The certifiably lovely Dave Chawner (yes, we are fans) heads back to edfringe this year with a show about mental health.

I'm always really admiring of performers who manage to approach serious issues from a comical perspective. And it's a topic Dave has broached before in his stand-up, plus he's written a book about his recovery from anorexia. So we're curious to see what approach he takes in 'Mental'.

No surprises - then - that I arranged a chat, to find out more.

CLICK HERE to read today's Caro Meets interview.

Dave Chawner performs 'Mental' at Laughing Horse @ Cabaret Voltaire. Listing here.
Check out the Preview Edition of the TW magazine. You can pick up a copy from venues across Edinburgh. Inside you will find interviews with Chris Grace, Gabriela Flarys, Harriet Dyer, Lewys Holt, Louisa Fitzhardinge, Matthew Greenhough, Double Denim, Robin Morgan and Robyn Perkins. Plus 75 show recommendations!

Find out where to pick up a copy HERE or read it all online HERE.
This summer we are asking some of our favourite Fringe people to offer their advice - sometimes sensible, sometimes silly - for getting the most out of the Edinburgh Festival in eight steps, by answering our eight quick quiz questions. Today, it's Natano Fa'anana - co-founder of Casus Circus and director of their show 'DNA' - on hand with the tips.

CLICK HERE to read today's TW:DIY interview.

Natano Fa'anana is director of 'DNA' on at Assembly George Square Gardens until 25 Aug.

Adam Rowe: Pinnacle (CKP and Intertalent)
"This show is my opinion and I suppose you should all just appreciate it," says Adam Rowe, who finds it mandatory to justify his rather contentious comments. At 27, Rowe has hit the peak of his life, but his mind is occupied as he wanders onto topics such as obesity and celebrities in hot water. His potent focus on the public's morality begs the question: do we still admire our heroes amid mass controversy, or are we going to be hypocritical and make exceptions? His broad show contains razor-sharp delivery, but sets aside any arrogance with a good dose of Liverpudlian self-deprecation. And, without being platitudinous, it is almost safe to say the title represents his current form.
Just The Tonic at The Caves, until 25 Aug.
tw rating 4/5 | [Kieran Scott]

Rosie Jones: Backward (Off The Kerb Productions)
As we enter the theatre we find Rosie Jones already onstage, headphones on, dancing without a care in the world! Much of her material is sexual in nature with very strong language, leading me to the opinion that the age recommendation of 14+ is simply too low for this show. Using her cerebral palsy as the basis for many of her jokes, Jones certainly isn't afraid of laughs at her own expense, yet she also shows great vulnerability and gives the audience a real insight into living with a disability. This quickly turns to laughter again, but as she puts her headphones back on and exits the stage, her thought-provoking message remains with us.
Pleasance Courtyard, until 25 Aug.
tw rating 3/5 | [Natalie Holman]

Just These Please: Suitable (Just These Please)
An opening rap performed whilst incongruously wearing suits sets the scene for a sketch show that is playful and fresh. This talented foursome pack 25 thoroughly entertaining sketches into 55 minutes, never letting the pace or quality lapse. The performances and the choreography are polished without being overly slick, with the transitions being particularly effective. The jokes and wordplay were consistently sharp, while the more dramatic sketches were not overplayed. There were countless highlights, including a dispute between the constituent parts of bread and a re-imagining of the final scene of 'Titanic'. The closing song on the plight of the Lothian Buses drivers during the Fringe turned into a communal sing-along, bringing this first-rate show to a satisfying conclusion.
Gilded Balloon Teviot, until 26 Aug.
tw rating 5/5 | [Charlie Ellis]

Will Duggan: Class Two (Will Duggan)
A stand-up show which includes the performer admitting that he has been cautioned for inciting racial hatred and has - in recent years - suffered a serious breakdown hardly suggests a feast of laughter. Fortunately Duggan was able to draw the humour from these episodes. He deliberated on how his imaginary childhood friends ("the lads") might judge his life as an adult and the true meaning of happiness. His depiction of life working at a Harvester restaurant was a highlight -an experience which might have been mined further. At times Duggan's narrative drifted, though often it was his audience interactions which best displayed his ability. A cathartic recreation of an excruciating moment from his youth (involving his imaginary friends) was an effective closer.
Pleasance Courtyard, until 26 Aug.
tw rating 3/5 | [Charlie Ellis]


Backbone (Underbelly and Gravity & Other Myths)
One by one the performers lie down on the stage as the audience files in, and I begin to lose track of how many there are. Then suddenly, everything bursts into life for just over an hour of virtually non-stop action. Eventually, I get it right - there are ten people dashing and leaping around the stage as they prepare the space, creating a scene that almost feels like another world. Backed by live music, this is fast-paced circus that lives up to the troupe's name; for them, gravity is a feeble opponent. With remarkable lifts and moves, it's relentless fun, and you can clearly see that they're enjoying every moment. They push the boundaries, showing just what you can achieve with a bit of teamwork and, of course, absolutely incredible acrobatic skills.
Underbelly Bristo Square, until 26 Aug.
tw rating 5/5 | [Daisy Malt]


Blueswater Presents: Blues! (The Blueswater)
Blues doesn't have to be sad! Tight, slick and pulsating with energy, Edinburgh-based band Blueswater narrated the story of the blues, jumping along through the twentieth century until the present day. At any one time there were up to twelve musicians and singers on the stage and they gave us faithful, committed performances of the milestones of the genre such as Bo Diddley's 'Diddley Daddy' and Memphis Jug Band's 'Move That Thing'. Lieber and Stoller's explosive, teenager-defining 'Yakety Yak' deserves special mention for captivating the crowd and - obviously - for the saxophone solo. Charismatic frontman Felipe Schrieberg suffered for his art in the heat, but we loved him for it!
theSpace @ Surgeons Hall, until 24 Aug.
tw rating 5/5 | [Louise Rodgers]

Ayman Jarjour, Syrian Guitarist (Ayman Jarjour)
There was no hip hop - that was a mistake in the Fringe Programme - so I turned my baseball cap the other way round and settled down for an hour of classical guitar. Villa-Lobos' 'Prelude Number One' was delicate and lyrical; the meter so cleverly interpreted I was on the edge of my seat, deliciously anticipating the next phrase. For Nikita Koshkin's 'Usher Waltz', a darkly disintegrating work inspired by Edgar Allen Poe's 'Fall of the House of Usher', Jarjour skilfully used violent string techniques in a witty and compelling way (without any distracting snappage). Jarjour's own medley of Arab folk melodies was powerful. This was a truly international and virtuosic programme, mixing the well-loved with some newer pieces.
Stockbridge Church, 3 Aug.
tw rating 4/5 | [Louise Rodgers]

Fingers And Thumbs with Andy Gunn (Andy Gunn)
This was an eccentric, intimate Saturday night blues session with a friendly, laid-back trio keen to engage with and entertain their audience. The variety of guitars delighted me, particularly the 12 string Portuguese guitar and national steel guitar - and Gunn can certainly play them! Despite the unexpected variety of the programme Gunn was at his best when playing and singing the classics; Sam and Dave's 'When Something is Wrong with my Baby' just bled emotion, while Fats Domino's 'Walking to New Orleans' had a real connection with the audience. Harmonica and piano supported well, and we were spirited away to New Orleans with Edinburgh Castle as a backdrop.
artSpace@StMarks, 10, 17 Aug.
tw rating 4/5 | [Louise Rodgers]


IvankaPlay (Snowy Owl)
Much ink has been spilled about Ivanka Trump and her role in the endlessly horrifying prestige drama of the Trump administration. This sharp, thoughtful essaying of the self-professed First Daughter produces a picture of someone both revolting and endearing, with a sincere desire to do some good with her position, but a warped conception of what "good" actually entails. Actor McLean Peterson brings a skilful, brittle subtlety to Ivanka, exploring the nuances of Charles Gershman's script. Sometimes it'll lull you into sympathy for its subject, but never for too long - the mask slips, and reveals that at the core of this person is a bottomless well of callous indifference. Grim current events only serve to make this play ever more relevant.
Underbelly Cowgate, until 25 Aug.
tw rating 4/5 | [Jon Stapley]

House Of Hundred (Yesim Ozsoy Galata Perform Tiyatrosu - Turkey)
Homes have long memories, with stories practically embedding themselves in the fabric as generations pass through. Yesim Ozsoy tells the stories of one such house in Turkey, spanning the Ottoman Empire to modern day, assisted by haunting traditional music from Kivanc Sarikus. The structure is meandering and diffuse, but at times can really grab and hold you, such as with an early story about the house's elderly cleaning woman that takes an unsettling turn, bolstered by Melisa Onel's effective video projections. The show feels a little like a jumble of ideas fighting for prominence, with some devices springing out of nowhere then being unceremoniously dropped just as quickly, but there's a lyricism to the words that's quite affecting.
C Aquila, until 17 Aug.
tw rating 3/5 | [Jon Stapley]

America Is Hard To See (Life Jacket Theatre Company)
In this breathtaking production, verbatim interviews are intercut with written scenes, traditional hymns and original music. Exploring the lives of convicted sex offenders in the rural American Miracle Village, the play deftly tackles an incredibly complex topic with a stripped back production, bringing the focus intently onto the stories told. As one of the interviews states, you should leave thinking "I don't know what to think", and you really do question what is truth and what isn't. The interrupted moments of multiple stories gradually form a narrative which is both thought-provoking and heartbreaking, as well as funny at times. Beautifully staged and masterfully acted by the entire cast, this is a piece that will stay with you for a long time.
Underbelly Cowgate, until 25 Aug.
tw rating 5/5 | [Izzy Cutler]

Bible John (Bible John and The Pleasance)
From podcasts to prestige Netflix films, the true crime documentary industry is booming. Why? 'Bible John' tackles the question head-on, presenting the story of four women growing obsessed with a true crime podcast concerning (real) serial killer Bible John. It finds the nuance in the question, being interrogative but not judgemental, making the point that women have good reason to take an interest in violent crime, when so much of it is done to them by men. It's a fantastic subject for a play and has clearly been thoroughly researched. Some rough edges - in particular a dance-filled climax that's a little overlong - ultimately do not diminish the power and intelligence of the play, which is wonderfully conceived and expertly performed.
Pleasance Courtyard, until 26 Aug.
tw rating 4/5 | [Jon Stapley]

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