I first heard of Mary Anning only a few years ago, and I suspect I'd still be ignorant of her existence if it weren't that my then fairly young daughter went through a period of dinosaur obsession. When I found out about her work, and that it had - fairly predictably, to be fair - been used by men to further their own interests and careers, I felt pretty cross.

So, needless to say, I was excited to find out about 'She Sells Sea Shells', a play by Helen Eastman that takes a look at Anning's life and recognises the importance of her endeavours. To find out more about that play and the company behind it, I spoke to director Madeleine Skipsey.

CLICK HERE to read today's Caro Meets interview.

'She Sells Sea Shells' is on at Underbelly Cowgate until 25 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 performer Melanie Jordan and director Caitlin Skinner on hand with the tips.

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

Jordan & Skinner show 'A Brief History Of The Fragile Male Ego' is on at Pleasance Dome until 26 Aug.

Tappuccino (Brunch Bunch)
Right, so this tap-dancing coffee bean goes to Switzerland and teams up with a Barista to save the rainforests. Got it? 'Tappuccino' is a warm, welcoming introduction to the all-too-rarely overlapping fields of environmentalism and tap. The former admittedly felt a little decaf, knowing how up on this stuff kids tend to be now. There are some nice bits about the little things we can all do - lights off, plastic straws etc - but I'm not sure it'd pass muster as a handbook for the Extinction Rebellion youth wing. Maybe that's ok, though. It's a nice enough, gentle primer and there is plenty of lovely singing, super dancing, infernally catchy original music and sweet audience interaction to make for an entertaining show.
Gilded Balloon, until 26 Aug.
tw rating 3/5 | [Bruce Blacklaw]

Grimm Tales (Grey Dog Theatre Company)
'Grimm Tales' is an amalgamation of several Grimm fairytales, brought to life through physical theatre, puppetry, and song. The individual stories themselves are well structured, yet the overall framework is somewhat unclear and confusing. Equally, the reasons behind the themes and costume choices was poorly communicated, though the overall aesthetic of the show was interesting, with suitcases full of props being flung through the air at various points. The show was also not helped by the attempts at edginess, containing adult humour somewhat inappropriate for a children's show. This was an ambitious show for these young performers, yet there were some very engaging moments for the audience.
Greenside @ Nicholson Square, run ended.
tw rating 2/5 | [Natalie Holman]


Baby Wants Candy: The Completely Improvised Full Band Musical (Baby Wants Candy)
Baby Wants Candy are a group of American improvisers, who take to the stage to create a brand-new musical every night. With the help of the incredibly talented Yes Band, the six cast members take audience suggestions for a show title before embarking on an hour-long adventure. The night I attended we were treated to 'Orange Is The New Crack', which evolved into a hilarious hour of entertainment; notably the physical comedy from the three male actors was on point, with choreography improvised alongside the musical numbers. The talent of the band, quick-wittedness of the ensemble, and their willingness to go along with anything culminated in a literal once in a lifetime experience.
Assembly George Square, until 25 Aug.
tw rating 5/5 | [Natalie Holman]

Carl Donnelly: Shall We All Just Kill Ourselves? (Carl Donnelly)
Carl Donnelly likes to explore the realms of esotericism, including performing in the more unconventional venues. Two years ago it was the top of a double decker bus and now he's in a yurt. Donnelly is already pacing around pre-show, which sums up his idiosyncratic style of comedy. Performing in the round certainly makes for tougher crowd interaction, but Donnelly uses his charismatic style to engage with the audience. 'Shall We All Just Kill Ourselves?' is captivating and, as our vegan, environmentalist friend explains, the title is not referencing anything extreme. Don't let his planet-romanticising put you off though: Donnelly gives a fair and balanced view on society, orated with self-assured craftsmanship.
Heroes @ the SpiegelYurt, until 25 Aug.
tw rating 4/5 | [Kieran Scott]

Dan Soder: Son Of A Gary (Live Nation Presents)
Dan Soder is like that friend who says funny things - great when you're hanging out, but not really enough to sustain an hour long show. Humorous, yes, but I never found his set laugh-out-loud funny. He's certainly an engaging storyteller, however, and his material about drugs and being an American was educational for me at least. He also explored the US's current sensitivities around race, with a story of misinterpretation while living near a mosque. It was when he was covering the darkest subjects that I found Soder the most interesting though, and the revelations around his relationship with his father were touching. His experiences are easy to relate to, though the show itself wasn't my cup of tea.
Underbelly Bristo Square, until 26 Aug.
tw rating 3/5 | [Chris Lambert]

Jamali Maddix: Work In Progress (IAM Presents)
Jamali Maddix has a great, acerbic attitude. Arriving on stage with a trampled book, Maddix is ready to give us the lowdown on his 'Work in Progress'. He's a chilled performer, giving him the poise to interact with his audience about a range of societal issues. Maddix is completely transparent and his audaciousness is something to be admired. The material certainly doesn't feel sketchy and the comedian is assured in his delivery, with glimmers of rampant stances on current affairs. At least he's consistent and knows not to cross the line: when asking people who their heroes are, I say Michael Schumacher. "I'm not even going to pursue that", replies Maddix, knowing the boundaries of dark humour.
Monkey Barrel Comedy, until 24 Aug.
tw rating 4/5 | [Kieran Scott]

Garrett Millerick: Smile (Rabbit Rabbit)
At the end of Garrett Millerick's mind blowing set he leaves us with this thought: Long after this show, when you're watching a panel show, or some other comic, you're going to think of me and the sweaty hour we just spent in this basement and you're going to smile. It may not be that long since I saw this show, but I already know that to be true. Millerick doesn't try to be politically correct, he goes against all that is held dear and is both right and completely hilarious with it. He absolutely focuses on the art and it really shows - with material that is tight, funny, and irreverent, he's the comic that other comics want to be. Thoroughly recommended, he's my pick of the Fringe so far. Brilliant.
Just the Tonic at The Tron, until 25 Aug.
tw rating 5/5 | [Chris Lambert]

Old Jewish Jokes (Ivor Dembina)
Ivor Dembina has been a stand-up comedian for 30 years. When he started out, a new scene was developing: out went the dad jokes and in came alternative comedy. Dembina's dad had other ideas, however, advising his son to carry on with some 'Old Jewish Jokes'. When he became an established comic, his local community synagogue wanted him to do a fundraiser, providing the content would be appropriate: imagine a modern Jewish comedian prohibited from telling jokes about money, sex or anti-Semitism. Though these themes seem brash and hard to swallow (the two walkouts might be testament to that), Dembina's perfectly-crafted method of telling a joke - either from his own experiences or from a Jewish joke book - will have you howling with laughter.
Laughing Horse @ Finnegan's Wake, until 25 Aug.
tw rating 5/5 [Kieran Scott]

Radu Isac: Good Excuses For Sociopaths (Radu Isac)
Romanian comedian Radu Isac wears his misanthropy on his sleeve, and he's here to share a few tips for like-minded individuals. In comedy, he says, he likes to find "the line" and wryly observes the level of scrutiny directed at comics' remarks as opposed to, say, politicians. The structure doesn't quite sustain throughout, leading to some rambling and, for someone who has set himself up as edgy, he does caveat frequently with various forms of 'I don't want to offend'. There are plenty of good gags though, including a yoga/holocaust-denial crossover line which is still making me giggle (honestly, it's fine - yoga was definitely the target). Come to think of it, maybe there was a bit of an edge...
Just the Tonic at the Grassmarket Centre, until 25 Aug.
tw rating 3/5 | [Bruce Blacklaw]

Sarah Southern: Tentatively Tory (PBH's Free Fringe)
In a highly engaging manner, Sarah Southern takes us through her life as a Tory activist and party strategist. There's a well crafted narrative, though a few of the early punchlines fall a bit flat. The show really takes off when she details her front row seat at the negotiations that led to the Conservative-Lib Dem coalition, in what now feels like a gentler age, before Brexit reshaped the political landscape. When Southern reveals how a false accusation ended her life in politics overnight and left her ostracised by her former colleagues, the mood shifts dramatically, and she movingly concludes with an account of how she rebuilt her life. Whatever your political persuasion, do catch this humorous and insightful performance.
Waverley Bar, until 25 Aug.
tw rating 4/5 | [Charlie Ellis]

Steve N Allen: Better Than (Steve N Allen / The Stand Comedy Club)
Somewhere between stand-up and a lecture, Steve N Allen's well-practised, humorous dialogue covers material ranging from Brexit, to baldness, to attempting to work out how he is being oppressed. As a white male, I'm not sure that he sold us on his claims! As a self-described introvert, his forays into audience participation sometimes backfired, though his mathematical description of all the combinations at an orgy went down well. His material was a little predictable in terms of targets, with the usual suspects trotted out - Brexit and Trump both getting their turns. And, while he tiptoed through the middle of a Brexit-divided room, I'm not sure he moved the needle much, despite the show's theme of being "Better Than".
The Stand Comedy Club, until 25 Aug.
tw rating 3/5 | [Chris Lambert]


Bismillah! An ISIS Tragicomedy (Wound Up Theatre)
Walking into the Underbelly venue, converted into a makeshift bunker for ISIS captives, we hear a compilation of Queen songs blast from the speaker. "I want to break free", yelps the detainee. With over 50 performances and now in its second run at the Fringe, Wound Up Theatre's 'Bismillah!' presents an engaging dialogue. An ISIS recruit from London, Danny is bemused by the relevance of Queen, but after spending a period of time torturing Dean, a captured British soldier, their conversations lead to their similarities and differences back in Britain - including relationships and working in a Wetherspoon's. Both actors give fervent, gripping performances and seem reassuringly versatile, while utilising the backdrop to its maximum potential.
Underbelly Cowgate, until 25 Aug.
tw rating 4/5 | [Kieran Scott]

Blood And Gold (Mara Menzies)
"I come from two different worlds", says Mara Menzies, laying down the groundwork for this immersive solo play on colonialism. Scottish Kenyan Menzies is a thrilling performer to watch and an even better writer. Here she uses stories from her family, as well as exploring themes of the transatlantic slave trade and racially motivated attacks. Menzies turns these into a commanding narrative that audiences will no doubt be discussing extensively after the show. While her storytelling feels somewhat reticent to begin with, the intrigue compounds as the story develops, and she uses crowd interactions effectively to involve viewers. 'Blood and Gold' demonstrates that you don't need an elaborate stage design to paint an evocative sentiment: her minimalist tribal layout effectively complements this tale.
Scottish Storytelling Centre, until 26 Aug.
tw rating 4/5 | [Kieran Scott]

Endless Second (Cut The Cord)
The portrayal of rape and sexual assault onstage is always problematic, but the approach taken here is deftly sensitive and powerfully effective. Who speaks - who has the right to speak, the power to speak - is the central device, fundamental to the success of the play. In early scenes, such as the meet-cute and the playful blossoming of the relationship, the unnamed lovers describing and narrating one another's actions reflects their romantic awkwardness and sexual tension. After the rape, however, things change. He speaks for her, taking ownership of her trauma but never acknowledging his own actions; her attention to the details of his body reflects her anxiety and uncertainty. Powerful, timely, and sensitive, 'Endless Second' is as excellent as it is important.
Pleasance Courtyard, until 26 Aug.
tw rating 5/5 | [Andy Leask]

Heroin(e) For Breakfast (King Brilliant Theatre / Richard Jordan Productions in association with Pleasance)
The original creative team have reunited to revive Philip Stokes' award winning play from 2009, following three characters struggling with drug addiction. While the cast gave some fantastic performances which kept it interesting, attempts to update the script for a modern audience fell short. Everything from the trope of having drugs (heroin) personified, to the relentlessly loud ramblings of the central 'anti-hero' felt tired. With the sudden climax, the conclusion of the play and character arcs felt rushed and false, and I didn't find myself empathising with their fates. Although the plot twist added a poignant element, I left feeling it was a story I could watch in many other works, done a lot better.
Pleasance Dome, until 26 Aug.
tw rating 2/5 | [Izzy Cutler]

Solitary (Dutch Kills Theater Company)
Billed as an 'intense physical performance' exploring solitary confinement in US prisons, I was disappointed to find this piece more mime than physical theatre. A slow first segment showed a man in confinement for a day, which would have been enough to showcase his boredom and isolation - however, this was repeated several times. The piece was nearly saved by a chilling sequence using rope to represent his confinement and the madness it caused, but it reverted to mime again shortly after, unnecessarily portraying whole conversations whose content became obvious in seconds. An interesting addition was the use of Foley and live singing, although I wished the sound artists had been on stage to add another visual element, rather than to the side which was just distracting.
Assembly Rooms, until 24 Aug.
tw rating 2/5 | [Izzy Cutler]

STYX (Second Body)
A theatre concert exploring memory loss and the Orpheus and Eurydice myth seemed a promising concept at first but, while the music was enjoyable, it just didn't work as a whole. The piece focused on the grandparents of two of the performers, looking at how they are affected by having Alzheimer's disease. Music interspersed with recorded interviews explored their history, however the piece fell into a repetitive pattern and never built to a climax. The sudden snippets of myth seemed irrelevant and, while the layering of sound created an edgy atmosphere, it became difficult to hear the speech. Overall, it wasn't interesting enough to keep my attention and I wished they'd removed the myth aspects, instead focusing completely on the touching story of their grandparents.
Zoo Southside, until 17 Aug.
tw rating 2/5 | [Izzy Cutler]

Madame Ovary (WildChild Productions)
Though 'Madame Ovary' chronicles Rosa Hesmondhalgh's cancer diagnosis and treatment, it's not a show about cancer. It's about life, and love, and friendship: close relationships, established over years, and the brief, intense connections with those we meet only fleetingly. Rosa's performance is funny, sincere, compelling, distraught...she takes the audience with her on her journey, every step of the way. We feel the shocks and surprises with her. We feel the looming dread and the weight of mortality. We feel the love of her friends, and family. And, I sincerely hope, as we rise to our feet, fighting back tears, to deliver a well-earned standing ovation, that she feels some of that love reflected back.
Pleasance Dome, until 26 Aug.
tw rating 5/5 | [Andy Leask]

Wild Swimming (FullRogue / Pleasance / Bristol Old Vic Ferment)
I very much like what FullRogue are up to here. They don't so much break the fourth wall as smash it to pieces, grind it up and serve it to the audience, alongside snacks (I'm not joking - they'll ply you with chocolate biccies). In something like a 21st Century 'Orlando', we follow Nell and Oscar through the centuries, exploring attitudes to gender, literature and class, in a gleefully subversive modern idiom. Shows that involve their audience are ten a penny. Those that do so in the service of such big ideas, while having so much fun, are far rarer. FullRogue's mission statement is stress testing plays in live performance; this is their first production, and I cannot wait to see their next.
Pleasance Courtyard, until 26 Aug.
tw rating 5/5 | [Andy Leask]

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