MONDAY 29 AUGUST 2022 THISWEEKCULTURE.COM
Here we are - the final day of Edinburgh Festival 2022! What a ride it's been. So many great shows to see. And so good to have the full Fringe community back in the Scottish capital once again for three weeks in August.

In this week's TW Weekly you will find our final batch of Edinburgh Festival reviews - basically all the reviews we've published on our website over the weekend. Some of those shows still have a final performance later today - so if you're still in show seeing mode, why not find one of those and check them out while you still can?

Don't forget, here at ThisWeek Culture we cover great cultural happenings all year round, in London, online and beyond - often championing the people and shows we first saw at the Fringe when they pop up in London or on tour. You can check our latest Three To See tips for London and online in this edition of the TW Weekly.

Talking of our year-round content, don't forget this month we launched our brand new podcast - TW Backstage - all about the business of comedy, culture, theatre and fringe. There is more info about that below as well.

Have a great final day at the Edinburgh Festival if you're there - and see you back here in your inbox every Monday morning with more tips, interviews and podcasts.
TW Backstage is the all-new podcast from ThisWeek Culture, all about the business of comedy, culture, theatre and Fringe.
LATEST EDITION: FIXING THE EDINBURGH FESTIVAL
In the first edition we look at the big talking points from this month in relation to the workings and economics of Edinburgh's Fringe Festival. What are the most pressing issues? What are the possible solutions?

ThreeWeeks' Chris Cooke chats to Charles Pamment, Artistic Director of theSpace; Ines Wurth, producer with Ines Wurth Presents; comedians Ivor Dembina and Alistair Barrie; and Richard Stamp, co-founder of Fringe Guru and reviewer with The Wee Review.

TUNE IN to this edition of TW Backstage here.
NEXT EDITION: YOU'VE DONE EDINBURGH, WHAT NEXT?
In the next edition of TW Backstage - also recorded during the Edinburgh Festival - we'll be looking at what Fringe performers and producers should do next.

If your aim in performing and producing at the Fringe was to find an audience, make industry connections and unlock future opportunities, what should you be doing in September to build on the momentum you generated during August?

When should you start planning your next Edinburgh project? And what other fringe festivals are worth checking out? We'll provide practical tips aplenty.

SIGN UP to receive future editions of TW Backstage as they land here.


LONGER RUNS STARTING THIS WEEK>>

The Cherry Orchard | The Yard | 5 Sep-22 Oct
I begin writing these tips this week with a vague sense of sadness, to be honest, for the fact that we're talking about shows happening in September means that the summer is kind of over, and things like edfringe and Camden Fringe are over too. On the upside, theatres that have been a bit quiet over the last few weeks will be starting their autumn seasons, which is nice. Anyway, here's our first pick from longer runs starting this week, 'The Cherry Orchard' at The Yard, a fab re-imagining of the Chekhov classic, written by Vinay Patel. It's set on a space ship, travelling through space in search of a habitable planet, and if that doesn't pique your interest I don't know what will. Click here.

Yellowman | Orange Tree Theatre | 5 Sep-8 Oct (pictured)
"Alma and Gene have grown up together. She dreams of a life beyond the confines of their small town. But when their friendship develops into something more serious, Gene's fate becomes tragically intertwined with hers and they can't escape the legacy of racism and the tensions within their own community". The excellent Dael Orlandersmith's 2002 Pulitzer nominated play, set in America's deep south in the 1960s. If you can't make it to the venue for this one, you'll have an opportunity in October to see it online, but we may well remind you of that closer to the time. For more information and to book tickets, head to the venue website here.

Help! We Are Still Alive | Seven Dials Playhouse | 5 Sep-15 Oct
Aaaand now, let's head over to the Seven Dials Playhouse for 'Help! We Are Still Alive' by Imogen Palmer, a two hander of a gig-style musical about "keeping the romance alive when everything else is dead as a doornail". It promises us catchy, heartbreaking songs, and to resemble something like '28 Days Later' meets 'When Harry Met Sally', for yes, it's set in a post-global disaster sort of world. "Jass and Finn have survived the apocalypse - but can their relationship take the strain? What do you do when the last person on earth no longer floats your boat?" So, that sounds interesting, doesn't it? Head to this page here for more info and to book your tickets.


FUNNY SHOWS>>

Hayley Ellis: The Invisible Mam | Bloomsbury Theatre | 30 Aug
I thought it was probably imperative to have a bit of a funny section this week, because I feel sure there are many among our readership who've spent a bit of time up at the old edfringe this summer, and may well be suffering something like withdrawal from all the good quality comedy stuff they probably saw. So, time for some tips focused on hilarity, and first up, it's Hayley Ellis, who heads to the Bloomsbury Theatre this week with a show harvesting comedy from the very ripe and fertile ground that is motherhood. "Becoming a mum and then going into lockdown is not how Hayley Ellis imagined maternity leave. For starters no one could babysit". Click here to find out more.

Live At The Chapel With Phil Wang | Union Chapel | 3 Sep
And now for the sort of show where you get a number of comedians for your hard-earned money, a number of whom you may well have missed (or seen, in fact, if we are going to be positive rather than negative about it) at the Fringe these past few weeks. Topping the bill (as you may already have worked out, because you can read) is the excellent Phil Wang, and he is joined by three other acclaimed acts, one of which is a past winner of one of our ThreeWeeks Editors' Awards. Of course, he's gone on to much bigger things now, so I daresay we don't need to use that to try and sell him. Anyway, that's John Robins, and the other two highly respected artists are Suzi Ruffell and Josh Pugh. Head to the venue website here.

Attenborough And His Animals | Wilton's Music Hall | 30 Aug-3 Sep (pictured)
"A blue whale swims through the depths. Racer snakes pursue an iguana across the desert. Two hapless fools recreate wonderful scenes of the natural world". A departure, now, for this show isn't stand-up, but it is very funny - or so I am told, for I have not yet had the pleasure of seeing it, but have heard immensely good things about it. And what's fabulous about this one is that it would make a great family outing because younger people (aged six and up) will love it too. It's done incredibly well at both the Adelaide and Edinburgh Fringes in recent years (and was up in the Scottish capital again this summer) and offers "an epic display of clowning, physical theatre and the largest range of animals you will ever see on stage". See this page here to find out more and book your tickets.


MORE INTERESTING SHOWS>>

Persephone | Jack Studio Theatre | 30 Aug-17 Sep
This section is all theatre, really, but one pick is musical theatre, which is why I decided to call this the 'interesting' section rather than the 'more theatre' section. First up is 'Persephone' at the Jack Studio Theatre, a retelling of a classic Greek story from the excellent Arrows & Traps Theatre. "Sister-Goddesses Demeter and Hestia are just trying to get by. They have bills to pay and little Persephone to care for. The reign and rules of Zeus seem far behind them until young Persephone makes a fateful decision and runs away into the arms of Hades, keeper to the Underworld. Demeter and Hestia must now return to the mountain kingdom they left millennia ago, to save what remains of their family, before time runs out". More here.

Rehab: The Musical | The Playground Theatre | 1-17 Sep
"It's 1999 and jaded 26 year-old pop star, Kid Pop, finds himself in court, after being caught red handed in a drug fuelled tabloid sting. An understanding judge gives Kid the choice between jail time or a rehabilitation centre for six weeks. It's a no-brainer for Kid: rehab will be a holiday. But how could he have got it so wrong?" A new, darkly comical musical that promises to "sweep you up on an emotional journey of the soaring highs and tragic lows of the 'guests' of the Glade Rehab Centre", and to entertain you with "thumpingly memorable songs". It's all brought to you by a great team - creators Grant Black, Murray Lachlan Young and Elliot Davis and director Gary Lloyd - so hopefully the show will make good on that promise. All the details are right about here.

Angel | The Hope Theatre | 30 Aug-17 Sep (pictured)
And finally, another edfringe success, which was on at the Festival this summer, but which has been around for a while - I think we first gave it a 5/5 review back in 2016. Anyway, it's a very successful and award-winning one-woman play by Henry Naylor, and it deals with a very compelling subject: "In 2014 Kurdish families were fleeing Kobane to avoid the inevitable ISIS onslaught; Rehana stayed to fight and defend her town; as a sniper, she allegedly killed more than 100 ISIS fighters. When her story came out, she became an internet sensation and a symbol of resistance against Islamic State and dubbed the 'Angel of Kobane'". To find out more about the show and to book tickets, see the venue website here.

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


CHILDREN'S SHOWS

The Lost Letters (Newbury Youth Theatre)

‘The Lost Letters’ sees Newbury Youth Theatre take on the mammoth task of exploring the complexity of communication through the diminishing art of letter writing. Following multiple narrative strands, the performance touches on current themes of isolation, destruction and heartache. The concept is clever; exposing societal principles and morals, which, like letter writing, is losing prevalence. However, the lack of clear direction and the over complicated storyline often makes it difficult to follow. Musical interludes are a highlight of the production, revealing both the vocal and instrumental skill of the young performers, and the cast of sixteen show promise in their acting abilities, performing with enthusiasm and energy. Unfortunately, the convoluted narrative means the potential of the cast is sadly not really met.
Quaker Meeting House, run ended.
tw rating 3/5 | [Haddi Conant]



CABARET

Best Of Burlesque (The Royals)
A celebration of bodies. A celebration of burlesque tradition. A celebration of acceptance and inclusivity. Performed in the iconic surroundings of the Spiegeltent, ‘Best Of Burlesque’ manages to be all three. With cabaret, burlesque and a variety of art forms involved - and with quite a bit of skin on display- the show amazes and delights audiences. Joining these acts together was the host Neil Kelso, whose interaction with the audience and commentary on the performers brought the whole show together. With changing acts every few nights, the show is truly unique every time you see it. Worth seeing more than once, because ‘Best Of Burlesque’ is a celebration that we should all be party to.
Assembly Rooms, until 27 Aug.
tw Rating 5/5 | [Rory McAlpine]

Fladam’s Musical Comedy Hootennany (Fladam)
I say, I say, what a delightful homage to variety theatre and some of its greats. Not that this is an impersonation or bio-tribute show, even if many stars of the tradition are referenced. It’s all new material; songs and gags, mainly aimed at contemporary TV culture, delivered in the venerable variety show style (slightly undermined by a weak framing device about getting the show to Edinburgh). Though I’m sure an audience would spark more brightly at a different time and place, I felt that this good and confidently delivered idea didn’t really get across the footlights. Even so, Fringe newcomers Fladam (Florence Poskitt and Adam Sowter) are talented and engaging performers, and there is much to enjoy here.
Pleasance at EICC, until 29 Aug.
tw rating 3/5 | [Alan Cranston]



COMEDY

Alasdair Beckett-King: Nevermore (Mick Perrin Worldwide)

Here, renowned YouTube starlet Beckett-King delivers comic treasure more polished than the ‘internet greatest hits’ you might expect. His mermaid resemblance and Northeastern background are well-explored, launching us gently into his coastal leisure lore. Whenever you’re anticipating his wreck in the shallows of hack material - PE teachers, surnames - he re-surfaces brandishing not just one glistening punchline, but sometimes seven more. Era-spanning call-backs, call-forwards and videos are seldom clever for their own sake, but the show’s. Its satirical jabs, whether for our century or the twelfth, avoid preachiness, and Beckett-King obviously often delights in delivery. ‘Nevermore’, self-admittedly not life-changing, is nevertheless, in metaphor, never less than a master craftsman’s beautifully seaworthy vessel, expanding whimsy’s horizons ever-toward the sublime. (Almost.)
Pleasance Dome, until 29 Aug.
tw rating 4/5 | [Richard Tyrone Jones]

An Idiom’s Guide To The Galaxy (Captain Breadbeard Productions)
A show that, well, does exactly what it says on the tin. Does that summary work? Maybe not. But among the mountain of idioms that Dave Watt and Pretty Good Nick slot into this fun show are a few that began life as advertising slogans. Some of the idioms are used to inspire sketches, others for quizzes that involve a little light but unforced audience participation, while others still provide the how-soon-will-you-see-it-coming punchlines for some mainly corny jokes. And then there are the segments where an idiom’s back story is explained, which personally I’d have liked more of. The delivery throughout was pretty cheesy, though knowingly so, and I felt suitably entertained by this guide to the galaxy of idioms. Actually, that’s what it should say on the tin.
C aquila, until 28 Aug.
tw rating 3/5 | [Chris Cooke]

Chloe Petts: Transience (Avalon Promotions)
Given all the column inches dedicated to the latest ‘culture wars’ of late, Chloe Petts’ show definitely ticks a few newsworthy topic boxes: gender fluidity, tick; misgendering, tick; the politics of public toilets, tick. But this isn’t a polemic. Instead Petts is telling the story of how she “finally became the man she always wanted to be”, from critiquing adolescent efforts at femininity that occurred before she embraced her inner “laddishness”, to documenting various attempts to fit in with the blokes who, like her, hold season tickets at Crystal Palace FC. Petts’ experiences along the way - especially the different ways strangers act depending on what gender assumptions they make in the moment - are both very funny, but also provide some interesting context to culture war debates that can, at times, feel pretty context free.
Pleasance Courtyard, until 28 Aug.
tw rating 4/5 | [Chris Cooke]

Crone (Liam Webber)
A mask, waistcoat, wig and accent conjure the Crone. Hobbling into her vintage sitting room, her crackling spirit radio is really a demon called Clive. Her mission: to ‘read’ volunteers’ objects to answer their darkest questions. The audience love the Crone’s digs at the Fringe and first imaginative improvisation, though maybe maintaining character more seriously would make breaking it funnier. Lighting and sound gags are ambitious and atmospheric. Suddenly, massive basslines vibrate the entire room, intruding on a great ghost story and haunting the denouement. Performers shouldn’t have to try to ‘work it into their act’ at such levels; Just The Tonic should never have offered this slot without soundproofing. That’s the Crone’s real curse; it deserves to be lifted.
Just The Tonic at The Mash House, until 28 Aug.
tw rating 3/5 | [Richard Tyrone Jones]

Elly Shaw And Elaine Fellows: This Girl Can’t (Elly Shaw And Elaine Fellows / Free Festival)
Elaine Fellows relaxes the sitting-room setting nicely, calling their free show ‘Sky you’re stealing off your neighbours’. She affectionately introduces award-winning character comic Elly Shaw, whose Russian stereotype ‘Tatiana’s, Zoopla obsession introduces that ‘WTF’ factor. ‘Anna Kendrick’, who f*cks about with a cup, and ‘woman who thinks her collarbones are her best feature’, are inspired. Shaw’s recreation of a punter’s ‘ick’ moment fails, but she’ll become a brilliant character comic if she fully embraces the cringe. Stand-up Fellows introduces herself as ‘a piece of sh*t’ - she’s actually likeable and bang-on about ‘Elaines’ being ‘disciples of Karen’, though her observational relationship material deserves proper punchlines. However, her dead rat, ghost nan and tooth fairy anecdotes are funny and endearing. These women can.
Laughing Horse at Dragonfly, until 28 Aug.
tw rating 3/5 | [Richard Tyrone Jones]

Emmanuel Sonubi: Emancipated (Get Comedy Ltd)
Emmanual Sonubi admits that in his previous life as an intimidating bouncer, he was mainly using his acting skills in order to intimidate those at the door who needed, well, intimidating. I mean, his domineering physique presumably helped with that routine, but it does make you wonder how many performances we unknowingly experienced while queuing to get into late night venues this Festival. Sonubi doesn’t just talk about his stint as a bouncer, getting plenty of comedy out of family life and even the time his heart packed up while performing in Dubai. Though the highlights do come from his run ins with idiots during the bouncer days. We get some brief comedic glimpses of Sonubi’s intimidating persona along the way too, but in the main he’s now very much in engaging story-teller mode.
Underbelly Bristo Square, until 29 Aug.
tw rating 4/5 | [Chris Cooke]

God Damn Fancy Man (James Nokise / Free Festival)
This quickly got dark. Nokise performs a seemingly well prepared and cohesive set, and he is able to focus on the lighter side when discussing topics like rugby, politics and asthma attacks, but then things get more serious: the set involves the discussion of a very sensitive issue, leading to some much darker humour - which Nokise tackles wonderfully - capping it with a powerful ending segment. The humour in the show is in the well-told tales rather than one off gags and punchlines, but those stories certainly were engaging, and delivered in a style that made you feel you were spending the evening with a friend. Certainly funny, and the show’s interesting themes make it stand out from the crowd.
Laughing Horse @ City Cafe, until 28 Aug.
tw rating 3/5 | [Andrew Melrose]

Horrigan & Howell: A Sketch Too Far (Horrigan And Howell)
A sketch comedy show that will keep on surprising you. This talented troupe have tightly packed as many sketches as possible into their 50 minute slot, every segment quickly transitioning into another for maximum efficiency, every scene cleverly written with unique concepts, characters and plenty of jokes. I don’t want to give too much away because it’s a show that it’s best to go into blind: this group really knows how to build up to a punchline, and not knowing where each sketch will eventually lead is part of the thrill. There was something for everyone, from dark humour to complete silliness, and - like quality TV sketch shows - it has variety and comebacks that tightly package everything together. From the very first joke, this show will certainly have you laughing throughout.
theSpace @ Surgeons Hall, run ended.
tw rating 4/5 | [Andrew Melrose]

Human Fountains
I hereby declare that spitting can be a talent. As I witness a second performance culminating in a standing ovation, it’s been made perfectly clear that this trio can truly carry a show and are not just a gimmicky one-trick troupe. It’s an hour of spitting madness blended with physical comedy, which is very much needed in order to maintain engagement with the rowdy audience, who respond with both laughter and occasional bafflement. When it comes to the spitting element, it’s confounding just how much material the trio come up with, as every scene was brilliantly done. Despite this, the physical comedy only somewhat landed, and the pacing needs work. But, love the idea or hate it, I reckon you’re going to laugh.
C aquila, until 28 Aug
tw rating 3/5 | [Andrew Melrose]

Hummus: After Dark (George Belcher / Free Festival)
At one point, Belcher asks the tucked-away ‘Wee Room’ how long we’d stay through politeness without him doing any material. This is a metaphor for the show because our likeable, inclusive, high-energy host’s impressionistic, mostly-observational routines and songs can’t yet fill 45 minutes. Budding free show comics at Belcher’s stage instead deserve active curation into suitable double-headers, providing flyering, emotional and rewriting support. Inaccurately described as surreal and weird, Belcher nevertheless often delivers smart lines, picturing ‘Meta’ as a mate desperately trying to give themselves a new nickname, and ends with controversial, yet considered, interactive disability/relative privilege charting. Concluding ‘Might aim for discomfort from now on...’ please do, George, playing to your strengths will bring your new friends with you!
Laughing Horse at The Three Sisters, until 28 Aug.
tw rating 2/5 | [Richard Tyrone Jones]

Isabelle Farah: Irresponsabelle
Isabelle Farah’s stand-up debut, following her hit 2021 theatre show ‘Ellipses’, looks at attempting to grow up without taking on too much adult responsibility. A fun chaotic opening launches her into stories involving short skirts, workplace (literal) wankers, and teaching her nephew rude words. It’s clear that at 36, she’s joyfully embracing her ‘big sister energy’, and is exactly the friend you’d want organising your hen-do. There are touches of satire in her parody of ‘The Girlboss’, and demonstration of why there’s no French word for this form of “feminism” - this provides a solid torrent of laughs, but she could sharpen the point of the critique she’s making. There’s also potential to build further on her connections with the audience.
Assembly George Square, until 28 Aug.
tw rating 3/5 | [Bizz Holmes]

It’s Fraser Brown - I’m Afraid
Fraser Brown’s best lines are his deliberately contentious lines. He acknowledges that they’re contentious a few times, reassuring us that they are only there for comedic effect. I’d be happy for those reassurances to be more implied than stated, although - you know - maybe at this year’s Festival more explicit reassurances are required. The life experiences he pulls from generally confirm Brown’s relative youth, though his audience seemed pretty youthful too, and he still has plenty of interesting things to say and genuinely funny observations to share whatever your age. You sense he might still be experimenting a little with what kind of stand-up he wants to be, switching between styles as the routine progresses, though it’s a fine experiment to be part of, and one to definitely follow in the years ahead.
theSpace @ Surgeons Hall, until 27 Aug.
tw rating 4/5 | [Chris Cooke]

Jake Cornell And Marcia Belsky: Man And Woman (Stamptown)
This show within a show is almost a show within a show within a show, Jake Cornell and Marcia Belsky’s knowing glances early on providing the third level. We’re witnessing the preview of a new play written by Cornell the director, who reckons women’s voices are too rarely heard on stage, and he’s the man to write the script that fixes that. He takes the role of Man in his ridiculous play for himself, hiring Belsky the actor to play Woman. We then see that play performed in a suitably over-the-top fashion, interspersed with ‘backstage insight’ from Cornell the director and Belsky the actor, whose professional partnership slowly falls apart. It’s an entertaining exploration of gender politics and a punchy parody of the entertainment world’s misguided attempts to empower women by telling their stories from a male perspective.
Assembly George Square Studios, until 28 Aug.
tw rating 4/5 | [Chris Cooke]

Jake Farrell: Sky (Berk’s Nest)
There’s lots to like in this show, in which the very likeable Jake Farrell talks about growing up in a working class family in Stevenage, and then subsequently returning to his hometown in the midst of the pandemic. However, the different stories he tells did feel a little disconnected at times. Of course, a stand-up show doesn’t need a narrative that runs throughout, but there seemed to be the makings of a good one here, it was just never fully realised. And more could definitely be pulled from the run ins with the titular Sky, a stress-inducing dog next door. But there was nevertheless plenty of charm and lots of laughs - and I even enjoyed the sudden Simon Amstell dissing in the middle, despite being (like, Farrell himself, I think) a big Amstell fan.
Pleasance Courtyard, until 28 Aug.
tw rating 3/5 | [Chris Cooke]

Jeremy Segway: A Life Out Of Balance (Presented By The Duncan Brothers) (The Duncan Brothers / PBH’s Free Fringe)
A gloriously ridiculous, completely made-up life of the Segway’s inventor that combines the best bits of ‘Reeves And Mortimer’, ‘Portlandia’ and Gaulier clowning. On segways. Finally! To a brilliant soundtrack, the Duncan Brothers spin, fall, smash things, inhabit characters and tell tall tales with an incredible density, dedication and variety of comic devices I’ve not seen anywhere else on the Fringe. Stupid throwaway bits like the word ‘Philanthropith’ and extended Tesco lore. A ‘Future’ section that’s at times really quite haunting. Rousing audience interaction. Keatonesque slapstick. I thought a five-star show had to change my viewpoint about how comedy could be done; this show taught me a five-star show can just be brilliantly, intelligently stupid. Frigging maverick.
PBH’s Free Fringe @ Legends, until 28 Aug.
tw rating 5/5 | [Richard Tyrone Jones]

Kate Butch: Wuthering Shites
It’s always hard being the only one on stage... the constant attention! However, Kate Butch appears to revel in it. This drag show celebrates her favourite singer Kate Bush, lip syncing the songs and dancing, and - as well as looking absolutely fabulous in her outfit - Kate Butch brings an incredible energy to the stage. The relentless comedy leaves the audience in hysterics throughout, and her undeniably clever humour is especially well demonstrated in the rewording of these iconic songs. In this intimate venue, the audience can truly appreciate every fantastic element, so whether you like Kate Bush’s songs or not, or even don’t really know who she is, Kate Butch is guaranteed to provide a night full of hilarious fun.
Assembly Rooms, until 27 Aug
tw Rating 4/5 | [Rory McAlpine]

Kwame Asante: Living In Sin (Impatient Productions / Blue Book Artist Management)
A comedian puts you on the spot. Asks you to name a medical condition. Your mind goes blank. What do you say? “Amnesia” of course! And while that first clever moment may have come from an audience member, Kwame Asante does a great job of building on his out-of-the-gate audience interactions. As an A&E doctor by day, Asante presumably has informed as well as funny responses to whatever medical condition gets chosen. This isn’t just a show about doctoring though. Asante gets plenty of comedy from his life beyond the wards, not least his devoutly Catholic mother’s response to him, well, living in sin. But his hospital-based anecdotes provide many stand-out moments, while also confirming - in a particularly heart-warming and hopefully true story - that, on occasion, laughter really is the best medicine.
Pleasance Courtyard, until 28 Aug.
tw rating 4/5 | [Chris Cooke]

Leo Reich: Literally, Who Cares?! (IAM)
Leo Reich has proven he has his finger firmly on the pulse in this epic hour of stand-up, a satirical exploration of modern-day talking points - from social media self-obsession to casual sex - dealing with these topics with a refined sense of irony, snappily putting into words the absurdities of our consumerist, narcissistic culture. Throughout, he impressively juggles singing, dancing and reading from his memoir/novel/screenplay, giving the show an exciting dynamism. In a particularly funny musical number he makes a mockery of the ‘old people’ who think the younger generations have it easier; as someone in his early 20s he skilfully explores the trials and tribulations of Gen-Z life, and his own experiences growing up as queer. His quick quips and storytelling powers are electric. This isn’t the last we’ll see of Leo Reich.
Pleasance Courtyard, until 28 Aug.
tw rating 4/5 | [Eleanor Magic]

Mark Grimshaw: Hit Me With Your Autistic (PBH’s Free Fringe)
Early on, stand-up Mark Grimshaw remarks his delivery model is more Yodel than Royal Mail: there’ll be a follow-up punchline in 3-5 days. He’s too self-deprecating: Grimshaw offers prime gag delivery with a vanful of follow ups. Being dour, Northern and autistic provides scathing viewpoints on antivaxxers, congas and Northern rail which all hit the mat, before examining his medical report. Through this ‘NHS funded roast’ Grimshaw argues autistics aren’t so different from non-autistics. Shame he rushes delivery, as his longer anecdotes offer intriguing personal insight. I’d like to see his critical mind properly examine his theme park addiction through autism’s prism, but his socioeconomic epiphany still teaches us how a cap may fit, but you need not uncritically wear it.
PBH’s Free Fringe @ Canons’ Gait, until 28 Aug.
tw rating 3/5 | [Richard Tyrone Jones]

Mat Ewins: Danger Money (IAM)
Completely ignore Ewins’ ill-advised spoof blurb; he fuses CGI clips, AR and live computer games in the most technically ambitious show I’ve seen this year - and pulls it off (thanks largely to his techie girlfriend; she’s a keeper). Ewins’ dense visual gags speed-run through every technical device you can imagine - literal zoom-out jokes, genuinely unnerving filters, live audience speech-editing, dinosaurs and Bibbles the crap alien. Ewins’ persona is full-on but not bullying. Having accidentally volunteered, at least one of the involving ‘Danger Money’ audience-participation games needs calibrating, and the closest Ewins gets to poignancy is an amusing retrospective of indulgent previous show flyers, but it’s all coherent in effect: a winning formula for an uproarious, futuristic late-night show.
Just The Tonic at The Caves, until 28 Aug.
tw rating 4/5 | [Richard Tyrone Jones]

Milo Edwards: Voicemail (Impatient Productions)
Let’s hope you like dark humour? Milo Edwards delivers what is an incredibly bleak and mostly monotone set that, remarkably, works brilliantly. It’s an hour of non-stop flowing topics all connecting and dealing with time. The jokes are incredibly dark, and the themes being discussed are difficult ones, yet he never truly crosses the wrong lines: from being 29 to dealing with loss, Milo creatively takes these tough life moments and uses them to come up with an excellently funny set. And even though it’s incredibly fast-paced, with topics sometimes changing mid-sentence, it never feels hard to follow, or as though it’s losing sight of its themes. Certainly a very distinctive show, that may not appeal to everyone, but for the right crowd it absolutely hits the mark.
Just The Tonic at the Mash House, until 28 Aug.
tw rating 4/5 | [Andrew Melrose]

Paul Foot: Swan Power (IMWP)
With absolutely nothing about swans or from the blurb description at all, Foot nevertheless manages a tour de force. Haughty complaints, disturbances and rants about conservation, TV presenters and the RNLI quickly escalate from zingers into surreal carnage, mayhem and audience-haranguing prolonged ad libs. “What a mess!” With all the idiosyncratic power of a dance workshop delivered by an obsessive who regularly writes in to local newspapers, it’s not a themed show, but a set of sets well-polished, structured and pointed enough not to matter. Later, Foot fights controversy with controversy, tackling genocide, statues and trolling to lambast society’s real charlatans. Jaws will drop, but he’s on our side. Fans of Key, Lee, Sadowitz, and general sickos alike, will love it.
Underbelly Cowgate until 28 Aug
tw rating 4/5 | [Richard Tyrone Jones]

Sam Lake: Cake (Katie Storey Productions in association with Hannah Layton Management)
The wedding Sam Lake originally planned was going to be grand - the wedding cake even grander. But then there was that global pandemic you might vaguely recall, and a considerable re-think was required. The wedding that happened was much more modest, but - from what I could tell - for Lake and his husband no less special. And, more importantly for us Fringe-goers, the COVID-caused rethink provided a much better story to exploit for comedic value. Lake is a charming host, and a very laid-back storyteller, so it felt a little like we’d been invited into his home to hear the full tale, from first date to wedding day, with plenty of fun tangents along the way. The pandemic may have killed the cake, but it helped create a great yarn for Lake’s debut hour at the Festival.
Pleasance Courtyard, until 28 Aug.
tw rating 4/5 | [Chris Cooke]

Schalk Bezuidenhout: I’ll Make Laugh To You (Like You Want Me To) (Mick Perrin Worldwide)
While some of Schalk Bezuidenhout’s childhood experiences in South Africa in the 1990s and 2000s are very much connected to the time and the place where he grew up, most of the stories he tells are timeless and universal, it’s all about working out where you fit in when you don’t quite fit in. And he gets plenty of comedy out of the adventures that occurred along the way, and his interactions with family, friends and the always tedious cool kids. His dad’s attempts at motivational support - for sports and then chess - were first bizarre and then disastrous, but in the retelling, hilarious. And while Bezuidenhout’s own eccentricities may have created some challenges growing up, they make him an intriguing and engaging performer today.
Gilded Balloon Teviot, until 29 Aug.
tw rating 4/5 | [Chris Cooke]

Séayoncé: Res-erection (Berk’s Nest And Dan Wye)
See sass and seance combined with Dan Wye’s return to the Fringe in this side-splitting show. We are welcomed into an atmospherically designed set, as our host reads from a silver ball, and with the support of a sweetly dressed (butch sounding) pianist, Séayoncé seemlessly flits from vivacious vocals to snappy jokes, interacting directly with the audience. The narrative builds as the spirits are summoned, and we find out there is an ‘ass hole’ (‘a soul’) in the room - in the form of a Fringe flyerer, who inhabits Séayoncé’s body - whose desire to stage a show leads to an explosive finale. Or, so we think: the show is actually finished off by a moment of heartfelt introspection. An uproarious queer comedy show - hilarious and fabulous in equal measure.
Assembly Roxy, until 28 Aug.
tw rating 4/5 | [Eleanor Magic]

Tony Law: A Now Begin In Again (Tony Law / Strip Light Productions)
Despite his customary big-energy intros, accents and improvisation, Law’s tough pandemic haunts his hour without pulling its weight. Laughs come consistently, but this is a badly-stitched Frankenstein fun mess with more artefacts in the wrong place than the British Museum. I’d like to hear the full story of how Law fell down, and emerged from the right-wing online rabbit hole, not just the slivers of that material that remain; longer excellent routines like his bomber experts, or Sean Lock tribute. I still don’t understand why the long horse race, though I loved Chekhov’s Props. Perhaps it’s futile wishing coherence on Tony Law, but because he’s great I’d love to see him do a show more than an extended set.
Monkey Barrel Comedy, until 28 Aug.
tw rating 3/5 | [Richard Tyrone Jones]

Weegie Hink Ae That? ( W.H.A.T?)
Ye cannae beat Scottish patter. This trio perform songs and sketches in a show that feels a bit like watching sketches from TV programmes like ‘Burniston’ and ‘Chewing The Fat’. Like all Scottish humour it’s full of foul language, rude, and self-deprecating. Indeed, this show brilliantly ticks those boxes. The sketches use stereotypical quirks to great effect and feature great characters, though some gags did fail to land. However, they make up for that with the original songs dealing with random topics, which are very much the best bit of the show. The crowd was full of Scots, and it’s obvious that this show will most appeal to that demographic - to which they cater amazingly - but that doesn’t stop it from having a broad appeal. This show’s a belter!
Gilded Balloon Patter Hoose, until 28 Aug.
tw rating 4/5 | [Andrew Melrose]



DANCE + PHYSICAL

Angel Monster (Phluxus2 Dance Collective And Cluster Arts)

Scared, mesmerised and moved are all things I felt during this hour. ‘Angel Monster’ is an immersive dance piece that deals with heavy themes like consent and female empowerment in a uniquely expressive way, and uses audience interaction to successfully create an immersive environment. The show makes an enormous visual impact, as each scene is gorgeously directed, and it honestly generated some goosebumps. The all-female cast perform with a weight of power, emotion and energy, and the choreography is on point, mesmerising to witness, and at times even quite unnerving. As the show builds to its finish, the passion and love infusing this project is tangible, provoking an emotional response to a spectacular routine.
Assembly Checkpoint, until 28 Aug.
tw rating 5/5 | [Andrew Melrose]

The Dan Daw Show (Dan Daw Creative Projects)
As a mostly-able bodied, vanilla hetero, this gay, proudly ‘crip’ light S&M / voyeurism / dance crossover mightn’t be aimed squarely at me, but it’s nonetheless a revelation of how, for some, s&m can consist in just being left standing wobbling on a table, unsupported. Lithe, tattooed Daw, consenting to the trusted control of able bodied Chris, “here so that those of you [like him] can see yourselves represented” is inspected, spat on, spun, wrestled, hefted and shaken before latex fun with a vacuum cleaner. Necessarily-choreographed, anyone expecting hardcore will be disappointed - but if Daw’s not totally aroused, he’s certainly interested. Wanting “to be in control and surprised at the same time. I’m such a messy bitch”, he gets his wish. We share his ‘crip joy’.
Dance Base, until 28 Aug
tw rating 4/5 | [Richard Tyrone Jones]



THEATRE

Beautiful Nothing (Suffragette Theatre Company)

This one-woman show illustrates the stifling claustrophobia of fame, as Aanya navigates a perverted world that attempts to sexualise and control her. Bhav Amar expertly depicts Aanya’s tough exterior which is fleetingly broken through moments of vulnerability. The action is punctuated with incessant text sounds and knocking as her private space is intrusively contaminated by the outside world. Em Oliver’s writing blends many literary mediums from naturalistic theatre, to rap, rhyme and fairy-tale clichés as Aanya envisions herself as a modern-day Rapunzel, locked within her hotel room and stripped of her identity. At times, authenticity was lost as Amar lacked variety in tone and delivery but her expert ability to communicate Aanya’s contradictory naivety and maturity must be recognised.
theSpace @ Surgeon’s Hall, run ended.
tw rating 4/5 | [Juliette Willis]

Blood And Gold (Royal Lyceum Edinburgh / Mara Menzies)
We live by stories, and here we have a wonderful celebration of storytelling itself. Mara Menzies, at the top of her craft, shows how stories offer far more than quiet enjoyment. Her beautifully told tales are about coping with fear, acquiring strength and wisdom and much more. They derive from culture and community but speak to us directly if we are listening. They must also be constantly spun afresh with clear and strong new words against tricksy false narrative. Mara values stories from Scotland as from her native Kenya and this piece is not directly ‘about’ slavery, invented tradition, or any other tangible. Rather, she seeks to explore how stories, especially older ones help us manage our darker demons. Excellent.
Royal Lyceum Theatre, until 28 Aug.
tw rating 5/5 | [Alan Cranston]

Bundle Of Joy? (Hive MCR)
This hard-hitting play follows a young couple’s failure to conceive, and the deterioration of their relationship as a result. Ripe with symbolism, ‘Bundle Of Joy’s main success lies in its unsaid moments. As tensions rise, blood-red bedsheets are revealed, and the bed steadily transforms into a uterus, with floral pillows representing the ovaries. Wilted roses are butchered by the husband to represent the violence of IVF as clinical lighting and chaotic music ensues, reflecting the couple’s decaying romance. Both actors were exceptional, playing their characters with nuance and intensity as they subtly and organically navigated their complexity of emotion. This thought-provoking new piece of writing is sure to stimulate debate as it raises many conversations that surround the struggles of parenthood.
Paradise In Augustines, run ended.
tw rating 4/5 [Juliette Willis]

Concept For A Film (Second Body)
So... this was basically made for me. Max and Jethro have created a unique show which is simply a spoken pitch for a film idea, accompanied by sounds created using sensory technology. The show is complex, though, in that it takes an insightful look at the world of scriptwriting and the difficulties of writing, as well as its other themes. The tremendously well written script is read aloud - with prescribed camera angles included - allowing the audience to picture this film and to create their own vision of it in their heads. And while the script shines, the audio element is equally entrancing, enhancing the feeling of each scene, as each new piece of equipment is brought out. With its exposition of film techniques, humour, references and more, it’s a film-lover’s dream, but I suspect any audience-member would be captivated.
Assembly George Square, until 27 Aug.
tw rating 5/5 | [Andrew Melrose]

Daddy Issues (Passing Stranger Theatre Company)
Vaginas, daddies and trauma, this show has it all. The audience is introduced to Natalia, a well-practiced phone sex worker who has aspirations of becoming an artist, and throughout the performance we gradually uncover more about her, as the show develops into a fascinating character study. There are topical issues also integrated into the piece, highlighting the horrific experiences women face online and other aspects of contemporary life, but it’s done with a light touch, in a humorous, enjoyable way. Writer and star Anna Krauze is a great storyteller and gives a fantastic performance as she portrays this quirky character with so much on her mind. Over all, it’s a darkly funny performance about a compelling topic.
Pleasance Courtyard, until 29 Aug.
tw rating 4/5 | [Andrew Melrose]

Don’t Shoot the Albatross (GOYA Theatre Company)
Writer/performer/composer Sam Woof explains at the end of their performance that ‘Don’t Shoot The Albatross’ is at the beginning of its development journey. There’s potential in this monologue portrait of a character using sex, music, and substances to quieten turbulent thoughts. The metamorphosis trope, and mingling of older literary allusions with young, queer, modern concerns recalls the work of Kae Tempest, and other recent plays (‘Bullish’, ‘Before I Was a Bear’, ‘SAP’) and takes inspiration from (and queering) mythology and canon. In this case, poetic elements may be more impactful if better woven into the piece’s conversational tone, or further distinguished from the main narrative voice, by leaning further and more confidently into use of music and movement.
Zoo Playground, until 28 Aug.
tw rating 3/5 | [Bizz Holmes]

Fool Muun Komming [BeBgWunderful / YEsyes / Hi5 . 4sure . TruLuv ; SpankSpank : SOfun _ Grate _ Times] (Sam Kruger)
...is tricky to describe without spoiling it. It’s a Jim Carrey Mr Bean remake but good. It’s someone miming fighting a cat so hard I’d call the RSPCA. It’s an epic scaling of the North face of one’s own face. It’d already be a cult hit if programmed in the Banshee Labyrinth at midnight and some drunk local goths had happened upon it. It’s a necessary shlopdop rebirth. It’s not for everybody, but it’s loneliness bringing us together. It’s ‘like Liza Minnelli but jello and filled with snakes’. It takes a dramatic risk with the ending. It’s ventrilofarty space mime, a big zipper bag with a silly billy in it, it’s definitely coming and it’s the spirit of the Fringe.
Assembly Rooms, until 27 Aug.
tw rating 3/5 | [Richard Tyrone Jones]

Good Grief (Ugly Bucket And Untapped Award Winner 2022)
This isn’t quite what the poster promises - sophisticated Pierrot-like clowning, in sombre blue tones - it’s mostly a colourful comedy clowning show portraying many daft deaths. The space itself doesn’t seem large enough to showcase the cast of five’s undoubted acrobatic talent, and sightlines are limited from many seats. As a tribute, it’s not disrespectful - the dark humour can prove cathartic - I’m just not convinced the oral testaments of the dying, grieving and carers are always augmented by these often very literally-interpreted sketches. Furthermore, the format doesn’t let all the performers develop their own clown personas equally. Young, energetic and slick, if that’s your kind of show, you’ll enjoy it, but it won’t cure anyone else’s coulrophobia.
Underbelly Cowgate, until 28 Aug.
tw rating 2/5 | [Richard Tyrone Jones]

The Hippie Shakes (Sweaty Palms Productions)
This show is groovy, baby. It’s a gig-theatre piece that tells the remarkable true story of a struggling mother who is desperately trying to keep control of her life and family. Set during the era of the illegal drug embracing hippie movement, the script is something of a crazy trip that audiences will laugh at, while also tapping along to. I felt as though the music could have been more successfully intertwined with the story, instead of being used sometimes as sound effects or transitions between scenes. However, the music did truly succeed in evoking the setting of the show, and Elliot Chase impresses with an energetic and memorable performance of the quirky central character. Ultimately, it’s undeniably dope.
Greenside @ Infirmary Street, until 27 Aug.
tw rating 4/5 | [Andrew Melrose]

How To Build A Wax Figure (November Theatre)
First loves are a topic almost everyone can relate to, though possibly not ones quite like this. Writer Isabel Waldron sculpts a unique, heartfelt coming-of-age story exploring intergenerational power dynamics, LGBTQ love and... wax figures. Beautifully performed by Nell Barlow, ocularist Bea is preparing for a lecture on eyes at London’s Wellcome Institute, when she is forced to reckon with her past. Throughout the play we flit between scenes of the present and those with Bea’s next-door neighbour Margot (a 32-year-old wax sculptor), through which a love story tenderly unfolds. Fusing razor-sharp dialogue with sincere moments, this is a poignant, captivating and powerful story proving that beauty really is in the eye of the beholder... or in this case, the beholder of the eye.
Assembly George Square Studios, until 29 Aug.
tw rating 4/5 | [Eleanor Magic]

The Village And The Road (Tom Pow / The Galloway Agreement)
I love storytelling but this was my first 2022 visit to the Scottish Storytelling Centre. I was so glad that I caught up with this fine show, which runs until Monday. It’s about rural depopulation, a cold description of a phenomenon that profoundly affects many lives around the world. This collection of stories is no rose-tinted recollection of rustic idyll, it’s based on more nuanced accounts from real life. Tom Pow is an excellent storyteller, and The Galloway Agreement and their wonderfully eclectic music are central to a show that edges towards folk-gig theatre. Occasionally I felt the narrative arch could have been stronger but there’s no avoiding the passion of the concluding scenes. Catch it if you can.
Scottish Storytelling Centre, until 29 Aug.
tw rating 4/5 | [Alan Cranston]

Tinted (Scripped Up)
This is uncomfortably moving: at the peak of the #MeToo movement Laura recounts her past relationship and her life growing up disabled. The staging of the show is minimal, but it is packed with messages and poignant moments that teach the audience about living with a visual impairment, and it’s during these truly hard-hitting passages that the script and its performance really grabs the viewer. However, it feels as though the script loses track during the transitions into different topics or scenes, which meant that on multiple occasions I found myself slightly lost. Yet, the show’s star Charlotte Eyres is incredible, giving a raw, subtle performance that makes the audience truly feel every emotion.
Gilded Balloon Patter Hoose, until 28 Aug.
tw rating 3/5 | [Andrew Melrose]
At TW:CULTURE we champion the best in fringe theatre, comedy and culture.

Year round, we pick the best shows happening in London and online each week, providing handy Three To See recommendations and interviewing the people behind those productions.

Plus each summer we also cover the biggest cultural event in the world: The Edinburgh Festival.


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