Ever since I saw the press release telling me all about Isma Almas and her show this year, I've been hoping to see it, because it sounds like just my sort of comedy: the kind that has a bit of a narrative, covers pertinent and topical themes, and - as well as being funny - has a lot of heart.

In 'About A Buoy: Adventures In Adoption', Isma uses a personal story as a jumping off point for a set dealing with lots of issues related to adoption and parenting. To find out more about the show, and Isma herself, I arranged a quick chat.

CLICK HERE to read today's Caro Meets interview.

'Isma Almas: About A Buoy - Adventures In Adoption' is on at Gilded Balloon Teviot until 26 Aug. Listing here.
The Review Edition of the TW magazine is out now! 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 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 comedian John-Luke Roberts on hand with the tips.

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

'John-Luke Roberts: After Me Comes The Flood (But In French) Drip Splosh Splash Drip BLUBBP BLUBBP BLUBBPBLUBBPBLUBBP!!' is on until 26 Aug. There are also a small number of performances of his show 'Terrible Wonderful Adaptions' until 23 Aug. Both are on at Assembly George Square. 

Isa Bonachera: The Great Emptiness (Isa Bonachera)
Like many of us when we were kids, Isa Bonachera dreamed of going to space. Unlike many of us, she attempted to do something about it. Her show chronicles her many years spent in astrophysics in an attempt to reach the final frontier, covering everything from her complex fantasies involving the movie 'Armageddon' to her work at the Large Hadron Collider. She's a charming host with a gift for the unexpected one-liner, and it's a relief to see that despite years in the drudgery of academia, her genuine love for science hasn't deserted her. It becomes a show that's largely about how hard it can be to find your place; Bonachera's infectious enthusiasm indicates that she has happily found hers.
Gilded Balloon at Old Tolbooth Market, until 25 Aug.
tw rating 4/5 | [Jon Stapley]

Sketch Thieves (Purple Martian / Free Festival)
Don't worry - the thievery in this show is all consensual. Four sketch groups volunteer to perform a slice of their material in the first half, and then for the second they have to attempt to perform each other's. Will Mars' spin-off from his successful 'Joke Thieves' stand-up compilation show, this proves to be a riotous hour of improvisation and adaptation. We saw sketch groups Northern Power Blouse, Bad Clowns, Two Little Dickheads and Double Denim put themselves through the thievery wringer, and given how different their respective styles were, seeing the jokes of one group through the lens of another proved to be both funny and genuinely interesting. If you go, get there early - our performance was packed out.
Laughing Horse @ Cabaret Voltaire, until 25 Aug.
tw rating 4/5 | [Jon Stapley]

Rachel Fairburn: The People's Princess (Live Nation)
Mancunian Rachel Fairburn is not afraid to speak her mind, even if the result is a bizarre comment relating to Princess Diana during sex. It's this thought that gives the show its name, because it started Fairburn on a path to thinking that she has the attributes to be the next people's princess, though this theme ties things together only very loosely. Unlike Lady Di, Fairburn has working class roots and a razor sharp tongue. She presents as a hard-edged character, almost aloof, but in reality is very likeable, and the laughs are plentiful as she shares some of her most scathing opinions about friends, relationships and babies. I definitely enjoyed this hour, but overall I felt it lacked the sort of cohesiveness that could tie all its elements together into something more impactful.
Underbelly Bristo Square, until 25 Aug.
tw rating 3/5 | [Daisy Malt]

Gethin Alderman Is: Sublime (Gethin Alderman)
When the performer asks the audience in the preamble about what food allergies they have you might feel a bit uneasy. If so, you are in the right frame of mind for this unhinged, effervescent and entertaining show. Alderman plays a citrus fruit obsessive dealing with a relationship crisis, and employs crazed monologue, interpretive dance and touching song to tell his tale.  Beneath the absurdity is a warm-hearted and mischievous performer - most evident in his interactions with the audience. It's a show which requires the audience to participate playfully and wholeheartedly; if they do so they will be rewarded with a classic 'only at the Fringe' experience which will amuse as well as drastically expanding their knowledge of citrus fruit.
Just The Tonic @ The Charteris Centre, until 25 Aug.
tw rating 3/5 | [Charlie Ellis]

Jacob Hawley: Falaraki (Jacob Hawley)
Jacob Hawley admits that his successful run at last year's Fringe came at some personal cost as it sent him into a spiral of financial and emotional decline. He channels this into an engaging discussion of class, relationships and feminism. The title derives from a holiday which frames the show - a trip for him which typifies the escapism central to working class life. Most impressive was a nuanced section on feminism which could profitably have been extended to replace a laboured discussion of veganism. He ends with a lovely tribute to his girlfriend who has helped get his life back on track. His bad experiences following last year's Fringe seem to have knocked his confidence but he remains an engaging voice.
Just The Tonic at the Mash House, until 25 Aug.
tw rating 3/5 | [Charlie Ellis]

The Establishment: Bureau De Strange (Mad Etiquette)
"Do you think we've started yet" is the recurring question from the stage for around half of this exceptionally silly show. After several increasingly foolish false starts, Cecil and Godfrey pretend that they've not got time to do their whole show and offer us instead a run through of the 'best' bits, being a set of sketches with improv elements followed by a somewhat unexpected musical finale. The best bits are superb, echoing the surrealism of Vic and Bob, and a newspaper headlines bit which channels The Two Ronnies. However, it's by no means all-killer as some of the improv falls dead flat, and one or two recurring gags grate. Overall, an enjoyable to duo to watch, showing commendable commitment to wilful daftness.
Heroes at The Hive, until 25 Aug.
tw rating 3/5 | [Bruce Blacklaw]

Daniel Audritt: Better Man (Daniel Audritt)
Daniel Audritt would like to be a better man. He would, in fact, like men to be better. This is a show about manhood, masculinity and how silly all of that can be. Now, this all well-trodden, familiar comedic ground and there's nothing particularly 'new' here, but it remains ever-fertile and Audritt works it well. The show is heavy with well-delivered, good gags and his self-deprecating geniality gets a terrific response from a lunchtime crowd. Towards the end, he tells us this is his first full-hour show. The gasp from some of the audience is instructive. However he fares in his quest to become a better man, he's already well on the path to being a bloody good comic.
Just The Tonic at The Caves, until 25 Aug.
tw rating 4/5 | [Bruce Blacklaw]

Children Of The Quorn (Megan from HR)
It is a good title, isn't it? It heralds super-slick double-act sketch comedy with razor-sharp timing. There's an over-arching dramatic narrative and a conclusion which reveals the intricacy of the show's structure through a series of call-backs. So far, so clever (and it really is). But, for all that, it's still a sketch show and accordingly lives and dies by how funny the actual sketches are and, in that respect, I found it hit and miss - Quorny is, oddly enough, an appropriate description. The performances are good, though: Andrew puts me in mind of a young Miles Jupp and among Ambika's impressive range, her deadpan comic disdain was particularly on point. Smart, accomplished and, perhaps, a name to remember.
Just The Tonic at La Belle Angele, until 25 Aug.
tw rating 3/5 | [Bruce Blacklaw]

A**Hole New World (Brian Gallagher)
'A**Hole New World' revolves around Brian Gallagher's desperate need to leave Ireland as a teenager, and his overwhelming desire to start a new life in New Zealand. A contentious relationship with his mother is only worsened when Gallagher forges her signature, which leaves him attempting to survive at the other end of the world. Through his comedic storytelling we learn more about his interesting life, with pleasant anecdotes covering everything from drug busts to polygamist cults. There are a few laughs here and there, but not enough: the show feels incomplete, yet his self-confessed carelessness and his critical examination of his life choices are the foundations for a fuller, more promising show in the future.
Scottish Comedy Festival @ Nightcap, until 26 Aug.
tw rating 3/5 | [Kieran Scott]


Devon Knows How They Make It So Musical! (Free) (Take Note Community Choir)
Well this was fun - an hour of show tunes with accompaniment, all carefully chosen and arranged to bring out the strengths of the Take Note Community Choir. The musical director was unobtrusively impressive; the choir followed her clear conducting exactly and achieved good dynamics, timing and a rich, full sound that wasn't over-produced. She let her choir shine with their excellent diction and tuning, and the unison singing was particularly strong and joyful. The programme was varied; there was an Andrew Lloyd Webber medley, of course, but we were also treated to songs from 'The Lion King', 'Oh What a Lovely War!' and 'Skyfall'. A lovely soloist pleaded 'Don't Rain On My Parade' but despite this there was flooding in Edinburgh that night!
Various churches, run ended.
tw rating 4/5 | [Louise Rodgers]

Fauré Requiem By Candlelight (St Andrew Camerata)
This prettily lit church was the pleasing setting for one of the most popular choral works in the repertoire. Heavenly associations were further enhanced by a harp in the orchestra - potentially unnerving in a mass for the dead - that left us in no doubt that orchestra is more poetic than organ. Horns announced the last trumpet in the 'Dies irae' and the choir's authoritative entry demonstrated that this was indeed the "day of wrath". The entry into 'Lux Aeterna V' was a silken thread linking it to the 'Agnus Dei' - floating in the air with unhurried accuracy, perfectly timed and very beautiful. Baritone soloist Roderick Bryce's voice had depth and richness. Never attended a classical concert? Try this.
St Patrick's Church, 17 Aug.
tw rating 5/5 | [Louise Rodgers]


Full Consent To Speak On My Behalf (Good Wolf People)
Exploring the question of how care-experienced people are represented in the world, Good Wolf People have stitched together the experiences of young people in care to create this piece of verbatim theatre. Scripted by Serafina Cusack, the show provides a new insight into the world and processes of social work and foster care, its stories ably told by four performers. The overall effect is interesting but diffuse, with no solid through-line of character or story, and there are dramatic devices that feel showy and unnecessary, most notably the frequent use of pop songs. That said, it's inventive, full of ideas and well-performed, showing a commendable amount of respect for its subject matter and the under-represented voices it is championing.
Greenside @ Infirmary Street, until 24 Aug.
tw rating 3/5 | [Jon Stapley]

How Not To Drown (Thick Skin, Traverse Theatre production with Tron Theatre, Lawrence Batley Theatre)
A large square of wooden decking is raised above the floor, tilting and turning at points in the show, looking like the deck of a ship rocking from stormy waves. It's the perfect setting to capture the turmoil of this true story. Exploring the life of a refugee boy making his way through the British care system, it's a powerful piece, made even more so by being narrated onstage by the man whose tale it is. Having the ensemble take turns to play his younger self perfectly showcases how this is a universal experience for so many refugees. Although the play suffers from trying to fit a lifetime of experience into a limited time, the stunning visual elements bring a great vitality to the play.
Traverse Theatre, until 25 Aug.
tw rating 4/5 | [Izzy Cutler]

Meatball Séance (John Michael/PBH's Free Fringe)
This one's about a séance with meatballs. What do you mean, "what?" Right, ok. American John Michael wants to tell us about his boyfriends - indeed wants some of us to take the role of his boyfriends for the story. Specifically, he wishes he could have introduced them to his deceased mother and so, naturally, he goes about conducting a séance to reach her through the medium (as it were) of cooking her signature meatballs. It's an odd recipe and won't be to all tastes. Not the meatballs themselves (although, fennel? Bleh) but the mix of the comedic and the histrionic does jar at times. But it is a committed performance, with its share of laughs and its own very distinctive flavour.
Bar Bados Complex, until 24 Aug.
tw rating 3/5 | [Bruce Blacklaw]

Mustard (Eva O'Connor)
In such a large space, you'd think a single performer could easily get lost - but with Eva O'Connor's fiery and intense performance, you can't help but stay fixated on her. Almost as if anger is constantly simmering under the surface, she tells a story of heartbreak and of her addiction to mustard. Producing jars of the stuff in the opening moments, O'Connor has written a piece that is just the right amount of weird. Funny, touching, sad and all too easy to relate to, 'Mustard' showcases some amazing storytelling. My only wish was that the origin of the mustard obsession was explored more. However, I left the show blown away by her strong and captivating solo performance. "Strong, like mustard," seems about right.
Summerhall, run ended.
tw rating 4/5 | [Izzy Cutler]

Pizza Shop Heroes (Phosphoros Theatre)
'Pizza Shop Heroes' is performed by four young men who have undertaken desperate journeys to escape Afghanistan, Albania, Eritrea and Ethiopia. The stories of these four refugees are fused into one tale for our times. It's raw, sometimes a little ragged: these aren't seasoned thespians, or polished drama students, but this is not a show which suffers for that. The stories of the journey, the reasons for making it and the bloody awfulness of, well, us when they get here are important and need telling. But what makes this show fly are the touches added to make it a fundamentally human story, most notably when the script opens up ideas of a future that just might make it all worthwhile, somehow or other.
Summerhall, run ended.
tw rating 4/5 | [Bruce Blacklaw]

Normaler Than Everyone (Normaler Productions in association with Fringe Management, LLC)
How do we cope with grief? With the fear of losing someone we love? What is the normal response and how can we relate to our new normal? Such are the questions posed by the multi-talented Brian Joseph, through songs, dialogue and photography charting his wife's cancer treatment. The photography, in particular, feels relevant; his discussion of hiding behind the lens to give himself distance from what's happening resonates powerfully. The songs are beautifully written and performed: lyrically complex, clever and moving. Though at times the show's rhythm and pace falters a little, even that feels authentic, strengthening the representation of this trying time. The show's final number is exquisite; feeling both wonderfully special, and wonderfully normal.
Gilded Balloon Teviot, until 26 Aug.
tw rating 4/5 | [Andy Leask]

The Sensemaker (Woman's Move)
A woman battles with an answering machine, taking on technology and bureaucracy by completing myriad ridiculous tasks in an entertaining show that walked a line between funny and disturbing. Despite its promise, however, I felt there were problems with the pacing of the performance, which makes sense when taking into account the fact that this has previously been presented as a thirty minute show: I couldn't help but feel that the shorter length would suit the piece more than its current hour long runtime. It took far too long to get from beat to beat, making the show drag, and my interest was frequently lost. However, the way the solo performer engaged in dialogue with a recorded voice made this very chilling, with the humour at the start was a brilliant juxtaposition to the more horrifying elements at the end.
Zoo Playground, until 26 Aug. 
tw rating 3/5 | [Izzy Cutler]

Frankenstein: How To Make A Monster (Battersea Arts Centre and BAC Beatbox Academy)
A beatbox 'concept album' version of Frankenstein. Sounds shit, no? The familiar tale updated and refreshed with a 21st century urban perspective - ok, interesting. The young cast are introduced and we're given a bit of a primer on beatboxing. Sounds kind of fun. They've chosen how to present and make the story their own and - increasingly hard to credit as we progress - it is only their voices we hear. Getting good, this. Those voices are excellent, the beat-boxing concocts terrific walls of noise and rhythm, cracking singing too. OK, you got me. I'm into this. And so's everyone else - huge and very well-deserved ovations. And that's kind of how this Frankenstein works, building up, layer by layer to something gleefully astonishing.
Traverse, until 25 Aug
tw rating: 5/5 | Bruce Blacklaw

Deer Woman (Article 11/CanadaHub)
Lila, a proud member of the Indigenous Blackfoot Canadian people, is recording a statement. Her sister has become one of the 1,600 missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls in Canada, but, unlike so many grieving family members, skilled huntswoman Lila can do something about it. As Lila records her testimony on video, we see her projected against the canvas walls of her hunting blind, her face enlarged to enhance every tic, every twinge of emotion. She doesn't cry or weep for her lost sister - she cracks jokes, reminisces, and matter-of-factly states states her intentions. It's a little long, but Cherish Violet Blood's masterful performance as Lila keeps us glued to her as events build towards a grimly satisfying conclusion.
CanadaHub @ King's Hall in association with Summerhall, until 25 Aug.
tw rating 4/5 | [Jon Stapley]

Drone (Harry Josephine Giles, Rob Jones, Neil Simpson and Jamie Wardrop)
The drone is an unmanned aerial vehicle. The drone is a person. The drone delivers instant death from miles away. The drone is intimidated by her line manager. Here is where we find ourselves, in the strange world concocted in the poetry of Harry Josephine Giles, who is one third of the equation in this desolate, beautiful show. Underscoring Giles' poetry are sounds by Neil Simpson and video by Jamie Wardrop, both of which are created and mixed live every night. The drone's relentless whine gives way to lo-fi electronica; impressionistic digital mountains morph into real terrain. A real drone hovers above the stage, demanding our attention. This textured, layered experience grips hold of your anxieties and doesn't let go.
Summerhall, until 17 Aug.
tw rating 4/5 | [Jon Stapley]

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