Fest Preview 2016

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Festival Preview


2016 Previews | City Guide | Venue Map

THE PIANIST 12:25 PM · Aug 4-29 Assembly Roxy Central

At the peak of high society entertainment sits The Pianist’s pianist. Impeccable in every aspect, he glides through life, never placing a foot out of step. He is, in a word: perfection. At least... that’s what he thinks.

(Circus, clown)

THE CHICKEN TRIAL 2:15 PM · Aug 3-28 Pleasance Courtyard The Cellar Can art be put on trial? Yes says Swedish law system, that prosecuted art student Makode Linde, who brought a hat full of chickens to an art event. The Chicken Trial is a documentary fantasy based on the court case.

(Theatre - satire, political)

RED 9:00 PM · Aug 5-21 Dance Base

Carl Knif’s solo is dance on a knife-edge: an intimate portrait of an individual struggling with a red inner warning light. Red is a performance about extremes – subtle and full of personal courage.



twitter: @starttofinnish


From Start to Finnish is an annual showcase presented at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe that represents the best in Finnish performing arts. Now in its 6th year, From Start to Finnish 2016 features Thomas Monckton in solo contemporary circus show The Pianist, political satire The Chicken Trial from ACE-Production and Carl Knif’s dance solo about emotional struggle RED.


Fest Team

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Director George Sully Editor Evan Beswick Deputy Editor Jo Caird Lead Theatre Writer Matt Trueman Production Manager Erin Bottomley Concept Designer Sigrid Schmeisser Artworker Vilma Kirvelaite Cover Illustration Mica Warren Writing team Billy Barratt, Tim Bano, Sean Bell, Theo Bosanquet, Catherine Love, Edd McCracken, Lewis Porteous, Stewart Pringle, Jay Richardson, Alice Saville, Matthew Sharpe, John Stansfield, Lauren Strain, Tom Wicker, Ben Williams, Holly Williams, Kate Wyver Radge Media Publisher Sophie Kyle Managing Director Derek Birrell Editor-in-Chief Rosamund West Sales & Marketing Sandy Park, Grant Cunningham, Issy Patience, Caroline Harleaux, Mat Parry General Manager Kyla Hall

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Contact festmag.co.uk hello@festmag.co.uk @festmag Published by Radge Media Limited., 1.9 Techcube, Summerhall, 1 Summerhall, Edinburgh, Scotland EH9 1PL. Every effort has been made to check the accuracy of the information in this magazine, but we cannot accept liability for information which is inaccurate. Show times and prices are subject to changes – always check with the venue. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in whole or in part without the explicit permission of the publisher. The views and opinions expressed within this publication do not necessarily represent the views or opinions of the printer or the publisher. Printed by Acorn Web Offset Ltd, Normonton. Distributed by doortodoordelivery.co.uk


Comedy 20 Sarah Kendall

I Spy Edinburgh


The Australian comic on the fine line between truth and fiction in standup

No Fringe experience is complete without these people, places and things – will you be able to spot them all?

24 A (Super) Group Effort Massive Dad, Lazy Susan and Birthday Girls talk collaboration

Seeing Red


Why this year, the artists are angry

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I Spy Edinburgh! It’s the time of year when Edinburgh welcomes an invasion of punters, performers, poseurs, posters and practical problems. A full festival experience is not complete unless you’ve ticked off the following... Illustrations: Mica Warren

The Udderbelly

It’s a massive purple cow. If we say, you can’t miss it’, that’s being generous.

Outdoor heaters

It might be 28 degrees in the daytime, but you are going to FREEZE at night if you’re out and about boozing. Find an outdoor heater and do not let it go.


Rookies forget these. It will rain. Or it’ll be 30 degress and you can use it as a parasol.

Pleasance Kidzone

Essential for families at the festival, this area at the Pleasance Courtyard has a dedicated kids’ programme, cafe, pram shelter, nappy changing and activities.

Royal Mile

A river of singers, jugglers, flyerers all after a piece of you. It must be seen to be believed.


A big patch of grass in the centre of the city that makes Edinburgh one of the most civilised places in the world on a sunny day. Going “taps aff” is acceptable. Leaving charred disposable BBQ patches is not.

St Andrew’s Square Garden

Newest festival village, with venues and bars wresting back dominance of the Fringe from the Old Town.

Pleasance Dome

Picture Center Parcs, but with theatre, comedy and beer instead of screaming kids and water slides.

Arthur’s Seat

Mountain in the centre of town. Climb when you need a) fresh air; b) to stretch your legs after too many hours sitting on uncomfortable seats in cramped venues; c) when you want to escape from people chatting about shows they’ve seen or are in.

Salt & sauce

Who else but those culinary pioneers the Scots would have thought of blending two such ordinary ingredients—vinegar and brown sauce—to create a whole new world of flavour sensations?

Mosque Kitchen

This is a staple of Fringe sustenance – the sort of place marketing phrases like “tasty curry in a hurry” were made for. Kebab Mahal opposite is unmissable too.



Used to be the University Vet school, now presents an artistic programme of immense variety in a number of weirdly scholastic venues; the courtyard is a good place for a secret pint.

Gilded Balloon

Housed in the oldest purpose-built students’ union building in the world, this mini-castle of fun is one of the many hearts of the Fringe.

Members-only bars

The holy grail of festival partying. Don’t try and get in unless you’ve got a pass or are with someone that has. These bouncers cannot be swayed.

C Central


Famed as the home of student drama at the Fringe, this venue has been the proving ground of a remarkable number of theatre greats. Warning: if you’re over 20, a visit to the bar will make you feel like a dinosaur.


Performers in costume

Where else but Edinburgh at festival time can you spot a troupe of 17th-century courtesans pushing past the Rat Pack in line for a pizza? With no cash in the budget for advertising, EVERYTHING is a marketing opportunity.


Have the right money to hand, or risk the terrible wrath of the driver and all the passengers you’re holding up with your chit-chat: THEY DO NOT GIVE CHANGE. Or avoid the issue altogether by buying mobile tickets using the app.

The Scott Monument

Built by the Victorians in honour of Scotland’s most famous author, JK Rowling... I mean Sir Walter Scott, it’s the largest monument to a writer in the world.


Festival directors and venue owners Definitely one for the more committed Fringe-watcher. Shona McCarthy, Fergus Linehan, Peter Buckley Hill, Anthony Alderson... are all people you’ve probably never heard of, but deserve a high five if you stumble across them.

Fest Magazine

This is the best thing about the festival, and almost certainly the only thing you need to ensure a brilliant month. (Sure, you could go and see some shows, too.) Out Tuesdays and Fridays.

EdFringe box offices


Watch out, there’s a flyerer about. Hundreds of them, in fact. Remeber to be nice to them and place flyers directly in a recycle bin rather than on the floor. Or, even, read them. Fest tip: bring plasters. Paper can cut.

Places where you pick up tickets bought from the Fringe if you haven’t been organised enough to get them posted to you; never quite as on-theway to your next venue as you hope.

Buckets (full of money) Free shows aren’t free, because someone is paying for board and lodging. And venue hire. And tech. And publicity. And a cat-sitter. So put some money in the bucket.

Street food

The arrival of a whole host of street food stalls in the main festival villages has turned around the eating side of the Edinburgh festival experience.

Fringe royalty

The Fringe is great for sleb spotting. Stewart Lee, Steven Berkoff, The Hamiltons, Paul Merton, Sue Perkins. People off the telly who you’re likely to spot at 3am with kebab sauce down their front. Actual royals rarely spotted, but photographic evidence will precipitate prizes.


Pay attention to it. For a festival of arts and anarchy, the Fringe is remarkably punctual. If you’re not, you’ll miss your show.

Hills & bridges

It’s very confusing navigating in the city centre. Google maps are no good to you here.




& The Picturehouse Travelling Cinema


54 Geor g e St, Edin burgh EH2 2LR








9 EDEF.co.uk

0131 623 3045


/EdDigiFest @EdDigiFest EdDigiFest

Credit: Tracey Moberley



Seeing Red This Fringe is arguably more political than ever. Stewart Pringle talks to the artists who’ve had enough


week is a long time in politics. A month is an eternity. When this feature was pitched back in the heady, carefree days of about six weeks ago, it was tentatively titled ‘The Corbyn Fringe’ and planned as a sunny, slightly fighty chat with some of the country’s finest left-wing artists about the ascendent ‘soul of the Labour party’. So, clearly, as a concept, that’s utterly fucked. Presumably by the time this issue actually reaches your hands the country will look like the set of Mad Max: Fury Road but with shite weather, and the entire Tory party will have torn one another to pieces like battery hens at a pecking party. I speak to Mark Thomas first, on the Monday after the Brexit before, and he’s angry. His voice is screwed tight with rage. His new show The Red Shed is the story of that titular building, a 47-foot Labour club in Wakefield where he cut his teeth as a comedian. “It’s about history,” he tells me. “It’s about working-class history, about how the stories of the working-class become marginalised, and why they’re important. Why it’s important to have a sense of continuity, in terms of your place within the struggle.” Thomas is pretty clear about where that struggle lies; he acknowledges the manifest failings of the EU, but rails against the transformation of the Leave campaign into a “plebiscite on immigration”. It was a referendum won in the kind of working-class communities The Red Shed is talking about, and that’s no surprise: “The working-class North is furious,

Mark Thomas

fucking furious. And I don’t blame them.” I catch Shappi Khorsandi days after Glastonbury Festival, which she describes as a combination of tearful solidarity and protective shield. There have been a lot of hugs given, a lot of plans made. Khorsandi’s new show is called Oh My Country! and it’s an apparently unintentionally resonant attempt at “reclaiming patriotism, and the idea that a geographical space belongs to the people who live on it, and care for it, and that you don’t necessarily have to have Oliver Cromwell’s DNA to call it your own”. Khorsandi’s feeling acutely aware of the impact the Brexit vote has had on her neighbours, and on her country at large – expounding on it all, her usually laid-back and ironical delivery hardens: ‘‘If someone has made a life here and identifies with this country being their country, then who is anyone to tell them it’s not? You can’t challenge what someone identifies with. Farage, for example, was born in Britain but identifies with the 1940s.” No less angry are Jonny Donahoe and Paddy Gervers of politico-musical duo Jonny & the Baptists. They’re rehearsing for their new show Eat the Poor, “about the incredible extraordinary expanding gulf between the poor and the wealthy in the United Kingdom of Great Britain”, explains Donahoe, but they’ve recently taken a break to soak in the Brexit bad news. “There’s been a lot of drinking,” according to Gervers. “We drank through the pain, and the sadness,” Donahoe adds. “And then we had a curry,



because they’re probably going to stop, at some point soon.” You sense he’s only half-joking. Jonny & the Baptists made headlines a couple of years ago with their Stop UKIP tour, which ruffled a few of Farage’s greasy feathers, but for once their focus isn’t on the dickwads on the right, but on building bridges and building understanding with all those people, and those communities, who saw leaving the EU as their only option. If anything, their targets this year are themselves, and the metropolitan elite they represent: “Don’t be angry with people who voted a different way from you. Don’t castigate an entire section of society, don’t assume they’re moronic and racist. They’re not. They’re hurt and their society has been damaged so much more than you can imagine if you are part of the elite.” Donahoe pauses, serious now, serious and almost sick: “Please, let’s try and do something positive. That’s the message of our show. We have had a number of years of gently attacking the Tory government. And now it’s time to accept that we are the problem. And fucking fix that.”


Politics in the Spotlight

Letters to Windsor House

Summerhall, 1:35pm, 3-28 August (not 22)

Lifted A box-fresh take on national identity, immigration and police violence that seems almost eerily prescient on the biggest themes of this bizarre summer. theSpace @ Surgeon’s Hall, times vary, 5-20 August (not 7)

Forest Fringe Always a haven of experimentation outside of the commercial megalith of the Fringe proper, this year Forest Fringe is offering up a “festival of reflection”, with new artists and artworks mingling with some of the best work of the past 10 years to respond to this period of political uncertainty ‘with hope and compassion’. Just don’t call it a greatest hits.

“ The working-class North is furious, fucking furious” For reasons of political impartiality, I have to mention that not everyone’s weeping into their pints or gearing up to man the barricades. Maggie Thatcher (that’s the Queen of Soho, rather than the stone dead former PM herself) is back for her third Edinburgh Fringe with Margaret Thatcher Queen of Gameshows. But even Mrs T is feeling a little green around the gills at the news of an upcoming Brexit: “I rejoiced! Finally, I thought, we’re free from the tyranny of the European Union. However as the day went on I realised that all these years I’ve been using the word ‘tyranny’ where I actually mean ‘financial and political stability’. Whoops!” Whoops indeed. I’ll leave you with a sign-off from Mark Thomas, or actually more of a warning. Something to keep us up at night, or maybe it’s just the wake-up call we need. “We are about to face the biggest fucking neocon government we’ve ever seen. And either the progressive forces of the left come together to find a way of fighting that, or it’s over. It has to be done, and it has to be done now, because we have to protect people from the oncoming fucking onslaught. “Because it’s coming. It is fucking coming.”

The reliably barmy Sh!t Theatre take an oblique but moving swipe at the housing crisis, the destructive force of gentrification and the unnoticed lives all around us, in an investigation of the previous tenants of their own ragtag London flat.

Out of the Blue Drill Hall, times vary, 11-20 August





Jonny & the Baptists: Eat the Poor Roundabout @ Summerhall 7:35pm – 8:35pm, 5–28 Aug, not 9, 16, 23 £9 – £12.50 Margaret Thatcher Queen of Game Shows Assembly George Square Gardens 9:00pm – 10:10pm, 4–28 Aug, not 15 £10 – £14 Shappi Khorsandi: Oh My Country! The Stand Comedy Club 8:30pm – 9:30pm, 3–28 Aug, not 4, 15 £11 – £12 Mark Thomas: The Red Shed Traverse Theatre times vary, 6–28 Aug, not 8, 15, 22 £14.50 – £20.50

It’s conceivable that Scots may empathise with the Canadian comic voice, finding comforting familiarity in the “overlooked northern neighbours” rhetoric. If that rings true then it bodes well for the 31 shows coming from Canada this year. There’s The Shaken and the Stirred, four Canadian poets who have already performed to great reception in London, as well as Mike Ward, the Québécois standup with a reputation for controversy making his Fringe debut. He’s currently embroiled in a censorship debate after his sketch was banned from the Olivier Comedy Awards (at which he was given Comedian of the Year, it should be noted). His show is appropriately titled Freedom of Speech. The skit itself has since become a viral hit, so if nothing else he should be arriving in Edinburgh riding on a wave of internet buzz. Also flying the proverbial maple leaf are panel show favourite Katherine Ryan, and character comedy troupe The Terrible False Deception.


The Fringe isn’t just a birthing pool for homegrown talent; it’s also a diverse showcase of performers from the world over. Matthew Sharpe tours the globe


Around the World

Despite a surfeit of Hamlets, Edinburgh has been somewhat starved of Danish chic – 2013’s Blam! marking a rare exception. Fortunately for us, the Danish Arts Council have their eye on Edinburgh, and have seen fit to give us a glimpse of what they’ve got. Don Gnu is the offering from the North – a physical piece that takes a hunt for masculinity as its start point. And what could be more chic than... socks and sandals. Proving that we know nothing of the fun and breadth of the Danish scene, Dance Base have an international cracker on their roster here.

France The French are coming, with their regular cultural exchange scheme the Institut Français Programme. The Institut Français is the agency of the French Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs, with responsibility for cultural activity outside France. With a permanent base in Edinburgh, come August L’Institut promises “the crème de la crème of French and Belgian performing arts”. There’s theatre workshops in French, such as Sur le Bout de la Langue, as well as Chiffonnade, a kooky choreographic piece. It promises to be a great insight into arts south of the channel, and an accessible introduction to French culture in general.

Representing West Africa with aplomb will be Senegal. Chiefly, there’s the multi-talented Youssou N’Dour, probably the most famous musician from the entire continent. Describing him as just a singer is pretty reductive, however, when you discover he was also Senegal’s Minister of Tourism and Culture in 2012. He’s a pioneer of a style of Senegalese music known as Mbalax, and he’s sure to be a huge hit with Edinburgh audiences, performing at the Usher Hall. There’s also Senegalese Shindig, from Samba Sene and Diwan, at the Citrus Club. It’s an exuberant flavour of world music and provides an uplifting contrast to an often cynical backdrop. Youssou N’Dour



China In a similar vein to Australia and France, the Chinese government has commissioned a cultural exchange programme. For the second year running, the Scotland and China Chamber of Commerce will host the Edinburgh Chinese Arts and Culture Festival, featuring stage art exhibitions, music and stage productions. This year there’s at least a dozen Chinese adaptations of Shakespeare coming to the Fringe, some offering modern reimaginings and others infusing it with 14th Century Kunqu opera. There’s also an exhibition from renowned artist Ai Weiwei at the Assembly Rooms, previously on display at the Royal Academy in London. scotchinachamber.org


Russia festmag.co.uk

Imports from Russia this year are making a big impact at the Edinburgh International Festival. There’s powerhouse conductor Valery Gergiev bringing Wagner’s Das Rheingold to the Usher Hall, and virtuoso violinist Maxim Vengerov performing Beethoven and Schubert, among others. None of this is to suggest that there’s no comic offerings: indeed, there’s a showcase from the Federation, Stand-Up From Russia, as well as Abi Roberts, who actually performs in Russian. She’s from the UK, but she’s the first of her kind in British comedy, linguistically speaking.

Abi Roberts

The two main exports from down under to the Fringe are a former award-sponsoring lager, and stand-up comedians. Loads of them. The proliferation of them in our stadiums and on our screens over the last decade means that it’s no longer much of a surprise to see the world’s biggest arts festival host so many antipodean comics. In addition to the usual roster of performers, this year there’s the “Made in Adelaide” pop up, funded by the South Australian Arts council to promote Australian food and drink, as well as a funded showcase of shows. Adelaide happens to be the world’s second biggest arts festival, so it’s prudent of them to exhibit their stuff to a wider, international audience. It’s a sneak peak of what’s on offer in South Australia, including Steve Foster, Amelia Ryan, Delia Olam and more.



Ai Weiwei


16 Comedy

Comedy Top Picks Who will be funniest at this year’s Fringe? Ben Williams selects the best of the bunch

Sam Simmons: Not a People Person Underbelly Potterow, 8:15pm, 3-28 August, not 15 2015’s triumphant Foster’s Edinburgh Comedy Award-winner returns with more exhaustingly funny high-energy nonsense. Made-up jingles, karate suits, deer hooves and “big thoughts” are just some elements that make up the Adelaide-born comic’s new show. Sound odd? Somehow, Simmons makes all his ridiculous

Credit: Matthew Leach

daftness remarkably accessible.

Amir Khoshsokhan: Shhhhhh Laughing Horse @ Dropkick Murphy’s, 9:00pm, 4-28 August Amir Khoshsokhan’s been quietly making waves on the circuit for a few

Foxdog Studios

years, and we do mean quietly. His apparently innocent stories are so softly spoken it’s like he’s trying to

Spencer Jones Presents the Herbert in Eggy Bagel

Laughing Horse @ The Cellar Monkey,

secretly make a phone call in the qui-

11:15pm, 4-28 August

et carriage. But Khoshsokhan’s worth

Heroes @ The Hive, 8:50pm,

your full attention – his punchlines

4-28 August, not 15

Ever thought the comedy circuit’s

are (nearly) silent killers. Spencer Jones’s garishly attired

Foxdog Studios are here. Lloyd

lovable idiot alter ego, The Herbert,

Henning and Peter Sutton are two

had one of the most joyous shows of

computer programmers who’ve cre-

last year’s festival. Jones’ DIY prop

ated a bunch of silly games the entire

comedy, made from household items

audience plays, all to a soundtrack of rock ’n’ roll musical comedy. Bring a (charged) smartphone and prepare for battle.

Credit: Sun Lee

lacking IT consultants? Never fear,

and impulse eBay purchases, is gloriously silly. He’s back with a brand new hour of nonsense and reviving last year’s at Underbelly Cowgate.

Lou Sanders: What’s That Lady Doing? Pleasance Dome, 8:10pm, 3-28 August, not 17 The totally daft Lou Sanders just keeps getting funnier. This year’s show looks set to be the giddy standup’s finest yet, focusing on her decision to quit drinking after a bad experience with Arthur Smith (it’s not what you’re thinking) while veering off on disjointed tangents and telling scatterbrained stories.

Liz Miele: Mind Over Melee Underbelly, Cowgate, 6:40pm, 4-28 August, not 15 Straight-talking standup from this no-nonsense New Jersey-born comic, making her Fringe debut. Miele started performing when she was just 16 and


has been aggressively touring Europe over the last couple of years. Here, she talks about travelling, dating, anxiety and, probably, cats – she’s obsessed with ’em.

Sam Campbell: The Last Dreamer Assembly Roxy, 8:15pm, 3-28 August, not 15

Top Picks

Could this be the cult comedy hit


The Doug Anthony All Stars (DAAS) Live on Stage! Pleasance Courtyard, 10:00pm, 3-14 August, not 8, 9

of the festival? Comedians and

Way back in 1988 these anarchic

critics are raving about this Aussie

Australian musical comedy merchants

absurdist, whose strange, whim-

were nominated for the Perrier Award,

sical stories and one-man skits

but they disbanded six years later. Well,

stay loosely in reality. Campbell’s

they’re back – having reformed in 2013!

already won Best Newcomer at the

Now all in their 50s, they’re still as

Sydney Comedy Festival and been

rude and lewd as ever, and Al Murray’s

nominated for the same award in

presenting their ten-night stint.


Box Office: 0131 622 6552 | gildedballoon.co.uk


Tales from Behind the Mic 5:45pm 3 - 29 Aug

Gilded Balloon Teviot Dining Room



Katy Brand: I Was a Teenage Christian Pleasance Courtyard, 4:45pm, 3-29 August, not 15 Back in Edinburgh for the first time in 11 years, Katy Brand (of ITV2’s Big Ass

Show fame) talks openly about her fundamentalist Christian upbringing in this autobiographical show. It’s a far cry from the brash characters that made Brand’s name on telly – here she’s thoughtful, honest and candid.

Jenny Collier: Jen-Hur


Underbelly Med Quad, 5:30pm, 3-28 August The debut hour-long show from this Welsh wonder. Collier’s been a finalist in most of the new act competitions, is a regular on BBC Radio Wales and has written for The News Quiz. It’s impressive writing, too, with plenty of

Tom Ward: Sex, Snails and Cassette Tapes Pleasance Courtyard, 9:45pm –

Top Picks

10:45pm, 3–28 Aug, not 15


rug-pulls, punchy lines and exquisite wordplay in her relatable tales.

Robert Newman: The Brain Show Summerhall, 7:15pm, 5-28 August, not 15

Tom Ward has one of the most

The erudite comic—who found fame

impressive voices in comedy

in ’90s as half of Newman and Baddiel

(ranking just under Matt Berry).

(guess which half)—explores whether

Unsurprisingly, he’s an in-demand

some grand claims made by neuro-

voiceover artist, too. This is Ward’s

scientists are actually true. Expect

Fringe debut. Expect a mix of

surprising, meticulously researched

offbeat tales, ad breaks and bizarro

theories and the odd ukulele ditty in

observations, all performed with an

this part-comedy show, part-lecture –

intriguingly aloof persona.

you’ll laugh and learn.



“ Life is like a pie of details thrown at your head”


arah Kendall was delighted by Sam Simmons’ reaction to her last show. Like many who experienced A Day In October’s emotional gut-punch, he was left reeling by his friend’s hour. “Afterwards, he said ‘that was so …’ And I thought he was going to say ‘amazing’,” she smiles slyly. “But then he went ‘…manipulative.’” Kendall cherishes her fellow Australian’s upset, the grin spreading across her face. Since the 2014 Fringe, she’s chosen to focus on extended storytelling in her standup, sharing tales from her teenage years growing up in Newcastle, New South Wales to tremendous acclaim, as well as not inconsiderable laughs and tears. October was nominated for the Edinburgh Comedy Award, 11 years after her first nomination. Along with its predecessor, Touchdown, it forms the basis of the 39-year-old’s upcoming Radio 4 coming-of-age trilogy, which also incorporates her new Fringe show, Shaken.

Delving into stories from her youth, Sarah Kendall’s remarkable rise has not been without sacrifice. She tells Jay Richardson about the fine lines between truth and fiction, and between laughter and tears Those who approached Kendall after seeing October were “generally crying” she says. But each night, some would ask how much of her shunned school friend George Peach’s story was true? How blameworthy were they for their own suspension of disbelief? “Life is like a pie of details thrown at your head,” she ventures, with something of an Aussie twist on Forrest Gump. “Whereas with a good story, it’s all lined up very carefully and everything’s turned up to the right notch at the right time. When you’re crying it’s because you’re meant to be crying, those are the narrative beats.” So three people might become one composite character in her retelling. It’s the emotional import rather than the details that “make you lean in”. “When people remember things, the details are often all over the place. But the gist of those memories, the thumbprints remain,” offers Kendall, whose

father’s work as a forensic scientist inspired the initial (but ultimately ditched) visual image of a rotting brown tooth in a corpse for October. “Eyewitness accounts never line up. People’s stories change when they’re repeatedly questioned. We only have an idea of what’s true because we shape our memories to fit our worldview.”

I thought.” Despite knowing her script verbatim, George Peach’s fate continued to floor her. “I had to be in that state, otherwise, how could I tell it?” she reasons. “[Shaken] has echoes of it too.” Fortunately, Kendall doesn’t see any incongruity between crying and laughing. “I’m a whore for a laugh,” she affirms. “There will always be jokes. And I like having serious moments with laughs in them. It keeps it honest. It keeps it real. Funny moments with people crying and sad moments where you crack up feel authentic to me.” After living in the UK for 15 years, there are Shaken, she declares, is “the biggest and most practical reasons why she’s still revisiting Newcasambitious thing I’ve ever tried to write”. Exploring tle. Partly, it’s because she’s a mother of two. And “at what point does something stop being a good “if I did standup about my day, it would just be story and become a lie?”, she’s also considering when child-rearing stuff”. She also likes messing with the blurring the two becomes “dangerous”. sunny beach stereotypes British audiences were givSet in Newcastle in 1989, when Kendall was “13 en by Neighbours and Home and Away, introducing or 14”, it’s a standalone hour but it pre-dates previous a “darker underbelly”. shows Touchdown and October, so people who’d But for someone who venerates legendary teen died in those shows are resurrected. “There were movie director John Hughes, adolescence is also some things I wanted to tidy up, and if you’ve seen hugely inspiring. “It’s so free of responsibility and the previous ones, there are a few extra rewards,” constraints,” she points out. “Also, everything is so she remarks of the tale, which spiralled out of her emotionally sharp and amplified. You’re sampling teenage insistence that she was almost abducted on adult emotions for the first time. It’s quite thrilling to the way to school. try and make that vivid.” October was the “gateway” to Shaken, as she belatedly realised her guilt about its events were “disproportionate to her crime”, prompting her to reassess “and discover where my guilt really lies”. For all its success, her dread of delivering October’s denouement night after night made last year her worst festival yet. And she expects to feel the same again. “It was horrible,” she confides. “I used to read interviews with actors in which they would talk about how doing a part really screwed with their minds. And I always thought: ‘Grow up! Just learn your lines and don’t bump into the props’. “But then this fucking show did my head in. I was really tearful towards the end of the run. My voice would crack. If you do something often enough, drawing on these mental images every night, it muddies the memories, you start actually going to this place. I had to do that to make it believable, to make it work. And I was a fucking mess by the end of the festival, really depressed.” With the growing buzz surrounding the show, she added extra late-night performances to meet VENUE: Assembly George Square Studios demand, “which really affected my sleep. TIME: 6:45pm – 7:45pm, 3–28 Aug “I was playing with fire. The emotional gist of the story felt truer and truer because I was agitating TICKETS: £7 – £12.50 it every night. And it was a lot more potent than



“ I’m a whore for a laugh”



Don’t Miss a Trick Looking for laughter-filled illusions? Or more practical magic? Pick a show, any show, with our scale of magicians, from “funny” to “mind-boggling”



t really is a kind of magic at the Edinburgh Fringe. This year’s festival is packed with more trickery than Dumbledore’s study, with shows from card manipulation masters to Las Vegas superstars. But, as is so often the case with magic, not all

is what it seems. While some shows are aiming to boggle minds, others are total parodies playing for laughs more than gasps. So which card should you choose? Here’s Fest’s handy scale of laughter to awe. ✏︎ Ben Williams

Peter and Bambi Heaven: The Magic Inside Best Newcomer nominee Asher Treleavan teams up with dancer Gypsy Wood to thoroughly send up bouffant-haired Vegas magicians. Sam Fletcher: Daftwerk DIY comic and cartoonist Sam Fletcher throws a handful of magic tricks into his new lo-fi show. Fletcher’s mostly after laughs, but his illusions are mightily impressive. Mr Swallow: Houdini Nick Mohammed’s alter-egomaniac Mr Swallow celebrates the life of Harry Houdini, even recreating the escapologist’s infamous “water torture” escape. Pete Firman: TriX Jokes and tricks in equal measure from this cheeky Middlesbrough man. Expect impressive sorcery and plenty of sauce-ery. The Piff the Magic Dragon Show This downbeat dragon-suited magician—who mixes silly gags with stunning tricks—found fame after he reached the final of America’s Got Talent. Now he has a Vegas residency with his chihuahua sidekick, Mr Piffles.


Ben Hanlin: Trickhead This charming TV magician has some truly astonishing illusions up his sleeve, including a trick that works on the entire audience. Neil Henry: Mindwangler Henry’s act mixes mentalism and close-up magic. He’s racked up millions of views on YouTube. Colin Cloud: Exposé Mind-boggling mindreading. This year, Cloud performs a potentially lethal trick each and every night (that’s if he makes it to the end of the festival…).



Birthday Girls

A (Super) Group Effort Sketch comedy troupes Massive Dad, Lazy Susan and Birthday Girls have banded together to form an all-powerful eight-member supergroup. Ben Williams meets Massive Lazy Girls to talk collaboration and teamwork


hink “supergroup” and what comes to mind? Cream? The Traveling Wilburys? Johnny Depp pretending he can sing? Well, collaboration isn’t just for ageing rock stars with too much spare time. Sketch comedy stars Massive Dad, Lazy Susan and Birthday Girls have joined forces to create a mammoth skittish supergroup, Massive Lazy Girls. Three troupes, eight performers, one high-energy, party-vibe sketch show. It all started as a tweet, explains Tessa Coates of Massive Dad. “I was watching Birthday Girls’ wonderful show, and mid-way through I thought: ‘what is the most amusing amalgamation of all of our names? Massive Lazy Girls or Susan’s Dad’s Birthday?’ Coates tweeted her witty thought, adding ‘let’s form a supergroup!’ and pretty soon it was a reality.”

Massive Dad

“I really went for the idea,” says fellow Dad, Stevie Martin. “She really did,” adds Rose Johnson, of Birthday Girls. “We saw the tweet and went, ‘Ha ha, funny!’ and the next thing we knew Stevie had booked the Soho Theatre.” Martin’s excitement has paid off. So far, the supergroup has sold out every show, including one at the 400-seat Udderbelly in London. With so many members, though, finding time to get together and rehearse is a challenge in itself, and Johnson says when they do get together, “it’s remarkable how much of that time we’re able to waste.” “The first hour of the first meeting was just us trying to figure out who would take authority,” says Liz Kingsman of Massive Dad. “No one wanted to be the leader.”


“ What is the most amusing amalgamation of all of our names? Massive Lazy Girls or Susan’s Dad’s Birthday?”


- Tessa Coates, Massive Dad


“I forget that that isn’t normal,” Johnson shrugs. Has working together (and getting to know each so intimately) helped them improve as individual sketch troupes? Have they learnt much from each other? “From Lazy Susan, I think we’ve all learnt basic stagecraft,” says Kingsman. “They’re proper theatre-makers. And Birthday Girls have definitely made Massive Dad less prudish.” Freya Parker, the other half of Lazy Susan, says Birthday Girls are “a lesson in commitment with a capital C. Whereas the Dads are all over those sexy details.” And what about Birthday Girls? What have they learnt from Massive Dad? There’s a long silence. “Err…” replies Edmondson, eventually. “We have learnt… We’ve learnt to… be… kind.” Johnson

Credit: Bobby Goulding

So who has ended up taking control? “Celeste” comes an echo of replies. But Celeste Dring—half of Lazy Susan—brushes off her supposed authority. “As we all know, ‘natural leader’ means ‘glory hog’,” she says. “What happens is I turn up a bit late and then over-compensate.” With so many voices and opinions, is it difficult to reach a compromise? “We don’t actually have to compromise much,” says Birthday Girls’ Beattie Edmondson. “Because we have our own separate sections in the show, we allow our different styles to shine anyway.” Johnson, though, admits she has to moderate herself. “If it’s just us Birthday Girls, I’m probably really rude and shout over them,” she says, “because we’re comfortable with each other. This has actually been a good lesson in listening and being more polite.” In fact, Johnson’s over-familiarity is a big talking point during our chat. “I remember you squeezing Tessa’s boobs in one of the first rehearsals and it being a real shock,” laughs Edmondson. “And you highfived my vagina,” adds Martin, “do you remember?”

Lazy Susan

saves her from digging any further. “Birthday Girls are very very lazy. Massive Dad always rehearse everything properly, they have amazing attention to detail, and that’s a really great plan.” Massive Lazy Girls are only playing five shows in Edinburgh—Lazy Susan and Birthday Girls are also bringing brand new shows to the Fringe for the full run—but this is only the beginning for this supergroup. “At the moment we’re just trying to make it as fun as possible,” says Martin. “But the actual aim is to get it to a point where there are more people in Massive Lazy Girls than not.” “So that we’re then recognised as a state,” adds Coates. “And then parliament have to listen to us!” says Edmondson. So, could this be the latest trend on the sketch comedy circuit? Surely other troupes must be eyeing up Massive Lazy Girls’ success and thinking of forming their own supergroups. But, as these eight talented performers did it first, any other chancers will have to abide by MLG’s rules. “Their name must be really good and they have to run it past me first,” says Coates. “If I agree it’s a good name, they can do it.” SHOW: VENUE: TIME: TICKETS:



Massive Lazy Girls Pleasance Courtyard 11:30pm – 12:30am, 24–28 Aug £9 – £10 Birthday Girls: Sh!t Hot Party Legends Pleasance Courtyard 9:45pm – 10:45pm, 3–28 Aug £6 – £10 Lazy Susan: Crazy Sexy Fool Pleasance Courtyard 7:15pm – 8:15pm, 3–29 Aug, not 15 £6 – £10



Tackling Race Head On Comedians have often suffered— and joked about—prejudice, bigotry, and xenophobia. Jay Richardson speaks to the standups for whom race jokes are about the real thing


ish Kumar literally shat himself when he heard the EU referendum result. “Just to be clear, I genuinely got diarrhoea the second I found out about Brexit,” he reveals. “Really violently unpleasant – these were not metaphorical shits. Your gut is a sensitive organ and I think my bowels had a premonition of what was happening.” Irrespective of how the vote went, the political comic was already prepared to update his Fringe show and appreciates that it’s an ongoing progress. “It’s too soon to tell what impact this is going to have,” he reflects. But before the vote, he also recalls “feeling like people my age were at the point where our race was totally irrelevant, that we were all British. I really felt to some extent that I was part of the last generation of comedians who felt they had to talk about their race.”

Nish Kumar

That doesn’t seem to be the case now. Addressing colonialism’s impact on his Indian ancestors in his latest show, Actions Speak Louder Than Words, Unless You Shout the Words Real Loud, prompted by what he sees as “historical realignment about the British Empire’s impact”, Kumar has been dispirited by Brexit’s aftermath, as “we seem to be trying to unpick all the positive steps we’ve taken culturally in the last 30 years. “This decision has cast us back into the mid-seventies in terms of our politics towards non-white people,” he argues. “Mainstream political parties, not fringe lunatics, have said things I never thought I’d hear in my lifetime.” And problematically for comedians, “some of those things that were said and done in the campaign were beyond satire.” Reluctant to discuss specific instances of racism




he’s experienced, Kumar stresses that standup at least affords him “a platform to respond to that abuse, whereas there are huge numbers of people right now being attacked who are unable to articulate their defence.” He doesn’t need to talk about race, he maintains, it’s just a subject that compels him. Even so, he’s unequivocal about the apparent mixed blessing of having so much source material. “I would happily not be talking about the news if it meant that I wasn’t fearing being racially abused in the street,” he says. “This is not great for me in any way, shape or form, because I have to live and exist as a person. If I wasn’t fearing the genuine repercussions of this decision I would happily settle for writing an Edinburgh show about fucking cheese.” Unfortunately, as Bilal Zafar discovered, even a seemingly innocuous Twitter joke about a Muslim cake shop can prompt a storm of bigotry. The British-Pakistani comic wouldn’t be making his Edinburgh debut this year with Cakes were it not for the online prejudice he’s attracted and subsequently channelled into mocking satire. Unwilling to be seen as representative of his race or religion, in his club sets the East Londoner actually downplays the abuse he’s suffered. But he concedes that “it’s quite easy for me to write anything around Islamophobia and racism because unfortunately, it’s been a part of my life since I was very young.” Mixing the silly and serious, striving first and foremost to be funny but pleased to counter negative portrayals of Asians and Muslims, he feels that he’s been “gifted all of this material in a kind of horrible way, so I have to write about it. It’s confusing and depressing that I wouldn’t be seen as an interesting a comedian without things currently being so weird for Muslims.” Tez Ilyas can even quip that “if there was no racism or Islamophobia, I wouldn’t have an act!” But the Blackburn-born comic of Pakistani descent suggests that, being politically inclined, he’s naturally drawn to “the bad stuff … I’d rather it didn’t happen and I could make jokes about toasters or whatever but it’s just the way my brain works, it looks at the world and what’s not working.” Made In Britain, with its sharing of his “untypical British experiences… which, by virtue of the fact they happened in Britain, means they are now British experiences – even if they’re not mainstream”, was always going to explore race. Like Kumar, Ilyas feels that part of the problem with UK race relations is that as a country, we’ve never truly confronted

our colonial past – there’s not the same shared, base knowledge of slavery and segregation that makes race such a potent, abrasive and even celebrated source of standup comedy in the US. The EU referendum has afforded his show “a bit more focus, and perhaps focused the audience’s attention a little bit more as well”. Race-based material suddenly feels more urgent. That’s true, says Jamali Maddix, but only up to a point. “You’re going to see a lot more people be more vocal about their views on race… liberal white people feel more guilt and racist people more justified.” Making his Fringe debut with Chickens Come Home to Roost, the Ilford-born comic of mixed black and white parentage explains that his show, which focuses on him owning his life decisions and taking responsibility for them, “isn’t an hour of me going ‘white people are evil’. “But right now, I’m 25 years old, living in London, watching people who look like me being harassed by the police. How can I not speak about that?” What’s more, race “has always been a valid thing to talk about. It’s not like since the EU vote we suddenly have a race problem. We had the riots. This shit’s been going on for years. “Yeah, it’s more to the forefront, more into the mainstream because it affected white people, because for some it went against their political agenda. People feel a little more justified as it’s been brought out into the open a little bit more. It needs to be spoken about a little bit more. But it’s always been pressing to speak about.” SHOW: VENUE: TIME: TICKETS:




Nish Kumar: Actions Speak Louder Than Words… Pleasance Courtyard 8:00pm – 9:00pm, 3–28 Aug £6 – £12 Bilal Zafar: Cakes Just the Tonic at The Mash House 3:40pm – 4:35pm, 4–28 Aug, not 15 £4 Jamali Maddix: Chickens Come Home to Roost Pleasance Courtyard 8:15pm – 9:15pm, 3–29 Aug, not 15 £6 – £10 Tez Ilyas: Made in Britain Pleasance Courtyard 5:30pm – 6:30pm, 3–28 Aug, not 15 £6 – £12

Focus on: Credit: Conor Horgan and Niall Sweeney

Panti Bliss

The Irish drag queen on becoming a national treasure


anti Bliss has been known for years on the drag circuit in Ireland, as fabulous and foulmouthed, outrageous and outspoken a drag queen as you could wish for. But suddenly, Panti— the alter ego of Rory O’Neill—has to watch what she says: she’s become an activist, the go-to spokesperson on gay rights, and Ireland’s newest “national fucking treasure” (to use her own favoured term). How did such a transformation occur? The rollercoaster of the last 18 months forms the basis for Panti’s show High Heels in Low Places. It all began when O’Neill spoke out about the homophobia of certain Irish media commentators on a Saturday night variety show on RTE, Ireland’s national television broadcaster, in 2014. The individuals threatened to sue, RTE quickly paid out and pulled the segment off their website; cries of censorship rang out across social media. Panti gave an elegant, beautifully argued 10-minute speech in response, about homophobia, gay marriage and oppression, which went viral. Soon Pantigate—as it was dubbed—was big news, and being debated by Irish politicians. All this was marvellous, but it’s left Panti as “a sort of establishment figure – an odd place for a drag queen to be!” she acknowledges. “I spent 25 years doing my thing in clubs, because it was fun and bold and wonderful. But to go through this bizarre set of circumstances and end up part of the establishment is a funny thing to happen.” Even her crowd has changed: where it used to be “gays and hipsters”, she recently had a 76-year-old in the front row. While she enjoys being an “accidental activist”, there’s also a pressure: “Everyone expects me to say

the right thing, they expect me to be inspiring, they expect me to have the ‘definitive gay view’. I don’t. No-one does. It’s just my opinion. But it is a responsibility, in a way.”

“ They expect me to have the ‘definitive gay view’. I don’t. No-one does. It’s just my opinion” Still, as her show explores, it’s certainly been an inspiring time to be involved in LGBTQI activism in Ireland: last year, the referendum over samesex marriage returned a positive vote. That didn’t surprise Panti – but she says she it did feel it turned into a bigger question. “We have quite a lot of referendums in Ireland and the question being asked always changes, really – you’ve just had a taste of that in the UK! So what it really turned into was: ‘Are you okay with the queers?’ It felt like a big, personal question.” And the answer, resoundingly, was yes. Turn-out was high, and now, in Ireland, “it feels like a done deal,” says Panti. “The gay community feel confident in a way they weren’t before.” No wonder, then, that they’ve crowned a drag queen their new national treasure. ✏︎ Holly Williams VENUE: TIME: TICKETS:

Traverse Theatre times vary, 8–14 Aug £14.50 – £20.50



Broadway Baby

BG - Pleasance advert - 16 OUTLINES final.indd 1


06/07/2016 11:15

9PM 5th–27th August The Stand 5

@cphutchinson Carlhutchinson.net

“Something wickedly funny this way comes.” NPR

3 - 29 Aug (not 10, 17, 24) 4.40pm (80 minutes) www.LongLostPlay.com


Kiri on James: James on Kiri

N Credit: Marta Julve

ominated for Best Newcomer in 2014 and with a sell-out second show at last year’s Fringe, macabre sketch group Gein’s Family Giftshop are taking a break this summer. But that doesn’t mean their composite parts are. Unseen member Kiri Pritchard-McLean will be debuting Hysterical Woman. Also, Gein’s self described “boss” James Meehan has his own first hour-long show with Class Act. Rather than speak glowingly about themselves we asked them to speak disparagingly about each other. ✏︎ John Stansfield

James on Kiri What’s their show about? Kiri is doing a show about equality and whether gender/race can affect ability. She covers pretty much every -ism I can think of, but not Cubism, which is disappointing. Who’s the more prepared? Kiri. She started previewing this show over a year ago and definitely works harder. But she hasn’t been busy making home made wine under the stairs has she? Which do you think is the more Gein’s-infused? My show is about being a northern scumbag in a middle class industry, which is what Gein’s are. Scumbags, the lot of us. But Kiri has more social commentary which I think is very Geinsy. Plus Kath [Hughes, also of Gein’s] is doing the sound and lights for Kiri’s show so it is literally more Gein’s-infused. I do have a joke about wee though so I’m torn. How much do you feature in their show? In her show Kiri recalls the whip-smart, off-thecuff, super-cool remarks I’ve made during our relationship, all two of them. (She takes the piss out of things I’ve said.)

Credit: Drew Forsyth

We force Kiri Pritchard-McLean and James Meehan of Gein’s Family Giftshop, both going it alone, to dish the dirt on each other

Kiri on James What’s their show about? Jim’s show is about class in the arts, it’s funnelled through the prism of him being working class and how that’s quite an unusual thing for the arts. It’s also funnelled through him playing loads of Xbox. Who’s the more prepared? Me. hich do you think is the more Gein’s-infused? W Hmm. They’re both stuffed full of social commentary, which is quite Geinsy. But we both have Northern accents so it might not get noticed, which would be very Geinsy. I guess my sense of humour is naturally darker than Jim’s but he has a dick he can whip out at any time so I suppose he wins. Which is more important, feminism or classism? Classism, because no one buys a t-shirt with ‘working class’ on it yet. They haven’t worked out how to market the class system in as pithy a way as equality.



Kiri Pritchard-McLean: Hysterical Woman Pleasance Courtyard 6:00pm – 7:00pm, 3–29 Aug, not 15 £6 – £9.50 James Meehan: Class Act Just the Tonic at The Tron 6:20pm – 7:20pm, 4–28 Aug, not 15 £5



assemblyfestival.com 0131 623 3030

BRIEFS Assembly hAll 4 – 21 Aug, 22:30



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4 – 28 Aug, 17:30

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24 HOURS WITH MARY LYNN RAJSKUB Assembly GeorGe squAre 3 – 28 Aug, 20:20



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THE MAGNETS – AUDIOCITY Assembly GeorGe squAre 4 – 29 Aug, 17:15

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11.00PM | 5- 28 (NOT 15) £12 | £10

‘No nonsense yet simultaneously full of it’ Times ‘Very few comics will be as palpably funny as this’ Sunday Herald








Tickets: 0131 558 9005 | www.thestand.co.uk | www.outstandingtickets.com


25-31 JULY 2016


www.outstandingtickets.com | Ticket Line: 0131 558 9005




Comedy Connections With a plethora of offerings at every Fringe, it’s inevitable that some performing paths start to cross. Here’s a closer look at who’s teaming up with whom


he much-lauded sketch group Massive Dad have spawned an impressive cult following over the last few years, but clearly that’s not enough for them, the selfish so-and-so’s. They want more. So they’re teaming up with former Best Newcomer nominee & kooky double-act Lazy Susan. Just for good measure, there’s a third act hopping onto this sketch-comedy supergroup bandwagon: Birthday Girls. The trio have had some TV exposure and so joining an 8-woman comedy show seems like the natural step up. The sum of these parts is Massive Lazy Girls, on at the Pleasance Courtyard. Lazy Susan also have their own show, Crazy Sexy Fool, in the same venue. For the uninitiated (and presumably very sheltered), Austentantious is probably the most successful (read, only) Fringe show about improvised Jane Austen novels ever produced. It’s been a massive hit in recent years, and is returning at the Underbelly once more. The meta-twist is that in a move neither proud nor prejudicial, some of its core members are branching out and doing their own shows this year too. Andrew Hunter Murray is debuting his solo hour Round One (Pleasance Courtyard) with character comedy and presumably a lot less period romance. He’s also starring with Austentatious costar Charlotte Gittins in improv show Folie à Deux (Pleasance Courtyard), which promises a similarly rich vein of absurdist skits. While sketch veterans WitTank aren’t joining up with 7 other troupes to stick it to Massive Lazy Girls, or even doing their own show this year, their constituent members are all braving the path of solo comedy. Kieran Boyd presents the elaborately titled Egg (Gilded Balloon) in his debut standup hour. Mark

Cooper-Jones is Geographically Speaking (Movement). He’s an ex-geography teacher, but we’ve been assured that this will be the act he’s performed on Russell Howard’s Good News et al, and not the one he did in classrooms. Naz Osmanoglu is returning to the Fringe for the third time with more standup in Exposure (Just The Tonic). Robert Cawsey, of double-act Guilt and Shame, is performing solo character comedy in Simon Slack: The Fantasist (Underbelly). It promises to be absurdist and wacky, which is to be expected when his co-star is something called Puppet 5000. Sketch group Pappy’s Tom Parry is directing three shows himself. Two are at Pleasance Dome: Mr Edinburgh 2016 in which fellow skit-merchants BEASTS perform and compete for the eponymous prize, and Max & Ivan: Our Story in which the similarly eponymous stars present a true, autobiographical story. The third is the new Sleeping Trees show Sci-Fi? at the Pleasance Courtyard. There’s more. Marny Godden, formerly of the Grandees, is back with another solo show, Where’s John’s Porridge Bowl. Jack Barry and Annie McGrath who comprise Twins (Two Balls in a Bag), also have solo shows. And then there’s the Funz and Gamez/ Gein’s Family mixed contingent of Phil Ellis, James Meehan, Kiri Pritchard-McLean and Will Duggan. All doing their own thing. Almost anyone who is anyone including, yep, Austentatious alumni, half of Max and Ivan, and Massive Dad stars, will be gracing the Jacuzzi stage, a cameo-fest from theatre school-cum-improv movement Free Association. With a revolving cast of...whoever’s free, it could be that all roads at this year’s Fringe lead to Jacuzzi. ✏︎ Matthew Sharpe




Max and Ivan


Lazy Susan

Annie McGrath

Funz and Gamez Tooz


Naz Osmanoglu

Jack Barry

Marny Godden

Massive Dad

Simon Slack: The Fantasist

Guilt and Shame

The Free Association



Kiri PritchardMcLean

Kieran Boyd


James Meehan


Birthday Girls

Geins Family Giftshop

Charlotte Gittins

Wil Duggan

36 Comedy

Focus on:

Sofie Hagen Buoyed by a victorious newcomer year in 2015, Sofie Hagen is back and, as she tells Paul Fleckney, on a bit of a mission

Credit: Per Bix


ou could argue that Sofie Hagen had the perfect Fringe last year. It didn’t start well – she arrived in Edinburgh with a broken heart, a fractured coccyx and bronchitis, plus her venue hadn’t been built so she had to be moved into the cavernous Liquid Room main space. Within a few days she was packing that space out with her show Bubblewrap, getting rave reviews and, without wishing to be vulgar, probably doing pretty well with the cash bucket. By the end of the run, she’d picked up the coveted Foster’s Best Newcomer award. The show touched on some difficult subjects such as self-harm, depression – and Westlife. Yet the show itself was upbeat and buoyant. And this year, the London-based Dane is setting herself a rather intriguing goal. Her new show, Shimmer Shatter, is a call to the world’s introverts. It started life when Hagen and her sister found themselves on a party boat, being forced to dance – the introvert’s worst nightmare. While Sofie counter-attacked with a verbal volley, her sister had a “full-on panic attack”. “It was the first time I realised some people who are introverted haven’t built up that sort of shield against the rest of the world. She’s not a freak, she just didn’t want to dance, and she didn’t know what to do. I thought, we need to talk about this.” This may be the first time introversion has been tackled by a standup show. Hagen was warned by a scriptwriter that no sitcom has been made about an introvert for good reason. But an hour of standup— where the comic can be personal and explorative—is different, and Hagen has proved herself to be skilled at turning difficult subjects into funnies. But Hagen wants Shimmer Shatter to be more than just funny. “With Bubblewrap I had a message. With this one there’s a feeling I want to create. I want us to feel like a group, and feel powerful. Introverts are scared to speak up in a crowd, and I want this show to feel like a roar for all the people who can’t.”

“ Introverts are scared to speak up in a crowd, and I want this show to feel like a roar for all the people who can’t” It’s the talk of a comic who’s now building a following, and with her Guilty Feminist podcast hitting 200,000 downloads, Hagen is starting to do just that. So how does an introvert celebrate getting a major comedy award, as she did last year? “I think I went to one of the bars for an hour, then as soon as I could get alone I shut the door and just felt what I was feeling. It took six months to sink in, really – it was too much at the time.”


Liquid Room Annexe 7:50pm – 8:50pm, 6–28 Aug




Out of the Bearpit



To the uninitiated, the Bearpit Podcast (Podcast) is the live radio equivalent of messy play. To the initiated it’s a showcase of some of Britain’s most exciting young comics, live on Ipswich FM. Jay Richardson enlists some help in grading the Bearpit alumni

Kearns’ prediction: “A 60-minute show about the death of suffragette Emily Davison from the perspective of the horse.” Last year’s best newcomer nominee is actually reflecting on social masks and “the different pork pies we tell to each other. But how they’re a force for good”. Banned from the Sistine Chapel, he’s sharing the “true story of how using this one simple trick, a mom made $800 cash every day from her home in LEITH. Can you afford not to come and find out how you can do the same!?” For Hess, the Bearpit centenary is a “massive burden”. But, “I lost a bet to [Bearpit founder] John Pitt about who was better at jumping. The bet was only £5 but seeing as each gig has run at a loss I have to keep gigging for him for ages or settle it with a payment for £6000”.

Fin Taylor: Whitey McWhiteface Kearns’ prediction: “Fin takes his inspiration from last year’s Pixar film Inside Out, where he plays a flake of dandruff that falls into the keyboard of a laptop.” Taylor is, in fact, exploring white entitlement. “Enjoyment of the show is predicated on having some form of white guilt or middle-class shame,” he explains. “So if you’re not white, you get to see white people confronted with their privilege. And if you are white and liberal then it should be cathartic.” A response to all the introspective comedy podcasts out there, the Bearpit improvised itself into “this fucking mad world”, he recalls. “It can’t not make you funnier, hanging out with the funniest people you know and trying to make each other laugh and out-stupid each other.”

Cedit: Mat Ewins

Adam Hess: Feathers

and an admission – “I’m going to put a fiver on the fact that none of us know what the hell we’re doing yet.” Upcoming comics Adam Hess, Richard Gadd, Lolly Adefope, Fin Taylor, Mat Ewins and Matt Winning are also involved, along with former Edinburgh Comedy Award winner John Kearns. He gave Fest his assessment of the others’ solo shows. They, in turn, have issued corrections.

Credit: Edward Moore


ecording live at the Fringe with Ipswich FM, and unavailable for download, the Bearpit Podcast (Podcast) is celebrating 100 years of memorable interviews (and who are we to fact-check their claim?). Rumoured returning ‘features’ include guest Tim Hankerplank, the observational comic so good he has to wear a blindfold at all times; the passing back and forth of an egg to the humming of ‘Kumbaya’;

Mat Ewins: Mat Ewins Will Make You A Star

Matt Winning: Ragnarok Kearns’ prediction: “With Brexit fresh on his mind, Matt weighs members of the audience in pounds and ounces.”

Sharing the wisdom of his acting career, Ewins explains how you too can become a film star. “But it’s not gonna be some mad, Gaulier-taught clowning show where I berate the audience, throw a load of chips at them and then pretend to be a fox for 90 minutes,” he maintains. Still, “You’re not being an outright legend if you’ve not pissed off some people. Two walkouts in a crowd of 50 is my normal target.” The podcast is “tremendously helpful” for developing material, he suggests. But to its detriment, because “whenever we’re writing ideas for Bearpit we steal the best for our own shows”.

Lolly Adefope: Lolly 2


Kearns’ prediction: “Fresh from the film set of Lemon Wipe, our Lolly tells us what it’s like have a pizza delivered to you on a train and not tell anyone…until now!”


Almost. Winning plays one of his time-travelling descendants, reflecting on his 2016 Fringe show while travelling through space with a robot to a distant star he’s inherited. “You know. That sort of thing,” he clarifies. “The show is probably more personal about how difficult it is for me to write a show about climate change.” He speaks vaguely of the Bearpit. “Nobody had any idea what it would be when we showed up to the Southsider pub on the first day and completely winged an hour. The rest is podcast history.”

Speaking on Adefope’s behalf, John Pitt, founder of the Bearpit Podcast (Podcast), guarantees a new set of characters from last year’s acclaimed debut, with Lolly also appearing as herself for the first time. “All of the things in Lolly’s solo show are ideas I vetoed from the podcast,” he explains. “I told Lolly that she had to play herself because no-one knew what her real accent was and it made it very difficult for people to trust her. And bringing back the old characters would have been cheating.”

Credit: Idil Sukan


Kearns’ prediction: “If selling out Edinburgh’s Pretzel Plaza three years running wasn’t enough, Mat’s eighth show focuses on what happened when he took his deaf aunt to the top of Big Ben.”

Richard Gadd: Monkey See Monkey Do Kearns’ prediction: “One for all the family, Richard never moves from the Chesterfield chair he has dangling over the audience. A brilliant coup de théâtre, you’ll never quite look at your ceiling the same way again.” Recreating the “smashmouth” desperation and depravity of his last two hour-long shows, Gadd also pledges to “reveal a bit more about myself as a person and a performer”. He’s trying to understand where his “heightened” stage persona came from “and the reason behind all the sex and the violence and the mayhem. “Perhaps the more weird aspects of my show I take from Bearpit but they’re completely different entities,” he says. “It’s improvised and my shows are tightly scripted. But it’s helped most with allowing me to be funny in the moment and to work with some of the best in the industry.”




Gráinne Maguire The Irish comedian talks politics, periods and celebrity page-turners





f nothing else, the past weeks of national self-immolation have at least made political forecasting a bit more fun. Where the rules of the game once guarded against outlandish invention, the new politics playbook imposes no such restrictions. So it seems a shame not to go with the flow. Irish comedian Gráinne Maguire is game. “So I predict, in a twist, Ed Miliband returns and the [Labour] party is united once again. He gives this amazing speech that’s so incredible that the whole nation just unites around him. And then in a nice knowing twist he makes a joke about eating a bacon sandwich, and everyone laughs and realises how shallow they were. And then he rides away from the speech on a motorbike.” It’s a prediction which, with maybe a couple of tweaks, wouldn’t sit uncomfortably coming from a Question Time panellist – or a Daily Politics couch occupant, or a Panorama pundit. Which isn’t really a coincidence, because Maguire has been there already. Chances are, in fact, you’ll have heard tell of Maguire as the lady who pulled off one particularly audacious piece of political campaigning: last year, by way of venting her frustration at Ireland’s medieval abortion laws, Maguire hit upon the idea of live tweeting her period to the Irish Taoiseach Enda Kenny. “Hey @EndaKennyTD just so you know, I got my period two days ago. Pretty heavy flow at first but now just occasional spotting #repealthe8th,” it began. And then, what felt like the rest of Ireland’s women got involved, providing their own menstrual updates. “It was just taking Irish law at face value. The Irish state thinks that it’s up to them to decide whether they can have abortions or not. So the Irish state has invited itself into my vagina, so all I was doing was letting the state know how things were – like, daily vagina admin.”

Credit: Idil Sukan

Focus on:

And yet, Maguire insists, she’s not a political comedian. “When I talk about politics I’m not like, ‘This is what’s bad about TTIP’ or something like that. Because, what the fuck do I know about TTIP? I’m more interested from a cultural point of view, or what it says about human nature. I’m really interested in how we feel about politics. What does that tell us about ourselves? Plus, I’m not very high status. I’m very happy to admit my gleeful ignorance about things.” Her protesting seems genuine. In fact, to focus on Maguire’s political gesticulating is to unfairly pigeonhole a performer who ranges from highbrow to the very low. She has, for instance, an unabashed enthusiasm for celebrity autobiography – Cheryl Cole’s page-turner, Cheryl: My Story being a runaway favourite. “It’s genuinely one of the funniest books I’ve read in my whole life,” she laughs, without a hint of disingenuousness. I suggest celebrity ghost-writing as a career option. In fact, Maguire has more than enough writing work for radio and TV on her plate. 2016 marks her return to performing at the Fringe, with two shows in the final stages of preparation. Why, I wonder, does she retain an urge to slog it out on the live circuit? “You’ve got to have more skin in the game. Writing jokes for other people is all head. If someone spends an hour at your show, they want to connect with you, so you have to have a bit of blood, sweat and spunk in your hour.” ✏︎ Evan Beswick SHOW: VENUE: TIME: TICKETS:


What Has the News Ever Done for Me? Heroes @ Bob’s BlundaBus 3:15pm – 4:15pm, 5–28 Aug, not 10, 17 £5 Great People Making Great Pleasance Courtyard 7:15pm – 8:15pm, 3–29 Aug, not 16 £6 – £12

Theatre Top Picks Fest’s lead critic Matt Trueman picks out the most promising theatre shows of 2016

My Name is Gideon: Songs, Space-Travel and Everything In-Between Pleasance Courtyard, 1:00pm, 3-29 August, not 17 One half of the infectious Gideon and Hubcap Show, the banjo-toting Gideon Irving is back with a solo show – a miscellany of songs and stories that he’s performed in living rooms all over the world. A big kid with a big heart, it’s easy to see why people let him into their homes.

Yokai Underbelly, Cowgate, 1:30pm,

Another year, another load of Lecoq grads, but something tells me that The Krumple might be a bit special. They’ve a gorgeous sense of design—all cotton wool clouds and birdbox masks—but beneath the cutesiness, there’s a dark heart. With

Credit: Luca Truffarelli

4-28 August, not 16

tiny graveyards and cardboard trees,

Yokai wreaks havoc on a model town.

It Folds


Summerhall, 1:40pm, Assembly Checkpoint, 5:30pm,

3-28 August, not 8, 15, 22

4-28 August, not 8-9, 15, 22-23

Three years ago Ireland’s brilliant Brokentalkers had me bawling after

After a cancelled run last year, Casus

Have I No Mouth, a theatrical séance

one-woman show finally comes

for a lost father. It Folds, created

to Edinburgh. Building to and from a car accident, Grace tackles the psychology of mortality, but it does so physically, through hand balance and ring trapeze routines, as the moment of impact plays itself on repeat.

Credit: James Coote

Circus co-founder Emma Serjeant’s

with the dance-theatre company Junk Ensemble, might be a reversal: parents mourning a dead child. It’s no po-faced tearfest though, but a quiet riot of bedsheet ghosts, dad dancing and pantomime horses.



In Fidelity Traverse Theatre, times vary, 4-28 August, not 8, 15, 22

trained as a wrestler and pitched up onstage without a play. Few theatremakers have Rob Drummond’s feel for the live event of theatre. In his new show, the Traverse Associate is setting two audience members up

Credit: Arno Declair

He’s taken a bullet live onstage,

on a first date – a way of exploring the psychology and physiognomy of love.

Richard III The Lyceum, 7:30pm, 24-28 August The posterboy of German theatre, Thomas Ostermeier tears up texts and


runs them ragged. His Hamlet stuck “To be or not to be” on repeat, and he made an actual meatfest of Measure for Measure. Now, the Schaubühne’s artistic director turns his attention to Richard III, and finds in him a hype man, a sex pest and a king without an heir. With confetti canons and a fierce drum score, this is Shakespeare

Ten Years of Forest Fringe

Top Picks

Out of the Blue Drill Hall,


on speed.

Tank Pleasance Dome, 10:30am,

times vary, 11-20 August

7-20 August

Launched in a knackered hall above

At the height of the Cold War,

that beloved hippy/hipster hangout

scientists tried to teach dolphins

Forest Café, Forest Fringe proved to

to speak English. Such were the

be this festival’s shot in the arm. To

sixties I guess, but it provides an

mark its 10th birthday, it’s reviving

intriguing starting point for Breach

nine of its best shows—including

Theatre’s second show, Tank . Their

Action Hero’s Watch Me Fall and

debut, The Beanfield, was one of

Dan Canham’s 30 Cecil Street—as

the best at last year’s Fringe: a

part of a wider programme reflect-

mash-up of mismatched theatrical

ing on re-enactment, recreation

techniques as six students sought

and remembrance. Too many

to recreate a riot. Bring on the

goodies to pick. Again.




Dancer Dance Base, 5:00pm,

The last show made by the late Adrian Howells, Dancer asks who gets to dance and who doesn’t. Ian Johnston and Gary Gardiner, dressed in waistcoats and dickie bows, strut their stuff and then

Credit: Brian Roberts

17-28 August, not 22

invite us to strut ours in this open-hearted show. As Howells himself insisted: “It’s all allowed.”

The Duke Pleasance Courtyard, 15.30, 3-29 August not 8, 15 My mum so loves Shon Dale-Jones’

Ghost Quartet Roundabout @ Summerhall, 9:00pm, 5-28, not 9, 16, 23 Dave Malloy’s cult cabaret-musical Natasha, Pierre & the Great

Comet of 1812 hits Broadway

started an online correspondence with the ever-emerging Fringe favourite. Dale-Jones isn’t in character Credit: Sid Scott

Credit: Ryan Jensen

alter-ego, Hugh Hughes, that she’s

this year, but his new show The Duke, about a man obsessively seeking a sentimental trinket as the refugee crisis rumbles on, has built a buzz in pre-festival previews.

Revolt. She Said. Revolt Again / Adler & Gibb Revolt – Traverse Theatre, times vary, 16-28 August, not 22 / Adler & Gibb – Summerhall, 17.15, 3-27 August, not 4, 8, 15, 22

in the autumn. Before then, we

Miss a short run and you’re left with only a script.

get his supernatural song cycle

Thank goodness, then, that two of the best new

Ghost Quartet – a genre-hopping,

plays of the past two years are getting revivals at

time-travelling look at why we

this year’s Fringe. Both Alice Birch’s feminist fuck

believe in ghosts. He’s got good

yeah (Revolt) and Tim Crouch’s shape-shifting

Fringe pedigree: a nutty Beowolf

art history lesson (Adler & Gibb) are dazzling uses

musical won him a Herald Angel

of theatrical form, as playful as they are radical.

in 2013.

Don’t miss them again.







4 - 29 AUG

A s s e m b l y Fe s t i va l p r e s e n t s

‘A must see!’ Huffington Post CONTEMPORARY

Top Picks

‘Acts that don’t seem humanly possible’


New York Times

fl i p f a b r i q u e . c o m


4 - 29 AUG



Credit: KTSDesign and Science Photo Library



Man and Machine

Tim Bano explores the glut of plays looking at society’s relationship with technology, from drone warfare to lucid dreaming


on Welch, playwright and part of Pipeline Theatre company, was watching a documentary about a circus elephant in Honolulu. After years of training, it went rogue and kicked its trainer to death in front of an audience. It was shot 87 times and died, still wearing its circus hat. “It made me think about soldiers, trained and trained, but underneath all that training there’s humanity.” The documentary inspired Welch to write Swivelhead, a play that looks at drone warfare and PTSD, “which is often caused by a breach between one’s humanity and the idea that the army has turned you into a rigorously trained machine.” But Welch is not alone in searching around in the gap between man and machine. There’s a metaphor in that elephant story, too, for the fear of technology that society has always harboured—from the Luddites to The Matrix—that the extraordinary, powerful, artificial things we create might one day take charge. It’s a fear that’s being explored in a number of plays at the Fringe this year, includ-

Breakfast Plays: Tech Will Tear Us Apart (?)

ing the Traverse’s series of Breakfast Plays, short script-in-hand pieces by their associate artists, under the banner ‘Tech Will Tear Us Apart (?)’. “It was Tim [Price] who came up with the idea,” says writer Stef Smith, who has written The Girl in the Machine for the series. The idea behind her play sounds innocuous: an algorithm that can create music by dead musicians – the musician in question being Kurt Cobain. If a computer can create new songs by Nirvana, what does that mean for the rest of their music? “It’s a jumping off point for other discussions about our relationship with the real.” This focus on tech is a departure for Smith. “My plays tend to be quite analogue. I’ve not written any stage directions that need to be accomplished by technology. I’ve written it as an analogue production.” Tim Price, on the other hand, is no stranger to tackling tech: his 2014 Royal Court play Teh Internet Is Serious Business sought the human stories behind the online hacktivist group Anonymous.




How to Ruin Someone’s Life from the Comfort of your Own Beanbag is his contribution to the Breakfast Plays and continues many of the themes of his Royal Court debut. “After Teh Internet I sort of had a lot of unfinished business,” he says. The play was written in collaboration with convicted hacker Darren Davidson and looks at the phenomenon of ‘life-ruining’: “It’s what can only be described as ‘fuckery’. At the thin end of the wedge they know how to get your address and send pizzas or Mormons to your house. At the thick end of the wedge it’s installing child porn in your hard drive and calling the police or getting you certified dead.” But for Price, hackers like Davidson aren’t necessarily what we should be afraid of. “Our privacy and security is entirely compromised by the state and corporations that have manufactured our consent. People say ‘I’ve got nothing to hide so why should I care’ that GCHQ can turn on your webcam and watch you in your bedroom. But as Snowden said, ‘saying you’ve got nothing to hide is like saying, take away my freedom of speech because I’ve got nothing to say’. You may have nothing to hide now, but can you trust the UK population to continually vote in governments you trust?” While other writers express their fears or their wariness of technology’s potential, Price’s response is something more like anger: “State sponsored-hacking is the greatest scourge of our freedoms in the West.” By contrast, the Fringe’s other tech-focused plays seem comparatively whimsical. Smith was conscious not to be too didactic or downbeat in her approach. “How do we write about technology in the future and not make it really dystopic? That’s a really easy place to go, always thinking about the negatives, rather than things getting better.” Taking the desire for positivity one step further, Tremolo Theatre have devised a ‘lo-fi sci-fi’ comedy called The Hours Before We Wake. Set in 2091, it imagines a future in which we can control and share our dreams on social media. Inspired by films such as Terry Gilliam’s iconic Brazil, director Jack Drewry says that comedy “is the most accessible way to discuss the questions, a way of getting through all the boredom of these big ideas. To cut to the chase.” It’s clear from this crop of new plays that, as much as a play is about a piece of technology, as soon as you put it in a theatre it becomes about humanity. “Theatre is a special space in this day and age,” says Price. “It’s one of the last environments where we get a group of people in a room, lock the doors and make them listen to some ideas. It’s a sacred space for ideas.”

“ [Theatre is] one of the last environments where we get a group of people in a room, lock the doors and make them listen to some ideas” - Tim Price Theatre also allows for great freedom in representing futures not yet lived. Drewry wants “the audience using their imagination to paint a picture of that world. That’s liberating.” What that means is theatre, even when talking about the most cutting-edge or even uninvented technologies, is still a necessary place for discussion precisely because it doesn’t have to rely on showing that tech. Imagination will never not be necessary. At the Fringe it’s also, simply, a lot cheaper and easier to take something lo-fi. “We’re not above a bit of dazzle though,” says Welch, whose 2015 show Spillikin featured £50,000 worth of real, flashing, whirring robot in a play that looked at dementia and automation of care. “But even that is interesting because having a real robot or a real drone in the room too is more interesting, more stimulating, more challenging because it’s so out of context.” Still, regardless of how cutting-edge the topic, this is what theatre’s always been for: examination and reflection, communally. Dystopias, drones, apps, hackers: these are imagined futures and distorted presents in a medium as old as humanity. SHOW: VENUE: TIME: TICKETS:



Breakfast Plays: Tech Will Tear Us Apart (?) Traverse Theatre 9:00am – 9:45am, 16–28 Aug, not 22 £14.50 Swivelhead Pleasance Courtyard 3:10pm – 4:30pm, 3–29 Aug, not 15 £6 - £10 The Hours Before We Wake Underbelly, Cowgate, 2:40pm – 3:40pm, 5–28 Aug, not 16 £6 – £10.50



Focus on:


“Come dine with us”, say the cast of Korean food-themed musical Chef. So what did Fest do? We went to Seoul to dine with them, of course


verybody knows you shouldn’t do a somersault straight after dinner; but no one ever said you couldn’t breakdance while making it. Set in a kitchen where two cooks must battle it out to make the best meal, Chef: Come Dine With Us! is a high-energy mash-up of acrobatics, martial arts and humour that could only have come out of South Korea – where it has been a hit for several years. Expressing the joy of food through physical spectacle and song, its eight multi-talented performers headspin, high-kick and harmonise their way through a series of restaurant orders, before a final showdown in which they must make the daddy of all dishes, a traditional Korean bibimbap. After a busy matinee at its home theatre in downtown Seoul, the show’s director, Chul Ki Choi, lets Fest in on his secret recipe. Chef’s appeal, he thinks, is its variety: the pace never lets up, and there’s something for everyone as the ensemble tackles different cuisine from around the world (pizza, sushi and Chinese noodles are also on the menu, which has grown as the production has toured internationally). The key ingredient, though, is the audience: members are invited on stage to sample plates and take part in key scenes – and they steer the show by choosing the winning chef. Today’s favourite is the mischievous, moustachioed Red Chef. Out drinking later in the humid night air, we toast to his victory with ten shots of the popular rice liquor, soju (novelty handlebar now sweatily unpeeled).

If you’re thinking this all sounds a bit barmy, you wouldn’t be wrong: fans of K-pop will find much to love in Chef’s gameshow-style pranks, punky soundtrack and comic-strip speed. But as with any good fusion, there’s method in the madness. When the beatboxers’ clever vocalisations (mimicking the sticky, lip-smacking sounds of the kitchen) combine with the b-boys’ gravity-defying spins—they whip, whisk and stir everything together—then Choi’s vision of a show inspired by the sensations of cooking really comes to life. Fringe 2016 won’t be Chef’s first time in Edinburgh—an earlier version visited in 2010—but this year it arrives as part of the second annual Korean Season, a programme showcasing the range and artistry of Korean culture from folk song to magic, mask play to theatre. On our last morning in Seoul we awake to the sound of Tago, a group of young drummers who blend stunning percussion with dance; by evening, we’ve met Fernando, a space elephant (from children’s musical Singsing Bathtub) who’s grown too big to fly home. In just 72 hours, our appetites have been well and truly whetted; now swap that soju for whisky, and we’re ready for seconds. ✏︎ Lauren Strain


Assembly, George Square Theatre 4:00pm – 5:00pm, 4–29 Aug, not 15 £8.50 – £14.50


the VERY BEST of





@theSpaceUK Box Office: 0131 510 2381

www.thespaceuk.com 49


W Tragedies

ith 2016 marking the 400th year since the Bard of Avon died (in mysterious circumstances, we’re led to believe), there’s a raft of fitting tributes rolling up to the Fringe this August, all vying for the commemorative spotlight. There’s


The Ides of August an exciting mix of straight-laced stage adaptations, innovative new age twists, and whatever you can call Shit-Faced Shakespeare. With that in mind, here’s a breakdown of the most promising productions arriving in Edinburgh this year. ✏︎ Matthew Sharpe

Romeo and Juliet - Honouring not just the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death but also that of Tang Xianzu, legendary playwright of the Ming Dynasty, the Hunan Kunqu Opera Troupe bring a musical version of perhaps the most famous play ever written. Unperturbed by the sheer volume of prior interpretations, director Wang Xiaoying attempts a new angle, telling it in the traditional Kunqu opera style – an ancient ballet-esque Chinese art form, in which gestures and syllables are precisely executed to fall in time with the music.


Macbeth - If you’re looking for a “modern take” on this classic then you’re spoiled for choice: there are at least five in Edinburgh this year, one of which comes from Act Three Theatre. It’s set in a young offender’s prison and performed entirely with a cast of three actors (though any fewer and they’d surely run into some difficulties with those witches...).


Richard III - Seminal German theatremaker Thomas Ostermeier directs Berlin’s Schaubühne Theatre Company in this epic (in length and scale) historical tragedy. It’s received rave reviews around Europe, having already toured at the Avignon Festival, and continues Ostermeier’s reputation for blending visceral staging with notoriously dark humour. Lars Eidinger, a cult figure in German theatre, stars as the eponymous monarch. King John - It never quite receives the same exposure as Shakespeare’s other histories, but King John makes for an underrated stage show. MCS Drama, a student company from Magdalen College, Oxford, recognise and embrace its lack of historical accuracy and bleakly comic undertones with a modern interpretation. It’s especially timely given that it’s the 800th anniversary of the titular king’s death. Richard III


A Midsummer Night’s Dream - Several student companies are bringing versions of this classic interwoven narrative caper, but the most interesting version could come from award-winning Chinese theatre group ST@UIBE (from the University of International Business & Economics, based in Beijing). Their version (A Midsummer Night’s Dreaming) blends elements of traditional Chinese theatre with contemporary staging, and reimagines the story to take place in China. As You Like It - National Theatre Live bring the original romcom back for their first production of it in 30 years, with a cinema screening of the play that coined “All the world’s a stage”, starring Rosalie Craig. They’ve built up a strong reputation for their Shakespeare, and this looks to be a comparatively traditional adaptation of the original work.

As You Like It

er st ord highe e h t f ao Dram  Guardian any comp  rrific e t a re hift a n Red S Scotsma  

3 – 28 Aug (not 10, 17, 24) 14:40 (90 mins) Tickets: 0131 556 6550 bloodforblood.co.uk

E16 A3 OOH dropin.indd 1


10/06/2016 14:25





‘So interesting, engaging and relatable. Beautifully human.’ Audience member



A personal story following a family finding their way through the deaf world.


SACRÉ BLUE (6–16 Aug only) ‘a fun packed, punk rocking, poetry slamming play.’ NARC Magazine


600 PEOPLE (18–27 Aug only) Stand-up meets astrophysics, exploring the stories we tell to understand our place in the cosmos.



Part riotous gig, part tender storytelling.



A truthful retelling of the Focus E15 Campaign, Britain’s housing crisis and how one group of women refused to be marginalised.



Two women play two women playing two men.

10.05pm WHERE

DO ALL THE DEAD PIGEONS GO? I could give you the answer right now… but it would ruin the show.

Book now:

Venue 26c

0131 226 0000


Credit: Kirsten Mcternan




Pure Imagination On the centenary of Roald Dahl’s birth, Tom Wicker speaks to Gagglebabble’s Lucy Rivers about bringing his stories for adults to twisted, musical life on stage From Matilda to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Roald Dahl’s children’s novels have proven fertile territory for theatrical adaptation. Perhaps less well known, though, is his fiction for adults – short stories that thrive in the space between the everyday and the uncanny. Now, for the 2016 Edinburgh Fringe, in time for Dahl’s centenary, Cardiff-based theatre company Gagglebabble have adapted several of these stories into Wonderman, a show that mixes ensemble performances with live music. “When I realised his centenary was coming up, I thought, oh God, his dark humour, those twisted tales, were a perfect match for us,” explains Lucy Rivers, from Gagglebabble. “A lot of his adult stories are quite messy,” she reflects. “They often don’t really have a beginning, a middle or an end.” As well as writing Wonderman’s music, Rivers conceived the story with Hannah McPake, her Gagglebabble co-founder, and writer Daf James,

who contributed the script and lyrics. This creative ensemble has a great track record of working together, their previous collaborations including 2013’s critically acclaimed The Bloody Ballad, which also debuted in Edinburgh. With Dahl’s semi-autobiographical A Piece of Cake as a narrative frame, Wonderman mixes better known tales like The Landlady, Lamb to the Slaughter and The Man from the South with the likes of Pig. Accompanied by a piano trio, the show unfolds these tales in surreal ways as an RAF pilot—based on Dahl—slips in and out of consciousness. Rivers has relished making a new play out of Dahl’s stories. She believes that Gagglebabble’s brand of darkly funny, macabre ‘gig theatre’ “really suits his style. He paints these characters quite big, with broad strokes, and a twist,” she says. “So it felt quite easy, and natural, to use music to help exaggerate the world [of the show].” continues



Roald Dahl

Where The Bloody Ballad was “a bit rockabilly and very Americana”, Rivers says, Wonderman is eclectic. Audiences can look forward to a burst of musical theatre from the landlady, as well as some Carmen Miranda-style, Latin-Jamaican music for The Man from the South. There’s also a smattering of jazz-swing, and—intriguingly—a gameshow vibe. “I’ve been led by the stories,” Rivers explains. To this end, she has worked closely with writer and lyricist James, who, Rivers says, has “a big

“ His dark humour, those twisted tales, were a perfect match for us”





Underbelly Potterrow 6:05pm – 7:20pm, 3–28 Aug, not 8, 15, 22 £6 – £12

Inspired by Dahl

passion for Dahl”. In addition to writing for the stage, James has contributed to the Dave channel’s adult storytelling series Crackanory and Sky’s Psychobitches. “So we knew he’d bring that kind of humour,” says Rivers of her regular collaborator. “The League of Gentleman, all that sort of thing – it interests us.” Wonderman will be playing Topside, Underbelly’s studio theatre on Potterrow. “These decisions usually end up making the style more interesting,” says Rivers, who’s happy for the show to be in a more intimate space. “We’re not a massive commercial musical.” The cast will be singing into mics, adding to what she calls the show’s “cabaret feel” at times. The ensemble cast will also be playing multiple roles. Dahl himself will be several different characters in his own stories. Having just seven people on stage—including the band—is partly practical: “It’s more fun to see a talented team doing everything,” says Rivers. She and McPake will play instruments as well as act in the show. Wonderman is a collaboration with National Theatre Wales and Wales Millennium Centre. “We wouldn’t have been able to do it without them,” Rivers says. “It was brilliant that, basically, the two biggest companies in Wales were up for supporting the show. To do anything ambitious, or of a certain scale, you need co-producers like that.” After Edinburgh, Wonderman will be doing a week at the Tramshed in Cardiff as part of Roald Dahl’s City of the Unexpected, the National Theatre Wales and Wales Millennium Centre-backed, citywide centenary celebration of one of Wales’s most famous sons. But that’s all ahead. When we speak, Rivers is about to start rehearsals. How does she feel Wonderman compares with The Bloody Ballad? “That was a bit of an experiment,” she says. “It was the first piece I wrote that really integrated music and story.” After its success, “we all feel braver that people like our voice. We’re flexing our creative muscles more.” And what accounts for Dahl’s enduring appeal? “He’s still really original, brave and fresh,” enthuses Rivers, who’s re-reading his children’s stories to her son. “He has that amazing ability to really grip you as a storyteller – to still be a page-turner. That quality has stood the test of time.”

Unsurprisingly, in the centenary of Roald Dahl’s birth, Wonderman won’t be the only show at this year’s Edinburgh Fringe to have been based on—or taken inspiration from—the boundless imagination of the great man’s tales. UCLU Runaground, the touring arm of UCLU Drama Society, will be presenting their new adaptation of Dahl’s first children’s novel, James and the Giant Peach. Mixing puppetry, folk music and live performance, this could be a good bet for kids, families and the young at heart. Meanwhile, contemporary circus troupe Lost in Translation Circus will be re-wowing audiences with The Hogwallops. Inspired by Dahl’s The Twits, this beautifully chaotic show—which re-imagines Dahl’s misfit family with circus and slapstick—is returning after being showered with praise at last year’s Fringe. And if you have kids aged between five and 12, keep an eye out for the Spotlites theatre company. They have their own venue, Spotlites, and run interactive workshops based on popular children’s authors, series and characters. These change daily, and Dahl will be popping up this year. With Steven Spielberg’s big-screen BFG in cinemas, they’re likely to be packed. Unsurprisingly, Mr Dahl makes his mark over at the Edinburgh International Book Festival. Biographer Donald Sturrock has gathered together the correspondence begun by young Roald aged nine, right up until his death. Also, Roald Dahl Funny Prize-winning author Philip Ardagh tries to answer the question: why are these books so damn funny?



Focus on:

Charlotte Josephine Playwright Charlotte Josephine tells Catherine Love about harnessing her rage to create revenge-porn show BLUSH


harlotte Josephine is angry. BLUSH, the writer and performer’s new show with her company Snuff Box Theatre, comes from a place of rage. “The recent legislation passed to make revenge pornography a criminal act ignited a proper belly-deep rage in me,” she explains. “Rage at the men who commit revenge porn. Rage at the term ‘revenge porn’, which in itself is hugely problematic, suggesting the victims have done something that deserves revenge. Rage at a legal system that is murderously slow at changing laws that might protect women. Rage at our pathetic excuse for sex education in school whilst ‘rape-porn’ becomes mainstream on our children’s phones.” Josephine also felt rage at “the embarrassment I feel at being ‘an angry woman’”, but it’s a rage that she’s been able to harness in her work. BLUSH explores the complexities of so-called ‘revenge porn’, asking “a whole load of difficult questions that no one seems to know the answers for”. Josephine tells me that the play is about “misogyny, and shame, and violence”, as well as “empathy, and forgiveness, and kindness”. Like Bitch Boxer, Josephine’s compelling breakthrough hit on the Fringe four years ago, BLUSH tackles gender-related expectations, but in a very different way. “Bitch Boxer was born from a personal desire to explore my understanding of what being a woman means,” says Josephine. It was a response to a comment that Josephine “didn’t look very ladylike”, prompting her to consider what women are and aren’t allowed to be according to social stereotypes.

BLUSH, meanwhile, is about the consequences of such expectations. “The catalyst for BLUSH is revenge porn, but really it’s about shame,” Josephine explains. “BLUSH explores the shame we feel at not matching up to gender-related expectations spilling out sideways into acts of violence. Shame is a killer.” As with Bitch Boxer, Josephine will once again be performing her own words in BLUSH. “I’m not very precious about my writing once we get into rehearsals,” she says, adding that she loves the process of both writing and performing her own work. “I like to just be an actress when I’m in the room, so that I can enjoy the collaboration with the team, making some words I wrote into a show.

“ The catalyst for BLUSH is revenge porn, but really it’s about shame” “I love theatre when it feels really live, happening right here in this room right now,” she goes on. There are few better places for that up-close, thrilling liveness than the cramped studios and vaults of the Edinburgh Fringe. “I hope the audience walk out with that buzzy feeling you have when you’ve just been to a gig,” Josephine adds. “I hope it sparks some new thoughts, some new conversations.” VENUE: TIME: TICKETS:

Underbelly, Cowgate 6:00pm – 7:00pm, 4–28 Aug, not 16 £6 – £11

“An extraordinarily talented and inventive company” – WHATSONSTAGE

1:45 PM

5 - 31 Aug

pleasance.co.uk 0131 556 6550



★★★★ Evening Standard

Pleasance Dome 5.40pm 3 - 29 Aug [not 10, 17, 24] BorisWorldKing.com

BORIS world king

DEFYING SENSIBLE Defying the norm since 1947 05-29 August 2016 | Tickets at edfringe.com


58 Theatre

Focus on:

DON GNU An exploration of masculinity via Viking brawn – and socks and sandals


bout 100 miles west of Copenhagen lies Denmark’s second city, Aarhus. From here, you look out onto the sheltered Kattegat sea, ships chugging gracefully across the horizon. Scandinavia’s largest library dominates the front, its elegant lines and concrete polygons enclosing 30,000 square metres of books and public space. Cycle paths join the civic dots, connecting squares of cafes to typically elegant churches, museums and (obviously) furniture shops. Without wishing to overstate the case, it’s quite nice. Very dignified. Later on we’re ushered into the basement of the Bora Bora dance venue for M.I.S. All Night Long, a performance by troupe DON GNU. For the next 40 minutes, two men strut, heave and sweat around the stage. They hoik about an enormously weighty plank of wood. They hit each other with it; they climb it; they compete for possession of it. They do all this while wearing that oh-so-evocative combination of socks and sandals – seemingly a symbol of hardwon masculinity. At points they wear nothing else. A third character—seeking, perhaps, male companionship—is humiliated, bullied and beaten by the other two. The quiet dignity and Scandi chic seems a long way away. Partly, it’s this cliché that DON GNU are having a pop at, particularly concerning expectations of Scandinavian men. “We were confused about what it means to be a man today,” explains Jannik Elkær, recovering after the evening’s exertions. “We were both born in the seventies, at a time when a man had to be soft – you had to be able have feelings and listen. And at the same time you had to be masculine and... grrrrr! People started to go to things like male therapy where they had to do male things like shooting and drinking. We thought it was a bit of a joke! So that’s why we went with the socks and sandals. It’s a bit of a joke about this male tendency to push borders and push limits.” To get a few things straight, the name “DON GNU” is an elision of the two central ‘characters’ of the group’s work. Don (Jannik Elkær) is all cocky,

bully-boy physicality. Gnu (Kristoffer Louis Andrup Pedersen) is a touch reserved, less ready to use his brawn, but more easily led astray. The third character in M.I.S. All Night Long, El Chino, is played by Simon Beyer-Pedersen. He is—physically, ethnically, emotionally—the outsider. A fact both Don and Gnu cotton on to quickly, and exploit brutishly. “We’re so limited in our own prejudice and he’s like, ‘Okay, you can do it in another way. You don’t have to be stuck in your own way’,” says Elkær. And then of course, it’s too much, and you start to get aggressive because you’re faced with a new side of yourself that you’re not ready to accept. So he gets beaten up!” If it all sounds like blokey larking about, in part it is. It’s accessible and funny and takes great pleasure in shoehorning pelvic thrusts and Swiss balls into the vocabulary of dance. But it’s not without structure, or a solid purpose to the movements. Loosely, the performance oscillates between scenes of collaboration and then of competition between the characters. One memorable scene morphs a fightlike sequence into an unexpectedly sensuous tango: “We have a thing for tango,” laughs Pedersen. “It’s not I as a person, or us as performers. It’s everything in between. Tango is, for me, a sense of what’s between two performers because that’s what creates the movement. It’s really strong. You have to find something together. It’s also what we use the plank for. A movement from one side of the plank has a big effect on the other side.” And the pelvic thrusting? “There’s a very basic power of moving the hips,” says Elkær (of course, thrusting to underline the point). “It’s simple, and it’s basic and maybe stupid. But sometimes stupidness is the way into the basic feelings that we need.” ✏︎

Evan Beswick


Dance Base times vary, 17–28 Aug, not 22 £10 – £12

A dance spectacular from Nue Dance Company



By phone: 0131 226 0000

5-29 Aug (exc 10, 15, 22 Aug)

FirstSprout Theatre

Deal with the Dragon

written and performed by Kevin Rolston


Impi Theatre Company presents

The South Afreakins Written and performed by Robyn Paterson

A hilarious and heartbreaking solo show about country, loss and the impossible search for home. ‘A flawless performance’ Ashleigh-Faith Wong 2012 New Zealand Short and Sweet Theatre Festival

eting + arts mark tions

unica visual comm




Spotlites Venue 278

22-26 George Street www.spotlites.co.uk



4 - 28 Aug | 2pm

Preview 4,5,6 Aug £3 £8 / £6 / £20 Family of 4

0131 240 5047







Taking a show to Edinburgh Festival Fringe? Our tailored packages and support, will help you reach audiences.






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info@pulpandpith.com | (+44) 0793 3309 612




David Greig, the new artistic director of Edinburgh’s Royal Lyceum, talks to Theo Bosanquet about juggling his many roles

Credit: Aly Wight

The Busiest Man in Edinburgh





ast time I interviewed playwright David Greig our subject matter was light: we were discussing the opening of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, the West End juggernaut musical directed by Sam Mendes for which Greig penned the book. That was three years ago, and boy have a few things changed since. On a personal level, Greig has taken on the artistic directorship of Edinburgh’s historic Royal Lyceum theatre. And at a national level, his native Scotland has gone through two epoch-shifting referenda and looks set for another. Suffice it to say we have a fair bit to catch up on. I start with the Lyceum. He must have been heartened by the overwhelmingly positive response to his appointment? “People have been very warm. I’m incredibly lucky that the Lyceum board and staff are excited and up for the adventure. But also that the audience have reacted well to my appointment and to the first season. It’s a great way to begin.” He describes the job thus far as a mix of “enormous pleasure” and “very, very hard work”. And it’s about to get harder, seeing as his first official production at the helm opens as part of the Edinburgh International Festival. Wind Resistance is a song cycle by Karine Polwart inspired by the annual migration of thousands of pink-footed geese from Greenland to a peat bog near Edinburgh called Fala Flow. Greig acted as dramaturg on the project after encountering Polwart’s work during the 2014 independence referendum. They were both members of a “bus party” comprising a mix of artists from both sides of the debate, who set out to take the temperature of the nation ahead of the vote. “I watched her perform day after day on that trip, and was particularly struck by the stories she told between songs,” Greig enthuses. “I told her they were beautifully crafted dramatic monologues, and we hatched a plan to collaborate.” He describes Wind Resistance as a “one-woman non-fiction musical” and compares it to the nature writing of Robert Macfarlane and Kathleen Jamie. Significantly, it’s being performed in the Lyceum’s rehearsal rooms, the first time a show has been created specifically for that space. “It’s a bit of statement of intent for the Lyceum in that it’s form-bending, it features music at its heart, and it’s about exploring new ways of working.” Meanwhile, on the other side of the castle, Fringe venue Assembly Hall is staging a revival of Greig’s 2012 ‘play with songs’ Glasgow Girls. Written with Cora Bissett, it chronicles a group of teenagers fighting for the rights of their asylum-seeking friend,

and subsequently all those seeking refuge in Scotland. Greig and Bissett have adapted and trimmed the show for the Fringe running time and space—it was originally seen at the Citizens Theatre—but it’s otherwise unchanged. The themes of Glasgow Girls could hardly be more prescient in light of last month’s EU referendum. It won’t come as a surprise to learn the Greig, like the majority of Scots, was disappointed by the result. And he is especially worried about the ramifications of Brexit for the arts community. “I feel a kind of cultural humiliation. We have colleagues and collaborators across Europe, many of whom I’ve felt the need to apologise to in the wake of the result. Part of the point of a company like the Lyceum is to present the European repertoire and place Scottish work within a European context. It feels like the rug has been pulled out from under our feet.”

“ I sense a desire for people to come together and discuss what’s on their minds” So how will the Lyceum be involved in the debate to come, considering there is likely to be a second referendum on independence? “I sense a desire for people to come together and discuss what’s on their minds. Art and theatre in particular has a very important role to play in that. In the immediate term we’ll be welcoming people to Edinburgh from around the world during the festival and I sincerely hope that will open up some discussions and reflections.” As for a dramatic response, Greig emphasises that his upcoming adaptation of Aeschylus’s The Suppliant Women, about 50 mythical Egyptian sisters who desperately seek refuge overseas, is a play from the “dawn of democracy” that speaks directly to our times. He also hints that he will have Europe on his mind when programming his second season. “Edinburgh is an international city: we have thousands of Polish, French, Irish, Lithuanian citizens living here. Part of my job at the Lyceum is to engage those people and communities as artists and audiences. I fear they must be feeling less than wholly welcome currently, which is very troubling.” continues

Credit: Robert Day



Glasgow Girls

› But he also wants to reach across the divide to understand and explore the other side of the argument. After all, theatre is all too often accused of being a forum where the liberal intelligentsia speak only to each other. “If empathy is the muscle and theatre is the gym, those of us who are currently feeling bereft need to work harder at trying to think our way into the minds and emotions of people who voted to leave. There’s a lot of work for theatre to do, and it’s not about gathering in the same place agreeing.” I’m intrigued to know whether, as a writer, he feels the need to directly address current

political events? “No,” he replies after a pause. “And the reason is that one should always have an eye on these things. A good dramatist has already written the play for the moment.” SHOW: VENUE: TIME: TICKETS:


Wind Resistance Rehearsal Studio - The Lyceum times vary, 4–21 Aug, not 8, 9, 15, 16 £20 Glasgow Girls Assembly Hall 2:20pm – 3:50pm, 4–28 Aug, not 10, 15, 22 £12 – £17.50


16:00 3-29 AUG (not 15)


64 Theatre

Focus on:

Cleo Sylvestre Writer/performer Cleo Sylvestre celebrates the life and achievements of Mary Seacole, the inspirational—but egregiously unknown—wartime nurse from the 1950s


ary Seacole, a nurse who tended soldiers in the Crimean war, is finally being recognised in the UK. As a statue of her is unveiled outside a London hospital—astonishingly, the first British memorial to a black woman—a one-woman show also arrives in Edinburgh. “I read her autobiography about 30 years ago and thought, ‘This would make a wonderful one-woman show’,” says Cleo Sylvestre, writer/performer of The Marvellous Adventures of Mary Seacole. “But I’m very good at procrastinating…” She kept returning to the book however, endlessly inspired by Seacole’s remarkable life. The daughter of a Jamaican nurse and a Scottish officer, she had a rare wanderlust, travelling widely. In 1854, compelled to help in the Crimean war, she travelled to London to petition the war office to let her serve as an army nurse. She was refused – and so went under her own steam instead, setting up the British Hotel for sick and convalescent officers, and braving gunfire on the battlefield to tend to the fallen.

“ I love her spirit of adventure, and her dedication to helping people” “She led such an extraordinary life,” says Sylvestre. “A mixed race Victorian woman, travelling by herself: I love her spirit of adventure, and her dedication to helping people.” It was about eight years ago that Sylvestre finally wrote a show about Seacole, initially for children, and it’s been snowballing ever since. She was asked to stage a version for adults at the National Portrait

Gallery, and her Seacole has even turned up at the House of Lords. It’s wonderful, she says, to be able to introduce all sorts of audiences to her. Sylvestre has been campaigning for the statue outside St Thomas’ Hospital – a 12-year project that met with surprising opposition. Florence Nightingale fans disputed Seacole’s legacy and argued her statue was inappropriate outside the hospital Nightingale was so associated with. Inevitably, there have been counter-accusations that such smears are driven by racial prejudice. This needless sense of competition has saddened Sylvestre: “It’s not about one being better than another. Mary had a totally unconventional way of doing things – but she was a compassionate, caring woman, and she should be recognised for that.” Sylvestre, who recently stepped down as artistic director of the Rosemary Branch, a pub theatre in North London, has had a prolific career. She released a single with the Rolling Stones in 1964, became the first black British actress at the National Theatre in 1969, and the first regular black British female character on TV, in Crossroads from 1970. While we may still wring our hands about diversity in the arts, she insists things are “much better” than when she began her career. “It was like bashing your head against a brick wall. The horizons have widened – but there’s still a way to go.” ✏︎ Holly Williams VENUE:

C venues – C nova


6:10pm – 7:15pm, 3–29 Aug, not 10, 16, 23


£9.50 – £11.50



The Gla ss #-# M e na Ge rie � BY TENNESSEE WILLIAMS



5–21 AUGUST BOOK NOW EIF.CO.UK 0131 473 2000


Supported by The Pirie Rankin Charitable Trust

Charity No SC004694





The Scottish Plays

Jenna Watt

theatre-makers make up some of the most exciting entries to this year’s Fringe programme, with form-challenging shows that reflect both the UK’s crisis-hit political landscape and our determination to seek love and human connection amid the chaos. ✏︎

Billy Barrett

There’s more potential doom and destruction in Jenna Watt’s Summerhall show Faslane, which unpicks arguments around the UK’s controversial nuclear deterrent, Trident. Watt was last seen at the festival in Made in China’s Gym Party in 2013, a live gameshow in which she competed in a series of increasingly sinister contests with Jess Latowicki and Chris Brett Bailey to win the audience’s approval and avoid humiliating, painful forfeits. Watt’s own work has similarly straddled live art and traditional theatrical forms: her acclaimed two-hander How You Gonna Live Your Dash (“dash” being the line between birth and death dates etched into a gravestone) illuminated testimonies of life-changing decisions with strikingly smokey pyrotechnics. Flaneurs, which she performed at Summerhall in 2012, won a Fringe First for its touching take on urban violence and the complicity of bystanders – inspired by a real-life incident involving a friend of the artist.

Faslane shares this personal slant on political matters, as Watt interviews members of her family who have worked at the naval base. She also speaks to activist friends who have protested outside the compound, MOD personnel, and other interested parties. Taking these multiple perspectives into account, she traces her own complex and changing relationship with the much-debated Scottish navy headquarters, which employs many local people. Watt was mentored by Chris Thorpe at various points in the project’s development, whose outside eye has no doubt helped her fine-tune the balance between rigorous research and theatricality. Faslane

Credit: Mihaela Bodlovic


hilst international artists and audiences are preparing to descend on Edinburgh en masse this summer, and Londoners are balking at the already sky-rocketing cost of the Megabus Gold from Victoria, there are some visitors who won’t have to travel quite so far. Scottish


Rob Drummond

Credit: Nobby Clark


Rob Drummond

In Heads Up, Hurley continues to foreground music, with original live accompaniment by Michael John McCarthy, who has previously worked on Grid Iron’s Fringe First Award-winning Light Boxes. McCarthy scores a play centring around a doubt-stricken priest, a rebellious banker and a woman on her way home from a night on the tiles, each preparing for armageddon. Amid Britain’s post-referendum uncertainty and a bleak political climate across Europe (not to mention impending environmental catastrophe), the show presciently asks how we might handle the news that the world as we know it is on the brink of total collapse.

Kieran Hurley

Credit: Jassy Earl

Kieran Hurley festmag.co.uk

Glasgow-based playwright Kieran Hurley is at Summerhall with Heads Up, a three-hander about a city facing the prospect of an imminent apocalypse. Hurley is best known for Beats – a solo show featuring a live DJ set which looked back at nineties rave culture in the Scottish town of Livingston, and the government’s crackdown on the scene through a notorious piece of anti-public gathering legislation. He’s since written Rantin for the National Theatre of Scotland, which blended live music and storytelling in a modern take on the Scottish folk tradition, reflecting on the narratives that shape national identity.

Over at the Traverse, Rob Drummond presents the ostensibly more upbeat In Fidelity, about the neuroscience of love. Drummond’s Bullet Catch, a white-knuckle, theatrical twist on a magic show, has recently toured internationally since its acclaimed Edinburgh run in 2012, where the performer recruited audience volunteers to restage the trick so dangerous that Houdini refused to perform it. He has also trained as a wrestler for Rob Drummond: Wrestling, taking up the contact sport in a multimedia show that broke with his family history of religion and pacifism. In the surreally unsettling Quiz Show at the Traverse in 2013, Drummond drew on the Jimmy Savile scandal to delve into the psychology of sexual abuse beneath a garish television format veneer. For In Fidelity, the writer has reinvented himself yet again – this time drawing on evolutionary theory to consider how Darwin’s On the Origin of Species might help us understand contemporary love and relationships. The show combines TED Talk-style presentation with a live date featuring two volunteers, and promises a feelgood serotonin hit for singletons and the coupled-up alike.



Tonight on Blind Date... Tim Bano goes on a blind date with actress Bojana Novakovic. They talk about her improvised show The Blind Date Project. It goes pretty well Um. Yeah. I don’t usually do this sort of thing. So… like, what kind of things do you like? Well I’ve always been a performer. When I was 10 I thought in order to fix the world you have to be famous so that people will listen to you. The way to get famous is to be a princess, and the way to be a princess is to marry a prince, and how do you marry a prince? When I was 10 I watched a documentary about Grace Kelly and was like, ‘oh you become an actress’. So I took up acting. If this date doesn’t go well, are you still set on marrying a prince? Well, there’s Prince Harry. But I don’t think I’m his type. You’d have to be ready for press scrutiny. That’s fine with me. He’s a cool prince. He’d let me still do my Blind Date show.

What Blind Date show? So I was doing a show with my friend Tanya. I was feeling pangs of stage fright because I hadn’t been on stage for two and a half years. To get over it I thought, ‘Let’s make an improvised show to perform in front of friends in a karaoke bar. And what about if it’s a blind date, and I have a different guy every night?’ And now we’ve performed in festivals in Australia and the States. Do you know who the date will be each night? No, it’s literally a blind date. And how much do they know about it? They have a meeting with the director. We create characters and all we know of each other are our online dating profiles.

Is your profile the same for every show? It’s always different. Her name is always Ana. But last week I played a psychic, the week before I played a math teacher. And an Uber driver.

“ One guy sucked my feet. It was so weird” So what are some of the most memorable dates you’ve had? I can’t name names, but one guy sucked my feet. It was so weird.


Jesus. Did you say anything afterwards? No, because he got so drunk during the show he wanted to make out afterwards.








B U F FA L O T R AC E . C O. U K / H I G H - N O O N - S A L O O N

Any really good ones? Yeah, Margot Robbie played a hockey wife who was trying to have a lesbian affair and leave her husband. There have been some really magical moments. Apart from performing, what are some of your interests? I ride a motorcycle – a Harley. But I’m saving up for an Indian and I’m going to go cross country. I do a lot of photography – I went to Nepal because I started this project there to rebuild eight schools, and I took a lot of photos. A gallery in LA saw them and did an exhibit. What about you? What are you into? Me? Nah you don’t want to hear about me. VENUE: TIME: TICKETS:

Zoo Southside 10:00pm – 11:00pm, 5–28 Aug, not 16, 23 £8 – £12

Music Top Picks Yearning for a good tune to reinvigorate the soul? We’ve drummed up some highlights

Graeme Stephen’s Metropolis Summerhall, 10:15pm, 18-20 August Watching Fritz Lang’s 1927 silent film Metrop-

olis is a crazy enough experience as it is. Add a live jazz soundtrack from Scottish composer Graeme Stephen, performed with the assistance of string quartet ZAPP 4 and drummer Tom Bancroft and you’ve got yourself one hell of an evening.

Lady Rizo: Multiplied Assembly Checkpoint, 6:55pm,

Credit: Wullie Marr

16-28 August, not 22

Massaoke Gilded Balloon Teviot, 12:00am, 5-28 August, not 8, 9, 15, 16, 22, 23

The hugely charismatic American cabaret singer returns with a new set of songs—pop hits plus some originals—that respond to a big change in her life: becoming a mother.

Hackney Colliery Band Assembly George Square Gardens,

All the fun of karaoke with none of the

7:00pm, 19-21 August

humilation, this event will have you bellowing out your favourite tunes

The UK’s favourite brass band is

alongside a whole crowd of other tal-

back at the Fringe after a triumphant

ented (and not so talented) warblers.

debut in 2015, bringing their trade-

Expect comedians like Al Murray and

mark blend of original rock, pop, jazz

Aisling Bea joining as guest stars

and soul tunes—plus a few surprising

alongside the rocking live band.

covers—to audiences up for a party.



Grandaddy So, obviously this is sold out, what with it being the Californian indie group’s only Scottish date in 2016. Literally, the only day in Scotland to hear their critically acclaimed fusion of synthy rock and sweet Americana. But, there’s rumours of a further

Credit: Isabella Charlesworth

Summerhall, 8:00pm, 22 August

release of tickets in August, so keep clicking refresh on the Summerhall website.

Kathryn Joseph + The Anchoress


Summerhall, 7:00pm, 6 August Winner of the 2015 Scottish Album of the Year, Kathryn Joseph needs precious little introduction. Once heard, that voice is never forgotten. She’s joined by The Anchoress, aka the Welsh musician and writer Catherine Anne Davies. Lyrically beguiling, both, and each musically unique.

Orkestra del Sol & The Jellyman’s Daughter

Cathedral Celebrity Organ Recitals

Summerhall, 6:00pm, 12 August

St Mary’s Cathedral, 4:45pm, 7, 14, 21 August

Top Picks

Rumour has it that Orkestra del


Sol have made corpses dance in

Really, anything going on at St Mary’s

the past. OK, we made that up. But

Cathedral—often for free—is worth a

their combination of pumping brass

look. They’ve a full programme of fes-

rhythms, gypsy jazz, soul, wailing

tival recitals, detailed at cathedral.net.

solos and wiggling their instru-

It’s an extraordinary space for peaceful

ments round like they just don’t

reflection – except maybe when the

care really make for an evening of

swell on the “Father” Willis organ is

unbridled joy.

open full throttle.

Credit: Pete Searle


The Piano Whisperer Will Pickvance invites the world to gather round his piano for an evening of songs, stories and artful whimsy


ianos are to Will Pickvance what a herd of wild horses are to a mythic rancher on some dusty frontier. When Pickvance talks about pianos—which is to say every time he draws breath—he channels the poetic tone of a horse whisperer. “Some are heavy, some have a sweet tone, others are brittle,” he says, elbows pressed on his trusty upright piano, a faraway tune in his voice. “Some have a sumptuous quality and you can’t stop playing them; others after a couple of token tunes you’re happy to say goodbye. But they are all characters.” In his own charming way, Pickvance is a musical frontiersman. Well, as much as one can be armed with a jolly Dickensian surname, a mop of unkempt blonde hair, and a wardrobe that hasn’t met a cord jacket it hasn’t liked. We meet in his office at Summerhall, all exposed grey bricks and keyboards of all shapes and sizes. There’s a 1960s Sheltone Companion electronic keyboard balancing on Bambi legs by his desk. We pass a

dismembered piano on the stairs. “And next door is my harpsichord,” he says. In the middle of it all is his upright Yamaha piano, which he is gamely attempting to teach me how to play. I had lessons for a year when I was seven, only to abandon them after my concerted and persistent tear-filled campaign. And now I’m back, attempting to commune with this musical monolith of childhood misery. Within minutes he teaches me a minor key – that shivery, uncomfortable sound; that mood music to forced lessons. Pickvance understands. Overcoming the straightbacked starchiness of many first encounters with the piano is one of his grand, pioneering ambitions. When I ask him how to physically approach the piano, he takes the Jerry Lee Lewis route and stomps his right foot on the keys. Such unbound energy is found in his two shows this Fringe. His acclaimed 2013 performance, Anatomy of the Piano, is returning but in a new form. This metaphorical and literal deconstruction of

his beloved instrument, part of this year’s Made in Scotland showcase, has retuned as a family show, with a young Pickvance discovering how music is just as transportative as a space rocket. He is also unveiling a new show, Pianomorphosis, a mixture of music (Bach, Radiohead, Fats Waller) and storytelling built around his formative years playing a concert Bechstein grand piano at Skibo Castle. After graduating with a biology degree, and then stints in an Italian Elvis tribute band and on cruise ships, the self-taught Pickvance found himself as the in-house pianist raconteur at the luxury Highland retreat, most notable for being the site of Madonna’s 2000 wedding.


“ I want to create the convivial atmosphere of a salon” “I would sit in the middle of this huge room with enormous fireplaces,” he says. “The focal point would be the piano. Some nights would be low key, other nights everyone would congregate around the piano and all kinds of shenanigans, stories and songs would ensue.” He recalls one evening when the singer Robbie Williams turned up and spent half an hour getting the right key before a ‘spontaneous’ rendition of Angels. Apparently, Williams’ dad’s off-the-cuff take on the great American Song Book was much more entertaining. And it is this Pickvance—the Tom Waits loquaciousness harmonising with Wes Anderson whimsy version—that will invite the audience to congregate round his piano in Pianomorphosis. “I want to create the convivial atmosphere of a salon,” he says. “I want the audience to feel part of this interaction between the piano and I.” Lean in. The piano whisperer is speaking. ✏︎





Summerhall 8:30pm – 9:30pm, 3–28 Aug, not 4, 15, 22 £8 – £12


Anatomy of the Piano (for Beginners)


Scottish Storytelling Centre 1:00pm – 1:55pm, 4–28 Aug, not 17, 22-24 £7 – £9





Edd McCracken









5TH – 27TH AUGUST (NOT 14TH OR 21ST) 9:10PM (50 MINS)

theSpace @ Surgeons’ Hall Venue 53

BOXOFFICE 0131 510 2384

HHHHH ‘Had me weeping with laughter… you absolutely have to go.’ Mail on Sunday

HHHHH ‘So polished, it defies belief.’ Daily Telegraph PRESENTING


4 - 28 AUGUST - 1:30PM

HHHH ‘Magical, properly funny. A triumph.’ The Times



FRINGE BOX OFFICE: 0131 226 0000


3-28 AUG, 6PM EXTRA SHOW: 23 AUG, 9.50PM WWW.PLEASANCE.CO.UK | 0131 556 6550



Setting New Scores

Fringe audiences are spoilt for choice when it comes to musical theatre in 2016. Sean Bell casts an eye over this year’s offering





nce upon a time, in the Bronze Age of the 1970s, a critic sat in an Edinburgh theatre, along with precisely one other audience member. The show was billed as a “rock ‘n’ roll reinterpretation of Shakespeare”. At the time, this was considered ominous. The curtain rose to reveal a performer standing alone, electric guitar at the ready. “If music be the food of love...” he began, and let rip with a mighty power chord. “Oh, for fuck’s sake,” muttered half the audience, who promptly got up and walked out. As a general rule, musical theatre is considered divisive. To its admirers, it delivers an experience so unique it cannot be truly replicated in any other medium, an artistic conceit so versatile it can endure and evolve over centuries (remember, music and song have been elements of theatre since ancient Greece), and in more recent decades, a genre so successful it can, at its best, please critics and audiences in equal measure. Conversely, its detractors tend to focus less on the potential of musicals, and more on those that invariably dominate the cultural landscape, often to the detriment of smaller, less populist work: bloated productions reliant on superficial spectacle, offensively huge budgets and similarly ridiculous ticket prices – the stage equivalent of a Michael Bay movie. Cats. Phantom of the Opera. Even, most recently, the all-conquering Hamilton, now on course to invade London next year. As with any sweeping generalisation, both views are unworkably simplistic and riddled with excep-

Dead Awaken

tions. With that in mind, anyone approaching this year’s Fringe in the hope of exploring contemporary musical theatre should do so with nuance in their appraisal. Edinburgh may host its share of big shows, but the city still fiercely guards a reputation for placing the overlooked and the experimental over the traditional and the predictably profitable. And it seems difficult to deny that the sheer variety of musicals on offer seems greater than ever before. There are musical adaptations of existing works, such as Reefer Madness, a satirical reinterpretation of the notorious anti-marijuana propaganda film, and The Addams Family, which hopes to render the iconic brood not only creepy and kooky, but catchy. Musicals aiming for a pop sensibility include the Tony award-winning American Idiot, based on the eponymous album by punk stalwarts Green Day, and Carmen High, a retelling of Bizet’s opera in a modern high school setting. Perennial favourites return with fresh stagings of Cabaret, Bugsy Malone and Little Shop of Horrors, while children’s theatre gets a dose of song with shows like Freckleface Strawberry, Alice in Wonderland and Peter Pan’s Great Adventure. Unsurprisingly, one of the most ambitious-sounding productions originates from the CalArts Festival and Venue 13, whose frequent collaborations have one of the strongest records at the Fringe for producing challenging, innovative and often gorgeous new theatre: Dead Awaken, a “four person concert drama”, reimagines Ibsen’s final play through neosoul and hip hop. Brian Carbine, continues


“ We were inspired by artists that experiment and redefine – Erykah Badu, Kanye West, Disclosure, Moses Sumney and James Blake to name a few” - Brian Carbine When I ask him if, in style and content, musical theatre has become more diverse and adventurous in recent years, Carbine replies that “recently, someone reminded me that Jonathan Larson’s Rent is over 20 years old! I still think of that work as such an important shift in musical theatre and moreover, a benchmark for the way I envisioned becoming a theatre artist at a young age. He put new kinds of bodies and new kinds of stories on stage – ones that reflected his way of seeing the world, his contemporary landscape.


Dead Awaken’s director and composer, describes its conception: “I have always been a fan of Ibsen, especially his more obscure works like Brand, Rosmersholm and When the Dead Awaken. I feel as though I was called to his last play – there is something so mysterious, so painful and human about it. “I also knew I wanted to incorporate music in a serious way and that is what led to my partnership with Preston Butler III (Dead Awaken’s co-composer and lead performer). We began writing music that was inspired by the themes of the text, knowing that we didn’t want to create music that narrated the story. We were more interested in how the lyrics could shape and guide an inner life for these four characters. I think they are love songs, each different, but fuelled by desire, loss and passion.” “Preston and I call the style of music in Dead Awaken hip hop and neosoul,” Carbine says, in describing the production’s musical inspirations. “Which I love because they are two distinct genres that are known for their ways of fusing together different styles. I think we did the same thing. We were inspired by artists that experiment and redefine – Erykah Badu, Kanye West, Disclosure, Moses Sumney and James Blake to name a few.”

Dead Awaken

“I believe that musical theatre continues to diversify and shift in form,” he continues. “Certainly what Lin-Manuel Miranda [the creator of Hamilton] has done is unprecedented for people of colour on the American stage. But he also managed to move hip hop into the mainstream musical, where many had tried and failed. But I want to see more people experimenting and taking risks. One of the most exciting things I have seen recently was The Great Downhill Journey of Little Tommy at the 2015 Fringe. Concept album turned rock concert performance with live animation – that was contemporary musical theatre for me. New sounds, new forms, new directions.” In a Simpsons episode from a bygone era, one scene revolved around the idea of a musical version of Planet of the Apes. The joke was that such a concept was inherently funny; that a movie about post-apocalyptic simians was so obviously unsuited for musical reinterpretation, any audience would immediately recognise it as absurd. Looking back on it now—”I hate every ape I see, from Chimpan-A to Chimpan-Z...”—were someone to actually stage Planet of the Apes (Simpsons edition), I doubt it would be treated as absurd. In fact, I have a suspicion it would be a resounding success. Whether the shows mentioned here triumph or not, we have now reached a point where no idea is fundamentally unfit for the musical; previously ironclad conventions have been shattered, and musical theatre’s range of reference, subject matter and style is now greater than ever before. No open-minded theatregoer, musically inclined or not, should regard that anything other than an inspiring development.




Kids Top Picks Boundless bashes for bairns, but how best to beat the babes’ boredom? We browse for the best

Captain Flinn and the Pirate Dinosaurs 2: The Magic Cutlass (2 and older) Credit: Graham Lewis

Pleasance Courtyard, 10:30am, 3-29 August, not 16 The first Captain Flinn was a bit of a hit with our young reviewer back in 2013. The sequel from Les Petits Theatre Company looks to have all of the swashbuckling features that made the original such fun. Pirate dinosaurs: check. Ridiculously high production values: check. No poo stew this year, but smelly sausages instead.

Children are Stinky (0-14) Assembly George Square, 12:35pm, 4-29 August, not 10, 17, 24 Yes they are! This, from Circus Trick Tease’s Malia Walsh and Chris Carlos, requires nose pegs to perform, as if proof were needed. It also requires a lot of energy, both from the acrobatic pair, as well as the audience, who will be expected to get stuck in with

Aaaaaaaaagh! Dinosaurs! (5-10)

dancing, hula-hooping... the works.

Follow Me (1-7) Pleasance Courtyard, 12:45pm,

6-27 August, not 8, 15, 22

15-29 August

More dinosaurs! What’s not to like?

This is a ridiculously sweet tale about

This show, from the BBC’s Dommy B,

what it means to become an older

is a mixture of storytelling, comedy

sister for the first time. For Nansi,

and poetry with plenty of audience

the best way of dealing with the

participation. Dommy uses audience

situation is to let her imagination

suggestions to defeat the dinosaurs and defend the town. Our guess is that he can probably only do it with a bit of help.

Credit: 3Fate media

Hispaniola, 12:20pm,

run wild—literally—and turn into an elephant. Cute, imaginative, and thought provoking – especially for big sisters.

Underbelly’s Circus Hub on the Meadows, times vary, 4-22 August, not 15 When it all gets too much, head to Underbelly’s Circus Hub on the Meadows, which has been done up like a bedroom to create the most chilled

Credit: Andy Hollingworth Archive

Bedtime Stories (0-1)

out family Fringe experience you’ll find. Using theatre, circus, dance and 3D animation, Upswing Theatre tell snuggled-up parents and children a lovely story about a mum and daughter and her imaginary friend.

Funny Stuff for Happy People

Credit: EllisO'Brien

Bearded Northern Irish comic Martin Bigpig (not his real middle name) Mór

3-28 August, not 15, 22 Go head to head with your mum, your dad, standup comic Patrick

circus, storytelling, poetry and science that’ll have parents as entertained as their kids – perfect for families looking for a show to enjoy all together. And you might even learn something!

Shlomo’s Beatbox Adventure for Kids (1 and older) Underbelly, Cowgate, times vary, 15-16 August

Monahan and everyone else in the

It takes a huge amount of skill to make it as a

audience of this brand new family

professional beatboxer, but to break it down,

quiz show. No general knowledge

this art form is really just about making silly

necessary, so don’t panic if

noises with your mouth and throat – some-

everything you learned in school

thing that babies and little kids know all about.

last year flew out of your head

Perhaps that’s why Schlomo goes down so

the minute you broke up for the

well with younger audiences – they recognise


one of their own!

Credit: Nathan Gallagher

Gilded Balloon Teviot, 2:30pm,

Top Picks

1-20 August

presents a winning blend of comedy,

Pub Quiz for Kids with Patrick Monahan (5 and older)


Laughing Horse @ City Cafe, 12:30pm,

Credit: Mark Robson


(0 and older)

No Kidding About George Sully talks to the team behind the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland’s first ever musical for kids


hildren deserve great theatre as much as anybody,” says playwright Andrew McGregor – a man leading the charge on youth theatre in Scotland, and the pen behind the Royal Conservatoire’s production of Naughty Cat and the Cheesy Moon this Fringe. Of course, naming him the sole author would be a disservice to the original source of the tale: five-year-olds from a primary school in Port Glasgow. Taking inspiration from the Royal Court’s Primetime programme in London, McGregor asked school children in Inverclyde to write stories to be turned into plays. One story, about a particularly mischievous cat and her lunar voyage (aided by some grand theft astro), became a musical. It did so well that McGregor took it to the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland (RCS), where he regularly helps out with the acting and musical theatre programmes. “They’d never done a show for children before, so they thought this could be quite exciting,” he says. The RCS brings annual seasons to the Edinburgh Fringe, usually a mixture of established and new works. This year, the headline piece is Dolly Parton’s iconic 9 to 5, supported by Naughty Cat and the world premiere of John and Gerry Kielty’s Confessions of a Justified Songwriter. The MA Musical

Theatre students at the Conservatoire are shared out between the productions, with each student cast in the lead piece plus one new work. “The main thing that I had to explain at first was that you haven’t drawn the short straw because you’re doing the children’s show,” McGregor asserts. “In Scotland in particular, children’s theatre is viewed just the same way as any other kind of theatre. I make shows every Christmas for children at the Citizens Theatre, and it’s the same actors that you’ll see on the main stage doing Shakespeare that are auditioning for both parts.” It’s certainly a novel experience for much of the cast. “I’ve never worked the whole way through on a new development before,” explains Ashley Mekili Shoup, an MA student and also the production’s music director. “And I’ve never really worked on a kid’s show before.” A Melbourne native, Shoup is an accomplished orchestrator, with many great productions on her CV. Surely a children’s musical is a whole other ball game? “It’s really not that different. I think it just allows you to be a little bit sillier!” Avery Dupuis, a student playing the titular Naughty Cat, has relished the playful workshopping involved in animating McGregor’s vision. “Andy has


Not Talking Down

a mind like a child – he’s just so creative in that way. And it was great because the space that our director created was really free and open.” “I’ve had some experience before working in children’s theatre,” offers Kieran Bagley, another student playing several roles in Naughty Cat. “But the biggest difference this time is that we won’t be using big extravagant sets and costumes. Just a hint of props to distinguish our characters.” In bringing the story to life, McGregor tried to be as faithful to the source as possible. “It’s pretty accurate to what they wrote. But it’s turning what was maybe a one paragraph story into a 50-minute show. It’s literally taking every word, every little thing that they’ve said, and saying, ‘Right, how can we expand on that?’” But he did have to make one small change. Spoiler alert: Naughty Cat ends up in jail. But in the schoolkids’ version, that was the ending. “We’ve basically extended it a little bit so we find out what happens to Naughty Cat at the end; it’s got more of a positive outlook now than it did before. But that’s kids from Port Glasgow for you!” McGregor is breezy and charming over the phone, despite having a riotously busy year. He’s barely had time to enjoy the fruits of his recently received New Playwrights Award from Playwrights’ Studio Scotland. I wonder if working with children is keeping him young? “It keeps my imagination fertile. But I spend so much time making shows with wee people that when I come to work with professional actors, my brain has still got that place to go to. Sometimes I get strange looks, like, ‘What are you talking about?’”



Small Stories, a spin-off company of the hugely accomplished Tall Stories (the people who brought The Gruffalo and Room on the Broom to the stage) dip a toe into the world of time travel with this interactive adventure about decisions and consequences. Pleasance Courtyard, 2:00pm, 4-14 August, not 10

Jellyfish (3 and older) Parenthood and mental health are big topics for children’s theatre, but the Intrepid Ensemble handle them with aplomb in this visual tale featuring a gigantic glowing jellyfish. Pleasance Courtyard, 11:45am, 3-29 August, not 15

Legends of the Pacific (0 and over) If there’s anyone who knows what it’s like to be young and into theatre, it’s the American High School Theatre, who bring a rake of energetic shows over each year. This one is specifically aimed at children of all ages. Church Hill Theatre, times vary, 6-9 Aug

Little Shakespeare (7-11)

“ They’d never done a show for children before” - Andrew McGregor As imaginative as children’s theatre can be, it’s important not to patronise your audience. Shoup recalls her own childhood: “My parents were very much of the ‘you treat kids as adults’ way.” McGregor agrees. “You get called out for it if things don’t make logical sense. They will actually shout at the stage, ‘That doesn’t make sense!’” Dupuis expands on the importance of quality youth theatre: “It’s a way for kids to learn a new perspective, in a way that’s relatable and easy to understand. Just as theatre for adults has the power to promote change, children’s theatre does as well.”

Future Perfect (8-12)

It’s 400 years since the deaths of both William Shakespeare and the Ming Dynasty’s Tang Xianzu. To mark the occasion, 1015 year olds from three Chinese schools— Beijing Shijia Primary School, Chongqing Bashu Rhythm Drama Club, and Chongqing Foreign Language School—perform scenes from their plays. Spotlites, 10:00am, 6 Aug



Naughty Cat and the Cheesy Moon Assembly Checkpoint 4:05pm – 5:05pm, various dates between 5 Aug and 27 Aug £6 – £11

Eeeny Meeny Miney Mo, to Which Show Should My Child Go... Monday’s child is fair of face. Tuesday’s child is full of grace. Wednesday’s child has parents who use our patented show match machine and gets to go to a Fringe show that’s just right for them!

Messy monsters... ...love to get their hands dirty

Baby Loves Disco: An absolute hoot. For babies, toddlers and pre-schoolers. Involves music, face-painting, dressing up – the works!

Electric Circus, times and dates vary The Amazing Scene Machine: Learn how to make models with Jim Parkyn of Aardman Animations – the next Wallace and Gromit are just a few squeezes of clay away.

Pleasance Courtyard, times vary, 5-25 August, not 8, 15, 22

Trash Test Dummies: Comedy Circus from Australia complete with wheelie bins. What’s not hilarious about that?

Underbelly’s Circus Hub, times vary, 4-21 August, not 10, 15

Doktor James’ Akademy of Evil: This super villian on a mission needs minions to help him take over the world. Are you up to the challenge?

Sweet Grassmarket, 11:40am, 6-20 August

Lord and Lady Laughs-a-Lot... ...love to roll about laughing



Baby Bard... ...has a boundless imagination

The Story of Mr B: Puppets, shadows and more in this play set inside a giant pop-up book.

Institut français d’Ecosse, times vary, 5-28 August, not 15, 22 Drama Workshops for 5-12s: Generally, the Spotlites Theatre workshops are a good bet. It’s really hands-on stuff.


Spotlites, 9:30am, various dates

Too cool for school...

How to Be a Rock Star: What better way to learn about body positivity than through the medium of air guitar?

...slightly older kids

Assembly George Square Gardens, 3:15pm, 4-29 August, not 17

Comedy Club4Kids: No rude words, but loads of jokes, and actual comedians who don’t talk down.

Assembly Roxy, 5:35pm, 5-28 August

Quietly Curious... ...kids less keen on the razzle dazzle

I Got Superpowers For My Birthday: A new play about three almost-teens on an epic quest to protect the world from an evil overland, performed in-the-round in a beautiful pop-up theatre.


Roundabout @ Summerhall, 11:00am, 5-21 August, not 9, 16


Taiwan Season: The Adventure of Puppets: All the way from Taiwan, the action here all takes place on a tabletop.

Summerhall, 11:45am, 4-28 August, not 15

Credits: Damien Robertson



Focus on:

Showstopper! Showstopper cast member Pippa Evans tells Kate Wyver why kids make the most exciting improv audiences


he first rule of improv—that’s improvisational theatre to those not in the know—is to say “yes” to everything. That means that if a child tells you to do 15 somersaults whilst pretending to be a cat, say, you’ve got to give it your best shot, no questions asked. Such a request would have a lesser actor trembling in their boots, but it’s all in a day’s work for the hardworking cast of The Showstoppers’ Kids’ Show, the children’s version of the build-yourown musical that has taken Edinburgh by storm in recent years.

While it is “very rare” for audiences to suggest properly “adult” content during performances of Showstopper!, the original, grown-up version of the show, suggestions do often take a risqué tone, explains actor Pippa Evans. By allowing the kids to take charge—”they essentially direct”, according to Evans—“we don’t have that danger of doing something inappropriate”. In the adult show the cast takes suggestions of musicals from the audience, but “only the most precocious child could say, ‘I want it in the style of Annie’,” says Evans. So instead the cast make

up songs the kids can join in with. And they make sure they stay up to date with kids’ TV to ensure that they understand all their suggestions. The Showstoppers’ Kids’ Show brings something new to the improv scene. “Children make the best suggestions,” Evans says frankly. “They come up with the most imaginative, brilliant things and they don’t try and trip you up.” All of the Showstoppers cast have worked with children before, from working in young people’s theatre to starring on the BBC kids’ talent show, The Slammer. “Plus,” Evans points out, “we’ve all been kids.”



“ Children come up with the most imaginative, brilliant things and they don’t try and trip you up” Children come away from performances more confident and having had a great imagination work out. But there’s more to it than that, says Evans. “We were in Singapore and the kids’ suggestion was to kill everybody on stage. So then we said, ‘What happens now?’ and it was great because they realise there’s no one left and they learn about consequences. Obviously we then all came back to life.” Because children improvise all the time anyway, the genre doesn’t have quite the same novelty as it does for adults. “They’re always saying, ‘Let’s pretend to be cowboys!’ and there’s nothing weird about that,” Evans says. But what really amazes the children about this show is that they have all the power. Evans relishes the fact that they’re in a space where the cast say ‘yes’ to all the children’s suggestions. “They always do what adults say, but for an hour they get to tell us what to do.” The cast will do anything and everything the kids tell them, to the best of their ability. Even those somersaults? “Whether they could really be classed as somersaults is a different matter, but I definitely moved 15 times!” VENUE: TIME: TICKETS:


Pleasance Courtyard 11:40am – 12:40pm, 3–21 Aug £6 – £10



Focus on:

Ribbet Ribbet Croak Emily Jones of Moulded Theatre tells Theo Bosanquet about using a new form of sign language in her show for kids


he rise in quality theatre for children at the Fringe has been marked in recent years, with many of the major players in the field, such as Tall Stories and Catherine Wheels, now regularly represented in the programme. One of the rising stars of the genre is Moulded Theatre, who return this year with Ribbet Ribbet Croak, a multi-sensory show at the Pleasance Courtyard designed for children of all abilities. Artistic director Emily Jones reveals it all started with a bad batch of contact lenses. “We’re all short-sighted and it got us talking about how we would experience theatre if our eyesight deteriorated. It made us think about accessibility more widely and so we decided to make our new show as accessible as possible.” To develop the idea they led a series of workshops at Discover Children’s Story Centre in London for children with a range of complex needs, including limited mobility and autism. “We didn’t know who was going to come week to week, so we encountered a huge range of people. It was amazing to watch the responses of different children and their families. A key lesson was that if the adults enjoyed themselves, the children were much more likely to enjoy it too.” Every show is a relaxed performance, so lighting states and sound levels are carefully managed, and each opens with a 15-minute sensory tour of the set. It allows the audience to meet the central characters—Grandma and Grandpa Frog—in an informal way, and adapt to their environment. “Sometimes the Fringe can be a really crazy experience,” says Jones, “so we’re trying to create a much more chilled out environment.” They also use Makaton, a form of sign language

for children that has entered the mainstream thanks to the BBC’s Mr Tumble (aka Justin Fletcher). One of the company members, Soniya Kapur, is trained in Makaton and uses it to communicate key words from the story. And some of the signs are guaranteed to raise a smile: “The one for scuba diving, for example, involves miming putting on goggles and a tiny man diving off your hand.” Moulded, which is based in London, doesn’t receive any Arts Council funding, so the production has relied on a crowdfunding campaign to make it to Edinburgh. But Jones is confident their work is addressing a strong demand.

“ Sometimes the Fringe can be a really crazy experience, so we’re trying to create a much more chilled out environment” “There is so little work for PMLD [Profound and Multiple Learning Disabilities] and complex needs audiences that the companies doing it, such as Oily Cart and Frozen Light, are swamped and keen for others to come in. It’s very exciting to be part of that.” VENUE: TIME: TICKETS:

Pleasance Courtyard 3:15pm – 4:00pm, 3–21 Aug £6 – £9

R ent ts NE Ev Ar IN ily ily 5 W Fam Fam 201 st – al Be ard stiv e Aw F

UPSWING in partnership with STRATFORD CIRCUS ARTS CENTRE present

Ages 3+

Based on the book by Julia Donaldson & Axel Scheffler

Immerse yourself in a magical journey “an enchanting piece of family entertainment” Everything Theatre


11.50am 3–21 Aug

2.30PM + 12.30PM WEEKENDS

04 - 22 AUGUST 2016


© Julia Donaldson & Axel Scheffler Macmillan Children’s Books





4 - 28 AUG

4 - 28 AUG


e t h is ed ov l r p im ca

i Mus tur e n e v ad kids for

‘1 0 stars out of 5!’ Rosie, aged 9

‘Funny, silly, uplifting and ridiculous, it’s a great kids’ show.’ HHHH The List

3-21 AUGUST, 11.40AM

WWW.PLEASANCE.CO.UK | 0131 556 6550


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The Argyle Bar and Cellar Monkey 15 Argyle Pl

Marchmont residents need not venture out to Tollcross or the Old Town to find a decent pub, thanks to the sterling work of the Argyle Bar. This cosy corner pub, with its charming interior and good drinks selection, is joined by the Cellar Monkey basement, which plays host to music and comedy and gives you a chance to let your hair down without annoying the locals upstairs.

Artisan Roast

Bar 50

57 Broughton St, 138 Bruntsfield Pl

50 Blackfriars St | @smartcityhostel

The Artisan baristas are a bit like die hard Star Wars fans, in that their knowledge is pushing the limits of the socially acceptable. Artisan Roast are very serious about their coffee, but for that you will be very grateful as you sip a sumptuous chilli mocha or one of the best flat whites the whole of the UK has to offer. If you’re not, then you clearly belong to the dark side.

Connected to the Smart City Hostel at the east end of the Cowgate, Bar 50 is a good pitstop for revellers on their way to the Old Town clubs. The constantly-changing clientele makes for an interesting evening, and the decent drinks prices and solid food menu help everyone get along like old friends.

The Auld Hoose 23-25 St Leonard's St | @TheAuldHoose

A cross-breed of ‘old man pub’ and ‘rock bar’, this Newington pub covers both bases in style. Cool old wooden furniture contrasted with a '90s metal soundtrack makes for a good start, and the good drinks choice and completely ridiculous bowls of nachos keep everything ticking over no matter how many friends pile along for the ride.

Blue Blazer 2 Spittal St | @blueblazeredin

The Blue Blazer is a ‘proper’ Edinburgh pub, in the best possible sense. Boasting one of the finest selections of real ales, whiskies and rums in the capital, the Blue Blazer’s walls have seen it all. Grizzled regulars, new arrivals and Fringy, thespy types have all spent an hour or two on the Blazer’s wooden pews in the heart of Tollcross.

Baba Budan 1 Cranston St | @bababudancoffee

Shazia Mirza The Stand Comedy Club 5 & 6, 6:15pm–7:15pm, 4–13 Aug, £8–£9

Best meal you've ever had in Edinburgh? A Caffe Lucano 37-39 George IV Bridge. This has great homemade food. I had the sweet potato with quinoa which was a really original dish I had never had before.

Part of the New Waverley Arches development across from Waverley, Baba Budan is perfect for a straightoff-the-train sugar boost. Doughnuts are the main draw, coming in a host of exciting flavours and combinations; grab one with a coffee, and get fuelled up for a day of show-hopping.


212 Cowgate | @BannermansBar

One of the favourite haunts of the city’s rockers, most Edinburgh music lovers have spent an evening in the windowless gig room in the back. Luckily, the main bar is much more laid-back and friendly. It’s cheap, there’s plenty of space, and it’s literally right in the centre of town. You can see why it’s a favourite now, can’t you?

Brass Monkey 14 Drummond St

Tucked in between the Pleasance and the Bridges, Brass Monkey matches a great location with a relaxed atmosphere. Much of that comes from the mini-cinema in the back room, packed with squishy mattresses and enormous cushions, while the cosy bar and great range of drinks behind it make it a good choice for the staunchest cinephobes.

Bread Meats Bread

Burger Meats Bun

Cameo Cinema

92 Lothian Road | @BreadMeats_EDI

1 Forth St | @BMBEdinburgh

38 Home St | @cameocinema

Since last year, Lothian Road has been overrun by a spate of new restaurants and casual dining spots, the pick of which is Glasgow transplant Bread Meats Bread. Incredible burgers, outrageous sides–try the poutine–and a great location; ideal Fringe fuel.

Spreading the Glasgow burger scene to the genteel end of the M8, Burger Meets Bun prove that there’s more to a good burger joint that you might reckon. There’s the outrageous sides, like macaroni cheese nuggets and chilli cheese chips. There’s the brilliant drinks selection, and the cool vibe inside the Broughton Street restaurant. Oh, and the burgers aren’t half bad either.

Famed for its atmosphere and charm, the Cameo shows everything from mainstream hits to arthouse fare to retro cult classics. The cosy bar and homely foyer give the place a glow of old-school movie magic, and their student tickets are some of the cheapest around. Look out for their all-night horror marathons and one-off live events.

Brew Lab 6-8 South College St | @BrewLabCoffee


Central locations and stunning interiors are one thing, but can anyone match Brew Lab in the ‘best coffee machine name’ stakes? All hail ‘The Slayer’, imported from Seattle for Edinburgh’s mad professors of coffee. Great coffee, outrageous sandwiches and soups, and cakes and teas from some of Edinburgh’s best producers all find a home here.

Ed Aczel Heroes @ The Hive, 4:20pm–5:20pm, 4–28 Aug, £5

The City Cafe 19 Blair Street | @thecitycafe

If you’ve ever dreamt of going to an American diner in the 1950s, well... you can’t. Sorry. Luckily, The City Cafe is a pretty good alternative, with its chessboard-style floor and leather and chrome booths. Even if you just fancy a coffee City Cafe has you covered, with cool branded mugs and a coffee machine that looks like the back of a Cadillac.


BrewDog Bar

City Art Centre

143 Cowgate | @BrewDogEdin

2 Market St | @EdinCulture

Getting into the world of ‘real beer’ can be a bit intimidating, with lots of jumpers and dark wood to negotiate. Luckily, BrewDog focus on bringing you good beer in trendy surroundings. The Ellon brewery dominates the taps alongside an ever-changing cast of guest beers, a great food menu, and, as the name suggests, they are dog-friendly.

Set in the former Edinburgh fruit market, the City Art Centre holds over 4500 Scottish works from across the artistic spectrum. The Centre’s regular exhibitions of visual art, sculpture and history show off pieces from the archives as well as newer work, and the shop and cafe are great options if the art all gets a little bit overwhelming.

What are the geo-political implications of Brexit? The big story in Geopolitics is the rise of the developing world – billions of people with access to education, the digital world and opportunity is a game changer in my mind. So wake up – no mountains are going to move as a consequence of us grasping our existential nettles. Western Europe will probably be a lot less stable, the US might be a bit more schizophrenic, Russia might even get a warm water port, who knows? And there’ll be less temping work for us “artists”. We’re still not at the point where I need to consider moving my capital offshore – i.e. stock up on canned food and bury it in a nearby field. Although creative recipes appreciated.


Michael Griffiths Assembly George Square Gardens, 6:00pm – 7:00pm, 4–29 Aug, not 16, £6–£12

Where would Cole Porter have hung out in Edinburgh?


Filament Coffee

26 Brougham St | @Cloisters_Bar

Bar 38 Clerk Street | @filamentcoffee

Sitting on the edge of the Meadows and Tollcross and set into the side of a church, this pub is packed with period features, like the snazzy ceramic bar taps. A huge selection of beers and ales and always lively atmosphere make Cloisters a great spot for a few with friends, and the spiral stairs to the toilets will help you figure out when it’s time to go home.

Firmly established in its new home on Clerk Street, Filament’s a brilliant modern coffee bar pretty much halfway between Summerhall and Pleasance Courtyard. We know the Fringe gets tough; a flat white from these guys will help make it all better.

Cult Espresso 104 Buccleuch Street | @cultcoffeeedin

A welcome sanctuary from the Fringe, this split-level coffee shop just down from Summerhall pairs a stripped-back aesthetic with expertly-crafted coffees and a small but perfectly-formed food menu.

The Electric Circus

Filmhouse 88 Lothian Rd | @Filmhouse

From challenging European cinema to Woody Allen retrospectives to the best of modern Hollywood, the Filmhouse truly shows it all. Their £3.50 Friday matinees offer punters the chance to experience everything the world of cinema has to offer for the price of an underwhelming supermarket sandwich.

36 Market St | @circusedinburgh

A perfect night out in Edinburgh would be dinner with Linda at The Cafe Royal with lashings of lobster and champagne. Then off to catch a musical at the Playhouse – preferably one of his own, Anything Goes or Kiss Me Kate. Finally, Linda would be put in a taxi back to the Waldorf Astoria with Cole staying out and drinking the night away at CC Blooms!

Civerinos 5 Hunter Square | @civerinos_slice

The location’s great; just off the Royal Mile. The vibe is great; all fly-postered walls and marble statues. Above all else, the pizza at Civerinos is great: sourdough base, brilliant toppings, and big enough to fuel even the most ill-advised of schedules.

Tucked away behind Waverley station, Electric Circus gives you a bit of everything: the club space doubles up as an intimate gig venue, the private karaoke rooms with dedicated bar staff are your next birthday party, and the retro clubs like Beep Beep, Yeah! give you the chance to windmill around to Motown classics in a quirky modern setting.


Forest Cafe

41 Frederick St | @eteaket

141 Lauriston Pl | @filamentcoffee

If you like tea, then prepare to spend a lot of time in Eteaket. The Frederick Street cafe is all about tea and cakes, with dozens of loose leaf blends on offer, all blended specifically for Eteaket and packed with all sorts of mad and exotic ingredients. The cake situation is much the same. Too many types of tea and cake – that’s an OK problem to have.

It’s true what they say about artistic types – you just can’t keep them down. Having been booted from their former home on Forest Road, the Forest’s crew of volunteers have taken up residence in Tollcross and turned this former corner shop into a vibrant arts space. Expect art, music, poetry and anything else that comes to mind in the freest venue in the city.

Fortitude Coffee


3c York Place | @FortitudeCoffee

29 St Leonard’s St

In Fringe terms, Fortitude is a perfect fit – brilliant coffee, delicious sandwiches and brilliant cakes from local heroes Lovecrumbs, all on the literal doorstep of The Stand. Seriously, it’s right next door.

You may be aware of Kismot due to their dangerously spicy Kismot Killer (finish it all and it’s free), but their regular menu isn’t bad either. Great home-cooked curries from a mum and dad duo, the on-the-bone chef’s special is our particular favourite. BYOB policy makes for a cheap meal.

Gilded Balloon


8 Morrison St | @henryscellarbar

This Hogwart’s-style building is actually the oldest purpose-built students’ union in the world. Bought and paid for by the students in 1889—clearly they had a bit more cash back then­—it’s a warren of big and small performance spaces, and bars and cafes.

The stage is tiny, and appears to be lit solely by fairy lights. The PA is at least three times too loud. Take a wrong turn out of the toilets and you might end up in the building next door. That said, Henry’s puts on the kind of low-key, grassroots gigs and club nights you just won’t find elsewhere.

The Hanging Bat


133 Lothian Rd | @TheHangingBat

103-105 West Bow | @hulajuicebar

This Lothian Road outpost has been through many incarnations down the years, but The Hanging Bat has well and truly left its mark on the site. A huge and ever-changing range of some of the best beers from all over the world, a mini-brewery at the back and super-knowledgeable bar staff make this the place to go to get your beer education going.

A favourite cafe according to the readers of our pals over at The Skinny, Hula is much-loved in the Capital because it reminds us all of the summer. Bright and breezy, Hula does a great line in fresh fruit juices with exotic and outrageous blends that you never would have considered, as well as great coffee and exciting food on the menu. Good choice, Skinny readers!

The Hive

Joseph Pearce’s

3 Niddry St | @clubhive

23 Elm Row | @JosephPearces

The wild and cavernous Cowgate haunt is a notorious student haunt for good reason. It’s open every night of the week, grabs 5am licences whenever it can, and serves up everything from hip electro to chart ‘classics’ from the late '90s.

By day, Joseph Pearce’s is a relaxed and cosy Swedish café that’s the perfect stopping point for Leithers on their journeys to and from ‘town’. By night it’s a bohemian bar with a cool crowd powered by aquavit-based cocktails and Swedish cider. Entertainment comes from the regular art exhibitions, live music, DJ sets, and a weekly jogging club. Healthy.

Teviot Place | @Gildedballoon


Henry’s Cellar Bar

Patrick Monahan

Gilded Balloon Teviot, various times, 3–28 Aug, not 15, £6 – £14

If you were a kid in Edinburgh, where would you hang out? If I was a kid in Edinburgh, I'd hide out in the castle! I'd get all me mates to dress up as Orcs and hobbits and wait till the castle was full of tourists then come out and chase the tourists round the building and down the royal mile! Then I’d stop running once I got to the fudge shop and the ice cream parlour!


The Liquid Room 9C Victoria St | @LIQUIDROOMS

Zoe Lyons Gilded Balloon Teviot 7:00pm & 10:45pm, 3–28 Aug, not 25, £6 – £11.50

What’s changed the least since you started coming to Edinburgh? I first performed at the Fringe in 1991 in a student production of Max Frisch’s Andorra. I had a tiny part. The reviews we received were only so so. We slept four to a room and I was totally skint but I had the time of my life! There was a genuine sense of excitement of being part of this incredible creative machine. Lots has changed since that first experience. The Festival has grow year after year, some moan that the Fringe— particularly the comedy side— has become too corporate, too polished and is in danger of suffocating under its own weight. The thing has hasn’t altered at all is the enthusiasm that you still see in people who are taking part for the first time, the buzz that it gives them. It is so easy to become slightly cynical the course of the month if you are an “old sea dog” of the Fringe like myself. I think It is important to remind ourselves what an incredible opportunity and privilege it is to be part of this cultural phenomenon.

Following a brief fire-enforced absence, The Liquid Room is back and better than ever. With impressive live music and clubbing credentials, The Liquid Room plays host to touring bands and DJs as well as an array of weekly rock and dance nights.

Lovecrumbs 155 West Port | @hellolovecrumbs

The ‘pubic triangle’ behind the Art College might not be the first place you’d think to go for cake and a chat, but then Lovecrumbs is one of those places that defies sense. An inventive cake menu that changes by the day, tables made from old pianos, and a literal window seat give Lovecrumbs a definite anarchic air.

Mary’s Milk Bar 18 Grassmarket | @MarysMilkBar

Last year, a combination of good weather, great press coverage and amazing ice cream led to Kitson-level queues outside Mary’s Milk Bar on the Grassmarket. A cute little gelateria inspired by the milk bars of the 1960s but with the flavours brought right up to date, Mary’s is more than worth the wait

Lowdown Coffee 40 George Street | @coffeelowdown

A small but perfectly-formed Scandi-style basement beneath George Street, Lowdown is a calming environment from which to escape the madness of the street above. Pull up a chair, grab a coffee (from Swedish roastery Koppi), and enjoy a break from the rat race.

Machina Espresso 2 Brougham Pl | @MachinaEspresso

Another of the new breed of coffee shops slowly taking over Edinburgh, Machina’s unique selling point is their range of coffee equipment. If you fancy becoming a ‘serious coffee person’, these guys can sort you out with all the kit you’ll ever need. If you just fancy a coffee, it’s in the perfect spot if you need a pre-show boost.


Northern Stage at Summerhall 8:15pm–9:15pm, 6–27 Aug, not 10, 24, £9–£11

Best place in Edinburgh to be a modern day man? Modern Men could eat anywhere from The Steak & Mussel Bar to Henderson's Vegetarian Restaurant.

The Mosque Kitchen

The Pleasance Dome

Studio 24

31 Nicolson Square

1 Bristo Square | @ThePleasance

24 Calton Rd

A Fringe institution and all-round winner, the Mosque Kitchen serves up delicious curry all day long with huge plates of spicy goodness starting at just a few quid. If you haven’t been yet, go now.

Year round, this is one of Edinburgh University Student Union’s venues. Come August time it’s not only a major festival venue, but also the site of some serious hanging out, coffee drinking, snack munching, morning, midday and evening boozing and, star-spotting. Along with the Pleasance Courtyard (60 Pleasance), they’ve a good claim to be one of the beating hearts of the Fringe.

The Studios have been around for as long as some of you lot have been alive. A well-loved and eclectic venue, it’s a wee bit out of the way, but if you’re looking for something a little different then it’s well worth a look. Nights range from Balkanarama – a Balkan musical orgy (we kid you not) – to 60s night The Go-Go, there really is a bit of everything on the menu.

National Portrait Gallery Queen St | @NatGalleriesSco


The Scottish National Portrait Gallery aims to provide "a unique visual history of Scotland, told through the portraits of those who shaped it". The building feels small on entering but the exhibition space is generous (covering two floors), while also housing a shop with gifts for tourists as well as useful study guides, and a cafe serving delicious hot main dishes and essential home-baked cakes.

Salt Horse 57-61 Blackfriars Street | @salthorsebar

Paradise Palms 41 Lothian St | @edinburghpalms

This spot across from Bristo Square has gone by many names over the years, but Paradise Palms might be its most brash incarnation yet. Get past the super-distressed facade and you'll find a genuine all-day venue – open for breakfast, makers of an impressive lunch, wielders of a superb array of drinks and home to a host of DJs and musicians, Paradise Palms has a little bit of everything.


Salt Horse features what may be one of the most comprehensive beer selections in the capital. A brilliantly eclectic and impressively dense range of beers that will literally take you the whole month to work through. Good luck.

Sneaky Pete’s 73 Cowgate | @sneakypetesclub

It’ll make your flat seem like a palace, but what Sneaky’s lacks in area it makes up for with volume. A huge range of weekly and monthly club nights, and the kind of sound system normally found in a club four times the size, make Sneaky’s a great shout every night of the week.

Zoë Coombs Marr Underbelly, Cowgate, 6:50pm – 7.50pm, 4–29 Aug, not 15, £7 – £11

Where would Dave go out in Edinburgh? I reckon you’d find him hanging out around the entrance to Abattoir, trying to get in & harassing people for their passes. Then later in the night, he’d be down at the Oz bar, singing along to ACDC & bitching about how no-one would lend him their abattoir passes.


Vittoria 113 Brunswick St, 19 George IV Bridge

Shon Dale-Jones Pleasance Courtyard 3:30pm–4:30pm, 3–29 Aug, not 8, 15, £6 – £12

Most unusual Edinburgh bar or cafe? Bell’s Diner in Stockbridge is where I run to. Well, stride to. It’s a definite, decisive burger, reaching the parts that other burgers cannot reach.

Ting Thai Caravan 8 Teviot Pl

Totally affordable, incredibly tasty and more than a little exciting, Ting Thai Caravan is in many ways the perfect lunch spot. Get down early for a seat at the canteen-style benches, and pour over a Thai menu with more variety and quality than you can shake a chopstick at. Oh, and it’s right across the road from Bristo Square.

Traverse 10 Cambridge St | @TraverseTheatre

Summerhall 1 Summerhall | @summerhallery

Widely considered to be the top theatre in the UK for new stage writing, ‘The Trav’ is the place to go for exciting new productions by the country’s best theatrical talent. That applies equally in August. Just as importantly, it’s got a cafe and bar downstairs with absolutely no phone signal, but plenty of delicious light bites and meals.

Under the Stairs 3A Merchant St

With a venue the size of a former Veterinary school, it takes a lot to fill it. Thankfully Summerhall has the right idea, packing the place with lots of little goings-on. In addition to a vast Fringe programme, there are exhibition spaces, two cafes, an onsite micro-brewery AND gin distillery, and the building even has its own online TV station, Summerhall TV.

Hidden away in the heart of town, Under the Stairs is exactly that – a comfy little bar/cafe tucked under the stairs on Merchant Street. With wooden floors, exposed brickwork, ever-changing exhibitions and mix-matched comfy armchairs and sofas, it manages to show off both shabby hipster chic and homely cosiness all at once.

One of few Edinburgh landmarks without its own postcard, Vittoria is a genuine institution. The seating areas outside feel a bit optimistic, but punters on Leith Walk and George IV Bridge won’t let that stop them. Great Italian food, decent prices and waiters who can liven up even the most stilted of evenings make this the place to take friends.

Wee Red Bar 74 Lauriston Pl

The Wee Red Bar may be located on ECA territory, but don’t be put off by the thought of asymmetrical haircuts and awkward conversations about trips to India, for this isn’t your average student disco. A near-constant stream of gigs take up the evenings, and the wide range of clubs keep things interesting until the early hours.

Whistlebinkies 4-6 South Bridge

If you like some music with your drinks then Whistlebinkies in the centre of town is a good choice. There’s always something going on, be it a punk covers band or some old Scottish folkies wailing on acoustic guitars. As a bonus Whistlebinkies is open until 3am.

Wildmanwood 27-29 Marshall St

The latest venture from the man behind Ting Thai Caravan, this brand-new spot serves up delicious Neapolitan-style pizza topped with a host of enterprising and authentic ingredients. Strike while you can, before the queue stretches around the block.




5th AUGUST - 29th AUGUST




Tickets: 0131 558 9005 | www.thestand.co.uk | www.outstandingtickets.com