This August the Edinburgh Festival celebrates its 70th anniversary. To mark the occasion, we have asked a plethora of performers about their personal Fringe experiences. Today sketch comedy stars Gein's Family Giftshop.

CLICK HERE to read Gein's Family Giftshop's answers to the Quick Quiz.

Gein's Family Giftshop are performing 'Volume 3' at Pleasance Courtyard until 28 Aug.
It's the latest TW:TALKS podcast from Edinburgh Festival 2017. This time ThreeWeeks Editors' Award winner John Robertson, who is back at the festival with both a new stand-up show and the Fringe institution that is 'The Dark Room'. We chat to John about his career in comedy from the very start to the latest show, with lots of Edinburgh experiences along the way.

CLICK HERE to tune in to this edition of TW:TALKS - going live very soon!

John Robertson performs 'Dominant' at The Stand, 'The Dark Room' at Underbelly Cowgate and 'The Dark Room For Kids' at Just The Tonic at The Community Project, all three shows until 26 Aug.

Three recommended shows to see on Saturday 19 Aug...

The Great Ridolphi | Underbelly Cowgate | 1.25pm
OK, here's the set up. "Victor must find out the truth behind a great art heist, armed only with a suitcase full of seemingly random items bequeathed to him by his father". What next? "Just when you think you've got the measure of it, the show turns, unfolding into something stranger and more beautiful than you could have expected". Go see.

The North! The North! | Summerhall | 5.50pm (pictured)
Our reviewer reckons that this production blends fantasy and contemporary reality "in the vein of authors like Neil Gaiman or China Miéville" to create a really great show. Plus, "the production design is gorgeous – projected illustrations help set scenes and demarcate chapters".

Will Pickvance – Pianologues | Summerhall | 7.40pm
TW favourite Will Pickvance is back! This is a show built around Schubert songs that "combines epic musical improvisation, hilarity and intimate storytelling". Notes our reviewer: "I adored it whenever he broke into boogie-woogie".


Carla Lippis – Cast A Dark Shadow (Civil Disobedience presents Carla Lippis)
Upstairs in the dimly-lit bar room at The Boards, performer Carla Lippis takes to the stage with a two-piece band. This is a wild, erratic show, with some classic tunes you might not recognise and some new ones that sound vaguely familiar. Turning rock and roll on its head they create brilliant, irresistible, character-driven cabaret, with the added bonus of the trio's musical talents. Structured as classic cabaret with a twist, the format may be familiar, but the amalgamation of styles gives it a real edge. Showcasing an outstanding voice and phenomenal stage presence, 'Cast a Dark Shadow' is an experience you won't want to miss. Bar room cabaret at its most exciting.
The Boards, until 26 Aug.
tw rating 4/5 | [Bethan Highgate-Betts]


Arr We There Yet? (Head First Acrobats)
Pirate acrobats. What's not to love? If you're not sold already then frankly I dunno what's the matter with you but, ok, here goes. The plot is parchment-thin, so I'll not trouble you with the detail – treasure map, haunted sea and, um, sharks. Look, nevermind: this is a terrifically fun show, like a kids' pirate book brought thrillingly and humorously to life. The three versatile performers engage in foolish hi-jinks, slapstick and, most importantly, a splendid display – the couple of cutlass-rough edges notwithstanding - of acrobatic derring-do. There's a cracking soundtrack too to keep feet of all ages tapping throughout. Why are pirate acrobats the best kind of acrobats? Because my two year old was trying to do cartwheels immediately after the show. Yarrr!
Underbelly Circus Hub On The Meadows, until 26 Aug.
tw rating 4/5 | [Bruce Blacklaw]

The Gruffalo's Child (Tall Stories)
A perennial dilemma for the seasoned 'Gruffalo' reader is which accents to give the principal characters. The very engaging Tall Stories cast go with Cockney for Fox, a slightly variable Scottish for Owl and, er, Spanish for Snake (Brexit Britain, eh?). These characters are developed from the single line they each get in the book, so each gets a song and some chat, whilst the mouse has plenty of stage time throughout as a narrator figure, and even the Gruffalo's Child's stick man toy (played here by a stick) is given life through an infernally catchy refrain. The running time is towards the upper tolerance of the younger audience members, but it's good, lively and charming stuff, very nicely staged and performed.
Pleasance Courtyard, until 20 Aug.
tw rating 4/5 | [Bruce Blacklaw]

Sarah And Duck's Big Top Birthday (MEI Theatrical)
It's Scarf Lady's birthday, so Sarah and Duck put on a party. Various characters familiar to fans of the cartoon are enlisted to perform, including the Shallots, John and the Flamingo and The Ribbon Twins. Nearly all of the dialogue is pre-recorded, creating a slight disjunction between the dialogue and the live action. Thankfully everyone keeps time well enough that the young viewers don't seem bothered and indeed my nearly-three-year-old was generally captivated. It's visually very pleasing - the puppets and set look just right. The suitably kooky story is also well in keeping with the tone of the original, while successfully managing the transition from 7 minute cartoon to 55 minute live show. Quacking.
Underbelly Med Quad, until 20 Aug.
tw rating 4/5 | [Bruce Blacklaw]


Brennan Reece: Everlong (Live Nation in association with United Agents)
'Everlong' is Brennan Reece's affectionate tribute to his nan – force of nature, bingo buddy and spinner of tales (like her grandson, on this evidence) and, latterly, an old lady affected by dementia. The show flits between stand-up and increasingly theatrical storytelling. It's always awkward being critical of a show centring on a bereavement, especially when that's the bit one is criticising, but the slightly mawkish ending, whilst evidently heartfelt, didn't quite sit right with the rest of it. Otherwise, Reece has a deft, lyrical, literary touch to his writing and, whilst the comedy material is a little uneven, he's a good performer, sustaining a nice thread of audience interaction throughout what is a funny and at times affecting show.
Pleasance Courtyard, until 27 Aug.
tw rating 3/5 | [Bruce Blacklaw]

Dana Alexander: The Milk Is Not Free But Sometimes It's On Sale (Dana Alexander / The Stand Comedy Club)
Dana Alexander is one "fierce cougar", but that doesn't mean she's got the dating thing down. In her show, Alexander navigates the weird world of Tinder as a 30-something feminist, poking fun at dating disasters and the kind of stupid, conflicting rules you can expect from books like 'The Game'. Actually, she's got a whole list of unanswered dating FAQs like: What is the deal with bootycalls? Am I lonely or free? Will having kids mess up my life? Alexander brings a host of fabulous facial expressions, voices and hilarious jokes to her show. Besides the unnecessary PowerPoint at the end, the show kept me laughing and smiling from start to finish. Bridget Jones, watch out.
The Stand Comedy Club 5 & 6, until 27 Aug.
tw rating 4/5 | [Stephanie Stapleton]

The Delightful Sausage: Cold Hard Cache (The Delightful Sausage)
What is the internet? That's the question posed and answered (sort of) by The Delightful Sausage – aka Chris Cantrill and Amy Gledhill – in an HR-style presentation throughout which one of them is dressed as a hot dog. As you might have guessed, the show is an utterly nonsensical tour of the web, from its history to its darkest corners. A series of vignettes and sketches anchored by a ridiculous PowerPoint, the show brims with ideas and creativity. Cantrill and Gledhill have excellent camaraderie, and although they're both deadpan as anything, it's an especial treat seeing one of them cause the other to crack. This is the duo's first Fringe show, and it's a belter. Keep an eye on them.
Just The Tonic at the Caves, until 27 Aug.
tw rating 4/5 | [Jon Stapley]

Jason Byrne: The Man With Three Brains (Phil McIntyre Entertainments by arrangement with Lisa Thomas Management)
The very definition of a Fringe veteran, Jason Byrne returns to Edinburgh with a brand new show, displaying his trademark blend of traditional stand-up, superb visual comedy and utter bizarreness. Byrne has always delighted in using his audience to provide unique material, and his interactions really are the strongest feature of the show. There are a few stories, of course, but these are largely lost to the sheer hilarity of an animal prop-heavy centrepiece, performed with three 'volunteers'. His work with the audience, and his remarkable ability to execute strikingly accurate visual comedy, really sets this Irishman apart from more traditional stand-ups. He's as sharp as ever, so booking a ticket to see Jason Byrne remains a bit of a no-brainer.
Assembly Hall, until 27 Aug.
tw rating 4/5 | [Lewis Frain]

Losers (Tit4Twat)
It's dog-eat-dog in the world of reality TV, or in this case human-eat-dog food - sorry, what!? In this interactive show we watch four contestants desperately trying to win their place in the limelight, clamouring for the audience's electronic vote. 'Losers' delivers a hilariously recognisable and clownish satire of stock TV characters, from transparent tragedy tales to attention-seeking daredevils. As long as the cameras are on, they'll do anything; even if it means disgusting forfeits, telling their deepest, darkest secrets or baring their flesh. Whether you love or hate shows like 'Love Island' and 'First Dates', this trashy quartet will make sure you're entertained - no matter how high the cost.
Underbelly Cowgate, until 27 Aug.
tw rating 4/5 | [Stephanie Stapleton]

Seymour Mace's Magical Shitcakes From Heaven (Seymour Mace / The Stand Comedy Club)
There is to be no magic, no cake and no heaven, warns Seymour Mace at the outset. Which leaves us with, well, you'll see. The show is punctuated by interludes in which he discusses his depression. Being onstage is the only time he feels at home, he says, enjoying both himself and a roomful of strangers through the medium of profound silliness. And that's exactly what he delivers, from wandering on in a chicken suit (a full explanation would kill my word count) to acting out the expulsion of Pete Best from The Beatles with action figures, mucking about with the tropes of sketch comedy and some splendidly cavalier audience involvement. He's wrong you know. At it's best, there's magic in this.
The Stand Comedy Club 3 & 4, until 27 Aug.
tw rating 4/5 | [Bruce Blacklaw]

Yianni Agisilaou: Pockets Of Equality (Yianni Agisilaou / PBH's Free Fringe)
Having worn his girlfriend's jeans by accident, Yianni Agisilaou hit upon a serious problem: women's pockets are crap. But of course the problems run much deeper than that. Agisilaou addresses the inequalities and paradoxes around gender and sexuality, making brilliantly astute observations on human nature and how we're conditioned to accept or reject behaviours and stereotypes. There's always a risk that a man discussing feminism could feel patronising, but not here: there's no condescension or mansplaining. It's just honest, genuinely hysterical reflections on femininity vs masculinity and the shit that women have to put up with, but also our hypocrisies too. He's a great spokesperson for feminism because, seriously, we need to talk about pockets more: the struggle is real.
Banshee Labyrinth, until 27 Aug.
tw rating 4/5 | [Daisy Malt]


The Dreamer (Shanghai Dramatic Arts Centre in association with Gecko)
Gecko are no strangers to the Fringe, but this is their first co-production with the Shanghai Dramatic Arts Centre – and it is nothing short of spectacular. Inspired by Shakespeare's 'A Midsummer Night's Dream' and Tang's 'The Peony Pavillion', this modern-retelling is performed in Mandarin, but it is their physical performances that help tell this story so effectively. Blending Gecko's trademark style with dance and emotionally-driven movement, their performances are enhanced by the awe-inspiring stagecraft, with a set that constantly evolves as we flit between the mundane and the surreal. Accompanied by a spine-tingling soundtrack, this is physical storytelling at its finest; striking, compelling and awe-inspiring, the standing ovation at the end was wholly deserved.
Pleasance Courtyard, until 15 Aug.
tw rating 5/5 | [Amy Bonar]


Three Colours Guitar (Declan Zapala, John Wheatcroft and Matt Buchanan)
When contrasting colours meet in a colour wheel the overlap creates an exciting, vibrating resonance; I heard that tonight in this programme of contrasting acoustic guitar styles. Zapala's playing is virtuosic – he uses percussive techniques that go far beyond simply banging the guitar body – while Buchanan is gently lyrical and Wheatcroft is a jazzer! The solo items were enjoyable – I particularly liked Buchanan's original composition 'Pipistrelle', describing the erratic flight of a bat and Wheatcroft's composition 'Circles'. But then they came together for jazz improvisations - the styles challenging and supporting each other in turn - including Django Reinhardt and Pat Metheny numbers. I held my breath for Fleetwood Mac's wonderful 'Albatross' – the first record I ever bought!
C too, until 20 Aug.
tw rating 5/5 | [Louise Rodgers]

Simon And Garfunkel: Through The Years (Bookends)
It's fifty years since 'The Graduate' soundtrack was recorded, and Dan Haynes and Pete Richards faithfully reproduced the earlier sound of Simon and Garfunkel in this relaxing, good natured show. They didn't pretend to be the famous duo – that might be a bit creepy and, as they said themselves, would require the use of a pretty convincing wig! It was them being themselves between the songs that made this a warmer, friendlier experience than just staying at home and listening to a 'Greatest Hits' collection. My favourite track 'The Sound of Silence' gave me a shiver to hear it live again - I've seen Garfunkel in concert - and their arrangement of 'Bridge Over Troubled Water' was excellent.
theSpace @ Symposium Hall, until 26 Aug.
tw rating 4/5 | [Louise Rodgers]


Penetrator (Fear No Colours)
Toxic masculinity and the delicate boundaries of male friendships are heavily explored here, in director Julia Midtgard's adaptation of Anthony Neilson's 1993 play 'Penetrator', a disturbing yet thoroughly intriguing examination of repressed sexuality and homo-eroticism. There is a singularly lived-in chemistry between the three leads, including a fantastic performance by Tom White as the troubled Tadge; slinging his hollowed, lanky frame across the small stage, he completely inhabits Tadge's desperation for self understanding and belonging amidst his violent sexual confusion. His presence threatens to permeate the marijuana-infused world of his childhood friends, as the horror of their friend's accusations dawn on their faces. Brash, bold and fantastically grimy, 'Penetrator' is a play that demands to be experienced.
C cubed, until 14 Aug.
tw rating 4/5 | [Ethan Hemmati]

A Super Happy Story (About Feeling Super Sad) (Silent Uproar in association with LittleMighty)
Depression isn't funny, right? It certainly isn't considered fun, or entertaining, or glamorous, but this show is here to prove that wrong. Madeleine MacMahon is both host and subject, her brilliant performance welcoming and sincere. There are real parallels with 'Crazy Ex Girlfriend' in the way the show uses almost unbearably catchy songs (composed and performed by Matthew Floyd Jones, of Frisky and Mannish) to deal with uncomfortable issues. Of course, it's not always a super happy show (despite what the opening song suggests), as the real, often very boring aspects of depression are handled with genuine believability. This is a hilarious, uplifting and insightful show, perfect for anyone who's met the black dog, or knows someone who has.
Pleasance Courtyard, until 28 Aug.
tw rating 5/5 | [Gemma Scott]

Whalebone (Hatch It Theatre)
'Whalebone' expertly walks a very fine line, balancing serious, impactful discourse with a cheeky sense of fun. It explores the topic of body image, and the societal pressures placed on women to conform to an ever-changing series of fashions in body shape and appearance, with a narrative focus on one woman's growing body dysmorphia. Heavy stuff, but off-set by the use of underwear puppetry (yes, underwear puppetry). The three actors mine the comic potential in the audience's sense of awkwardness, forcing us to confront these feelings even as they put us at ease. It's rare to see a show deal with such an important issue in a manner so delightfully playful.
Pleasance Courtyard, until 27 Aug.
tw rating 5/5 | [Andy Leask]

Under My Thumb (CultureClash Theatre and Greenwich Theatre)
Down in the basement of Assembly Roxy, five exceptionally talented women act out a chilling dystopian story; their experience of imprisonment after committing "crimes against society". It echoes some of the ideas in Margaret Atwood's 'The Handmaid's Tale,' except here the intimacy of the theatrical setting makes it far more confrontational. These women reject the viewers' detachment from their characters - you act as the walls to their cell and they immerse you in their pain and suffering. Video interviews with the prisoners play against the back wall, adding an extra dimension to the performance, and keeping the audience constantly engaged with the plot. It's not exactly an enjoyable experience, but it is one that will leave you reeling.
Assembly Roxy, until 20 Aug.
tw rating 5/5 | [Emily Mildren]

My Pet, My Love (Marc Up Productions)
With a charming erraticism 'My Pet, My Love' veers through different poignant moments, sometimes bizarrely and sometimes profoundly. From depictions of a child's fish dying to an aging gay couple, the show is intimate and clever in the ways it recreates the moments that make up a life. The best sections come during the scenes of childhood - with a clever blend of the silly and the irrepressible, Rob Gaetano captures the childlike perfectly. This clarity and level of theatrical power feels lacking in other areas, however, and this prevents the show from building a real rhythm and flow. Despite the concerns about death, loneliness and societal pressure that are regularly expressed, this is a warm and enjoyable show.
C Royale, until 28 Aug.
tw rating 3/5 | [James Napleton]

The OS Map Fan Club (Helen Wood)
There is something cosily reassuring about Helen Wood's ode to the virtues of maps – that's proper paper maps mind you, none of your Google Maps or satnavs here, thanks! The show is structured like a walk, and there is a pleasant warmth to her delivery, as she revels in the low-tech, old-school props and blown up photographs she uses to illustrate her points. The walk is punctuated by digressions – the history of Ordinance Survey, or her own walking experiences – which are frequently funny, and often quite interesting too. If at times the pacing is off, it doesn't overly detract from a joyful, friendly show steeped in 'Great British Bake Off' values. Edgy it is not, but that's not necessarily a bad thing.
theSpace @ Surgeons Hall, until 12 Aug.
tw rating 3/5 | [Andy Leask]

Assessment (Shows On A Shoestring)
In a horribly plausible near-future, the government turns to the private sector for help in its struggle to cope with the burden of an increasingly ageing population. That's how a corporate salesman with a disturbing proposition arrives at Alan McDonald's door, in Robert Dawson Scott's sharply satirical new play, a story that's deeply affecting without being sentimental. The acting is outstanding, with Stephen Clyde's gruff but sharp Alan a consistent delight, while Karen Bartke also does wonderful work as his daughter, beaten down by life and just wanting a taste of hope for once. The corporation – a near-constant presence hovering at the stage's edge – feels a little too overtly villainous, but the story, both tender and horrifying, will have you gripped.
Gilded Balloon at Rose Theatre, until 28 Aug.
tw rating 4/5 | [Jon Stapley]

The Gardener (Cumbernauld Theatre)
The idea behind this production is beautifully simple; Frank (Crawford Logan) is meant to be giving a talk on gardening to fellow residents (played by the audience) at an old people's home. Tea and biscuits are served, Eilidh the nurse (Nicola Roy) fusses over us all, but we quickly learn that Frank's talk isn't quite what it first seemed, but is instead the story of his greatest loves and losses. The play was inspired by Cumbernauld Theatre's community arts work with older people, and their wish to express ideas about grief, love and death. Perhaps this is how it so perfectly achieves its moving honesty. It'll first warm your heart, then touch it, and ultimately break it.
Summerhall, until 27 Aug.
tw rating 5/5 | [Emily Mildren]

£¥E$ (LIES) (Ontroerend Goed)
You are in charge of a bank bearing your name, and through risk and investment you must build up your capital for the good of your country. Or in this case, your table. Welcome to '£¥E$', a casino-esque microcosm of high-stakes financial trading. Grouped with strangers, you begin by playing simple gambling games, but things grow in complexity, and soon you find yourself devising sophisticated strategies, all aided by the superbly unctuous, black-clad croupiers. Money stacks up, bonds fly from table to table, and it seems as though the good times and profits can never end. When they do, and it's done, you're still fizzing from this brief, distorted glimpse into a world you'll probably never understand.
Summerhall, until 27 Aug.
tw rating 5/5 | [Jon Stapley]

Quarter Life Crisis (Yolanda Mercy and Gemma Lloyd in association with Underbelly Untapped)
What really happens when your young person's railcard expires, and where does that leave you in the world? Well, a lot poorer for starters, but for Alicia, it marked an official entry into 'adulthood' – a passage of life she's been desperately trying to dodge. And then there's the endless swiping and Tinder matches – the incessant 'pings' that are a constant source of distraction. Her highly amusing anecdotes explore the confusion millennials face, alongside more personal stories. Sharing her pride over her Nigerian heritage, Mercy also looks into the expectations passed down from previous generations. Melding spoken word throughout, this authentic performance manages to be genuinely moving, comical and particularly easy to relate to if you're turning 26.
Underbelly Cowgate, until 27 Aug.
tw rating 4/5 | [Amy Bonar]

Wanna Dance With Somebody! Or, A Guide To Managing Social Anxiety Using Theoretical Physics (Running Dog Theatre)
As show titles go, this one is as literal as they get. Josh likes to dance, yet he struggles with social interactions; but he's working on it. In this heart-warming performance, he takes us through past awkward experiences using dance and storytelling. Part motivational lesson, part high school disco, it's a thought-provoking take on social anxieties, coping mechanisms and the cathartic effects of dancing. The physics doesn't actually get theoretical, but the "solar system" - a series of paper lampshades used to represent the personalities of friends he's asked for advice - is beautiful nonetheless. It's a touching show that left me with a smile on my face and a serious urge to break out some dance moves.
ZOO Southside, until 28 Aug.
tw rating 4/5 | [Daisy Malt]

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