Tom Machell is one-fifth of ThreeWeeks Editors' Award winning comedy group zazU. But this year he can be found in the Fringe's theatre programme where he is performing a great new play he has written called 'Ticker'.

Based on real life experiences, 'Ticker' tells the story of twenty-something Spencer, a Geordie millennial who is deeply in love with the inestimable Gabi. Spencer's life is torn apart by Gabi's untimely - and unexplained - death. What follows, according to our reviewer, is "a truly arresting exploration of grief, mental health and toxic masculinity, balanced by dark humour and punctuated by unexpected twists that keep you guessing".

I wanted to find out more about the background to the show, and also how putting on a one-person play at the Fringe differs to being part of a sketch comedy group. So, I posed a bunch of questions to Tom himself.

CLICK HERE to read today's Chris Meets interview.

Tom Machell performs 'Ticker' at Underbelly until 25 Aug. Listing here.
We are currently putting together the Review Edition of ThreeWeeks, the print magazine that hits the streets on Wednesday, 14 Aug, available to pick up at all the key venues.

Advertising inside is a great way to get your shows in front of thousands of festival-goers just as they are deciding what to see. And we have a very small number of last minute ad spots available at very special prices.

We have a half page at £250 plus VAT and a sixth page at £125 plus VAT. 

We'd need artwork today, Sunday, by 5pm - though for sixth pages you could simply send us your A5 or A6 flyer design. Email to book.

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 comedian Andy Field on hand with the tips.

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

Andy Field's Funeral' is on at Just the Tonic until 25 Aug.

First Piano On The Moon (Will Pickvance)
Will Pickvance can't really play piano, he says. Just tricks. Admittedly those 'tricks' involve playing 'The Entertainer' upside-down and similar, but still - we'll take his word for it. So imagine the awks when he is picked to play at Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's birthday concert in Salzburg. He goes, of course, and once there in Mozart's Geburtshaus, he realises he'd better learn a tune or two. Mozart himself manifests to the young maestro and, to avoid security, they pop to the moon to work things out because of course they do. Musically, this is tremendous - Mozart, Chopin and Scott Joplin fused and merrily goofed around with. It's a grand shaggy-piano story too, nicely told. Oh, and there's cake. Summerhall, until 18 Aug.
tw rating 4/5 | [Bruce Blacklaw]

One Duck Down (FacePlant Theatre)
Based on the true story of 7000 rubber ducks being cast adrift, 'One Duck Down' is an endearing tale of one man's attempt to collect the ducks. It's an avenue for tackling important issues such as ocean waste and climate change in an accessible way. Each scene welcomes an interesting new element, whether that's the hand puppet crabs, a giant whale, or a bearded woman, and these constant changes ensure the show remains engaging. There's no doubt this is a heart-warming production, loosely comparable to 'Paddington Bear' with the lovely story and feelings it evokes. 'One Duck Down' is a wholesome, professional piece of children's theatre and, with a few puns thrown in, there's something for the whole family.
Pleasance Courtyard, until 26 Aug.
tw rating 5/5 | [Natalie Holman]

I, Piano (Adrian Hornsby)
In the unique setting of the Pianodrome, where the seating is made entirely from upcycled pianos, the only intact one sits in the centre. On closer inspection, someone is sleeping underneath the keyboard. He is the spirit of the piano, and he has lost his music, so little girl Zizi undertakes to help him get it back. Adventure ensues, their journeys represented through light puppetry and clever projection. We learn about the nature of music with the aid of various suggestions solicited from the younger members of the audience. It is a charming journey full of fabulous musicianship, riffing on various classical, er, classics. Well worth a trip beyond Fringe central to Leith: your young co-travellers will be transported further still.
Pianodrome at The Pitt, until 11 Aug.
tw rating 4/5 | [Bruce Blacklaw]

The Listies: Ickypedia (The Listies)
Despite the ever-expanding Oxford English Dictionary, there remain many things for which there are, literally, no words. The loose premise of 'Ickypedia' is to present a compendium of new words to cover such scenarios, though our hosts' attentions mostly fixate on the scatological in this rowdy children's comedy show. By the time we're done, we've had audience interaction, puns, water pistols, sketches, banter, bad dancing and the Snot Ness Monster. They carry it all off with great aplomb, sustaining a frenetic pace for a relentless hour that makes the children laugh and join in a lot, and the grown-ups snigger rather more than is proper, considering. Luckily, I don't need to come up with a word for it. I can just say...
Pleasance Courtyard, until 18 Aug.
tw rating 4/5 | [Bruce Blacklaw]


Rhys Nicholson - Nice People Nice Things Nice Situations (Underbelly in association with Casarotto Ramsey Management)
With his flash of red hair and sharp suit, Rhys Nicholson is certainly a distinctive character, while his caustic wit and talent for storytelling leave you hanging on his every word. I honestly think I could listen to him read out a shopping list and would find it entertaining. The material in this hour is highly personal: from facing homophobia (the show's title references some scathing feedback he received), to worrying about ageing (he's at the scary age of 29), to adopting a dog that seems to hate him, Nicholson's witty delivery as he pokes fun at himself - and of course others - is endlessly entertaining. He's unapologetic about who he is and, with the confidence he displays, it's hard not to be enchanted.
Underbelly Bristo Square, until 25 Aug.
tw rating 5/5 | [Daisy Malt]

Catherine Bohart: Lemon (Chambers Touring)
Mind what you do with your face if you're at the front of Catherine Bohart's show - you might end up inspiring next year's material. A sour-faced, yellow-jumpered audience member last year described Bohart as "disgusting" for discussing her sex life a little, so this year she's going to discuss it a lot. The result is deeply personal comedy, tackling long-term relationships and navigating straight spaces as a queer person, in a way that somehow always circles back to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Bohart's playful style makes for an hour that whips by, more structured than her meandering delivery at first makes it appear. It's brave, too, taking a chance on an ending a lesser performer might not have pulled off.
Pleasance Courtyard, until 25 Aug.
tw rating 4/5 | [Jon Stapley]

Christopher Macarthur-Boyd: Dreamboat (Off The Kerb Productions)
Considered one of the rising talents of Scottish comedy, Christopher Macarthur-Boyd produced an adept performance here, tackling cultural dislocation and adulthood. His themes of living in an area experiencing gentrification and moving away from his parents hardly pushed the frontiers of comedy but his storytelling was adroit - his range of voices adding much to his retelling. Only during a dispensable segment on own brand cereals did the performance drag. Though young he's already a skilled performer who, rather than being put off by the bleed through from a musical next door, made an amusing feature of it. He also successfully rescued a fluffed punch line. As his range of life experience expands and deepens I'm sure he'll make even more of an impact.
Gilded Balloon Teviot, until 25 Aug.
tw rating 3/5 | [Charlie Ellis]

Crystal Rasmussen Presents The Bible 2 (Plus A Cure For Shame, Violence, Betrayal And Athlete's Foot) Live! (United Agents)
Crystal Rasmussen is Tom Rasmussen's drag alter-ego. Or is it that Tom is Crystal's alter-ego? The line seems pretty hazy. Based on their book, 'Diary of a Drag Queen', the show explores how drag helped a queer kid from Lancaster to become someone else, while battling with being different and the feelings of shame which came with that. Drag cabaret with a twist, it offers moments that punch you in the gut and others so uplifting this reviewer got goosebumps, particularly when Rasmussen sings; their voice is astonishing. Through song and spoken word, this is important storytelling that gives insight into the ways drag can serve to heal a troubled soul, and how love ultimately conquers all.
Underbelly Cowgate, until 25 Aug.
tw rating 4/5 | [Daisy Malt]

Nick Elleray: Big Nick Energy (Nick Elleray / Free Festival)
Nick Elleray has lived his life admiring the Rolling Stones and attempting to use spirituality to become a more tranquil individual. For a man who delivers such a composed performance, you can sense the inner rage that still hasn't depleted in Elleray. The Aussie comedian has spent years reeling after the Stones' 1989 release 'Steel Wheels', and considers whether you can ever really forgive your favourite band for their poorest effort. He puts on a cracking display in 'Big Nick Energy', questioning whether he still has the vigour that the title suggests. Comedically, he certainly does, as proved by this competent and unique display, advising us on how to impede a possible midlife crisis through observational humour.
Laughing Horse at The Counting House, until 25 Aug.
tw rating 4/5 | [Kieran Scott]


Southern Nights: The Story Of Southern Soul (Night Owl Shows)
This was no ordinary tribute documentary - these musicians meant every note. As Singer/guitarist Roberto Picazo said during his narration, this music was the soundtrack of the American civil rights movement; it really did change the world. Harry Whitty played keys and trombone while Reine Beau Anderson Dudley gave a passionate version of Etta James' 'I Would Rather Go Blind'. Picazo's perfect diction really brought out the humorous malice of Ernie K Doe's hit 'Mother-in-Law'. The audience gasped to see a photo of a younger Jimi Hendrix, in suit and bowtie, backing Wilson Pickett. This show had integrity and insight in addition to great tunes - in short, it had soul!
theSpace @ Surgeons Hall, until 11 Aug.
tw rating 4/5 | [Louise Rodgers]

The Carpenters Songbook (Night Owl Shows)
Carpenters fans will enjoy this sing-along documentary type show, featuring their greatest hits played live by professional musicians. Their story was undeniably sad but the band was upbeat, wanting everyone to join in the songs and have fun. The singer was very engaging and had a lovely lower register, but the natural break in her voice made transitioning into top notes audibly difficult as some of the songs just weren't in her key. Her enthusiasm for the music was endearing, however, and carried the show along. Karen Carpenter was one of the greatest pop singers of her generation and this show honours her memory, showing just how remarkable The Carpenters were despite their catastrophic problems.
theSpace@Surgeons Hall until 24 Aug.
tw rating 3/5 | [Louise Rodgers]

Global Grooves, Ancient Voices (Autorickshaw)
How can something so complicated be so easy to listen to? It was simply beautiful is the answer! Suba Sankaran's gorgeous voice and lively focus on the audience made this Canadian trio's blend of diverse cultures, live looping, six string bass, tabla drums and eastern modes utterly mesmeric; soon we were gleefully vocalising tabla rhythms with Ed Hanley and joining in the songs as delightedly as new cult members. The calibre of the performers, as they explained their stunning music and taught us to take part, was evident - these are world class musicians. In addition to their own compositions were Paul Simon and Peter Gabriel tunes, which were definitely improved by the jazzy, world music vibe.
theSpace on North Bridge, until 10 Aug.
tw rating 5/5 | [Louise Rodgers]


Piramania! The Swashbuckling Pirate Musical (Sloshed Theatre)
As the doors opened, we were welcomed aboard this pirate-y musical adventure by the cast, who were scattered throughout the room improvising with the audience and creating a friendly atmosphere. The musical numbers were well written (notably the title song), but the actor-musicianship felt stapled on to a performance heavily reliant upon the pianist (who wasn't an actor) and the backing tracks. Though the overall story and characters were amusing, it felt like many of the in jokes shared between the cast should have remained in the rehearsal room, as they just weren't funny for the audience. While I don't think it has reached its full potential yet, 'Piramania!' was an enjoyable, slightly absurd performance with great songs and production value.
Underbelly Bristo Square, until 26 Aug.
tw rating 3/5 | [Natalie Holman]


Piano_Play (Charlie Russell Productions)
If the prelude doesn't grab you, worry not, and wait for the second movement, as this tale of unrequited - obsessive? - love is more than it first appears. In addition to playing the piano, Ed is playing some clever games with narrative perspective; we begin to question the reliability of his account, slowly reinterpreting what we're hearing. Music is used both as part of the narrative, and to set the mood, with a meta-commentary adding another layer of sophistication. The play's crescendo comes when we realise what Ed wants, what he needs, yet we can't offer the affirmation he so requires. For a play with so many laughs in it, the resonant silence it leaves in its wake is surprisingly powerful.
Underbelly George Square, until 26 Aug.
tw rating 4/5 | [Andy Leask]

Standard:Elite (Hidden Track)
A dice roll can send you rocketing up to the prestigious Elites, or leave you down with the grubby Standards. So begins 'Standard:Elite', setting its audience against each other from the get-go to tell the story of a boy from Highground and a girl from Lowground, where the twists and turns are decided upon by the Elites. Sophie MacKenzie and Elliot Hughes are our storytelling hosts, two charismatic performers who expertly keep things on the rails, themselves kept in check by a distinctly unsettling computerised voice. This absorbing tale offers many opportunities to get involved, though if you'd rather sit out and watch, you can. While its themes aren't exactly subtle, they're dissected and discussed with care and emotional intelligence.
Bedlam Theatre, until 25 Aug.
tw rating 4/5 | [Jon Stapley]

Swim (Liz Richardson in association with the Pleasance and HOME)
"How will we swim onstage?" A good question, and one answered beautifully here. 'Swim' is a mesmerising production; a play about wild swimming, and grief, it blends live dialogue and music with pre-recorded footage and soundscapes to produce something unique. It transports the audience not so much into the water, as into the head space of a wild swimmer, and of a woman, powerless to help her friend cope with an overwhelming, all-consuming grief. The emotions conveyed are profound and sincere - given extra weight by the actors' need to overcome the sound of torrential rain and rolling thunder. Although I won't be joining them for a dip at Portobello beach tomorrow, part of me wishes I could. Pleasance Courtyard, until 26 Aug.
tw rating 4/5 | [Andy Leask]

Witch Hunt (A&E Comedy)
There's a serious point buried beneath the nonsense here. A point about patriarchy, about the demonisation of women through the ages and the constraints placed upon them. That this serious message is forgotten in favour of cheap gags could be forgiven if they were funny, but all too often they fall flat. Witty lines are misplaced, mangled by ill-fitting prosthetic teeth; poorly-timed lines tread on one another, stifling laughter before it can erupt; physical gags go on too long, or not long enough... A handful of audience members seemed to really enjoy themselves, but most wavered between mild amusement, boredom and discomfort. I wish 'Witch Hunt' had committed more to its underlying concept, and allowed itself to be both clever and funny.
Pleasance Dome, until 26 Aug.
tw rating 2/5 | [Andy Leask]

The De Nova Super (A Brilliant Everything)
With its retro-futurist aesthetic, 'The De Nova Super' literally exudes atmosphere. This is partly due to the most haze I have ever seen used in a show, but also to the commitment to the world created. With home-made props and costumes, it would be easy to dismiss the show as gimmicky, but there were times when I genuinely felt transported into space, rather than sitting in a metal container. Darkly surreal, this show manages to be a philosophical discussion on the nature of existence without a word being spoken, relying on dance, physicality and comic timing to make its point. With the planet's future uncertain, we are asked if we are really ready to face not just the consequences, but our own demons.
Assembly George Square, until 26 Aug.
tw rating 4/5 | [Will Norris]

If It Didn't Matter (Cup and Dagger)
The classic tale of a teenager rebelling after a trauma is brought to the stage by this large, young ensemble cast. Tackling some complex themes, the energetic, believable and nuanced performances from the entire group made for an impressive watch. However, the good performances couldn't cover the rest of the shows flaws, with the slightly cliched ending leaving a bitter taste. There was a smattering of half-hearted and basic physical theatre moments, while the laborious set changes dragged, with performers dramatically moving stage blocks around with no real meaning behind the movement. Ultimately, the play never really shocked, moved me or made me laugh - resulting in a fairly one-note production.
theSpace @ Niddry St, until 9 Aug.
tw rating 2/5 | [Izzy Cutler]

Knock Knock (Hot Coals Theatre)
A curious mixture of different genres and ideas, almost ritualistic in nature, 'Knock Knock' brings moments of genuine awe and joy, but can seem conflicted about its message. The use of masks made this an easily understandable show, perfectly capturing its fairytale setting. Nature is at the heart of the story, exploring the almost pagan connection the characters have with it, which is at odds with their connection to each other. When they conform to society's standards, they lose their connection to nature. A bittersweet meditation on coexistence, compromise and loneliness, this family-friendly show is creatively staged but could get a little repetitive for younger audiences. However, with its innocence and charm I can see them enjoying it nevertheless.
Assembly Roxy, until 26 Aug.
tw rating 3/5 | [Will Norris]

Lovely Girls (The Hiccup Project)
With seemingly infinite energy, Cristina MacKerron and Chess Dillon-Reams use dance, physical theatre and comedy to explore the numerous roles women are expected to play in modern society. I'm exhausted just watching, as each sketch reveals a new level of ridiculous, fourth wall-breaking truth - there is at times an almost painful honesty in the actions of the various characters, fighting back at a world which seems designed to keep women, and in this case female performers, down. Although, as they admit, calling someone "lovely" is not an insult, it becomes condescending when applied to MacKerron and Dillon-Reams; their mastery of physicality and theatricality goes so far beyond outward appearance that to label them with a single word seems impossible.
ZOO Southside, until 17 Aug.
tw rating 4/5 | [Will Norris]

Only Bones 1.0 - Thom Monckton (Kallo Collective In Association With Aurora Nova)
Can a human really be called malleable? Thom Monckton certainly is. A consummate entertainer and physical comedian, his immediate, silent comebacks to the audience reactions showed how skilled he is at his craft. Transforming his body into other creatures and anthropomorphising his hands and feet, I really felt that he had almost become something other than simply human. There is a hypnotic, unreal quality to his work which can be almost painful to watch. The limits of setting the show in a one metre circle actually forced creativity, leading to a series of extremely memorable contortions and tricks, all performed with a knowing wink to the audience. Somehow, Monckton sells himself short in his title; he is so much more than 'only' bones.
Assembly Roxy, until 22 Aug.
tw rating 5/5 | [Will Norris]

Shit (MILKE and Dee & Cornelius)
While this play doesn't quite match the title (ie, it's not shit) it was a little disappointing. It started boldly, with a self-aware scene laden with profanity, discussing the use - and potential overuse - of swear words. What unfolded thereafter was a fragmented account of three girls (of indeterminate age) in some kind of social care (of indeterminate nature) who having suffered some kind of trauma (you guessed it - indeterminate). The dialogue scenes were interspersed with sequences of stylised movement, which seemed to be reflecting the girls' institutionalisation, but really just served to break the tension and disrupt the rhythm of the piece. This time, I feel, would have been better served giving us more of the girls' stories.
Summerhall, until 25 Aug.
tw rating 3/5 | [Andy Leask]

Boar (Lewis Doherty, The North Wall and Nottingham Playhouse)
Lewis Doherty continues his one-man dominance of the Fringe with a play that's part 'Game of Thrones' and part 'Holy Grail'. After the success of 'Wolf', Doherty proves he's no one-hit-wonder, displaying creativity and talent by the bucket-load. Bringing to life numerous characters and settings seemingly all at once, it's easy to forget that you're just watching one man as you visualise characters talking to one another, ignoring the fact that this isn't technically possible. Quick thinking and always ready to play off the audience, there seems to be nothing Doherty can't do. I am already anticipating whatever follow up he brings next year, which is sure to be just as much of a hit.
Pleasance Courtyard, until 25 Aug.
tw rating 5/5 | [Will Norris]

Lucy McCormick: Post Popular (Soho Theatre, Johnson & Mackay and United Agents)
Wild, bold, unpredictable and filthy (in all senses of the word) - Lucy McCormick's show lets you know what you're in for extremely quickly. Searching for the female heroes of history through dance, song and the occasional breakdown, McCormick throws herself into her role with hedonistic verve and astonishing physicality - an unequivocal highlight is McCormick's turn as a sword-swinging Boudicca. It builds up with wild abandon, at times feeling so diffuse you wonder where it could possibly be going. You won't guess. In the aftermath in the Courtyard, I shared a moment of eye contact with a fellow audience member as we silently processed what we had just experienced. Heroes, it turns out, are found in the most deeply, deeply unexpected places.
Pleasance Courtyard, until 25 Aug.
tw rating 4/5 | [Jon Stapley]

Trying It On (Warwick Arts Centre and China Plate)
"If this was a play..." are the opening words of 'Trying It On'. Is it? Well, kinda. A (mostly) one-man show, it's also various parts engaging reminiscence, inventively-staged polemic, and a question posed by 70 year-old David Edgar to his younger, pseudo-revolutionary self and, by proxy, to the audience. That question isn't "what do you think of all this "Brexit-Trump stuff?" It's the Trav in the middle of the Festival - that's not hard to answer. The harder and more provocative question is "what are you actually going to do about it?" and, to those longer in the tooth, including himself, "what did you ever do about it?" If this was a play, I'd say it's a good one.
Traverse Theatre, until 25 Aug.
tw rating 4/5 | [Bruce Blacklaw]

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