Three recommended shows to see on Thursday 24 Aug...

The Delightful Sausage: Cold Hard Cache | Just The Tonic at The Caves | 1.00pm
This, our reviewer explains, is "a series of vignettes and sketches anchored by a ridiculous PowerPoint, which brim with ideas and creativity". Concluding, our review notes: "This is the duo's first Fringe show, and it's a belter – keep an eye on them".

The Road That Wasn't There | Assembly Roxy | 2.35pm (pictured)
"We travel with the puppets up a 'paper road' to a mystical land full of surprises", explains our review. The conclusion? "This is beautiful storytelling – lyrical, poignant and mysterious – which might just leave you believing the unbelievable". Go see and believe.

We Are Ian | Pleasance Dome | 10.00pm
"Through clowning and frenetic dancing, the cast bounce around uncontrollably to some of Ian's favourite tracks, reenacting a euphoric acid house danceathon with boundless energy". Simple. Concludes our reviewer: "This is a fiercely imaginative, defiant production, proving how political and bold an act dancing can be".
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 TW:TALKS.

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.


The Dark Room For Kids (CatFace Talent / John Robertson)
Metallica's 'Enter Sandman' was pounding over the sound system as we entered the venue, and it quickly became apparent that 'The Dark Room' has been barely toned down for kids. And actually, that's a good thing, because to do so would be patronising. The premise is simple – options appear on the screen and participants make selections, in an attempt to escape "the dark room" and win £1,000. Just like the adult version, there are a variety of rounds, plus weird and wonderful prizes. As a malevolent, mischievous children's entertainer, John Robertson had his young audience in raptures: from 8-year-olds to teens, the chance to shout and jeer was too good an opportunity to miss. I'm pretty sure the parents were shamelessly enjoying it too!
Just The Tonic at The Community Project, until 26 Aug.
tw rating 4/5 | [Daisy Malt]

The Giant Jam Sandwich (New Perspectives Theatre Company)
'The Giant Jam Sandwich' is a charming adaptation of the book by Janet Burroway and John Vernon Lord. New Perspectives boast a talented trio of actor-musicians who expertly multi-role a whole village of characters. Audience interaction is handled well, with just enough to do to stop little hands getting fidgety, plus a sprinkling of jokes for grown-ups to stop us getting fidgety too! The recorded dialogue wasn't as effective, however, and for the most part would have been better delivered by one of the performers off-stage. This show had a room full of under-fives enthralled for an hour, which is no small feat. I would recommend it to anyone with small children at the Fringe.
Pleasance Courtyard, until 28 Aug.
tw rating 4/5 | [Lizzie Milton]


Gillian Cosgriff: To The Moon And Back (Julz Hay Proudly presents)
Whether it's among the stars or down here on Earth, Gillian Cosgriff's fear of commitment makes for a surprisingly candid, open hour of comedy. Cosgriff emerges in makeshift astronaut garb, before debunking the glamour of space travel with some fantastic facts embedded in a beautifully velvety voice. Cosgriff's strength lies in her musical skill and the introduction of a loop pedal means her witty and irreverent lyrics are impressively layered with harmonies and percussion. As a stand-up she's personable, though her anecdotal material has a lower volume of punchlines than her sung material. Nonetheless, there's a narrative charm (and one hell of a costume change!) that together help Cosgriff shine, in this admittedly gentle hour.
Gilded Balloon Teviot, until 27 Aug.
tw rating 3/5 | [Louise Jones]

Louise Reay: Hard Mode (Louise Reay / The Stand Comedy Club)
This show will certainly defy expectations. It's part comedy, part commentary on censorship and control, with a focus on the situation in China. Louise Reay presents a scenario in which the Chinese government have bought the BBC, and the audience is subjected to their versions of the nation's favourite television programmes. Whilst comedy plays a part in the performance, there is a wider message, presented effectively when Reay gets the audience involved in 'Question Time'. Stranger aspects include a conversation between Reay and renowned Chinese artist Ai Weiwei, as well as the team of government enforcers keeping the audience in order. Overall, this is a unique approach - a mix of comedy, political commentary and immersive theatre that is definitely thought-provoking.
The Stand Comedy Club 3 & 4, until 27 Aug.
tw rating 3/5 | [Lewis Frain]

Mark Steel: Every Little Thing's Gonna Be Alright (Off the Kerb Productions)
In such tumultuous political times as these, Mark Steel certainly has plenty to talk about. He draws the solace of the show's title from Corbyn's "nearly draw" and from the way young people voted, both there and in the Brexit referendum. It turns out he needs that comfort as, on top of political tumult has come personal upheaval in the form of a divorce. He wonders aloud whether he should have saved this show for next year, to give him time to be less bitter, but he keeps on the right side of satirising the process and, by extension, our monetised society. Witty, sharp, and insightful, when he hits the "splenetic rant" button Steel turns it up to 11 like no-one else.
Assembly Hall, until 27 Aug.
tw rating 4/5 | [Bruce Blacklaw]

Rachel Parris: Keynote (Live Nation in association with Troika)
Having been invited to go back to her school as a guest speaker, Rachel Parris is trying to figure out what advice she can give to the next generation. The trouble is, she's not really sure if she's got life quite figured out herself yet! She takes us through the ideas she has for key messages in this very amusing hour that, as a thirty-something, I found very easy to relate to. There's also some character comedy that doesn't quite draw the same laughs as her musical numbers, because really she's at her best when she's being herself. Despite what her mother's told her, she's naturally funny and I reckon she's a pretty good role model too.
Pleasance Dome, until 28 Aug.
tw rating 4/5 | [Daisy Malt]

Jordan Brookes: Body of Work (Show And Tell)
Ostensibly a tribute to his deceased Nanna, 'Body of Work' is Brookes at his finest. He wants you, the audience, to join him in trying to feel something for once. But by his own confession, he's always got an urge to ruin things, and a mind that won't stop wandering, disappearing down a rabbit warren of inappropriate thoughts. Erratic, fast-paced humour is mixed with awkward, drawn-out scenes that take you to the brink of discomfort through over-exaggerated gestures. Highly expressive, Brookes' performance borders on the grotesque but remains genuinely hilarious; stunningly inappropriate jokes and twists to the narrative coalesce into a clever, but superbly dark hour of stand-up. Just don't say I didn't warn you.
Pleasance Courtyard, until 28 Aug.
tw rating 4/5 | [Daisy Malt]

Lucy Pearman: Maid of Cabbage (United Agents and Plosive Productions)
Lucy Pearman invites a different realm of reality into the room when she performs, and even the relatively subdued pastoral setting of her latest show isn't free from her personal surrealist comedy brand. Appointed by Lord and Lady Wind (created with perverted puppets and disembodied voices), Pearman's housemaid is tasked with finding a perfect cabbage. Sequences are filled with energy and plenty of audience interaction: nobody's safe from Pearman's unflappable spirit, and her supreme confidence with the crowd saves the show from any potential awkwardness. It's a shame that the ending feels rushed, offering a fairly underwhelming conclusion. But, despite interruptions by her devilish "bad side", Pearman's showmanship makes for a bundle of bizarre fun.
Heroes at Comedy Barrel, until 27 Aug.
tw rating 4/5 | [Louise Jones]


You Are Not the One Who Shall Live Long (DOT504)
A man in a suit and no shoes stands to the side of the stage, and in broken English he speaks into a microphone about purpose, a theme that will haunt the audience throughout. The four performers move around the stage with urgency, but with a purpose that is often lost on the audience. With heavily gendered characters, we see the powerful male bodies dominate, undress and even speak for the female. Questions are raised about our motives in life, but they are never fully explored, nor are answers or any kind of clarity offered. Part of the Czech Showcase 2017, the piece does showcase four very talented dancers/performers. Powerful and well executed choreography, but ultimately lacking clear purpose, it's just a little too vague.
ZOO Southside, until 19 Aug.
tw rating 3/5 | [Bethan Highgate-Betts]


Jamie Wood: I Am A Tree
Jamie Wood is a welcoming, joyous performer, hugging audience members with almost unbearable sincerity. He delights in the silly, the whimsical and the absurd - from bird costumes to dance interpretations of animal spirits. This year's show is loosely based around him getting into nature to scatter his grandfather's ashes, and reconnecting with "the wild" to escape an increasingly chaotic home life. Sadly, this weekend audience was mostly comprised of either lairy hecklers or reluctant participants, which rather subdued his usually hilarious interactions. 'I Am A Tree' does lack some of the surreal playfulness of his 2015 show 'O No!' in exchange for more thoughtful introspection and narrative, but Wood never fails to leave you feeling uplifted.
Assembly George Square Theatre, until 27 Aug.
tw rating 3/5 | [Gemma Scott]

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