We've been following the career of Lucy Danser for many years now, through her work as a playwright, but also with an eye on the output of her production company Chatback Theatre And Comedy. It organises regular and popular comedy events down south, including poetry/comedy night 'Stand Up & Slam', which also made a name for itself in Fringes past.

This year we're talking about Danser's latest play, however, and it's got a story and themes that really piqued my interest as soon as I heard about it. I put some questions to Lucy to find out more about this play, her career, and why she keeps coming back for edfringe.

CLICK HERE to read today's Caro Meets interview.

'If This Is Normal' is on at Zoo Playground until 26 Aug. Listing here.
The Review Edition of the TW magazine is out tomorrow! You can pick up a copy from venues across Edinburgh. Inside you will find interviews with Matt Parker, Kate Lucas, Keisha Thompson, Eloise Poulton, Cheong-euy Park, Dave Chawner, Isabella Soupart, Colin Granger and Tom Machell. Plus loads and loads of reviews, every single one of them a recommended show.

Find out where to pick up a copy 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 Al Samuels from improv group Baby Wants Candy on hand with the tips.

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

'Baby Wants Candy: The Completely Improvised Full Band Musical' and 'Thrones! The Musical Parody' are both being performed at Assembly George Square until 25 Aug. 

Cabaret Of Curiosities (Tatwood Puppets)
Tucked away in the tent outside theSpace @ Symposium Hall, 'Cabaret Of Curiosities' is the kind of unexpected late-day Fringe delight you feel pleased to have discovered. An array of puppets, piloted by two skilled performers, present a variety show encompassing magic, clowning, storytelling and more. The character Edgar, a former performer and now the show's cleaner, is the breakout star, proving to be wonderfully expressive and surprisingly acrobatic puppet. With constant shifts in style and medium, the sprightly forty-five minutes rush by. Also, even the simplest magic tricks become several orders of magnitude more impressive when performed by a puppet whose operators are behind an opaque black screen. I have no idea how they did some of it.
theSpace @ Symposium Hall, until 24 Aug.
tw rating 4/5 | [Jon Stapley]


Captain Jake And The Search For The Red Queen (Stories Alive)
Captain Jake is here to tell us the story of how he became a pirate captain. This is a warm, well-told storytelling show, with some pleasing scholarly detail and a hearty dose of audience interaction and participation, as he dragoons some young crew mates to assist him. Slight pacing issue: there's quite a long stretch of straight spoken word which feels tricky for the very young, then a lot of interactivity which perhaps slightly breaks the storytelling spell for those who were in it. But, in all, if you were to walk the plank and end up in the Pleasance Cellar with Captain Jake, there are many worse things that happen at sea...
Pleasance Courtyard, until 18 Aug.
tw rating 3/5 | [Bruce Blacklaw]

Valentina's Galaxy (Frozen Charlotte Productions)
In 1963, Valentina Tereshkova became the first woman to go into space. In 1992, Mae Jamieson became the first black woman to do the same. The inspiration of these two trailblazers is channelled beautifully for a young audience (2-6) by this lovely production. Set design, costume and music all complement and add layers to a charming and very nicely performed story, in which our little girl hero leaves earthly concerns behind her to go on a fantastical space voyage with her imaginary friend. If that wasn't enough, after the gently brilliant immersive conclusion, there's also the chance to handle an actual meteorite as old as the solar system (I'm calling that an acceptable spoiler).
Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, until 18 Aug.
tw rating 5/5 | [Bruce Blacklaw]

Sparkle (Annie Cusick Wood, Honolulu Theatre Production supported by Catherine Wheels)
It's the first day of school. Sparkle dons various sparkly things, dodging the sensible shoes, blazer and tie proffered by his guardian angel. He looks forward to doing his show at school, but ends up picked-upon and, eventually, takes the guardian angel's guidance about dressing sensibly and fitting in. That is until he sees his pet caterpillar blossom into a butterfly, and both he and his guardian angel realise that he too must embrace who he really is. Segue to rainbow-laden finale. Now, the message is somewhat laid on with a trowel here but it is surely laudable, very nicely staged and performed and, to a crowd of kids who in many cases actually are starting school soon, timely. Oh, and sparkly.
Summerhall, until 25 Aug.
tw rating 3/5 | [Bruce Blacklaw]


AJ Holmes: Yeah, But Not Right Now (Stamptown)
AJ Holmes brings a dash of Broadway panache to the Fringe in this delightful and humorous musical performance. A slight delay (due to a missing microphone) only builds the expectation in the audience. When the action starts, Holmes gets quickly into his flow, though he seems genuinely surprised by the sell out audience. Whereas he's most famous for his role in the musical 'The Book Of Mormon', here his focus is autobiographical, addressing his family life and his romantic entanglements in a succession of comical songs. Highlights include songs about his mum's embarrassing Facebook posts and his tendency to oversleep. His audience interactions are charming and the audience participation in the closing number ends this excellent show on an uplifting note.
Underbelly Cowgate, Until 25 Aug.
tw rating 4/5 | [Charlie Ellis]

I'm OKayfabe (Fake Heat)
Ignore the terrible title (apparently 'kayfabe' is a wrestling term) - this is a gem. It's about wrestling, to an extent, but also about women and what forms society permits them to take. Joey Timmins and Janina Smith star as our wrestlers, embodying a host of female stereotypes such as the Paltrow-esque, smoothie-chugging 'Nutribullet' or the lager-swilling party animal 'Trainwreck'. Or Meryl Streep. It gives you the best of both worlds - the wrestling itself is raucous, athletic fun that'll get even the mildest spectator cheering for blood, while the post-bout dissection of the wrestlers' personas are involving, thoughtful and participatory. With match commentary provided by Joey Page and a rotating bill of guest comedians, this is a rowdy, rambunctious, late-night slobberknocker.
Just The Tonic at The Charteris Centre, until 25 Aug.
tw rating 4/5 | [Jon Stapley]

Ahir Shah: Dots (Ahir Shah)
Ahir Shah's Fringe run has already sold out in advance, and it's with good reason; Shah's entertaining and erudite assessments of life have earned him much acclaim. In 'Dots' he's taking a look at the bigger picture, trying to make sense of who he is and what he believes in. Being an adult has turned out to be much rougher than his younger self envisaged, and the world seems to be run by idiots that he can exert no influence over. From struggling to find the mental bandwidth to deal with all the crap in the news, to wondering when it will all get better, it's all very easy to relate to. Shah's inherent humour shines throughout, though there's a slight undertone of melancholy that leaves you feeling both tickled and thoughtful.
Monkey Barrel, until 25 Aug.
tw rating 5/5 | [Daisy Malt]

Chris Parker: Camp Binch (Berk's Nest)
After a frenetic opening, Chris Parker settles into this powerfully emotional story about his coming of age in rugby-obsessed New Zealand - from being the rugby school's ambassador through to a return trip to his high school. It's a harrowing tale of societal pressure, and of finding your own space and identity, which transcends the setting of small city New Zealand. Parker is particularly adept at skewering his teachers' inability to vocalise his sexuality, perfectly demonstrating how he really did have to find his own place. Told with style and good humour, Parker's compelling tale of personal growth draws you in, with a surprisingly satisfying resolution making it feel universal and relevant.
Assembly George Square Studios, until 25 Aug.
tw rating 4/5 | [Chris Lambert]

Obsolete (Tepid Productions)
Only very brave performers would include five minutes of complete silence in the middle of their show, but this skilful duo pull it off in 'Obsolete', a sardonic and absurd take on technology. In a venue reminiscent of a nuclear bunker, the show has a disturbingly post-apocalyptic feel. It's presented as a launch for a new technological breakthrough but in truth explores the disquieting degree to which the internet has penetrated into all aspects of our lives. Only in the last third (and during a laboured part on Gates and Bellos) does the pace slacken and the focus drift a fraction. But Dan Allum-Grazelle in particular shines as the straight man of the duo, while the gentle audience interactions are delightful.
Underbelly Cowgate, until 25 Aug.
tw rating 4/5 | [Charlie Ellis]

Izzy Mant: Polite Club (Get Comedy Ltd)
They say it's always the quiet ones, and that would certainly be true for Izzy Mant. Her show tackles her very British 'politeness', and she has the audience in the palm of her hands throughout - with a teapot and cup, Mant has even dressed the stage fittingly to create a warm, welcoming atmosphere. Each section of the show is cleverly broken up by short videos of other people sharing times that being polite has either got them in trouble or ended up in hilarity somehow. Mant conquers her politeness addiction in this enjoyable combination of comedy and storytelling, with a surprise ending I certainly didn't see coming.
Underbelly Bristo Square, until 26 Aug.
tw rating 4/5 | [Natalie Holman]

Olga Koch: If/Then (Berk's Nest in association with Hannah Layton Management)
It's hard to believe, I know, but it's tough being a woman; there are so many expectations about how you should behave, yet these are an endless list of contradictions. Olga Koch subverts some of the more stereotypical gender norms - she's got a computer science degree and loves beer - but she can't shake the feeling that she's just as guilty of participating in these misogynistic structures. Through analogies of computer programming, 'If/Then' is a love story that allows Koch to open up and question her own behaviour as much as anyone else's. There's a quirky gimmick that ties it all together, but Koch's blistering humour holds everything together so well that she could easily do without it.
Monkey Barrel, until 25 Aug.
tw rating 4/5 | [Daisy Malt]

Jen Brister (Jen Brister)
A mum of four-year-old twin boys, Jen Brister is worried they'll become patriarchal enablers unaware of their privilege in life: they already treat her like a servant. It's through this frame that she explores what privilege is and how we can take it for granted, while being open and honest about her own privileges and challenges (being a lesbian provides plenty of material here). A playful and physically expressive comic, her jokes are highly visceral at times, with a grotesque impersonation of journalist Toby Young being a particular highlight. Parenthood, white cis gendered men, the female anatomy and people who holiday in Dubai all come into the firing line, with Brister's sharp wit keeping the audience in raptures at all times.
Monkey Barrel, until 25 Aug.
tw rating 4/5 | [Daisy Malt]

Langston Kerman: The Loose Cannon (Rabbit Rabbit)
Despite the solid stance on gender and race politics, Langston Kerman somehow manages to sprinkle his set with both poop and dick jokes, making this comedy appeal to both low and high brow audiences. The journey he takes you on is not all sunshine and light though, with the titular story making some in the audience squirm uncomfortably. His tight storytelling manages to take you through the darkness and out the other side with aplomb. It's a sign of the smartness of the comedy that he can come up with a scenario which leaves you nodding in agreement as he berates his hypothetical offspring. Because if nothing else his humour is thoughtful.
Underbelly Bristo Square, until 25 Aug.
tw rating 3/5 | [Chris Lambert]

Mark And Haydn: Llaugh (StraightUp Productions)
A gentle and promising opening simply wasn't delivered on in 'Llaugh', as the rest of this sketch show meandered through some half-hearted skits. Their shtick is a double act who don't get on and who try to upstage each other. A nice idea, but the sketches lack sharp enough content - many have an enticing set up but no realisation. Their desultory efforts at audience participation fall flat and by the end sound a little desperate, as do their references to the difficulties of attracting large audiences at the Fringe. There is little which is memorable here, save for a final sketch which contains the sort of sharp wordplay lacking elsewhere. Ultimately, this is a forgettable performance by a duo who seem capable of better.
Just The Tonic at The Caves, until 25 Aug.
tw rating 2/5 | [Charlie Ellis]

Kelly Convey: Telephone Voice (Off The Kerb Productions)
A self-confessed "chav" in her youth, Kelly Convey is from a working class background and shows that with good grades - and adopting a posh accent - it can be possible to achieve social mobility. She's had an intriguing career history, with the stars aligning and bringing her here to Edinburgh for her debut hour. Convey clearly has plans to come back again too, as this year is all about introducing us to who she is, and where she came from. There's an array of anecdotes and, although there are a few clichés in there, 'Telephone Voice' is a good debut, focusing on how you can work so hard to hide your roots, but in reality the best thing to do is embrace them.
Pleasance Courtyard, until 25 Aug.
tw rating 3/5 | [Daisy Malt]

Glenn Moore: Love Don't Live Here Glenny Moore (Avalon Management)
As talented as Glenn Moore is, I can't help wondering if he's destined for bigger and better things. A one time journalist, news reader, and now stand-up comic, he seems to change jobs like other people change their trousers. Luckily having so many jobs provides him with kick-ass material: from ridiculous bosses, to being dumped by a girl at work, his jokes are pure silliness with a shot of human vulnerability. Moore definitely has a knack for the spoken word, setting up jokes then subverting the punchlines adeptly. He speaks at a pace which rewards close listening and ensures you get value for your money - he doesn't stop from the moment he bounds onto the stage until the final curtain. Great fun.
Pleasance Courtyard, until 25 Aug.
tw rating 3/5 | [Chris Lambert]


Elements Of Freestyle (ISH Dance Collective)
When first reading about this show, the term 'balletic' did not immediately come to mind. However, after watching it I think that is the most accurate way to describe it; the poise, precision and passion put into each skill and the ways in which they were coordinated were more like dance than anything else. Combining numerous different freestyle sports, the show moved smoothly from one amazing set up to another, making good use of the space and allowing each element to be as close to the audience as was possible. There can be no doubt that this demonstration of talent will entertain people of all ages, as there is more going on here than just 'cool' tricks.
Pleasance at EICC, until 25 Aug.
tw rating 4/5 | [Will Norris]

Raven (Chamäleon Productions in association with Aurora Nova)
In German culture, "Rabenmutter" - or raven mother - is a derogatory term for working mothers, deemed to care more about their jobs than their offspring. In 'Raven', the three performers demonstrate the ways they feel conflicted about their careers after becoming mothers. In a beautiful blend of acrobatics and theatre, they explore the challenges of coming to terms with the way they are perceived once they have children, and the pressures this puts on their work. From how their bodies change to their new identities and responsibilities, it's clear that women in performance face so much misogyny from all angles. When it all comes together it's incredibly powerful, and I was wholly unprepared for the effect it would have on me.
Assembly Roxy, until 26 Aug.
tw rating 5/5 | [Daisy Malt]


The Polis (A Police Tribute) (The Polis)
A four piece trio? The mighty Sting was played by two people here - a bass player and a vocalist. This was a cabaret-type venue, with table service going on throughout, rather than a concert. The Polis were a good live band who gave accurate and skilled performances, rousing the crowd to relive their own teenage years with great enthusiasm! Musically they were excellent; Andy Summers' guitar parts were note for note and the drummer drove the night along with a vigorous Stewart Copeland impression. The singer was also very convincing, effortlessly hitting all the high notes and involving the crowd. By the time they ended with 'Roxanne' the audience were frenzied, but this time Dad wasn't coming to pick them up!
The A Club at the Merchants Hall, 21 Aug.
tw rating 4/5 | [Louise Rodgers]

Andrew Carnegie (1835-1919) - 1 (Michael Mofidian and Keval Shah)
Industrialist and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie latterly believed that an interest in the arts was a key tool in social mobility for working people. As a result, he built the Carnegie Halls (not just the one in New York; there's one in his Dunfermline birthplace not far from Edinburgh). Bass baritone Michael Mofidian and pianist Keval Shah had an impressive partnership and performed Tchaikovsky, Barber and Mahler (Barber was substituted for the advertised Britten). Mofidian had perfect control of his big, expressive voice, at times declamatory and at others murmuring, though what really set him apart was his subtle physical acting. With facial expressions and posture, he breathed life into songs written for a different era. This excellent concert was part of a Carnegie themed series.
St Andrew's and St George's West, run ended.
tw rating 4/5 | [Louise Rodgers]

Brian Kennedy Recovery (Brian Kennedy)
There was a lot of love in the room for this famous Irish singer/songwriter, not long out of chemotherapy, turning up in a sparkly jacket and a kilt explaining that he's wearing pants because of his treatment. He sang his hits including 'You Raise Me Up' and the beautifully performed 'A Better Man', as well as premiering some inspiring new songs he'd written about his illness and recovery. His conversations with the audience were fun; someone tried to get a gig as a guitarist because Kennedy had once been a coach on a TV talent show. He had a serious message too, for the well, not just the sick: "Get on with your short life" and don't worry what other people think of you.
Ghillie Dhu, run ended.
tw rating 4/5 | [Louise Rodgers]


Scream Phone (Swipe Right Theatre)
Based on the retro game Dream Phone, 'Scream Phone' introduces three girls at a sleepover, about to experience a night they'll never forget. Receiving several spooky calls on an oversized pink phone about a mysterious admirer, the characters explore who they think might "fancy" them and why. Boasting parodies of classic 80s hits such as 'Material Girl', the musical amply showcases the cast's impressive vocals: the harmonies, solos and choral work are all flawless and add a lot to the overall polish and professionalism of this well-written production. Like an 80s mash-up of 'Mean Girls', 'Clueless' and 'Scream', this spoof horror musical will have you in fits of laughter, on the edge of your seat and in admiration throughout.
Gilded Balloon Patter Hoose, until 26 Aug.
tw rating 5/5 | [Natalie Holman]

Unexpected Item In The Bagging Area (Cambridge University Musical Theatre Society)
With a full band and five-man cast, 'Unexpected...' is an absurd comedy musical set in a local supermarket. Each character is well developed with their own story arc underpinning the main tale of someone trying to have the store closed down. There are no weak cast members and each one's contribution is impressive, whether that's through vocals, comic timing, facial expressions or dance skills. The recurring tune 'Fish Cake' is a particular highlight musically, showcasing some beautiful harmonies and, though none of the other songs are as catchy as you might hope for, you'll find yourself bobbing along nevertheless. The tight choreography, impressive vocals and excellent band make for a polished and hilarious production.
Underbelly Cowgate, until 25 Aug.
tw rating 4/5 | [Natalie Holman]


Square Go (Francesca Moody Productions)
It's time for Max's "square go". His rite-of-passage fight by the school gates. Unfortunately, he's inadvertently picked his fight with Danny Guthrie, the school's toughest boy, and there's less than an hour until the final bell. It's here that we join him, in Kieran Hurley and Gary McNair's riotous delight of a play, as Max attempts to find courage with the aid of his odd pal Stevie. As the two boys, Daniel Portman and Gavin Jon Wright are exceptional, all paper-thin swagger, capturing everything that's so ridiculous about being a teenage boy. The play is so deftly handled that it moves seamlessly from the audience raucously cheering on an arm-wrestling contest to moments of understated poignancy, and nothing feels unearned.
Roundabout @ Summerhall, until 25 Aug.
tw rating 5/5 | [Jon Stapley]

Umbrella Man (Teuchter Company - Colin Bramwell)
Imagine if that guy in the pub who won't stop talking to you got his own hour-long show - then, for a real twist, imagine it was actually good. We meet Colin Bramwell's character in a Cambodian bar, dressed in a suit and flip-flops, and he spins us stories of what he does in this place and how he ended up here, as well as his incidental attempts to prove the Earth is flat. Infusing his show with poetry, music and song, Bramwell creates a really special oddity that's Scottish through and through. He displays some real range as a performer, proving to be a capable character comedian who can also give a poem a sonorous delivery that'll knock you sideways.
Summerhall, until 25 Aug.
tw rating 4/5 | [Jon Stapley]

00 (Argonaut)
It's about to be the Millennium, and all hell is breaking loose. Well, that's what it felt like watching '00' anyway! The play is formed of two halves and, while I'm still not sure whether I loved it or not, it definitely made me leave the theatre thinking. The first part is a well-written and straightforward narrative, following two sisters who find themselves in the woods with a couple convinced the world will end at midnight. The second is a madcap rush through all the possible futures and dreams of this strange group. Funny, moving and featuring some brilliant performances, it's truly a weird, unusual watch - but one I wholeheartedly enjoyed.
Pleasance Dome, until 25 Aug.
tw rating 4/5 | [Izzy Cutler]

Funny In Real Life (Rob Rouse and Helen Rutter)
Comparing comedian Rob Rouse and writer/actor Helen Rutter to Chekhov might seem a tad hyperbolic, but 'Funny in Real Life' has more than a touch of 'The Seagull' to it. A clever, self-aware (and yes, funny) play, it begins with Rouse performing stand-up, before being interrupted by his (actual) wife. What follows is an exploration of what is and is not fair game for a comic to discuss on stage. Rouse has always had great stand-up chops, but the self-reflective meta-commentary adds another layer to the audience's appreciation, while his well-honed comic timing helps him riff seamlessly with the audience, playing off Rutter's powerful outrage. If you're a fan of comedy, you'll find a lot to love here.
Gilded Balloon Teviot, until 18 Aug.
tw rating 5/5 | [Andy Leask]

Superstar (Nicola Wren and Something For The Weekend)
The youngest of five siblings, Nicola Wren grew up desperate to impress her older brothers and sister. Getting into acting from a young age via local productions she was a big fish in a small pond, dreaming of stardom. Set against the backdrop of a comfortable middle-class upbringing, this autobiographical tale seems unremarkable - except that her eldest sibling is Chris Martin from that big famous band Coldplay. Growing up in the shadow of a pop phenomenon is inextricably part of Wren's identity, whether she likes it or not, and 'Superstar' is her attempt to reconcile her past with her future, to accept that she is enough in her own right. A charming actor, Wren's performance is slick and full of humour and plenty of self-awareness.
Underbelly Cowgate, until 25 Aug.
tw rating 4/5 | [Daisy Malt]

The Long Pigs (WE3 and Cluster Arts)
In a disgusting, grimy abattoir, the Long Pigs are going to work. Their mission is simple - to eliminate all red-nosed clowns, but this turns out to be less straightforward than it sounds. This is a delightfully creepy and irreverent slice of clowning and physical theatre, ably brought to life by three talented performers. The show has a blasted-out, almost post-apocalyptic feel to it as our Pigs squabble over food, lick filthy objects and, occasionally, crucify each other. Their faces are covered in sores, their speech little more than grunts with the odd recognisable word. The wonderful grotesquerie keeps you grimly spellbound as you wonder what all this could possibly be building to - until the climax comes in a horrifying rush.
Assembly Roxy, until 25 Aug.
tw rating 4/5 | [Jon Stapley]

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