TUESDAY 23 AUGUST 2022 THISWEEKCULTURE.COM
So, somehow Week Three of the Edinburgh Fringe is upon us. And here we are with more interviews and reviews from the world's biggest cultural event.

Plus, for those of you not in Edinburgh, we have lots of Three To See show recommendations in London and online - plus as well as some Edinburgh Q&As, we've also got an interview about a great show opening in London this week.

We'll have another Edinburgh-filled Extra edition of the bulletin later this week - plus for updates on all the latest content, make sure you follow us on Twitter or Facebook - or for recommended shows follow TWittique on Twitter.
KIM KALISH: THE FUNNY THING ABOUT DEATH
I think I may have said this (many times?) before, but there are so many interesting stories to hear at edfringe and so many interesting people telling them. When I heard about Kim Kalish and the show she's brought to the Festival this year, I knew she was someone I had to connect with. 

Kim is a writer and performer, originally from New York, who has been working on stage since her teenage years, and whose storytelling, improv and sketch skills have led to her winning story slams and appearing on 'Conan'.

Her Edinburgh show 'The Funny Thing About Death' is about her own experience of loss and grief, and it sounds amazing. 

I spoke to her to find out more about the show, about Kim, and how she's getting on in Edinburgh. 

CLICK HERE to read this Caro Meets interview.

Kim Kalish performs 'The Funny Thing About Death' at Greenside @ Infirmary Street until 27 Aug. See the edfringe listing here.



ANDREA WALKER: SAD BOOK
When it comes to the Fringe, it's probably comedy and theatre that people generally think of first, but of course there are other elements too. And while the programme of dance, physical theatre and circus is a small one, it usually features a high proportion of new, innovative and exciting work. 

One of the companies that often features in the listings is 201 Dance Company - you may recall the group's debut Edinburgh show 'Smother' - and they are back this year with 'Sad Book', based on the book by Michael Rosen. 

To find out more about this year's show, I spoke to its director and choreographer, the company's Artistic Director, Andrea Walker. 

CLICK HERE to read this Caro Meets interview.

'Sad Book' is on at Zoo Southside from 22-28 Aug. See the edfringe listing here.



CHRIS FONSECA: FOLLOW THE SIGNS
And now a Q&A for a show in London. When I heard about 'Follow The Signs', happening this week at Soho Theatre, I was immediately determined to find out more about it.

It's a fully British Sign Language integrated gig theatre show, performed using BSL, rap, spoken word, movement and creative captioning, which explores the real life experiences of acclaimed dancer and choreographer Chris Fonseca, who lost his hearing in infancy. 

You may be well aware of Fonseca, as he's worked extensively in the UK and overseas, and has appeared on your screens - most notably in a Smirnoff ad series and as a contestant on BBC's 'The Greatest Dancer'. 

He co-created 'Follow The Signs' with fellow creative Harry Jardine and they both perform in the show, alongside Gaia Ahuja and Raphaella Julien, while music is by Yacoub Didi.

I feel as though this show will be a really important and educational one -  as well as being hugely entertaining, of course - especially as it looks at how being on the receiving end of discrimination on account of being both deaf and black have affected the dancer's life.

I spoke to Chris to find out more about him and the show. 

CLICK HERE to read this Caro Meets interview.

'Follow The Signs' is on at Soho Theatre from 23-27 Aug. Head to the venue website here to book your tickets.


CAMDEN FRINGE>>

Mixtape - Jason Patterson | 2Northdown | 27-28 Aug (pictured)
Hurrah, more Camden Fringe. Though, hang on! Oh no! The Camden Fringe comes to a close this week so these are our final picks from the excellent line up. But never mind. I suppose one could argue that the Camden Fringe ending means we are closer to Christmas and myriad stagings of 'A Christmas Carol', so there's an upside to the passing of time, I guess. Anyway, one thing's for sure: you should definitely make the most of Camden Fringe in this last week, and one way would be by heading over to 2Northdown for some comedic stuff from Jason Patterson, who will be delivering up funny stuff focused on topics like #MeToo, cancel culture, BLM, and more. Click here.

The Life That I Have | Hen & Chickens Theatre | 25-28 Aug
And now for something along more dramatic lines, and this production over at Hen & Chickens that we think looks extremely promising: "Estranged mother and daughter Ruth and Laura haven't spoken in years. So long in fact, Ruth doesn't know she's about to become a grandmother. Suddenly forced back into each other's lives after Ruth's mother Joyce is taken to hospital, forgotten memories, old wounds and past tensions begin bubbling to the surface again". And the question, of course, is can they put all that behind them and repair the mother-daughter bond? For more information and to book, see the Camden Fringe website here.

Berlin | Etcetera Theatre | 23-27 Aug
And finally, our final choice from the final week of the 2022 Camden Fringe (well, not quite final, in fact, see below!) is 'Berlin', an intriguing dark comedy about a once-prominent britpop band, which explores grief, toxic masculinity and betrayal, but also promises to be witty and suspenseful. "Four bandmates; James, Martin, Nick and Ben, reluctantly reunite at a studio in Berlin following the death of their lead singer, Harry. Three years have passed, and the effects of Harry's sudden death and the circumstances surrounding it continue to divide the already fractured group". What will happen? Head to this page here to book your tickets and find out.


FESTIVAL STUFF>>

Greenwich + Docklands International Festival | 26 Aug-11 Sep (pictured)
So now for some non-Camden Fringe, but very much still festival, stuff. For lo, this week the GDIF commences and it's full of fabulous things for you to enjoy. And readers who are still up in Edinburgh enjoying that stuff needn't worry, because this goes on for quite a while beyond August. There's quite a range of cultural events on offer: installations like 'Island Of Foam' and 'Unfurl', theatrical pieces like 'Peaceophobia' and 'The Sky Is Filled With Thunder', physical/dance presentations like 'Sleepwalker' and 'Black Victorians', plus circus and street theatre events like 'Barriere' and 'Feelplay!' And, of course, it's all outside, and loads of it is suitable for kids and young people. Read about everything that is going on right about here.

Big Dreams Festival | Polka Theatre | 24-28 Aug
And speaking of kids, here's a whole (small but perfectly formed) festival just for them. It's a biennial event showcasing and celebrating early years theatre created by leading companies from the UK and elsewhere. There are various workshops and talks for adults, and free activities (face painting, glitter tattoos, etc) for children, as well as the programme of theatrical shows. Of those, I'm most drawn to 'Rothar', I think, by Irish company Branar, a non-verbal production about two boys travelling the world on their bikes. Though I think Takeshi Matsumoto's 'Club Origami' also looks great but, I am afraid, I am prejudiced because - despite trying very hard - I have never got good at origami. Anyway, take a look at the full line up of shows and workshops here and make up your own mind.

Tuesday Night Sleeping Club | ZOOTV/hello!earth | 23-26 Aug
And finally in the festivals section we are kind of heading to the Edinburgh Fringe, albeit by digital means. For yes, there is plenty of that sort of stuff to get your teeth into and there's a week left to do so. This is a really interesting participatory thing. "An immersive experience in your home inviting you to explore sleeping and dreaming as a space of interconnectedness, intuitive time and as an invisible political presence. Tune into the live-streamed radio channel… and off you go. Small rituals prepare for entering sleeping and dreaming in an extra-sensitive state, and a specially composed sound blanket tucks us in. At seven in the morning, the livestream collects the nightly events and sends everybody into the day at eight!" Cool, huh? Click here. Oh, and if you'd like to peruse other online edfringe stuff, click here.


MUSICALS AND OPERA>>

Frydays | Camden People's Theatre | 24-27 Aug
Right, well, this is your afore-hinted at bonus Camden Fringe show, but as well as being a Camden Fringe show it's also a musical, so it fits neatly into this section of, well, musicals. And opera. Anyway, this sounds rather fun and a great place (plaice?) to start, for this show appears to be set in a chippy: "Wacky, wonderful and weird, 'Frydays' is an absurd musical comedy about family, friendship and fish and chips. With the evil Fryers Union hot on their toes, can this pair of wide eyed twins find the will to reopen their father's shop and live up to his legacy?" Head to the Camden Fringe website here to find out more.

Gilbert & Sullivan's Patience | Wilton's Music Hall | 24-26 Aug (pictured)
Oooh, and now for a show from a real TW fave company, Charles Court Opera, who're staging their acclaimed production of this (possibly less well known) Gilbert & Sullivan piece. "Gilbert's pen was rarely sharper than when he wrote this delicious satire on artistic movements, hero-worship and meaningless fads. 'Patience' brims with biting humour, over the top characters, and music that is by turns toe-tapping and sumptuous. It is a satire of the aesthetic movement that gained the support of Oscar Wilde, which CCO brings into the 21st Century in this inventive reimagining". For more information and to book your tickets head to the venue website here.

Sin The Musical | Arcola Theatre | 25 Aug
Well, would you look at that, here's another festival/musicals crossover for - yes indeed - we're headed over to the Arcola Theatre for the latest show in their high quality Grimeborn Festival line up. It's called 'Sin The Musical' and it's a world premiere that blends jazz and pop and drops you into 1920s New York. "When an unexpected inheritance injects wealth into a group of working-class friends, it's only a matter of time before opportunity corrupts the minds of those who encounter it. Watch a turbulent two years unfold into devastation. With money, alcohol, and jazz, how long will it be before people show their true colours? It has to start somewhere". Head to this page here to find out more.


THEATRICAL STUFF>>

London Zoo | Bread & Roses Theatre | 23 Aug-3 Sep
Aaaaaand finally for this week we have some theatrical treats. We begin over at the Bread & Roses Theatre with 'London Zoo', a new production of an already acclaimed play. "It's the dawn of the new millennium; print newspapers, which have remained comfortably profitable for centuries, are now in crisis as the world falls in love with, and adopts, electronic media. In a romp through this newly changing environment, the characters clutch at their established skills to maintain control, resulting in a choppy mutability. The wild final act sees them having a stab at changing the status quo and redefining loyalty, as we learn pain is not always felt at the site of the wound". Book your tickets here.

Flumps | Barons Court Theatre | 24-28 Aug (pictured)
"Our hysterical yet heroic siblings, Harvey (thirteen) and Felicity (eight), find themselves spending an extraordinary, Tracy Beaker-like summer of freedom after their mum's disappearance. Will our comedic duo find satisfaction in a life of cushioned fantasy or will their ill-obtained furry friends lead them into catastrophic calamity?" Yes, another rather intriguing sounding play this one, that boasts "an extravaganza of noughties beats, dark comedy and a hint of problematic puppetry". Go on, admit it, you want to know more, don't you? Go on then, head right this way.

Much Ado About Nothing | Jack Studio | 23-27 Aug
Aaaaaaand actually genuinely really finally for this week, for lo this is the very finalest of the tips, we have an absolutely barnstorming classic of a Shakespeare play, one with a blooming fabulous woman character in it, and one that contains some really brilliant rom-com style sparring. Yes, step up Beatrice and Benedict, everyone's (well, a lot of people's - I daresay there might be those out there for whom Macbeth and his laydee are relationship goals) favourite Shakespearean couple. And this production is in the hands of a talented and award nominated troupe, Bear In The Air Productions. Don't delay, head this way to book your tickets.

1/5 bad | 2/5 mediocre | 3/5 good | 4/5 recommended | 5/5 highly recommended


CHILDREN'S SHOWS

The Dark Room For Kids (Lee Martin For Gag Reflex)
Imagine you're stuck in a repetitive video game. The room is dark, and full of bemused children who occasionally scream in enjoyment or frustration - it's hard to tell. A performance that is a live action version of a choose your own adventure game. Except, it doesn't feel like an adventure, it feels like a nightmare, where your character dies again and again. The choices are repetitive and dull. However, it was met with enthusiastic engagement, and for all its chaos and adult humour, it was well received by parents and children. I'm not sure about the mocking of children or the poor prizes (empty box of Marlboros anyone?) but it does teach children to laugh when things go wrong, even if it's humiliating.
Gilded Balloon Teviot, until 28 Aug.
tw rating 3/5 | [Haddi Conant]

Yellow Bird Chase (Liars And Believers)
Follow this clown like trio of maintenance staff on their adventure to capture a magic yellow bird. With creative use of staging, props and slapstick energy, this show is accessible for everyone. Those hard of hearing or with English not as their first language are not left out in this performance that embraces gibberish alongside actions and expressions to convey the story. The costumes are brightly coloured, and their bright clown noses reflect their clownish energy. The three enthusiastic performers follow the bird across land, sea and sky. They battle pirates and monsters, in a journey that pushes their problem solving skills and friendships. It's a show for everyone, silly and fun, and kept the children occupied for the whole fifty minutes.
Assembly George Square, until 28 Aug.
tw rating 4/5 | [Haddi Conant]


COMEDY

Chelsea Birkby: No More Mr Nice Chelsea
“Forget everything you never knew about me”, says Chelsea Birkby as she rather (knowingly) gauchely introduces her Fringe debut as a rebrand. Peppered with good gags and a wide spectrum of pop-culture references, Birkby is a winsome and funny stage presence. The substance beneath the whole 'rebrand' whimsy is an open, sharing discussion of her mental health struggles which, happily, by her own account appear to be moving in the right direction. There are some really nice… wait, sorry. Not 'nice', that's like literally the whole point. There are some very *good* flights of whimsy in Birkby's material, and delivery which brings the audience along willingly on an occasionally dark but consistently entertaining journey.
Just The Tonic @ The Caves, until 28 Aug.
tw rating 4/5 | [Bruce Blacklaw]

Esther Manito: #NotAllMen (Plosive Live)
Esther Manito prefaces her show by pointing out there will be feminist material, almost as if it's a content warning. This is a shame, because there's some amazing fire in Manito's performance and her social commentary is savvy, sharp and complicated. It can't be an apology: she's anything but apologetic. Her frank send up of nineties masculinity and Saturday morning cartoon racism pumps otherwise shocking realisations with plenty of punchline. She revisits a few topics and this approach allows her to pull back and reveal on graffitied genitalia, no less. Esther Manito's Essex frankness is instantly likeable, her honest appraisal of family life brilliant and any rote material feels like a footnote in the annals of Comedians Having to Acknowledge COVID.
Gilded Balloon Teviot, until 29 Aug.
tw rating 4/5 | [Louise Jones]

Jessica Fostekew: Wench
'Wench' is best when it's at its weirdest and queerest. Jessica Fostekew covers sexuality and coming out in her 30s, plus revisiting staples of previous show 'Hench': bodies, feminism and funny things her son does. There's a lot to love: a what-to-do-with-pubes routine is hilariously delivered with the panache and pace of a comic at the top of her game. Her cat impressions exemplify her mastery of facial expressions. The what-two-women-do-in-bed punchline is impeccably silly. A section about millennial ageing begins well, with a ridiculous-yet-relatable bit about public weeing, but she begins to sound like the boomer she dreads becoming when she describes tofu as tasteless, refers to grime as young music, and makes an ill-advised cultural appropriation joke.
Monkey Barrel Comedy, until 28 Aug.
tw rating 3/5 | [Bizz Holmes]

Julia Masli: CHOOSH! (Impatient Productions Ltd)
Julia Masli is a top clown and we shall see more of her. Building on firm tradition, she offers highly original and sometimes edgy material. This show also has an absurdist narrative: an innocent journeys from Eastern Europe to America for a hot dog, where her experiences enable some gentle, sharp and hilarious social commentary. Chaplinesque as it might be, don't get your ticket for a political critique. Sometimes it's risqué, mostly it is just very funny. Her ask of the audience is occasionally ambitious, but she won some game contributions and as the show reached its climax we were all joining in. Julia sparingly adds her own quiet voice to proceedings and the whole show has great charm.
Assembly Roxy, until 28 Aug.
tw rating 5/5 | [Alan Cranston]

Rich Hall SOLD OUT: TICKETS STILL AVAILABLE (Off The Kerb)
The inimitable Rich Hall drawl is back at the Fringe for the first time in six years. And he's in fine form too, with the usual mix of acerbic observations, gags and silly songs. His reflections on coming out of lockdown, returning to comedy in small-town America are laden with rich tall tales (and form the basis of a belting finale), as well as some typically laconic reflections on the ideological divide in the US. He's a little less convincing on British politics, regarding it as harmless theatre compared with the American stuff (admittedly we're not yet at the armed insurrection stage but still, bit glib). All in, though, a cracking hour with one of the masters of his art.
Assembly Rooms, until 28 Aug.
tw rating 4/5 | [Bruce Blacklaw]

Rob Rouse: No Refunds
There was an era in 2020 when comics desperately scrabbled for online content to plug the hole left by live comedy. Some hated it, but there's some erratic energy that's stuck with Rob Rouse. The comedian's limited run flits between characters, computer screens and observational humour with a table full of budget props and a sloppy, infectious glee. The opening song sets the tone: Rouse is here for a laugh, nothing deeper, and there's no guarantee it'll be a well-packaged performance. All of this, however, works in his favour. It's chaotic and uneven, but his brilliantly daft gags make Rob Rouse somebody with whom you'd happily blunder into the unknown.
Gilded Balloon Teviot, run ended.
tw rating 4/5 | [Louise Jones]



DANCE + PHYSICAL

Zoë (A Good Catch And Cluster Arts)

'Zoë' is a fast-paced performance of pure acrobatic anarchy. This unmissable world premiere creates a space for us to question the continuous commodification of life, and encourages the audience to laugh in trepidation at our commercialised culture. The risky, if not dangerous choreography is captivating, with smooth transitions between explosive summersaults and precarious balancing holds. The intricate costumes by Clara Mee Yee Chan characterise the three performers as a fungus, a cloud, and a nest, chosen to represent the symbiotic strength of nature pitted against mankind. Projections, light, and carefully selected sound help convey the story of a world implicated in its objectification. A witty and powerful piece which forces us to seek solidarity in the ever-growing capitalist chaos.
Assembly Roxy, run ended.
tw rating 5/5 | [Haddi Conant]



THEATRE

Blue (Acting Coach Scotland)
Imagine the BBC show 'Casualty' but it's in a psychiatric ward and it's live. That's how 'Blue' felt - although perhaps as though the script is missing act one or three - as if we have been slammed right into the middle of a series. There are multiple storylines, and there's lots of character development, but it's easy to follow, and the actors do a brilliant job of showing complex personalities dealing with problems, illnesses or traumatic pasts. However, as the performance goes on one can't help feeling somewhat overloaded by distressing themes. There are touching moments, though, that really move the audience, as we witness the true feelings of certain characters or hear their horrific secrets. A good, if slightly sombre bit of theatre.
theSpace on North Bridge, until 27 Aug.
tw rating 3/5 | [Andrew Melrose]

Exodus (National Theatre Of Scotland)
Political (capital P) theatre can sometimes feel weak because it lacks deep authenticity. 'Exodus', by contrast is razor-sharp, and cleverly makes a wildly implausibly story unnervingly believable. Reality unexpectedly intrudes into an (all-too-recognisable) Home Secretary's photo-op for a major 'policy' announcement. Aided by an equally improbable backstory about asylum-seekers, the show swiftly develops the simplest of material into high farce and biting satire. With four excellent performances it was a pleasure to see an excellent play well served by top-quality production. There's something darker in the comedy, too, about our ready preference for simple untruths over complex humanity. We laugh at the foolish politician who is so easily discombobulated by contact with reality, but for whom is she creating her narratives?
Traverse Theatre, until 28 Aug.
tw rating 5/5 | [Alan Cranston]

Famous Puppet Death Scenes (The Old Trout Puppet Workshop)
I almost died laughing. As is well summarised by the title, this show offers a montage of brutal, hilarious but also tearjerking deaths, and, perhaps surprisingly, given that subject matter, it also features incredible physical comedy throughout, as this talented trio demonstrate that they have more to boast of than just mesmerising puppetry skills. Every scene showcased their creative abilities with stunning visuals, creative use of props and perfect comic timing. It was never predictable - which turns each scene would take were never obvious - making the show consistently fresh and surprising. This left the audience engrossed and laughing, though also touched by sadness throughout, as we became attached to the characters. As expected, a show for fans of dark humour, but who knew death itself could be so funny?
Assembly Roxy, until 28 Aug.
tw rating 5/5 | [Andrew Melrose]

Fanboy (Worklight Theatre)
We open with David Attenborough's iconic voice. Well not quite, but with Joe Sellman-Leava's immense skill for impressions it may as well have been. 'Fanboy' is a comedy show that - although immensely humorous - also manages to make insightful observations about our society and different stages in our lives. The performer begins by taking a look back at his lifelong love of 'Star Wars' and 'Marvel', and then dives from these lighter topics into insightful comments about more current, pressing issues. 'Fanboy' struck a perfect balance using the light and comedic elements to segue into addressing important themes, without ever losing its sense of humour. A must-see piece focused on nostalgia, pop culture and the state of our world.
Pleasance Dome, until 29 Aug.
tw rating 5/5 | [Rory McAlpine]

Half-Empty Glasses (Paines Plough / Rose Theatre Kingston)
Theatre company Paines Plough are as reliable an indicator of well-made theatre as you'll get on the Fringe. Here, we meet Toye, a gifted young classical pianist who is good at most things. Whilst preparing for entry to a top music school, he becomes interested in black history - or rather its absence from the curriculum. Characteristically, he reads, learns and engages, drawing in his schoolmates too. But they follow his activism only up to a point and his school has limited tolerance. The resultant personal and social tensions are well and clearly explored, even if there is a lack of final resolution. The use of music, light and movement to express the otherwise inexpressible adds something special to the show.
ROUNDABOUT @ Summerhall, until 28 Aug.
tw rating 4/5 | [Alan Cranston]

Jesus, Jane, Mother & Me (Lawrence Batley Theatre With KETCHUP Productions And Richard Jordan Productions)
Well, this was unnerving. Daniel tells the audience about his favourite things, from his early years to the present day. And what starts as an upbeat tale featuring an odd character turns into a gripping, edge-of-seat story. The script is cleverly written, with surprises, dark humour and a captivating narrative. Its central, difficult character is brought skilfully to life, provoking disquiet throughout as we are slowly made aware of his true personality. Light and sound are used incredibly well to create and enhance the mood and comedic elements, and to help immerse the audience, which really just shows that the entire team behind this production were instrumental in creating something pretty much perfect; an unforgettable play.
Pleasance Dome, until 29 Aug.
tw rating 5/5 | [Andrew Melrose]

Land: A Scottish Musical (Kick The Door)
I thought I was prepared for the ending but I was not. 'Land' is a simple story that follows two characters: as a wandering solider stumbles across a crofters house, an unlikely friendship blossoms. But it's not the story, it's the lovable characters that truly make this piece special, and it's not hard to become attached to them. The play just oozes love from the well-written script to the fantastic acting and singing. The music, which fuses traditional Scottish traditional and folk styles with a more modern contemporary sound, is beautiful and packed with gorgeous lyrics and mood-elevating harmonies. And as well as beauty, there is humour, alongside many touching moments. A fantastic, toe-tapping, heart-filled musical.
Gilded Balloon Patter Hoose, until 28 Aug.
tw rating 5/5 | [Andrew Melrose
]

Liv Ello: SWARM
How have I never seen the fly and politics connection before? 'Swarm' is a highly political piece of comedic theatre that laughs at the world we live in, but also gets its points across effectively. As Liv Ello goes through types of flies, connecting them to hard-hitting topics, it's hilarious, but also worrying, as reality hits when you see the statistics being displayed. Ello is a tireless performer; dancing, joking and showcasing their creative writing in a performance of such high energy that by the end even I felt exhausted. The show progressed into more hard-hitting territory, and was followed by a spoken word monologue that was creative, moving and amazingly well written. Overall, a brilliant balance of politics, poignant messages, but also comedy.
Pleasance Courtyard, until 28 Aug.
tw rating 4/5 | [Andrew Melose]

Lots And Not Lots (Greg Sinclair And Scottish Theatre Producers)
Ping-pong balls, flashlights, multicoloured whirling noise makers: with just those simple props, Edinburgh-based director/composer Greg Sinclair and his cast of six of the city's youngsters conjure an elegant and quietly magical if rather slight piece. It might seem abstract at first, with movement, music and enigmatic text fragments painting in the performers' on-stage relationships, but things quickly come into sharp focus in an exploration of order versus chaos, rules versus creativity. A collaboration with Craigmillar's Lyra arts space for young people, 'Lots And Not Lots' takes a defiantly youthful perspective on some big questions, never providing easy answers, but reminding us of what young people care and worry about. It might be modest, but it's very memorable.
Summerhall, until 21 Aug.
tw rating 4/5 | [David Kettle]

Raging Mother (From Start To Finnish)
An 'honest portrayal' is something theatre goers have become accustomed to hearing thrown around in this post-'Fleabag' world. 'Raging Mother' takes it and runs with it, creating something not only honest, but also brutally personal. It incorporates the wild, animal aspects of bringing life into the world, and how those elements stay around long into the child raising process. Hannah Vahtikari's performance is incredible as she recounts her experiences with raising two children. The sheer force she brings to it, whilst also managing to make it relatable and extremely funny, is exceptional. Accompanied by live music played on stage by her real-life husband Marzi Nyman, this may be honest and occasionally uncomfortable, but it is also a must-see show full of love and tenderness.
Zoo @ Southside, run ended.
tw rating 5/5 | [Raphael Highgate-Betts]

Real, Mad World (Cambridge University Amateur Dramatic Club)
This emotional piece written by Jack Ward (they/them) highlights just how much the world was not made for transgender people. The stage shows a simple living room and the story follows the relationship of Laura, a transwoman, and Lindsay, a non-binary person. We see the complexity of navigating transgender trauma in a cisgender world. While waiting for healthcare that won't come, Laura's world becomes more distant from reality. The acting is incredibly emotive and it really does reflect the pain felt by the trans community, particularly transwomen. As a transman I find this performance an emotional rollercoaster. I'd encourage everyone to watch this in the hope it will show you what reality is like for us, in all its bittersweet beauty.​​
theSpace on North Bridge, until 27 Aug.
tw rating 5/5 | [Haddi Conant
]

Something In The Water (Scantily Glad Theatre)
There's no mistaking what writer/performer SE Grummett is up to here. They want to broaden our view of what is 'normal' and deepen our empathy for those who don't fit the norms. Whilst sometimes I found the tone over-insistent, this is a funny, delightfully inventive and highly original show delivered with bravery and great technical skill. I loved the combination of dolls, excellent props, graphic art, projection, parody and physical performance. And the squid. Throw in a bit of audience involvement and this was a real 'weird' success. The show's octopodic metaphor is about as direct as it could be in inviting us to reflect on gender diversity. But there's also a wider plea for tolerance of all 'difference'. Excellent.
Summerhall, until 28 Aug.
tw rating 4/5 | [Alan Cranston]
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