle hypothetical issues which may one day become a reality. Unfortunately however, the story lacks action, the acting is weak (apart from a few exceptions) and there is an overload of unnecessary transitions, blackouts and cast members. I'd suggest researching the subject matter of this play before seeing it, so you can fully appreciate it.
C nova, until 29 Aug.
tw rating 2/5⎪[Lucrezia Pollice]

Inferno (UCLU Runaround)
Physically distorted and entwined bodies create the creatures of Hell in UCLU Runaround's 'Inferno', a new adaptation of Dante Alighieri's epic poem. Two central performers play Dante and Virgil, as they travel through the nine rings of Hell past all the horrors, created by the other six cast members through effective and imaginative physical transformations. The show, rather than having a developing narrative story, is a series of interesting interactions with the beasts, performed with great dedication and enthusiasm. The real highlight is the original score paired with live water projections, which fits perfectly with the action on stage and hugely enhances the atmosphere.
Spotlites, until 23 Aug.
tw rating 3/5 | [Olly Jacques]

All Might Seem Good (Bear Pit Theatre)
Two old friends meet on a park bench after years apart. He tries to convince her that luck and coincidence actually exist, in a series of scenes acted out by the rest of the talented young cast. These verbatim stories range from the fantastic to the mundane, from a young child mysteriously saved from drowning, to a horse racing win that quickly became a loss. These scenes are all performed in a highly stylised, physical manner, with precise choreography. Unfortunately, the dialogue between the two main characters feels oddly clinical, as he talks to her about her "locus of control", and their relationship feels forced. This is a visually appealing, but narratively disconnected piece of physical theatre.
C venues, until 28 Aug.
tw rating 3/5 | [Gemma Scott]

Dublin Oldschool (Project Arts Centre)
'Dublin Oldschool' transports you to the centre of an exhilarating journey through Dublin, fuelled by cheap pills and cheap cans. Emmet Kirwan's electric spoken word script is a sublime poetic achievement, brilliantly capturing the frenetic pace and peculiarities of a rave. Powered by superlative performances from Kirwan and Ian Lloyd Anderson, at its heart, 'Dublin Oldschool' is a play about the impact of drugs on the relationship between two brothers. Amongst all the frenzy and hysteria, the play's finest moments are its most intimate, exploring the irreconcilable problems between the brothers, caused by the elder's addiction to heroin. Examining the delicate balance between not wasting youth and simply becoming a waster, 'Dublin Oldschool' is a piercing, poignant piece of drama.
Pleasance Courtyard, until 29 Aug.
tw rating 5/5 | [John Sampson]

Life By The Throat (Most Wanted)
'Life By The Throat' is a gripping one-woman show, about the life of one man. Writer/performer Eve Steele is phenomenal as the troubled, dangeous Jamie Keogh. The performance is visceral – Steele prowls across the stage, the young boy's attempted swagger becoming increasingly real. We see him grow up in Manchester, from a young child with bad influences, who loves running and crisps, through a seemingly endless cycle of poverty, violence, drugs, theft, incarceration and addiction. The writing is poignant, taut and charged full of humanity. The story itself is tragic but familiar – an understandable, though not entirely likeable face to put to the prison statistics. 'Life By The Throat' is a moving exploration of how our circumstances shape us.
Underbelly, Cowgate, until 28 Aug.
tw rating 5/5 | [Gemma Scott]

Lost In Blue (Debs Newbold and Nimble Fish)
Debs Newbold's storytelling show, 'Lost In Blue', takes us back to basics. Over the course of ninety minutes, she delivers a beautiful and intricate story about a teenager's relationship with her mother, with her father, who is in a coma, and with art. Newbold is a great storyteller. Her performance style is understated but she has a quiet presence and holds the stage, while deftly differentiating characters. Newbold does some amazing things with a microphone and loop deck, conjuring up the soundscapes of a pigeon loft and a ventilator, amongst other things. My only criticism is that the show is too long, particularly for the Fringe; it could be cut by a good twenty minutes. Nonetheless, a thoughtful and well crafted show.
Summerhall, until 28 Aug.
tw rating 4/5 | [Hannah Greenstreet]

Octopus (Fine Mess Theatre / Paper Tiger Productions)
In 'Octopus', three women are called for an interview, to determine their level of "Britishness" and therefore how much support they're entitled to from the state. There's a white, well-meaning woman who "doesn't see race" and "loves curry"; a young Iranian woman who loves punk and is scared of being deported; and a British-Indian accountant who believes that financial contribution to society should count above race. It's an interesting premise, looking at how race and identify can be classified, though the musical elements distracted from the narrative and some of the humour felt a little forced. In the current political climate, this is a relevant production, examining what it really means to be British.
Assembly George Square Theatre, until 28 Aug.
tw rating 3/5 | [Gemma Scott]

Pond Wife (Holly&Ted)
Holly&Ted have created a colourful, inventive show in 'Pond Wife', filled with bubbles, ribbons and massive amounts of glitter. In a slightly confusing narrative – a modern retelling of Andersen's 'The Little Mermaid' – the mermaid heads to the shore to find her favourite pop star, and helps her to write her next greatest hit. It's a charming tale, filled with "girl power" messages and endless lyrics from 90s pop songs. Though, if you spent the 90s listening to more Britpop than Britney and Beyoncé, then some of these references might be lost on you. 'Pond Wife' is a play best suited to a very specific age group, but it's nonetheless an engaging, positive show.
Underbelly, Cowgate, until 28 Aug.
tw rating 3/5 | [Gemma Scott]

Skrimshanks (Flabbergast Theatre)
This is audience participation at its most terrifying. Two grotesque, distorted clowns guide you into the room, where you'll be made to sit or stand, as they choose. It makes no difference, however, as even an interesting haircut or a nice necklace could make you a target for their attention. In this nightmarish, fantastical performance, the two performers will interrogate, speculate and intimidate, until you're left questioning all of your decisions. At times it seems completely improvised, until the music kicks in and you realise that we're playing this game exactly as they want us to. One man walked out in disgust, the rest of us ended up spooning each other in a pile on the floor. Come join us, if you're feeling brave.
Assembly George Square Theatre, until 28 Aug.
tw rating 4/5 | [Gemma Scott]

The Mission (The Outbound Project)
If you were given the choice to go on a one-way solo mission to explore the universe and save humanity, would you take it? This is the choice given to Jenny in The Outbound Project's first show, 'The Mission'. Using well choreographed, slick physical theatre and few props, they tell a story that moves easily and inventively from Jenny's flat, to astronaut training centres to tv studios. The script, although well put together with clear storytelling, doesn't make us engage fully with Jenny emotionally. We don't have enough time to get to know who she is and so don't really understand why she makes the decisions she does. Nonetheless, a beautifully visual show from a very interesting company.
Pleasance Courtyard, until 29 Aug.
tw rating 3/5 | [Olly Jacques]

Nel (Scratchworks Theatre Company)
'Nel' is a foley artist in the midst of an identity crisis. A foley artist creates analogue sound effects, usually for radio and, whilst this is certainly not the first production to bring this often strange art onto the stage, there were audible gasps at the ingenious effects, including a hot water bottle masquerading as a cat. Sian Keen is brilliantly expressive as the introverted but imaginative Nel, but plot points are lost as the musical numbers are just not loud or clear enough for the audience to follow the narrative lyrics. Scratchworks Theatre are a playful company, displaying moments of truly endearing inventiveness, but the story needs to shine at the same level as their special effects.
Pleasance Dome, until 29 Aug.
tw rating 3/5 | [Francesca Peschier]

The South Afreakins (Impi Theatre Company Presents...)
Feeling unsafe and unhappy in her native South Africa, Helene wants to emigrate to New Zealand, whether her husband Gordon wants to or not. Writer/performer Robyn Paterson plays both halves of the couple with good physicalisation, switching between the two characters with quick turns of the head. Unfortunately, that was the only quick thing about this show, as the story never really picks up momentum. With too much time spent on moments that don't drive the plot, it soon becomes a character study of two not very interesting characters. Phone calls to characters we don't see are overused, and these moments struggle to create an emotional response. A well performed piece but a story unsure of what is driving the action.
Spotlites, until 28 Aug
tw rating 2/5 | [Olly Jacques]

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