Fringe First winners from Canada, Volcano, return to the Festival with a fascinating show called 'Century Song' which explores 100 years of black women's unspoken history through wordless music, movement and visuals.

With 'Century Song' being so interesting in both form and message, I wanted to speak to the performer at the heart of it, Neema Bickersteth, to find out more about the show and her story.

CLICK HERE to read today's Caro Meets interview.

'Century Song' is on at Zoo Southside until 18 Aug.
Check out the Preview Edition of the TW magazine. Inside you will find interviews with Allegra Marland and Georgie Oulton, Bryony Twydle, Dan Coleman, Ian Smith, John Pendal, Lisa Fa'alafi, Nick Doody, Oliver Lansley and Yianni Agisilaou. Plus 72 show recommendations!

Find out where to pick up a copy HERE or read it all online HERE.
We’re talking to people who perform or work at the Edinburgh Festival each year to get their perspectives on what performing or producing at the world’s biggest cultural event involves. This includes the people who run the numerous venues that pop up each year at the Edinburgh Fringe.

The next venue operation in the spotlight is Paradise Green, which runs two Fringe venues each year: Paradise In Augustines and Paradise In The Vault. Having been active at the Festival for over two decades, this organisation is owned by a membership made up of around 75 people who have worked as a volunteer at the venue at some point. They appoint a board to oversee things during each Festival. We spoke to four of them.

CLICK HERE to read today's TW:DIY interview.
Three recommended shows to see on Saturday 11 Aug...

Circa: Wolfgang | Underbelly's Circus Hub on The Meadows | 2.00pm (pictured)
A recommended show from the Fringe's children's programme. "A winningly amusing and, at times, dizzying succession of throws, lifts, leaps and silliness", said our reviewer. He concluded: "For circus thrills with a classy, classical touch, 'Wolfgang' hits the right notes".

#Pianodrome Live | Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh | 7.00pm
Into the music programme next, and "The Pianodrome is an amphitheatre built from old 'upcycled' pianos - including five working instruments - and is an agreeably resonant place to hold a musical party", explains our reviewer. The result? "The amphitheatre inspired a good-humoured gladiatorial energy between the highly engaging multi-instrumentalists, who stalked and confronted each other while the audience clapped and shouted encouragement".

Rhys Nicholson - Seminal | Underbelly Bristo Square | 9.05pm
And finally for today, some recommended comedy. "With the theme of relationships carrying the show along, 'Seminal' is masterfully cohesive", reckons our reviewer. "The thinking person's millennial, there's plenty for those of us in that bracket, but he's still broadly appealing".

Waves (Alice Mary Cooper in association with Independent Arts Projects)
'Waves' tells the story of Elizabeth Moncello, who grew up on a tiny island off the coast of Australia in the 1930s. Focusing mostly on her childhood, the show tells how she learned to swim by observing fish, dolphins and penguins, and how her unusual swimming style ultimately led to an Olympic medal. Alice Mary Cooper is an engaging, energetic performer with a delightfully expressive face, while the staging is clever and precise, making full use of the space. There are some admittedly dark, tragic moments, and the pace may be a little sedate for younger audience members, but this is a charming show about an overlooked woman with a fascinating story.
Scottish Storytelling Centre, until 15 Aug.
tw rating 3/5 | [Gemma Scott]


Adam Riches Is The Guy Who... (Plosive Productions / Tigco)
This is the guy you meet after you end a long-term relationship. He seems to want to be your friend - he definitely wants more than that. He seems nice - he isn't. He's the stereotypical faux-ally 'nice guy', under whose skin a predatory misogyny is simmering, ready to boil over. No one is safe from Adam Riches' new comic creation in the Underbelly's brightly lit Cow Café. The jokes are brash and loud, the audience interactivity is frequent, and there are plenty of times you feel guilty for laughing - only to discover that this is exactly the point. This is a challenging show, more so than you'd first think, that indicates Riches is taking his comedy in an interesting new direction.
Underbelly Cowgate, until 26 Aug.
tw rating 4/5 | [Jon Stapley]

Alice Snedden: Self-Titled (Berk's Nest)
Having made her dramatic entrance twice, just to make sure we've all appreciated it, Alice Snedden confesses to us that she's a very confident person. Until recently she's even considered herself in competition with Jacinda Ardern, the PM of her native New Zealand. She happily talks of her home birth (when she popped out, that is), the menace that is her period and a self-belief that, despite no specific talents, she was worthy of school talent contests. At no point do you begrudge her confidence though; it's the sort we all wish we had - that blasé approach to life, never doubting your abilities. Intrinsically likeable, Snedden is unquestionably funny but, while 'Self-Titled' is enjoyable, it rates more on a level with her Uber score.
Pleasance Courtyard, until 26 Aug.
tw rating 3/5 | [Daisy Malt]

Bad Clowns: Hostage (Bad Clowns Comedy)
Anyone who has sat through a piece of theatre so awful they'd welcome a gun-wielding maniac just to end the tedium - here's your hallelujah. Bad Clowns Comedy present a godawful play that is swiftly taken hostage by a man on the run who bears a grudge against its pretentious dramatists. The fallout is a fast-paced hour of delectable silliness, by three performers who are having as much fun as they should be with material like this. The Clowns are talented improvisers and the show features many delightful, clearly unplanned gags - hostage-taking clown Sam Walls is particularly good at these, though all three prove themselves adaptable and clever performers. There are even some unexpected twists thrown in for good measure.
Just The Tonic at The Grassmarket Centre, until 26 Aug.
tw rating 4/5 | [Jon Stapley]

Kiri Pritchard McLean: Victim, Complex (Live Nation in association with PBJ Management)
After discovering that a messy break-up was the result of her ex gaslighting her (when a partner tells you your behaviour is 'crazy' and you start to question your own mind), which led to years of anguish, Kiri Pritchard-McLean is angry. She wants to tell her side of the story, but vehemently does not want to be labelled a victim. It doesn't really sound like the premise of a comedy show, but following in Beyonce's footsteps, she wants to make lemonade from lemons and - through honesty, a fierce attitude and naturally funny storytelling - she squeezes every drop out of the lemons she's been given. This is comedy for the #MeToo age, fusing humour with biting reality in a way that is very powerful.
Pleasance Courtyard, until 27 Aug.
tw rating 5/5 | [Daisy Malt]


Ah Dinnae Ken (Student Theatre At Glasgow - STAG)
Abandon any hope of sharp satire or political insight. Though this risible skit concerns itself with a second independence referendum, there's no weighing up of ideas, no commentary on the issues, no awareness of the deep divides around the topic. Rather, we get a series of ludicrous caricatures, juvenile plotting and a tenuous 'Romeo And Juliet' sub-plot. The performers are enthusiastic and energetic, if a little smug, but their characters are wafer-thin, unconvincing and, worst of all, unfunny. At the climax, Shakespeare's words are shoe-horned in, but not even the bard can save this mess. For never was a play more dumb/ than this farce about the referendum.
theSpace @ Niddry Street, until 18 Aug.
tw rating 1/5 [Andy Leask]

All The Lights Are On (ACE-Production / From Start To Finnish)
After her father's death, Kaisa Lundan wrote a play based on her family's experience of dealing with cancer. Part-realist and part-absurdist, the show depicts the conflicts faced by different family members when confronted with the death of a loved one. Moving between monologues and dialogues, we explore the psychological difficulties, the decisions to be made and the strain put on relationships. This is a difficult piece which had the potential to be touching and insightful, but was let down by some overdone acting with a flat tone throughout. And, whilst it was apparent that the show was influenced by a true story, the dialogue felt unnatural and the script was loosely structured.
Summerhall, until 26 Aug.
tw rating 2/5 | [Ela Portnoy]

Angry Alan (Francesca Moody Productions)
We all know someone like Roger. He's warm, he's friendly - occasionally he'll say something a bit offensive but we let it slide, because he seems like such a nice guy. When Roger comes across Angry Alan, a leader of the men's rights movement, on YouTube, he begins to believe that he is oppressed by a 'gynocentric' society. Penelope Skinner's monologue examines the way the Internet allows people to prey on others' insecurities and push extremist agendas. The sense of terror is built so well throughout the play that the predictable way it ends is a little disappointing. However, Skinner's writing is mostly witty and wryly observant, drawing out the nuances of contemporary gender politics - and a lot of unexpected laughs too.
Underbelly Cowgate, until 26 Aug.
tw rating 4/5 | [Marni Appleton]

Darlings (Palomar Theatre)
Despite believable performances, 'Darlings' doesn't quite come together as a coherent offering. It follows Eve, a young woman who is haunted by her childhood insecurities. There are a number of intriguingly surreal episodes, flights of fantasy puncturing the tense, kitchen-sink drama, and some interesting staging. But, much like the narrative, it doesn't quite connect. Take the puppets, manifestations of the characters' childhood traumas: their creepy, hollow eye sockets are unnerving, and this undermines the intended pathos, leaving the audience confused and conflicted. The conclusion is similarly afflicted, ending on a lazy cliffhanger, rather than confirming whether Eve has grown, or relapsed into alcoholism. There is potential here, but the script is not up to the quality of the actors.
C Aquila, until 27 Aug.
tw rating 2/5 | [Andy Leask]

Entropy (Talon Theatre)
A brilliant quantum physicist is on the cusp of understanding the universe, but still can't understand his own relationship. It's a good setup for this tidy three-hander, exploring the dynamics between the physicist, his aspiring actor lover, and his directionless-but-happy roommate. The play flows between two overlapping timelines without pause, which works well at first but grows monotonous - the rhythm of the scenes doesn't change until the forty-five-minute mark. The script indulges in a few clichés too - yes, there's a scene where an innocuous comment inspires a revelatory insight. Yes, at one point someone says, "you just don't get it, do you?" It's a nice story, with some good lines, but it lacks anything to make it truly special.
theSpace on North Bridge, until 11 Aug.
tw rating 3/5 | [Jon Stapley]

In For A Penny (Gilded Balloon and Otago Theatre Present...)
There's a lot going for Libby McArthur's new show. It has some great gags, a convincing performance and a clear moral about not judging others, and about how easy it is to slip into poverty and imprisonment. Yet, despite all this I found my attention wandering, not wholly taken in. We hear the travails of a fictionalised McArthur, an actress "aff the telly", who ends up in court over unpaid parking tickets. The characters she meets in the holding cell are all sensitively drawn, and the protagonist's journey is sincere. Yet her glib, head in the sand naivety never quite convinces, and the attempts to inject gritty realism felt laboured and cliched. The resolution, therefore, felt flat and unearned.
Gilded Balloon Teviot, until 27 Aug.
tw rating 2/5 | [Andy Leask]

Meek (Headlong)
A devout, patriarchal state in a dystopian future may sound like a rehashing of 'The Handmaid's Tale', but 'Meek' is no knock-off. Like Penelope Skinner's other play at this year's Fringe, 'Angry Alan', 'Meek' explores our obsession with the Internet and how desperate we are for 'likes' from faceless followers. This is a compelling, atmospheric production from Headlong, with energetic performances from all three actors, which poses complex questions about loyalty, betrayal and sacrifice. Although on the play's personal level the plot twists are a bit obvious, the way it relates to the wider political landscape is chilling, asking us to consider how we confront human rights violations overseas and whether we care enough to elicit any real change.
Traverse Theatre, until 26 Aug.
tw rating 4/5 | [Marni Appleton]

The Myth Of The Singular Moment (Jim Harbourne)
A story of four extremely disparate characters - two humans, a whale and a photon - 'The Myth of the Singular Moment' is a show about choices and the multiverse, set to beautiful live folk music. Written by Jim Harbourne, who also performs with Kirsty Eila McIntyre, the show is straightforwardly staged and all the better for it. No costumes, few props - just two exceptional musicians patiently weaving their story together. The pair have terrific voices, and the moments where the music swells and they really go for it are the best in the show. It's a very simple story, but manages a couple of genuine surprises, and you'd have to be a real stoneheart not to be moved by the end.
Summerhall, until 26 Aug.
tw rating 4/5 | [Jon Stapley]

Sticks And Stones (Paines Plough and Theatr Clwyd)
It's important to choose your words carefully in the dystopian workplace of 'Sticks and Stones'. Using a word that causes offence could land you on a political correctness course - and might even cost you your job. Playwright Vinay Patel interrogates our use of language, asking who determines offence and where the responsibility lies. Do we consider the words themselves, or the intent behind them? The production is fun and vibrant with lights, sound and movement bringing life to the Roundabout space. Though some of the physical humour is a little overdone, the zealous performances are a joy to watch while, at the same time, the script asks important and timely questions about how we show respect for other people.
Roundabout @ Summerhall, until 25 Aug.
tw rating 4/5 | [Marni Appleton]

To Have Done With The Judgement Of God (Fear No Colours)
This is what people who hate physical theatre imagine all physical theatre looks like: writhing half-naked bodies, ear-punching soundscapes and long repetitive scenes with little apparent meaning. Antonin Artaud's final play is deliberately disjointed, the text layering, fracturing and unravelling in fragments of meaning, but the young performers seemed permanently disconnected from the words. Some of the faster, more violent scenes were nicely choreographed, with particular power and grace from actor Rhiannon Bird, but much of the physicality felt indulgent and under-developed. The direction, too, felt horribly dated, and more like a series of drama school exercises than a finished performance. A brave attempt at a challenging, brutal piece, but one which was unfortunately poorly judged.
C Too, until 27 Aug.
tw rating 2/5 | [Gemma Scott]

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