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2015 Previews | City Guide | Venue Map


Preview

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PLEASANCE JACK DOME 10:25 / Aug 5 - 31 路 0131 556 6550

NEW TOWN THEATRE 17:30 / Aug 6 - 30 路 0131 226 0000

THE YEAR OF THE HARE

A HUMAN COMEDY PLEASANCE KING DOME 18:45 / Aug 5 - 31 路 0131 556 6550

ASSEMBLY ROXY CENTRAL 23:15 / Aug 5 - 30 路 0131 623 3030

Twitter: @starttofinnish

www.starttofinnish.fi


festmag.co.uk

“JUST SAW BLAM! ONE OF THE GREATEST, MOST EXCITING AND BRILLIANT SHOWS I HAVE EVER SEEN” RICKY GERVAIS

★★★★★ FUNNY AND IRRESISTIBLE

★★★★★ ASTOUNDING! The Scotsman

Features

Financial Times

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5 – 31 AUG 5.55PM (7.10PM)

www.pleasance.co.uk 0131 556 6550 www.blamtheshow.com


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Fest Team

Don’t Panic! There’s still time to promote your show! ✏ The Festival is a noisy place, but what better way to shout above the racket than through the biggest and best guide to the Fringe? ✏ High-impact, cost-effective advertising packages in print and online. An estimated 1 million people read Fest and festmag.co.uk every summer. ✏ Drop our sales team a line to find out how we can help you spread the word!

Editor Evan Beswick Deputy Editor Jo Caird Consulting Editor Sam Friedman Lead Writers Matt Trueman & Lyle Brennan Production Manager John Hewitt Jones Sales & Brand Strategist George Sully Concept Designer Sigrid Schmeisser Artworker Kyle McPartlin Writing team Ed Ballard, Tim Bano, Sean Bell, Si Hawkins, Jane Howard, Catherine Love, Vicky Nangle, Lewis Porteous, Stewart Pringle, Jay Richardson, Alice Saville John Stansfield, Kaite Welsh, Tom Wicker Cover Image Jayde Perkin Radge Media

0131 467 4630 sales@festmag.co.uk george@festmag.co.uk

Chief Operating Officer Lara Moloney Commercial Director Nicola Taylor Editor-in-Chief Rosamund West Sales & Marketing Nicky Carter, Claire Collins, Caroline Harleaux, Issy Patience, Becca Strahan

Your FREE Guide to the Edinburgh Festivals

Review edition street dates: Issue 1 Issue 2 Issue 3 Issue 4 Issue 5 @festmag

Tuesday 11 August Friday 14 August Tuesday 18 August Friday 21 August Tuesday 25 August festmag.co.uk

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General Manager Kyla Hall Contact festmag.co.uk hello@festmag.co.uk @festmag Published by Radge Media Limited, 1.9 Techcube, Summerhall, 1 Summerhall Place, 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 reprodiced 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., Normanton. Distributed by doortodoordelivery.co.uk


Contents

Comedy 6

Surviving the Festival Everything you need to know to get through the Fringe (mostly) unscathed and smiling.

12

Access All Areas

festmag.co.uk

It's the biggest arts festival in the world. But is it open to all?

36 Michael Che The all-conquering Saturday Night Live heavyweight weighs in at the Fringe

41 Adrienne Truscott On how to follow up a debut show involving jokes about rape

Theatre 54 Bryony Kimmings A constant inventor, getting into her stride

46

Vicky Featherstone The artistic director of The Royal Court comes home to the National Theatre of Scotland

88

Plus:

City Guide & Venue Map Your essential guide to eating, drinking, partying, playing, and getting around Edinburgh

64 Controversial, much? How far should theatre push the limits of free speech?

Music 73 Max Richter We catch up with the king of moody and atmospheric soundscapes

Kids 82 Julia Donaldson Heard the one about the Gruffalo? We thought you might have...

5


6

The Edinburgh Festivals:

Preview

A Survivor's

T

he Edinburgh Festival is a month-long orgy of culture, world-renowned for packing so much into four weeks and some hastily improvised performance venues. It's on most people's bucket lists, but brings potential pitfalls a-plenty. So if you want to avoid the overpriced tourist traps, see some of Edinburgh's best-kept performance secrets or know where to go when the crowds get too much, then take notes.  o the Fringe like a local D Edinburgh isn't just a cultural capital in August — you could be out every night of the week at a poetry slam or an indie documentary screening any day of the year—and some of the city's best-loved acts take it up a notch when the festival rolls around. Spoken word and music maestros Illicit Ink can normally be found entertaining crowds at the Bongo Club, but this year they're hitting the Book Festival with a fairy-talethemed night featuring as part of the Jura Unbound lineup. The Improverts, Edinburgh University's improvised comedy troupe, perform weekly during term-time and nightly during the festival. They've launched hit comedy acts like Mitch Benn, Jenny Colgan and Miles Jupp, so it's worth going along and checking out the stars of the future.

Beyond the Fringe

Guide

There's so much more across Scotland this Summer... Pittenweem Arts Festival Fringe, Fife 1-9 August, pittenweemartsfestivalfringe.co.uk

A community-lead arts festival in Pittenweem, East Neuk, and Fife

Just Festival, Edinburgh 7-31 August, just-festival.org

A month of multi-arts events centred around spirituality

Fringe by the Sea, North Berwick 10-16 August, fringebythesea.com

A sweet seaside alternative to the multi-disciplinary fun this August

Groove, Loch Ness 22 August, groovefestival.co.uk

Brand-new one-night dance music festival on the banks of Loch Ness

Pride Glasgow 22-23 August, pride.scot

Food and Drink You're going to need coffee if you're to get through all the shows you've highlighted in your Fringe guide (spoiler alert: you will not make it to all these shows). You'll need food. And, if you're really going for the full festival experience, you might want a tipple or two. Head to page 92 of this very magazine for a guide to the best in show. Get away from it all If the Festival madness is proving too much for you, then it only takes a short bus ride to escape it all. No, I don't mean climbing Arthur's Seat—assuming you can even get up there—with all the other out-of-towners who have the same idea. If you want to commune with nature and be able to get back in time to see that hot new Radio4 comedian at 19:30 then jump on bus

Annual LGBTQ-awareness weekend of live music, food & activities.

Screenplay, Shetland 28 August - 6 September, shetlandarts.org

Film festival curated by critics Linda Ruth Williams and Mark Kermode

Edinburgh Mela 29-30 August, edinburgh-mela.co.uk

World music & dance festival weekend, famously popular with bairns

Electric Fields, Dumfries 29 August, electricfieldsfestival.com

Young music festival already attracting big-name Scottish acts


Felicity Ward: don't get caught short

Strutting about the festival, it's likely you'll be caught out at Toilet O'Clock unable to ‘trou down’. Here are some handy hints to avoid an inevitable public splashing: Go before you go This might seem like a no-brainer but a lot of people try to be a hero when they leave the house. “I'll be fine” or “I'll go after” or “I'm fitted with a catheter.” No one is going to admire you any less if you have a safety wee.

Know Your Toilets If your third pint starts tapping on the door of your goji-sized bladder, what you gonna do? You gonna research, that's what. Get familiar with the venues you'll be attending to make sure you're of sound mind and bowel.

Pack Tissues festmag.co.uk

Wise men say, only fools rush in, without checking if there's any paper. A five-pack of Kleenex in the bag never hurt anyone. What if There is No Toilet?: Pleasance Courtyard, 9:00pm – 10:00pm, 5–31 Aug, not 17, £6 – £12

Features

Sarah Kendall's Adolescent Advice

7

I love writing about my teenage years because I get to live out my Judy Blume fantasies.That stage of life is such a rich seam – it's a total pressure cooker. When you're a teenager, quite often a huge chunk of your life is restricted to two locations: home and school. You have no money, you can't travel and it's impossible to get away from people. Your first complex emotions are emerging, and you're trying to make sense of them through the blur of being a hormonal nutcase. Your hair is mad and you smell kind of weird. It's a funny, painful and confusing bucket of shit. But it's also special.

If you're a teenager here at the Festival, I would urge you to go see as much as you can. Look through the brochure: there's comedy, music, dance, theatre. Some of it is for little kids and some of it is for boring adults. But lots of it is for everyone and seeing a show that you love can blow your mind and change the way you think and the way you live your life. So get out and see stuff. If you have no money, the Free Fringe is a great way to see some of the most interesting and cutting-edge shows. A Day in October: Assembly George Square Studios, 6:45pm – 7:45pm, 5–31 Aug, not 17


Getting around The buses all have free wifi, take advantage of this. Even if you don't need it. It's free! It's probably compensating for the fact that the bus driver won't let you on unless you have exact change. It's £1.50 for a single or £4 for a day ticket and they don't take notes. Don't even ask. To save yourself from rummaging in your pockets and getting glared at by the driver, there's an app that lets you buy tickets on your phone, and all you need to do is show the ticket to the driver – so make sure your phone is charged, because they will not show mercy, even if you cry a bit. Um...so I've heard. Mobile tickets cost a minimum of £10, which is enough for two day tickets and a couple of singles. If you've never seen Edinburgh without the throngs of tourists and street performers, never walked down the Royal Mile without wading waist-deep in flyers advertising experimental theatre and stand up comedy or never seen the castle without the acres of scaffolding that marks the Tattoo, then you're missing out on one of the most beautiful cities in the UK. Enjoy the festival, but make sure to come back out of season too – you won't regret it. ✏ Kaite Welsh

Abandon your iPhone The entire place is constructed like an Escher painting so Google Maps is of no use. You'll end up 30 feet above where you wanted to be.

Don't bother a local Standing in the rain repeating, “Chuckle Bucket, Venue 4398!” to blank faces and bemused silence isn't going to help you. The Chuckle Bucket is normally a Greggs.

Don't ask a comedian They either won't know where the Chuckle Bucket is or they'll launch into a diatribe on how the Chuckle Bucket used to be much better in 1993 before it was ruined by a corporate lager company. Best ask a drama student, they know where everything is.

Be sure of where you want to be There are at least 560 venues in Edinburgh called ‘Assembly’.

Get a taxi A Selection of Things I’ve Said to Taxi Drivers: Underbelly Med Quad, 9:25pm, 5–30 Aug, not 17

Gemma Flynn's Kit List Scottish Money

Stagewear

Following the historic Yes vote in IndyRef 2K14, avoid queues by changing your England pounds to our new national currency, bitcoin, BEFORE you get here.

Carefully choose the right outfit for you, whether it's a Russell Howard-esque pug T shirt or a Louis CK-ian plain black T-shirt.

A lanyard A Brolly Obligz ‘it will rain’ reminder. Who cares though. Make sure you're working a strong wet hair look.

Any lanyard, so that you look like you're in the biz. e.g. the one you used to need to get into the lunchroom at the job you just quit after you saw a life-changing sketch.

Moisturiser Keep your skin hydrated. That's just good advice any time.

Trap Queen: Cowgatehead UpOne S, 3:15pm, 6-30 Aug, not 17, free

Preview

number 11 or 16 and take a walk in the woods around Braid Hills, or go a bit further and hike the Pentlands. The nearby Royal Observatory is both educational and offers the best view of Edinburgh you'll ever see. If the sun is shining and you fancy a swim, Portobello Beach has you covered. Further up the coast, Musselburgh is quieter and, some say, prettier, and if you head down towards the Forth Bridge then Cramond is a beautiful afternoon out.

Garrett Millerick: Navigating Edinburgh

8


assemblyfestival.com 0131 623 3030

Traces - 7 Fingers

Pajama Men:

‘Spectacular’

2 Man 3 Musketeers

The Times

The Guardian

Hairy Maclary’s Cat Tales 6 – 31 Aug | Mon-Fri 10:30

6 – 31 Aug, 18:00

7 – 30 Aug, 20:20

Sat & Sun 11:30 | + Extra shows

RAZ by Jim Cartwright

Thrones! The Musical

Best of the Fest

World Premiere

Racy, gory, hilarious

The biggest and best comedy line-ups!

6 – 31 Aug, 16:00

5 – 31 Aug, 17:00

7 – 30 Aug, Midnight

168 shows 20 venues /AssemblyFestival AssemblyFest @AssemblyFest

Best of the Fest Daytime ThreeWeeks

7 – 30 Aug, 14:00

9

360 ALLSTARS Radical urban circus where street meets elite 6 – 31 Aug, 16:15

Download our app for special deals >>>


Art Works?

The Fringe Poster Post-Mortem A rad or bad poster can make or break your Fringe show. Si Hawkins asked a cross-section of this year’s acts to talk him through their visual feasts

Space, the Final Frontiernan

Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it’s a shiny dancer

Tiernan Douieb: The World is Full of Idiots,

Let’s Live in Space

Clara Giraud (producer): R.I.O.T.

What’s the show about? It’s mainly me being angry. Space is my ideal idea of escapism right now, because I think the world is full of fucking awful people.

What’s the show about? R.I.O.T. is a comic book come to life on stage.

Explain the poster? I’m really sick of posters with faces on. Tom Humberstone is the artist. He had the idea of the astronaut looking away from earth and looking at Twitter instead. Are you worried that people will steal them? I don’t mind, I’ve ordered quite a few!

Explain the poster? We wanted to convey the image of a geeky guy trying to be a superhero. Who made it? It’s made in collaboration with photographer Manuel Vason and graphic designer David Hardcastle. Manuel suggested the white socks and the trainers, to contrast with the ‘manly’ pose. 

Preview

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Poetry in Crayola-colour motion John Osborne: Most People Aren’t That Happy, Anyway

What’s the show about? It’s an hour where I do my best poems.

festmag.co.uk

Explain the poster? Even if people don’t come to the show I wanted to have something that will look good as a piece of art: a cool thing to put on the pinboard in your temporary Edinburgh kitchen.

Head shots needn’t be dead shots Lindsay Benner: Book of Love

Features

What’s the show about? Book of Love is my first silent comedy.

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Massive feline? Retro font? Cat-loving hipsters will lap it up Nazli Tabatabai-Khatambakhsh: CINEMA

Explain the poster? I wanted it to look reminiscent of the Tivoli poster I had in my room when I was growing up.

What’s the show about? CINEMA tells the story of the lives cut short in the Rex Cinema fire of 1978, through the eyes of cinema cat Shahrzad.

Who designed it? R. Black has been the resident artist at the Shotgun Players in Berkeley for many years. I was very excited when he agreed to design my Fringe poster.

Explain the poster? The moment we realised Shahrzad was our storyteller, we knew we needed her at the centre. We love how her face almost fades into the distance like a magic mirror, again and again… meow.


Preview

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Access

All Areas Disability access to events across the festivals is improving, but the situation is still far from ideal. Jo Caird looks at the challenges of creating a truly accessible Edinburgh

“P

eople had warned me about Edinburgh. They’d said it’s really hilly. They’d said it’s really old. But those weren’t the things that I found were making my access difficult,” says Jess Thom, co-creator of last year’s surprise hit Backstage in Biscuit Land. “What was difficult in terms of accessibility for me was a consistent way of knowing which shows were and weren’t accessible, because all the brochures detailed that in a different way,” says Thom. “Or the information might not have been included in the brochure but that didn’t mean that that venue was inaccessible, it just meant that the company hadn’t supplied the information.” Backstage in Biscuit Land, about Thom’s experiences with Tourette’s Syndrome, returns to the Fringe this year as part of the British Council’s biennial Edinburgh showcase. As at last year’s festival, every performance will be ‘relaxed’, ensuring that audience members with a broad range of sensory or communication disorders are made to feel welcome. The show will also be audio-described, there will be two BSL-signed shows, and the venue is fully wheelchair accessible (Thom is a wheelchair user herself). Disability access across Edinburgh’s festivals has improved considerably in recent years – par-

Backstage in Biscuit Land

ticularly around step-free access – but there’s still a very long way to go in terms of welcoming a truly diverse audience. The will is there. Fringe Society chief executive Kath Mainland, speaking at this year’s festival launch, described access as one of two key areas where her team’s work will be focusing in the next five years (the other being the Fringe’s international profile). Improving access is a challenge faced by all the Edinburgh festivals, but the very nature of the Fringe—its size and openness—makes it appropriate that attention should focus here first. Though a search through the 3,429 events on sale via Edfringe’s online box office yields 1,739 that are wheelchair accessible, there are only a couple of hundred that cater to more complex access needs. Twenty-four offer audio description, 28 are captioned, 107 are relaxed performances and 55 are BSL-interpreted – and bear in mind that the majority of these shows only offer one or two accessible performances during their runs. The Edinburgh Fringe may be the biggest arts festival in the world, but if you’re deaf or disabled, the pickings are pretty slim. One of the biggest stumbling blocks to greater provision of accessible work is financial. “The problem with [BSL interpreting and audio describing]


festmag.co.uk

Features

13

is that it’s hugely expensive,” says Lou Rogers, a producer at Stopgap Dance Company and the programmer of the Integrated Fringe (IF) Platform, a new showcase bringing five disabled artists and integrated arts companies to the 2015 festival, including the acclaimed Marc Brew Company with For Now, I Am... “That’s something that we’re going to have to work out, as an entire nation: how we get past the fact that that is just so phenomenally expensive. For small companies or emerging artists or small venues it’s just impossible for them to afford those costs.” Deaf and disabled artists are on the frontline here, but it’s a fight that everyone else should be taking on too. If we want the amazing smorgasbord of work on offer at Edinburgh to be available to everyone, a broader range of shows by non-disabled artists and companies need to be accessible to people with different needs. It’s not just about equality – it’s good business sense too, says Thom, pointing out that as much as one fifth of the UK population identify as disabled. That’s a lot of potential punters. It’s a topic that David Byrne, artistic and executive director at the New Diorama Theatre, a London fringe venue that showcases the work of emerging companies, feels passionately about. “The diet of [accessible] work [in Edinburgh] is not brilliant for people to go and enjoy a wide variety of stuff,” he says. With the help of public funding, Byrne has pioneered captioning for all productions at the New Diorama – including those with short runs that ordinarily wouldn’t be able to afford it. He wants to do something similar in Edinburgh, aiming to work with a number of emerging companies to increase the quota of captioned shows at the festivals. Captioned performances will be concentrated within an ‘access week’ to enable audiences to see as diverse a range of work as possible during their visit. Byrne had hoped to launch the scheme at this year’s Fringe, but came up with the plan too late in the day to raise the £13,000 or so necessary to cover the costs of specialist staff, equipment and training. The New Diorama’s adaptation of George Orwell’s Down & Out in Paris and London will have one captioned performance this Fringe – Byrne’s more ambitious programme of captioned work will have to wait until next year. Not all access-improving measures come with hefty price tags. A welcoming attitude costs nothing, says Jan-Bert van den Berg, director of Artlink, a charity that works to increase participation in the arts for disabled people in the east of Scotland. Just

making audience members aware that staff can be called upon for information or assistance can be enormously beneficial. Training is an important piece of the puzzle. Rather than hiring specialist staff to address access needs, the Fringe Society is “rolling out access information and training to all staff, allowing them to provide the correct information and to carry out tasks,” a spokesperson says. The society is running a pilot project this year to provide accessible festival training online to all staff, as well as the staff and volunteers of all 300+ Fringe venues, if they want it. “It is our hope,” said Mainland in her launch speech, “that this online training can be rolled out to our sister festivals and ultimately grow into a resource for the whole city’s cultural sector.” As far as artists are concerned, says Thom, “it’s about considering difference: creating work that accepts that people might need to access it in different ways is a basic principle. It doesn’t necessarily mean doing loads of special stuff, it just means considering that you might need to adjust your rules and thinking slightly.” Edinburgh has always celebrated artistic diversity – now it’s time to expand that philosophy a little bit further and celebrate true diversity of audiences too. ✏ Jo Caird SHOW: VENUE: TIME: TICKETS:

SHOW: VENUE: TIME: TICKETS:

SHOW: VENUE: TIME: TICKETS:

SHOW: VENUE: TIME: TICKETS:

SHOW: VENUE: TIME: TICKETS:

Down & Out in Paris and London Pleasance Courtyard 6:30pm – 7:30pm, 5–31 Aug, not 17 £12.50 Artificial Things Zoo Southside 2:10pm – 3:10pm, 23–31 Aug £12 Rowan James: Easy for You to Say Zoo Southside 4:00pm – 4:55pm, 23–30 Aug £10 For Now, I Am Zoo Southside 5:45pm – 6:25pm, 22–30 Aug £12 Backstage in Biscuit Land Pleasance Courtyard 5:00pm – 6:00pm, 24–30 Aug £9 – £11


Preview

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Features

THE

VAMPIRE CABARET

15

festmag.co.uk


Comedy Top Picks Fest comedy critic Lyle Brennan picks out the best and most promising comedy shows of 2015

Kyle Kinane Underbelly Cowgate, 10:10pm 6-30 Aug, not 18 Celebrated in the States for his deliciously bleak “scumbag stories”, this low-key master of confessional stand-up was on fine form on recent sorties into the UK. He’s at his best when articulating the tragicomedy of life’s little low points – beer-fogged tales hinging on a moment of clarity that arrives with a weary, gruffvoiced groan.

Adam Hess Heroes @ The Hive, 5:20pm 7-31 August Fest slunk unbidden into Hess’s 40-minute work in progress last August, and even then it looked strong. Now he makes his debut proper with a frantic scuttle

Joseph Morpurgo

through his dysfunctional formative years. Since starting out he’s traded offbeat one-liners for a more anecdotal style, but don’t expect any compromise on

Pleasance Courtyard, 8:15pm 5-31 August, not 18

the laugh rate.

Sofie Hagen Liquid Room Annexe, 7:10pm 7-31 August Self-doubt, mental illness,

Odessa, a Lynchian fever-dream

body image issues... it takes a

of high art and low nonsense,

special kind of comic to make

was one of the most exciting

these things funny. Judging by

shows of last year. Whereas

the reception she’s had since

then Morpurgo turned some

relocating from Denmark, new-

naff ‘80s ads and newsreel into

comer Hagen is up to the task.

fleshed-out character comedy,

As well as her technical chops,

this time he’s been digging

she’s been praised for her

through crates of vinyl.

warmth, charisma and honesty.

Comedy

16


Tommy Tiernan Gilded Balloon, 7:30pm 16-30 August, alternate days Most comics would balk at the challenge of sustaining an hour of gimmick-free improvised stand-up. Not Tiernan. His mind always seems to move at a fearsome lick, so keeping things fast and loose should suit him. Whatever comes out of the Irishman’s mouth, you can bet he’ll sell it with a bellyful of fire.

Brett Goldstein Pleasance Courtyard, 9:30pm 6-31 August, not 17 A spinner of captivating yarns, Goldstein last graced the Fringe

festmag.co.uk

with a thought-provoking treatise on porn, wrapped around the story of a sexually charged blackout in post-9/11 New York. Presumably the Burning Man festival, a sort of desert Disneyland for hippies, has left him laden with material for his return.

Top Picks

Adrienne Truscott

17

Minor Delays

Gilded Balloon, 8:15pm

Gilded Balloon, 4:!5pm

5-17 August

5-30 August, not 17

Who could fail to be impressed

Three young alumni of the

by 2013’s Asking for It, a per-

Cambridge Footlights and its

fectly-pitched skewering of

Leeds counterpart, Tealights

rape culture that won Truscott

– it sounds like a sketch troupe

the Foster’s panel prize? An

cliché, but the comedy’s elevat-

unlikely degree of silliness

ed with a couple of avant-garde

propelled the show from one

touches. Accompaniment

serious point to the next, and it

from a live string section and a

sounds like the follow-up will

golden rule of always facing the

retain a similarly deft balance

audience make this an intriguing

of forthright stand-up and what

prospect.

she calls “gimmicks”.


Comedy

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George Egg Gilded Balloon, 2:45pm 5-31 August, not 17, 24 Q: Do you want to see a man demonstrate the art of fine cuisine using only the equipment found in a Travelodge standard double? A: Yes, immediately. As a much-loved veteran of the touring circuit (and yet an Edinburgh newcomer), Mr Egg wields a trouser press better than most.

Beasts Pleasance Courtyard, 4:45pm 5-31 August, not 18 If you like your sketch big, loud and daft, this one’s for

festmag.co.uk

you. After 2014’s Solo, in which three equally dubious one-man shows sought to drown each other out, the trio are supposedly attempting to shoot a live DVD. Tom Parry of Pappy’s di-

Natasia Demetriou and Ellie White Banshee Labyrinth, 8:30pm 8-30 August, not 23 We lobbed four stars each at their recent solo efforts, so it’s probably safe to assume this will be the festival’s first eightstar show. In any case, they brought the tent down at the Invisible Dot’s Circus last year,

Top Picks

teaming up to play a miserable,

19

ungainly dance troupe called the Sexy American Girl Cousins. Let’s hope there’s more where that came from.

rects again, making sure things go wrong in just the right way.

Nish Kumar Pleasance Courtyard, 7:15pm 5-30 August He hit his stride with 2014’s watertight Ruminations on the Nature of Subjectivity, a lofty title which, lest it be taken seriously, he’s sending up with this year’s Long Word... Long Word... Blah Blah Blah... I’m so Clever. In a sense, that’s Kumar in a nutshell: smart, political stand-up chased with a dose of winning self-subversion.


20 Comedy

Faking

Bad For some comics, being deliberately bad is its own kind of comedy. Jay Richardson speaks to the self-saboteurs to find out why

F

rom Andy Kaufman’s washed-up lounge singer Tony Clifton dodging rotten vegetables, to Neil Hamburger berating his crowd, superficially bad, so-called “anti-comedy” can seem like a wretched branch of showbusiness. Such a reductive term scarcely does justice to a supreme absurdist like Kaufman. But critics tend to like anti-comics because they highlight comedy tropes through spoof and subversion. Comics invariably loathe them for the same reason and the suspicion that they’re somehow critics too, sneering wannabes who can’t command an audience by simply being funny. So for a relative unknown hoping to make an impact at the Fringe, why pretend to be a crap act? How far can you intentionally mess up your performance and still emerge triumphant? For Susan Harrison, appearing as the callow, 15-year-old spoken word artist Jennie Benton Smith recreates some of the thrill she experiences with her improv troupe Showstoppers. “Playing with that feeling of a character on stage that’s failing, the audience is uncertain,” she says. “You don’t know exactly what’s going to happen.” In previews, she found crowds struggling to differentiate between Jennie’s initial “faffing” and her own. So now Harrison comes out with a “punchier start” before “getting into the stuff where she’s in trouble”. Nevertheless, she accepts that she might still get random Fringe-goers wandering in and becoming “confused”. Likewise, Lolly Adefope swallows her pride whenever anyone congratulates her on her first gig, a backhanded compliment for her portrayal of the babbling, self-involved rookie comic from Preston, Gemma.

Zoe Coombs Marr

“If I’m doing a 10-minute spot, I might explain beforehand that it isn’t really me,” she explains. “But other times, it’s more fun when people only realise halfway through from some of the weirder things I say that it couldn’t be real at all. It’s cheating a bit to announce it’s a character. I should probably always go for it ‘straight’ and hope they realise.” Such misunderstandings are understandable. The South Londoner created the “comfort blanket” of Gemma as a way to overcome her stage fright. And now she feels as if her real accent is “just a facade”. “I was too scared to be myself on stage in case I wasn’t funny,” she recalls. “I wrote lots of material that I looked back on and realised was terrible. I thought the best thing to do was just mask it in a terrible character and pretend I knew it was terrible all along.” Zoe Coombs Marr, who appears as Dave in her native Australia, a blokeish “bogan” comic with a series of clunking, misogynistic and homophobic routines, relishes gigs where “audiences don’t realise it’s an act, where if they’re quite drunk and far away, sometimes they don’t actually realise that I’m a woman. I’ve had heckles like, ‘This guy sucks!’ which is just the best thing ever.” 


festmag.co.uk

Features

21

Harrison gently sends up Jennie’s “smothering” middle-class, Tunbridge Wells background in her poetry and raps, “‘fuck you, Mum and Dad!’ – but in a nice way”. But with Dave, Coombs Marr is mercilessly attacking the clichés and conventions of lazy club comedy. Unreconstructed in the conventional sense, Dave is very much a construct of his environment. “Affable, bit of an idiot, going down the pub, just telling your jokes, that’s a persona a lot of comics cultivate, but it’s really made up,” Coombs Marr argues. “All those guys on stage, talking about how the clitoris is hard to find, how their girlfriends are annoying, it’s this cultural shorthand. When you talk to them backstage, they’re like, ‘Yeah, I know it’s dumb, I don’t really think that way, but it gets a big laugh’. Audiences laughing at that just reaffirms the status quo. And it’s the job of the comedian to challenge rather than placate that.” Adefope has Gemma and five other characters as participants in an open mic comedy night. Notwithstanding the inclusion of “X”, an agitating, political stand-up manqué without a cause as such, they’re all too insular to serve as a straightforward parody of new comedians. She chose the setting simply because “most of my characters are not very good at what they’re trying to do”, and gave them full backstories because she was wary of being too in-jokey. “I want them to seem like real people, rather than a portrayal of what it’s like to be a comedian.” Yet Adefope, who runs the Women Posing as Comedians comedy night as a riposte to an infamous, arguably sexist Facebook post by comedian Andrew Lawrence, still addresses issues surrounding the open mic scene, new act competitions and “the dynamic of the greenroom”. As her characters prepare to take the stage, you can hear conversations between those who’ve been on and those about to: “This weird atmosphere where everyone wants to seem quite sure of themselves but also very humble, very professional and also like they get on with everyone.” As Gemma returns from the stage, we overhear her being told, with a horrible ring of authenticity, “I don’t actually normally like female comedians but that was really good!” Alongside the stagecraft that enables her to stretch six minutes of dreadful stand-up into a horribly compelling hour, Coombs Marr has been performing in clubs since she was 15, so rejects any accusations of anti-comedy snobbery, of being too “festival-y and not really a comic”. Often on a club bill, she’s found crossover between Dave’s material and that of other acts.

And they tell her “that was actually quite painful to watch because I recognised myself”. She never saw it “as a hateful thing and a ‘fuck you’ to those guys because they’re all my friends as well”. Still, as a lesbian, she ventures that some clubs “aren’t particularly welcoming to a person like myself”, and finds it interesting that more experimental performers like Adrienne Truscott and Bryony Kimmings, from the worlds of burlesque and performance art respectively, are infiltrating and breaking down a traditionally straight male space, “coming into comedy from leftfield”. As a drag act, Dave pushes at boundaries and offers catharsis, affording crowds licence to laugh at rape gags while still feeling right-on. At some level though, he’s still Coombs Marr – “I’m making fun of my own behaviour, things I do in stand-up that make me feel like a total hack” – and he’s us too, desperately scrambling to hide his vulnerabilities. “You hate him, then you feel sorry for him, then you identify with him,” she suggests. “It’s about finding the humanity as well as the hilariousness.” The ultimate threat to crap acts is that they become too familiar and everyone’s too ready to laugh at them. Harrison conceived Jennie in 2006, and through appearances on CBBC’s DNN, she’s been a comedian and rapper before Harrison settled on spoken-word artist. Her creator reckons this year might be Jennie’s swansong because “it’s a character I’ve done for so long in different guises”. Adefope meanwhile is wrestling with the problem of where to take Gemma post-Edinburgh because “she can’t still be doing her first gig. Maybe she’ll become famous, maybe she’ll try things other than comedy, or maybe she’ll just stay an unsuccessful comedian”. And Coombs Marr is considering a radical new direction for Dave, pursuing the latest stand-up trend. “I’d like to do another show where he’s gone to [French master clown Philippe] Gaulier and is doing ‘new clowning’,” she says, with a laugh. “I think that would be quite funny. But I don’t know if it’s something that just tickles me.” ✏ Jay Richardson SHOW: VENUE: TIME: TICKETS:

SHOW: VENUE: TIME: TICKETS:

Lolly Pleasance Courtyard 4:30pm – 5:20pm, 5–31 Aug, not 17 £6 – £9.50 Zoe Coombs Marr: Dave Underbelly, Cowgate 9:20pm – 10:20pm, 6–30 Aug, not 18 £6 – £11


22 Comedy

Focus on:

Angela Barnes Flawed, sickly, shy – and hilarious. Angela Barnes tells Jay Richardson about love and loss

“O

h God, we’re in trouble,” Angela Barnes confided in her agent recently. “I’ve fallen in love.” With a blossoming reputation as a “world-weary, slightly miserable single woman”, the fast-rising stand-up was concerned about losing her “shtick”; that her new boyfriend would ruin her career. Fortunately, the Kent-born comic’s many failings have survived her loving relationship. “I’m still a dick but I’m a happy dick now instead of a miserable one,” she reasons. Despite only starting stand-up five years ago, Barnes cuts an assured figure on stage. “Painfully shy” in her teens and twenties, she became a comedian relatively late but scooped the BBC New Comedy Award in 2011, before boosting her profile on television showcases like Mock the Week and Stand Up for the Week. Comedy is “the perfect place for anyone who ever felt a bit of an outsider,” she reflects. “Because we’re all outsiders – that’s why we do it. I’ve found the gang I belong to.” Her new hour, Come As You Are, is about reaching “middle-age—I’m 38—and not giving a fuck what anyone thinks anymore. And that being attractive. I don’t care what you’re into, so long as you’re passionate.” For the unrepentant Archers fan, a comedian is a “weird marriage of someone with low self-esteem but a burning desire to show off. Yes, I’m self-deprecating. But I don’t hate myself. I love who I am. It’s the flaws that make people interesting.” She almost called her show Raggy Doll to reflect her many ailments, allergies and conditions, including lactose intolerance, a glue ear, synaesthesia and ichthyophobia, a fear of fish. “As my mum says, ‘if you were a dog they would have put you down,’” she says,

with a laugh. “But it’s all a good source of material.” The irony of an ex-nurse being so sickly isn’t lost on her. A former social care and mental health worker, she also spent time as a psychiatric patient in her early twenties. “When I started out, I very much didn’t want to be the comedian with mental health issues,” she stresses, “because they’re part of who I am but they don’t identify me. “As you get older you realise how many of your friends have been on anti-depressants or had counselling at some point. It’s a really common thing, particularly amongst comedians. And it’s important to talk about because it’s just a part of life.” Though still deliberating about cracking a psychiatric ward joke, Barnes will be alluding to the death of her first boyfriend during last year’s Fringe. The shock at his loss transported her out of the Edinburgh “bubble” and “anchored” her “in the real world”. You Can’t Take it With You was already dedicated to the memory of her late father and the recent deaths of two more friends has only reinforced her resolve to be successful. “All these experiences make you go, ‘okay, I know who I am and I know what I want now, I’m not settling for anything else’. Because I just haven’t got time.” ✏ Jay Richardson

VENUE: TIME: TICKETS:

Pleasance Courtyard 7:15pm – 8:15pm, 5–30 Aug, not 17 £7 – £11


23


Testing the Hive Mind Interviews by John Stansfield

Comedy

Gein's Family Giftshop:

24


Features

festmag.co.uk

N

ominated for Best Newcomer at last year's Of all the members of Gein's who is the most Fringe with their debut show Volume 1, pitch- likely to devlop a degenerating gambling/drug habblack sketch group Gein's Family Giftshop it and start stealing from the other members? then went on to win the same award at the Chortle Kath: Jim Awards in March. Returning with the inspired title Kiri: Jim of Volume 2 we checked in to see if the fame had Ed: Jim gone to their heads. Locking them in separate rooms, Jim: Obviously me. we set the four members that make up Gein's (Kath   ‘the Nothing’ Hughes; Kiri ‘the Overlord’ PritchardFavourite serial killer and why? McLea; Jim ‘the Boss’ Meehan; and Ed ‘the Penis’ Kath: H.H. Holmes because he went to the trouble Easton) a questionnaire to test their mental stability. of building a torture house. While deviating slightly, it's clear they share a Kiri: Delphine LaLaurie – torture, socialites and hive mind of puerile yet undoubtedly hilarious Nicolas Cage, it's a real tour de force. Also, she's a thoughts. The most worrying aspect was almost chick, I'm nothing if not a feminist. certainly the drawings they did of “an animal that Ed: BTK, he tried to build a brand. you feel best sums up Gein's”. Only one member Jim: Robert Hanson. He had a plane and was a actually drew an animal and even that was Kath's good cook. mythical demon-fish hybrid. A glimpse into the dark and harrowing mindscape of Gein's Family Giftshop. People we want to see in Edinburgh: Goose, they're our sketch crushes and like us they What is sold in Gein's Family Giftshop? have a secret one, they also have a red haired one and Kiri: Chewable tooth brushes and those weights a lanky physical one and there's only two of them. you clip on to tablecloths to stop them blowing That means they're packing a lot more traits into their away. Also, fart spray. two people than we are into our four. However, none Kath: Bowls made out of skulls + one rubber + a of them has Jim's intrinsic knowledge of crispy panselection of key rings. cakes so I think that makes us better than them? They Ed: Sweet, sweet goofs. But it's way too expenmake sketch look like something else and it's brilliant. sive, like Harrod's (take that Harrod's). Jim: Ed's penis seems to be our biggest seller. AlMichael J. Dolan is a superb stand up comedian. though we do sell blood, poop, and P.E. kits too. Like. Really superb. Nihilistic, dense, hilarious stand   up comedy that makes you wonder why you can't be Who are your comedy heroes? funnier. You'll also wonder what the point of it all is Kath: Jessica Hynes, Chris Morris, League of but that's healthy too. Gentlemen. Kiri: The League of Gentlemen, Maria Bamford. Sam and Tom, the artist formally known as Ed: Chris Morris. Staple/Face, are the Sugababes of sketch. They conJim: Jackson Pollock. Funny guy, fooling everystantly change line ups and one day it'll just be a pair one with his ‘art’. of shoes on stage. I think this line up is our favourite.   Without external pressures Sam and Tom are left to Where do you see yourself in five years? be as surreal as they like, it's proper bonkers and as Kath: Still riding on Kiri, Ed and Jim's coat tails. funny as webbed feet, on someone else. Kiri: In a new more financially viable sketch group. Ed: Retail. Our show in five words: Jim: Given up. Probably start teaching a comedy Hopefully, better than last year. course. Easy money.   How many ways can you skin a cat? Kath: One. Properly or not at all. Kiri: A lady never reveals her secrets. Ed: How long's a piece of string with 6 thousand VENUE: Pleasance Courtyard cats skins attached? (6 thousand-ish.) 10:45pm – 11:45pm, 5–30 Aug, not 17 Aug Jim: If you come near my cat I'll fucking hurt you. TIME: TICKETS:

25

£6 – £9.50


Home Truths Straight from the comics’ mouths, sometimes a mini-Bildungsroman is worth a thousand stars. Vicky Nangle finds out about where they come from

Matthew Crosby Bromley, London

Just the Tonic at The Mash House, 7:40pm – 8:30pm, 6–30 Aug, not 18

Sarah Callaghan Hillingdon

Pleasance Courtyard, 5:50pm – 6:50pm, 5–30 Aug, not 17 We once stole a cheap clock and a metal score board from a bowls club. Nearly 15 years ago. How bored do you have to be to steal a clock and a score board? I checked – that shit was not on CrimeWatch.

I've always lived in Bromley. So I'm not exactly Phileas Fogg. Bromley was where Bowie and the Sex Pistols came from. Sadly they'd moved out by the time I was born. But anyone who's seen my comedy can spot the influence of these rock pioneers. I'm a sort of glam/punk rockstar. Who looks like a supply teacher.

Hal Cruttenden

Croydon

Pleasance Courtyard, 7:15pm – 8:15pm, 5–30 Aug Living in Croydon gives you low expectations for life. Low expectations means you're never disappointed. ‘Hey! I didn't get mugged today! What a great day!’

Newcastle, Australia

Enfield, North London

Pleasance Courtyard, 8:00pm – 9:00pm, 5–30 Aug, not 17

Nish Kumar

Sarah Kendall

It's really really helped me being a white, middle-class male because of course you don't get many of them in comedy. I watch comedians from more deprived backgrounds in tough Northern cities telling stories of how their families coped with extreme poverty and think to myself ‘You lucky lucky bastards!’

Assembly George Square Studios, 6:45pm – 7:45pm, 5–31 Aug, not 17 Lots of sunshine and beaches. And meth, apparently. My show this year is about a boy I went to school with who, in 1990, drowned for 11 seconds and was brought back to life. It was an event that rocked the whole town and my school. It was the sort of thing that in a small town threw the rumour mill into overdrive. It also coincided with the release of the film Flatliners. That didn't help.

Comedy

26


Evelyn Mok

Douglas Walker

Laughing Horse @ The Counting House, 5:00pm – 5:40pm, 6–30 Aug, not 10, 17, 24

Just the Tonic at The Mash House, 2:00pm – 3:00pm, 6–30 Aug, not 18

During the summers me and my friends would play outside as much as we could. We would try and make small silly things to sell to our neighbours. One summer we made cranberry juice in my friend's garden. We made it in a plastic tub and decided to carry this tub door to door and offer customers a drink that we would scoop straight from the tub with a communal glass, all for a cheap £1. The only people who paid were our parents. They just gave us money and omitted the scoop.

One day there appeared a new piece of graffiti on my way to school. In huge, badly painted letters was the word “FAILTE”. I had no idea what it meant. Me and my friends started saying it as a substitute for other words.

festmag.co.uk

Gothenberg, Sweden

Tiff Stevenson Greenford, West London

Features

The Stand Comedy Club 5 & 6, 4:05pm – 5:05pm, 6–29 Aug, not 17

27

There is also a lot of greenery and wooded areas. So we made camps and took turns to do look out. If any boys made it near camp then we would attack by throwing potatoes… because the boys would be okay for five minutes then would eventually ruin everything. I'm making my childhood sound like Lord Of The Flies aren't I? In many ways it was. I fancy myself as Simon but I'm probably the pig’s head.

Edinburgh, Scotland

Phil Jerrod

‘a small village in the middle of godless Warwickshire’

Pleasance Courtyard, 7:00pm – 8:00pm, 5–30 Aug, not 17 Much asTupac Shakur drew upon his difficult upbringing to become one of the world's best respected rappers, I have written jokes about harvest festivals and cider so I can get booed off at the Comedy Badger, Bishops Itchington.

Angela Barnes Maidenstone, Kent

Pleasance Courtyard, 8:15pm – 9:15pm, 5–30 Aug, not 17 The local paper, The Kent Messenger, did a nice little piece about me a couple of years ago. They contacted my old school, Invicta Grammar School for Girls, for a quote, and were told, ‘Sorry, we're struggling to remember who she is’. And they printed that quote!

Funmbi Omotayo

Born in London and spent much of his childhood in Nigeria.

Gilded Balloon, 9:00pm – 10:00pm, 6–30 Aug When I arrived in Lagos as a 10-year-old, I wasn't aware that I had an accent, but all the school kids would get me to say random words and they would find this really funny. Me and my siblings were known as “the British kids”, which really made me want to lose my accent so I would fit in. But then I just sounded like a British person doing an African accent!


28 Comedy

Focus on:

Luke

McQueen Lyle Brennan finds an unpredictable interviewee in peak physical form

W

hen I creep into Luke McQueen’s rehearsal he is drilling his opening line, over and over: “Hello! How is everyone?” It’s a safe choice – foolproof, even. But the stony-faced man opposite him just keeps sending him back to the stage-side toilet to burst out yet again. What becomes clear after an embarrassingly long time is that McQueen (along with his companion, fellow comic Joe Bor) is in no mood for an earnest interview. The ‘rehearsal’ concludes and Bor, supervising, sets up two chairs facing each other; they’re a good 20ft apart. It’s not the discomfiting welcome McQueen gave in his 2014 show—when we found him slumped and half-naked, unresponsive until slapped—but it’s not exactly reassuring. I am handed a memo: “A list of things I don’t wish to discuss: The weather; My passwords; Any of my dead pets; My doughy physique; Books.” That second-last one prompts a cringe – it’s an uncharitable description from Fest’s review of Now That’s What I Luke McQueen, a grim spectacle of self-abasement by a comic driven mad by his own desperation for success. Ground rules noted, we address this year’s offering, the spuriously named Double Act. “I used to be in a double act,” he deadpans, “and basically it’s very painful seeing that person go off to have great success when you have none, and you’re the one with all the talent and the ideas. And that person’s got all the money and the fame… and the food. I will be naming them in the show. There may be some hints.” From the corner, Bor mutters: “Luke, you’ve got to do your thing... fitness regime.” McQueen jumps to his feet and starts running on the spot. It seems remiss not to ask why. “Well, last year I got some reviews that were quite negative about my physical appearance. You might have said I had... a doughy physique? This year I want to make sure that people are focused on the art.”

And so every now and then, McQueen breaks into a jog. The conversation continues like this. When I ask about his progression since The Gadabouts, his long-disbanded sketch trio with Joe Bor and Matt Rudge, Bor takes his place and replies for him in a monotone: “I’ve changed quite a bit. I suppose I didn’t take many risks. I wanted to be liked. I didn’t know a lot about comedy when I started out. I’m a very different comedian now.” Later, Bor flips his notepad to reveal he’s been sketching me all this time. Then McQueen declares a game of hide-and-seek, but since we’re in the stark white box of the Invisible Dot (the London HQ of his producers this year) he just stands next to a ladder, staring at me. Bor secretes himself in the toilet, and we leave him there. There’s plenty to report besides, but—more so than any talk of influences, or turning failures into material, or of the brazen video stunts that last year saw him admit to a packed Pleasance Dome that he, not Frankie Boyle, would be the evening’s entertainment—it’s these mind games that come closest to the experience of watching Luke McQueen live. On stage he is petulant and unpredictable, both sadist and masochist. For every set piece designed to wrong-foot and intimidate the audience, there’s another in which he stomps his own dignity into dust. Setting the diversions aside for a moment, he explains: “Here’s the thing with interviews, you worry that you’re answering in the same way as everybody else.” There’s little danger of that. ✏ Lyle Brennan VENUE: TIME: TICKETS:

Pleasance Courtyard 9:45pm – 10:45pm, 5–31 Aug, not 17 £6 – £10.50


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30

No Hablo

Comedy

Ingles The Fringe unsurprisingly attracts a few visitors from overseas. Lyle Brennan hunts for comedy that isn't lost in translation

O

f all the responses a stand-up might expect when shushing an audience member, few could be as baffling as this: “Sorry, I'm translating for my friend.” Perhaps it's unsurprising given how The World's Biggest Arts Festival prides itself on its come-onecome-all credentials, and rightly so. But how far can that inclusiveness extend to comedy crowds when the language of humour is so dense with colloquialisms and complex double meanings? Nine per cent of Fringe audiences come from outside the UK. For any visitor whose English is anything less than idiomatic, that bulging brochure—dominated by stand-up and sketch—becomes dramatically diminished. There are a few hints of what less anglophonespecific comedy might look like. Whereas last year we had polyglot Eddie Izzard championing the English-language debuts of European stand-ups, this time—at the other end of the stardom spectrum— comedian Louise Reay is attempting “comedy sans frontieres” of a different kind. Her first hour, It's Only Words, is a mostly improvised clown show performed entirely in Chinese. As the tagline promises, “You'll understand it, but you won't know why.” Despite studying the language and living in Beijing, Reay found she struggled to pick up on non-verbal cues. “I realised I had spent eight years learning vocabulary,” she says, “but it was never really about the words.” So here she is with a performance based on everything else – an ambitious experiment which she hopes will prove a great leveller among audiences. “There's huge tension in the UK about the way we feel about language,” she says. “We are angry if immigrants don't learn English well enough, yet we're too embarrassed to practise our own GCSE French when we go abroad.” Her mission to make comedy out of “universal human experiences rather than national differences” has won the support of the Chinese government, but

if that noble sentiment doesn't do it for you, Reay adds: “It's really fun to listen to Chinese... it's such a special and historical language yet it sounds like a pin-ball machine sometimes.” Emma Sidi attempts a comparable feat in a standout sketch from her debut. It's a talk on feminist icons, delivered by a lecturer in Spanish. No sweat for a woman who once performed a show for locals in Mexico, but by the end you'll be left wondering when your own vocabulary surpassed “dos cervezas”. Part of it is down to what Sidi calls “the terrifying power of Western culture on the world”, which throws up some handy global references. “The idea emerged the first time a Mexican friend corrected my pronunciation of ‘Harry Potter’,” she says. “‘Harrrrr-ee Potd-erh’. I realised that I was being aggressively re-taught my own language.” Add to that the surprising universality of tone and suddenly you're communicating. A bit of clowning doesn't hurt, either, though Sidi says, “I try to avoid too much show-and-tell-style physicality” – before conceding: “There are some moments of pretty crude sex moves I've added in to decorate the chat.” Mime can, of course, work almost anywhere. The festival is rarely short of comics who can raise a laugh without a word, with Trygve Wakenshaw foremost among them this year. Maybe this calls for a club night designed for our phrasebook-wielding friends. After all, don't they deserve something funnier than the Tattoo? ✏ Lyle Brennan SHOW: VENUE: TIME: TICKETS:

SHOW: VENUE: TIME: TICKETS:

Louise Reay: It's Only Words Just the Tonic at The Community Project 4:15pm – 5:15pm, 6–30 Aug, not 18 £5 Emma Sidi: Character Breakdown Pleasance Courtyard 8:00pm – 9:10pm, 5–31 Aug, not 18 £6 – £9


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Returning for a second year this outdoor arena has proven to be the bestandbrightestnewFestivalhubinthecity.StAndrewSquareGarden will also play host to The Spiegeltent, plus the best in free outdoor entertainment, fantastic bars and mouth-watering food concessions!

16 jul - 31 aug

www.thestand.co.uk | tickets: 0131 558 7272 www.arfringe.com | tickets: 0844 693 3008

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Comedy

34

Who Do You Think You Are,

Mark Steel?

Veteran comic Mark Steel returns to Auld Reekie with a funny story about being adopted. Lewis Porteous quizzes the pro on the whys and wherefores

“T

here weren’t nearly as many stand-ups back then. There were maybe 20 of us doing it, maybe a bit more. But now I get the impression just about every building in Edinburgh has somebody putting on a stand-up show. It’s brilliant things have got like that, with lots of people trying to do work which is sort of distinct.” It’s been two decades since Mark Steel last brought a show to the Fringe, and both he and the UK comedy scene having grown enormously in stature over the intervening years. Now a columnist and revered media personality, the left-wing provocateur remains a thoroughly unpretentious figure. At only one point in our conversation does he slip into the comfortable role of industry elder statesman. “We never bothered with that in the old days,” he cheerfully recalls of those early years of the Fringe. “But it’s improved things in a way.” The veteran’s appreciation of the competition and heightened artistic ambition now fostered by the festival is no affectation. Whether visiting to record radio shows or do the odd turn here and there, he’s been a quietly omnipresent figure at the event, keeping his eye on new talent and prevailing trends.

But while he discusses the circuit and his return to the programme with enthusiasm, there’s something refreshingly out-of-step about Steel. Take his new show for instance. Who Do I Think I Am? is an account of the comic’s adoption and the efforts made to track down his blood relatives after he himself became a parent. His recently deceased natural mother refused to make contact with her son, but was an equally staunch advocate of radical politics. His biological father now enjoys a friendly relationship with Steel, despite his ties to the monarchy and faith in neoliberal economics. This narrative represents an even balance between the tragic and the farcical. The loss of an estranged parent with whom the star shared deeply-held principles lends itself to what’s colloquially known as the ‘Dead Dad’ show, a sub-genre popularised by Russell Kane’s award-winning confessional, Smokescreens and Castles. Playing up to the time-honoured image of the sad clown, nothing can lend a performer gravitas quite like a Dead Dad show. The transatlantic expedition to track down a millionaire playboy father, meanwhile, is exactly the


I suggest that while a narrative-driven, highly personal show initially seems like a departure for him, he’s always been one to explore concepts of identity. Having previously addressed political and geographical identity, it doesn’t seem like much of a stretch to interpret this examination of his lineage as a continuation of an over-arching theme.

“Blimey! It's not meant to be a PhD on socio-cultural trends 1968-2015” It’s with an anti-intellectual rigour that Steel debunks such ideas. “Blimey! It’s not meant to be a PhD on socio-cultural trends 1968-2015. That’s not the aim. If it answers any of that, then fine. But I’m just trying to tell a story and it may or may not pose all sorts of questions. First and foremost I think it’s fascinating and funny. I’m really not trying to do whatever that was you said, raise issues of concepts of identity politics and self-something-or-other. Please don’t say it’s that, because that’s a show I’d go quite a long way to not see.” So that’s me told. But even with the man’s protestation ringing in my ears, I feel confident that Who Do I Think I Am? will prove more compelling than its author realises. ✏ Lewis Porteous VENUE: TIME: TICKETS:

And Finally...

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kind of ersatz quest that Tim FitzHigham would kill for, or that Dave Gorman would use as the basis of a lucrative book deal. Ever a man of integrity, Steel seems appalled by the idea that a comic might trade in personal trauma for critical plaudits, or embark on such a significant journey with a view to generating material. “Good Lord, that would be awful,” he exclaims, barely containing his disgust. “I think I’m going to go search for my biological parents because that means in 15 years’ time I’ll have a show to do for Edinburgh.” Surely there must have been a point during his investigations when a cynical side of him felt all too aware of the situation’s comic potential, of an emotionally complex show starting to write itself? “Not really, no. I mean…no!” He sounds bemused. “It was some time last year I thought, ‘Yeah, I ought to write this up.’ I imagine everything that’s going to happen has happened now.” It may be only with hindsight that Steel is able to recognise his tale’s crowd-pleasing potential, but now that he’s fallen for it, he’s fallen hard. Throughout our interview he refers to the “funny story” in a tone of ecstatic excitement and makes a series of bold, potentially hubristic claims in its favour. “I think it would be impossible not to find the story interesting,” he suggests with conviction. “I think if you’re a comic you really ought to be able to make this story funny.” In many respects Steel is the consummate comic, finding humour in a wide range of subjects with an inspiring, sometimes workmanlike, consistency. The content of Who Do I Think I Am? doesn’t daunt him in the least. “I’m very lucky in one way, in that it’s the most ridiculous story and has sort of presented itself to someone whose job is to go and tell ridiculous stories and make them funny. If it had happened to a plumber, someone who thought, ‘Oh well, that’s a bit peculiar’, and left it at that, then it might remain untold. “I think the best part of the story is that it doesn’t have to be a great big trauma. It doesn’t have to involve loads of tears, you know? If it was in Eastenders, everybody would be bursting into tears, going around with mallets slapping each other, that sort of thing. I just think it’s a fascinating and funny story.” For a performer currently readying an autobiographical work ahead of its debut at the world’s largest arts festival, it’s both commendable and curious that Steel is eager to downplay the show’s emotional and thematic weight. He’s resolute in describing it as merely a “funny story”.

Assembly George Square Studios 8:15pm – 9:15pm, 5–30 Aug, not 17 £10 – £14

Your show in five words Can't describe in less than.... What are your top tips for the Fringe? The military tattoo on ice Your most memorable Edinburgh Fringe moment? Getting drunk with the Pope in the Gilded Balloon The performances you're most looking forward to Twelfth Night in Sanskrit


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Focus on:

Michael Che He's in the big league of American prime-time comedy. Why bother with the Fringe?

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s Michael Che now knows all too well, fame is not necessarily fun. Last October the native New Yorker had just secured one of American TV’s most coveted comedy jobs, on Saturday Night Live, when a viral video became big news. You might have seen it: a woman secretly films herself being catcalled by guys while walking around NYC. Bemused by the outraged responses, Che defended some of the guys, and became instantly infamous too. His subsequent mock apology—“Sometimes I forget that I belong to all of you now”—was telling, and by January he’d quit Twitter. Now that unforeseen furore forms the background for an Edinburgh show. “It’s not finished, but it’s about being wrong,” says Che, of the optimistically-titled Six Stars. “People are writing a lot about things that seem wrong, but that I don’t think are wrong. There’s a lot of outrage in the world, different news stories where people will just jump on the side that’s kind of everybody’s side. This is [me] playing devil’s advocate.” It’s an interesting change of tone for Che, who was never really an ‘issues’ comic before winning a couple of newsy TV roles. A prodigious SNL writer, he joined the Daily Show as a correspondent in April 2014, but then headed back in September as the new host of ‘Weekend Update’, one of SNL’s prime bits. If he’d stayed, might Che have been a contender to replace John Stewart? “No. Probably it’d be great for the first month or two, then I’d want to shoot myself. It’s a really

heavy grind. It’s a lot of work that John has every day, which is why he’s so amazing at it. To follow that, it’s pretty tough. It’s a very tough gig.” SNL is famously tough too. How did Che succeed, where so many big names have failed? “It’s a lot like sport, it’s a lot of streaks,” he says. “Sometimes you get a sketch on every week, sometimes you just can’t get anything on.” SNL has longer seasons than most, but “after three or four months you feel drained,” Che admits. “You feel like you’ve said every idea that you’re ever gonna have.” Even so, he looks set to continue next season: “We’re finished until about September, then we come back.” In the meantime there’s this second Edinburgh stint, after his 2013 debut. Why bother? “I really wanted to get sharp: it’s a good way to work out material, every single day,” he says. “And it’s good to get out of a comfortable environment. To make sure this stuff is really funny.” Not that the Fringe has gone easy on him. During that 2013 run one venerable audience member so vehemently criticised his cursing that he lined up a special clean show. Then she relented. “She came three days later and begged me not to do it,” he says. “I would’ve done it. A lot of the time you just forget that comedy is fun. It’s all about development and trying new things.” ✏ Si Hawkins VENUE: TIME: TICKETS:

The Stand Comedy Club 3 & 4 7:40pm – 8:40pm, 6–20 Aug £10 – £12


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Comedy

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A Bunch of

Weirdos Outsiders, underdogs, and absurdists: Lyle Brennan checks out the ragtag group that helped spawn a Fringe sensation Ali Brice

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victory for the little guy. An unprecedented achievement. The sign of a grassroots revolution. However you want to frame it, the story of John Kearns scooping Edinburgh’s best newcomer title in 2013, then the main prize the following year, was remarkable as much for the shows’ Free Fringe DIY ethic as it was for the distinctiveness of their content. But another part of what made this triumph unusual was that Kearns—who’s decided to sit this festival out—had emerged from a loose collective of comedians whose methods seem utterly, stubbornly divorced from any conventional idea of success. If there’s a careerist among his usual London cohort, it doesn’t shine through on stage. Character comic Ali Brice, surprisingly placid after a preview of his supremely ridiculous new hour, is recalling the time when, at the 2010 Fringe, his best friend and now director Adam Larter pitched him an idea for a new night. “I was like ‘All right... but you’re not going to call it ‘Weirdos’, are you?’ He was like, ‘Yep!’, then he painted a bit of cardboard with the word ‘Weirdos’ on it, set up shop in King’s Cross, and the rest is history.” Larter says he was sick of being the token oddball at open mic nights. He’d found himself looking out at the audience and thinking, “I don’t know if you’re laughing just because it’s different to everything

else, or if it’s genuinely good.” So he assembled a few like-minded absurdists, surrealists, assorted goons and misfits, and gave them a place to indulge their daftest instincts. According to playwright Jon Brittain, Kearns’s two-time director and friend since their first day at the University of East Anglia, ‘Weirdos’ gives comics “a space to fail”, to whittle their way down to what will eventually be their style. This, he says, is crucial for any act with aspirations beyond the middle of the road: “What happens to some people is they find themselves being good at one of the first things they try – so they’re never forced to go to the thing they’re great at.” Brittain, who calls himself “a peripheral figure” among the ever-growing Weirdos mob, is keen to contrast their ethos with another clique, the Alternative Comedy Memorial Society [ACMS], known for saluting the so-called “noble failures” of its performers. “ACMS is like ‘do something that isn’t stand-up, don’t worry if it doesn’t go right’,” he says. “But the acts have to be told to do that. In the Weirdos, that is what they do—stuff that is objectively not standup—and they do not give a shit if it goes well or not.” Perhaps that explains the knockabout nature of the jewel in this group’s crown: the annual charity


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panto. First came Hook, a remake in the loosest sense of the 1991 Spielberg stinker, followed by The Colonel in 2013 (the purported genesis story of KFC, of course). Most recent was a Little Mermaid-mangling effort called A Christmas Tail. The props are mostly cardboard, the costume choices inexplicable, the cast list ludicrously swollen and the lines barely learnt. Chaos reigns and each of these gang shows glories in its own lack of polish. Brittain had to contend with this sort of mindset when helping Kearns finesse his two previous shows – 2013’s Sight Gags for Perverts and last year’s Shtick. And Brittain has a busy Fringe ahead this year too. As well as a re-run of Margaret Thatcher Queen of Soho, which he co-wrote with its power-dressed star Matt Tedford (another old uni friend and Weirdos newbie), he is directing stand-up by Tom Allen, James Wilson-Taylor’s superhero tribute Bat-Fan, plus his own play What Would Spock Do? The latter two, a comedy guide to the caped crusader and the love story of a closet Trekkie, speak to his fascination not only with the two franchises in all their naff splendour, but also with the way fandom becomes a part of one’s identity. Brittain’s in the business of bringing coherence to comedy, and yet he speaks with something like awe about the Weirdos’ nonsense group projects—”They’re so long!”—and he even appeared in their recent Harry Potter pastiche. What happens, though, when there’s no safety in numbers and it’s up to a solo act to earn the crowd’s indulgence? One of the dozen-plus affiliates grappling with that task this August is Pat Cahill, another of the old UEA contingent, whose Panjandrum is a showcase of “neo music hall” inspired by an old wartime LP. He calls it a “daft one-man Dad’s Army”. Sample song titles? ‘Granny’s Gone and Lost Her Fanny’ and ‘Put the Gun Down, You Naughty Boy’. Make no mistake: this will be extremely stupid. But often the appeal of material like this, says Cahill, lies between the lines. “The thing I like about any absurd stuff is you’ve got to see the pain and the reality of where it’s come from. You know that there’s some reason that bloke—or lady—has decided to put that on his head, or to move in that way,” he explains. “It’s that unsaid ‘there’s something going on in there with him’. We’re never going to know and we never really want to, we just have to see the end result.” That was certainly part of what excited critics about Kearns: the undercurrent of real melancholy beneath all the pissing about. Brice and Larter are wary of the suggestion that this might apply to their

own work—that it’s anything more or less than silly—and so drown it out by lapsing into squawking impressions of Kearns. “Samuel Beckett? It’s a wig and teeth, mate,” scoffs Larter. Eventually, they concede that Brice’s centrepiece character, Eric Meat, might have absorbed the “politeness and frustration” of figures from Brice’s youth. Still, the aim is to amp up the foolishness to the point that you’ll be laughing too hard to notice.

“That is what the Weirdos do—stuff that is objectively not stand-up— and they do not give a shit if it goes well or not.” Different priorities inform Beth Vyse’s As Funny as Cancer, in which real life, unusually for her, will be front and centre. Her style, which she calls “big and grotesque”, developed over three solo hours populated by theatre dahlings and daytime TV hosts. All this began when she left behind a past life as a “proper actor”—Royal Shakespeare Company and all—after discovering a tumour in her breast. “I kind of went, ‘fuck it, what am I waiting for?’” she says. “I just started developing my own stuff and being braver, taking more risks.” Only now, several years on, is she addressing her cancer directly – taking the high-stakes, prop-strewn absurdism that was inspired by her newfound perspective, and juxtaposing it with cathartic tales of mortal fear, heartbreak and, happily, remission. Vyse, like her fellow Weirdos, stresses that they’re a stylistically diverse bunch. They range from the low-key (Mark Stephenson) to the truly anarchic (Holly Burn). But what seems to unite them, other than friendship, is a determination to experiment and leave it to the audience to catch up. Brittain says that, for all that Kearns shares this tendency, during those pivotal two years he became like “a runner with his head down”. Could another of this rabble muster that same focus and find themselves with a bonafide hit? As anyone who’s witnessed the haphazard mania of a ‘Weirdos’ gig could tell you, stranger things have happened. ✏ Lyle Brennan Show details at festmag.co.uk


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Focus on:

Adrienne Truscott “I still play around with costume – or lack of costume”

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t’s not clear at first what Adrienne Truscott means when she suggests that the audience didn’t really get a true sense of her from Asking for It, her first Fringe show. She took to the stage naked from the waist down and projected images of comedians’ faces onto her vagina. What’s left to reveal? Asking for It—which Truscott took to the Fringe in 2013 and has toured widely since—was a broadside against sexism in general and dull, offensive rape jokes in particular. Critics praised it to the rafters, but by the time they had commented on Truscott’s unusually comprehensive stage presence and commended her for taking aim at such a righteous target, they didn’t have much space to talk about the jokes.  “So much of the writing about Asking for It referred to me as a feminist performance artist,” Truscott tells me. It’s Independence Day weekend and she’s speaking from upstate New York, having just got off her tractor-mower.   “I was like, ‘But I thought I’d become a standup comedian?’ What about if I’d had my pants on, would I still have been called a feminist performance artist?”  It’s actually a reasonable enough handle for an artist who has pursued an odd selection of endeavours. Truscott describes her route to comedy as “this incredible series of accidents that came out of thinking I was going to be a dancer”. She is a Fringe regular as half of the Wau Wau Sisters, a burlesque act that combines trapeze work with admittedly substandard guitar playing. Her new show, One-Trick Pony, will also combine the raunchy and the avant-garde, but it will be a bit closer to conventional standup.  “It’s still got a lot of goofy stuff that I draw from my performance-art background. I still play around with costume—or lack of costume—and it’s still got things

about sex and gender and bodies, but this time I feel like I’m not playing a character, I’m being Adrienne.” Truscott says she loved comedy long before she became a dancer/trapeze artist/burlesque oddity. She recalls how her driving examiner asked her to switch off a comedy tape during her test because the filthy material was making him uncomfortable (it was Eddie Murphy’s Delirious; Truscott passed). Which is all just another way of saying that Adrienne Truscott’s new show is less confrontational than her last one, but still exciting and peculiar, and one to avoid if you are dead against seeing naked bits.  “It’s just jokes that I’ve come up with without any particular agenda. Just stuff that makes me laugh. If you liked Asking for It, come back. And if you didn’t, come back. I have a few more tricks up my skirt.”  Speaking of which, what will she be wearing this time? “All I can say is that I bought a beautiful, stunning, dignified dress, specially for this. But it doesn’t necessarily make it onto my body.” ✏ Ed Ballard VENUE: TIME: TICKETS:

Gilded Balloon 8:15pm – 9:15pm, 5–17 Aug £7.50 – £14


Theatre Top Picks Lead Theatre critic Matt Trueman picks out the best and most promising theatre shows of 2015

CUT Underbelly, George Square, times vary 5-31 August, not 18 Horror theatre can be so, well, horrific and almost 30 years on The Woman in Black pretty much still sets the standard. Duncan Graham’s CUT has been reconfigured as a claustrophobic chamber piece played in almost pitch black, with Hannah Norris as the air stewardess convinced she’s being stalked.

The Christians Traverse Theatre, times vary 8-30 August, not 10, 17, 24 London’s little Gate theatre has become a bastion of sharp thinking under Christopher Haydon. He directed the scintillating Grounded in 2013

Jamie Wood Assembly Roxy, 7:00pm 5-31 August, not 17, 24

and now returns with American playwright Lucas Hnath’s sermon-as-play (or is it vice versa?) that asks what place faith and community really have in contemporary society.

Dolls Underbelly’s Circus Hub, 3:25pm 7-29 August, not 12, 18, 24

Last year, Wood donned thigh-

Pediophobes beware: Czech

high shorts to idolize Björn

circus troupe Cirk La Putyka

Borg in Beating McEnroe. Now

explores our relationships

it’s Yoko Ono’s turn, as the

with inanimate objects in this

Gaulier-trained clown tries to

art-house circus. Expect clay

restore the reputation of the

figurines and human puppets –

woman who broke up the Beat-

all ways of disrupting the usual

les. More seriously, it’s a look at

circus staples. If this is the year

love, art and generosity – three

of the big top, Dolls looks the

things Wood has in spades.

cream of the crop.

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Forest Fringe Out of the Blue Drill Hall 17-30 August It wouldn’t be a Fringe tips list without a shout-out to Forest Fringe, but this year’s line-up is strong even by its own standards. Three highlights: Tania El Khoury’s Gardens Speak brings Syria’s dead to life; Action Hero go glamour modelling in Wrecking Ball; and radical German duo Luther & Bockelson are said to be something else entirely…

Butt Kapinski Liquid Room Annexe, 2:10pm 8-30 August, not 12, 24, 26, 29 Is it cheating to raid the comedy section? Not bothered:

festmag.co.uk

Butt Kapinski looks a blast. In this high-octane film noir spoof, Red Bastard’s director Deanna Fleysher becomes the world’s weirdest private dick, who comes complete with her very own streetlamp sticking out of her turned-up collar.

A String Section Summerhall, times vary 23-27 August, not 26 Five women. Five chairs. Five saws. Inspired by the shape of a string quartet, Belgian artist Leen Dewilde and her Reckless Sleepers sit themselves down and start to

Top Picks

saw through the legs of their

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wooden chairs to a live cello soundtrack. Silly, strange, simple – and 100% serious.

Lemons, Lemons, Lemons, Lemons, Lemons ZOO Southside, 3:00pm 7-22 August If you see one student show this year, make it this one. Sam Steiner’s play about language and power cleaned up at the National Student Drama Festival, bagging three awards for its portrayal of a couple that literally run out of things to say to one another.


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Idiot-Syncrasy Summerhall, 4:20pm 6-29 August, alternate days I caught dance duo Igor and Moreno for the first time this year and they blew me away with a hilarious Nespresso machine routine. One’s from Sardinia, the other, from the Basque Country and here they find the common ground in their respective national dances. Bouncing, mostly – and a real display of friendship.

Ross & Rachel Assembly George Square, 12:30pm 6-31 August, not 17 The title’s a treat, but playwright James Fritz is one of the most promising talents around. He’s already scored an Olivier nomination this year—for his debut play, no less—and now comes this playful meditation on couples that are (to continue that nineties vein) MFEO, as one actor plays two other halves.

The Solid Life of Sugar Water Pleasance Dome, 4:00pm 5-30 August, not 12, 17, 24 If you want a measure of Jack Thorne’s regard, know that he’s penning the Harry Potter play with J.K. Rowling next year. If you want the measure of his writing, try this two-hander about a couple trying to cope after a stillbirth. A pertinent piece about recovery. Amit Sharma directs for Graeae Theatre.

My Beautiful Black Dog Underbelly, 1:55pm 6-16 August Bromley-born singer-songwriter Brigitte Aphrodite turns her experience of clinical depression into a cabaret musical. She’s been likened to Kate Nash and Lily Allen – just with more scrappiness and a sense of humour. The work-in-progress I saw was a gnatty, scruffball of a show, but goodness me, it was like an adrenaline shot to the heart.


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The National Theatre of Scotland reserves the right to alter casts, performances, seating or ticket arrangements and latecomers may not be admitted. National Theatre of Scotland, a company limited by guarantee and registered in Scotland (SC234270) is a registered Scottish charity (SC033377). Photograph of the cast by Simon Murphy.

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Songs, Sex and

Suspicious Parents

As well as running the Royal Court in London, Vicky Featherstone is back with the National Theatre of Scotland for the summer to direct a play about wild teenage girls. Tim Bano talks to her about responsibility and adulthood

“W

e all have a feeling or memory of that day, the last day before the responsibility of adulthood kicks in. A time when nothing else mattered apart from you and your friends.” Vicky Featherstone is explaining what drew her to Alan Warner’s cult novel The Sopranos, just before she begins directing its stage adaptation, Our Ladies of Perpetual Succour. Over the last decade, that responsibility of adulthood seems to have kicked hard at Featherstone. From 2006-12 she was the first artistic director of the National Theatre of Scotland, scoring some hefty hits with Black Watch and Let the Right One In. And since 2013 she’s been running one of the country’s most important homes for new writing, London’s Royal Court. After two and a half years down south, Our Ladies is a brief homecoming for Featherstone as she returns to NTS for the summer. The play, with lots of music and a live band (though Featherstone insists it isn’t a musical) is based on Alan Warner’s 1998 novel The Sopranos – not the TV gangsters, but a Catholic girls’ school

choir from Oban who go on a jolly to Edinburgh for a singing competition. It’s been adapted by Billy Elliot writer Lee Hall, and he and Featherstone have been working on it for a while. “He said, ‘I’ve always loved the book, have you ever thought about adapting it for the stage?’ I said, ‘We’ve thought about it loads.’ That’s years ago now.” Running the Royal Court didn’t prevent Featherstone from seeing the project through to completion; her NTS successor Laurie Sansom went along to a workshop and agreed to do the show under the National Theatre of Scotland banner. It must be strange to return to the company she built and not be in charge. “If I didn’t do this job at the Royal Court, it might. But I am fully employed, emotionally and intellectually. If I’m really honest it feels like a holiday.” With the weight of all its alumni, every show at the Royal Court comes with expectations; audiences and critics thinking they know what’s required of their theatre. Featherstone has, consciously or not, bucked against that. No show under her tenure has


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received universal acclaim, but that can’t be the only measure of success. A more useful barometer is the diversity of opinion that almost every show has generated. Yet responsibility for the overarching vision of the theatre falls to Featherstone as artistic director, and it’s something that she sounds glad not to have to contemplate with this show. “It’s delightful not having to take any responsibility apart from for the play.” There’s that word again – ‘responsibility’. For writers and directors, responsibility doesn’t just come from the burdens in their private lives, but also in their art. Artists have to take responsibility for what they show on stage and the way they show it, and in those terms Warner’s novel deals with some heavygoing themes: there’s pregnancy, cancer, sex… it’s something of a party-filled romp through adolescence. But, according to Featherstone, “the characters aren’t judged in any way. They’re wilful and reckless and naughty and do insane things, and there’s a real power around that, especially for teenage girls.” There’s rising passion in Featherstone’s voice as she extols the characters in Our Ladies. Responsibility for the play’s themes doesn’t come from moralising or criticising. Instead, Warner—and Hall’s adaptation—celebrate the freedom of these girls, living blissfully in the mid-nineties, “with no sense of doom” and free from the worries of social media. “We have such a judgmental media representing a very particular morality—what they think is the British morality—with so much hypocrisy behind that.” Featherstone clearly feels strongly about these girls. “There’s a power in them that needs to be celebrated and respected, not denigrated and judged.” I’m trying to remember my ‘last day before adulthood’. It wasn’t particularly wild, I think. A picnic in a sunny park just before the end of university, surrounded by close friends. Feeling that I could never know people better and that I would never know better people. It wasn’t wild, but it was blissful. Life since then has been a process of slowly accruing responsibility and frequently taking blame. It’s tempting to agree with Featherstone as she talks about the differences between generations: “We were so much more badly behaved, genuinely, and the fact that we’ve criticised young people so much, it’s horrific really.” But there’s the risk of falling prey to that golden age delusion, imagining that the past was a better, easier, happier time. It probably wasn’t. Anyway, generational respect has to cut both ways. We start to talk about the wave of ‘trashy’ TV programmes like Ibiza Uncovered and Sun, Sex and Suspicious Parents. I baulk at the young people on

them, ashamed to have them represent my generation, but Featherstone assesses them more kindly. “There’s a real energy in them that we haven’t harnessed in any other way.” Maybe that’s true. Maybe those programmes cut to the heart of what Our Ladies is representing, these girls on that one perfect day.

“There’s a power in them that needs to be celebrated and respected, not denigrated and judged” Her programming at the Royal Court mostly defies predictability and homogeneity – “they have to think that I could put anything on” – but one of the strands that has wound its way through several productions is this desire to challenge our sense of morality. “I’m a liberal person who quite smugly thinks I know what I think about the world, and if I can sit in an auditorium and my perspective has shifted, that’s really extraordinary for me.” Featherstone wants her audiences to feel uncomfortable. “It’s not necessarily that you’re watching someone stick a fork up someone’s arse, but exactly that thing where the person you thought you were is not the same when you’re watching it.” There was The Nether, which tackled online paedophilia, and Teh Internet is Serious Business, humanising the hacktivists behind the Anonymous collective. Our Ladies taps into something similar: that binge-drinking teenagers deserve our attention, maybe even our admiration. And they certainly deserve sympathy. “What is the future for these girls? There’s a tension, and I think it’s such a British thing, between aspiration and acceptance. The power of their aspiration and level of wanting to live is the highest it could possibly be and yet you know they will accept a life that is not the best it can be after that day. That is so tough, it’s so tragic.” And what about Featherstone? Will life after the production heads off on tour be a more carefree affair, influenced by the freedom and the fun of the girls of Our Ladies of Perpetual Succour? Not a chance. “I’ll be shackled to my desk back at the Royal Court after six weeks in Scotland.” Can’t say more responsible than that. ✏ Tim Bano VENUE: TIME: TICKETS:

Traverse Theatre Times vary, 18-30 Aug, not 24 £14 - £20


48 Theatre

Focus on:

Brigitte Aphrodite

“I

used to be a fairy in a fairytale,” says performer Brigitte Aphrodite, her throaty cockney voice tumbling into a treacle chuckle. “But I’m not a fairy in a fairytale, I’m a bloody woman.” She pauses. “With fairy-like qualities.” With her new show, My Beautiful Black Dog – a nod to Winston Churchill’s nickname for his depression – Aphrodite wants us to experience what it would be like to discuss melancholia at a dinner party or talk despair at a rave. The show is gig-meets-theatre, a lyrical and visual jamboree about Aphrodite’s own battle with depression. “For such a long time I thought that the way life was supposed to be was that you can’t get out of bed sometimes,” she says. “And then slowly it was like, ‘no, ok, this isn’t right’, and I needed to do something with all that wasted time.” So why a musical? “I’m a showgirl; I had a look at what I’d started writing and was like, ‘flipping hell, this is miserable!’ So as a showgirl I need to add a bit of that to the mix. I laugh about it in the piece so people feel like they don’t have to tread on eggshells about it.” Aphrodite was driven by an ambition to share her experience and encourage others to discuss theirs. “I’ve always thought that I’ve found it quite easy to fall in love with life and with people,” she continues, her words cascading out in a charming, rashdash fashion. “But the self-hate I was feeling was kind of an epiphany. I suddenly realised other people were probably going through this stuff as well.” During the development process this has proven to be the case with friends admitting their own struggles. She’s thrilled about this but it’s been an emotionally draining experience for her too. “On bad

days doing this show—that’s all about me and my head—can be tough,” she says. Still, she can’t sing the praises of her collaborators enough: director Laura Keefe, dramaturg John Hoggarth, and her long-term partner – professionally and personally - Quiet Boy, who’s doing the music. Aphrodite is a lyricist but by her own admission the music she created was always a demo. “Quiet Boy’s a doctor of music really so he’s made the songs not just charmingly bad guitar parts; he’s made them fucking sharp.” Aphrodite thinks the finished result is enough to enter into the “flamboyant war” of the Edinburgh Fringe with its microphone held high. “Everyone’s trying to out-flamboyant each other up there! But we’ve got a team, including Gemma Cairney and Rachel Tyson from Boom Shakalaka Productions and they’re properly hardcore, so I feel really chuffed that they’re going to be there on my side.” ✏ Honour Bayes VENUE: TIME: TICKETS:

And Finally...

There’s no need to tread on eggshells around the subject of depression, syrup-voiced Brigitte Aphrodite tells Honour Bayes. Why not do a gig about it instead?

Underbelly, Cowgate 1:55pm – 2:55pm, 6–16 Aug £6 – £10.50

Describe your show in 5 words Poetical-Music-LaughterShiny-Darkness What’s in your Festival survival kit? Wet wipes (a day watching shows at the fringe can be sweaty). BRING CLOTHES FOR ALL THE WEATHERS... The weather at the Edinburgh Fringe can be winter, summer and spring sometimes all in one day – it’s quite exciting actually. Red lippy hides all tiredness & all hangovers (sort of).


“Possibly the most beautiful act currently performed in Europe” (Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung)

FIRST TIME EVER IN UK. MULTI AWARD WINNING INTERNATIONAL CIRCUS WINNER 2015 PARIS - WINNER 2013 JAPAN - WINNER 2012 CANADA

bigsexycircuscity.com

venue 347, fountainbridge A dark comedy about three recently deceased characters experience of hell by Jean Paul Satre, winner of the Noble Prize for Literature. M+E version is both funny and cruel with sublime twist. 17th - 29th August, 21.05 (50 Minutes) Tickets: £12 (c £10)

www.thespaceuk.com

5th-31st Aug 5.10pm pleasance.co.uk 0131 556 6550 Jack Dome 49


The IdeasTap Award: Past and Present

a notoriously slippery ladder. “The money thing is a massive issue,” he says. “How do you create something which is going to attract people to pay you in the future?” White, who has chaired the judging panel, has particularly enjoyed it when “before a company comes in, people go, ‘where did they train?’ And they have attitudes, but then they’re blown away by what they see. Everybody’s got a fair chance.” Sadly, IdeasTap’s focus (since founder Peter De Haan started it in 2008 with his trust) on younger, IdeasTap has championed new new talent rather than established, bankable names could be the reason why, in spite of concerted talent with its Edinburgh Fringe efforts, it ultimately failed to find the commercial award since 2012. Now, though, sponsorship it needed. But White refuses to be downbeat. “Many of the charity’s doors are closing. our members are now working within the industry Tom Wicker reflects on its legacy and have carried over our ethos,” she says proudly. “They’re casting the net a bit further, looking across hen this Fringe finishes, it will mark the end disciplines – being accessible.” of an era. Since 2012, as part of its goal to Besides, £100,000 worth of IdeasTap-funded support young people at the start of their opportunities will still be available through online creative careers, charity IdeasTap has awarded inval- networking site Hiive, as will its archive of interuable funding and support to new work chosen by views, guides and podcasts. And there’s still this a panel of theatre professionals to go to Edinburgh. year’s line-up of Edinburgh award winners. Who Now, however, IdeasTap has been forced to close – knows? You might end up watching another star of due to a lack of funding itself. the future. ✏ Tom Wicker The IdeasTap Underbelly Award has been “about giving people going [to Edinburgh] a ‘wow’ opportunity,” says Amanda White, IdeasTap’s strategic partFrom 2012, Charlotte Josephine’s nerships director. Besides money, this has included Bitch Boxer won the HST Edinburgh “lowering the red-tape, to make it easy for anyone Fringe Award 2013 and went on to who has an idea to enter,” and mentoring – “knowltour the UK. Josephine was also edge you only get from people who know the ropes.” part of the Lyric Hammersmith’s acThis year’s winners are Izzy Tennyson’s Brute, a claimed Secret Theatre ensemble, play exploring female friendships in a state school which brought two shows to last setting; The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Family, a year’s Fringe. spoken-word piece written and performed by Ben Norris; The Eulogy of Toby Peach, about facing Cat Jones’s Glory Dazed won the HST Edinburgh Fringe and Adelaide cancer at 21; and Bethany Pitts’ Much Further Out Fringe Awards in 2012, as well as Than You Thought, which brings together Britain Critic’s Circle Best in Fringe. Jones and frontline Afghanistan.    has since worked on two series of Luke Barnes, whose Chapel Street won the 2012 Prisoner’s Wives and written for award, credits IdeasTap with launching a writing Doctors, Waterloo Road and Tatau. career that now sees him commissioned throughout the UK. “[It] allowed us to share our work with Other winners include Misfit’s Karla more people, the press, and the industry,” he recalls. Crome, whose Mush and Me won the “Without it, I think I would literally have disap2014 HST Edinburgh Fringe Award, peared into nothingness.” while Suba Das (Hope, Light and Liverpool-based Barnes is gutted by IdeasTap’s Nowhere) is currently an associate closure, seeing the award as a rare opportunity for director at Leicester’s Curve. theatre-makers from outside London—or other than white and middle-class—to get their foot onto

Where are they now?

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Festivals within Festivals The British Council Showcase

Assembly Korean Season

theatreanddance.britishcouncil.org

assemblyfestival.com

Bringing together top-notch theatre from around the UK with the aim of showing it off to international promoters, this year’s lineup includes the radical Bryony Kimmings and award-winning artists Igor Urzelai and Moreno Solinas from London’s contemprary dance centre,The Place.

August sees artists from around the world descend on Edinburgh, and this year Assembly celebrate contemporary works from Korea.

Made in Scotland

theSpace a cappella festival

C Venues LGBTI Showcase

thespaceuk.com

cthefestival.com

Spurred on by the number of a cappella groups tackling the Fringe, theSpace have put together a spate of unaccompanied close harmony. As you’d expect, it includes a fair few university troupes, and they’re not to be sniffed at.

If you want something emotionally provocative, CJ de Mooi stars in the first section of Harvey Fierstein’s moving Torch Song Trilogy, as part of a programme at C Venues exploring sexuality and gender.

madeinscotlandshowcase.com

After a tumultuous twelve months for Scottish identity, this Scottish Government-funded programme celebrates the nation’s unique cultural past and present. Offerings by old favourites sit alongside cutting edge dance and music from the likes of Clair Cunningham.

Unmissable Theatre made

in the North of England ZENDEH: Cinema • DANIEL BYE: Going Viral • THE LETTER ROOM: Five Feet In Front • NORTHERN STAGE: Here Is The News From Over There • CHRIS THORPE & HANNAH JANE WALKER: Human Resources • THIRD ANGEL: The Paradise Project • TAMASHA: My Name Is • OPEN CLASP: Key Change Venue No: 26

Fringe Box Office:

0131 226 0000 northernstage.co.uk 51


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#EDINTFEST

ANTIGONE DIRECTED BY IVO VAN HOVE WITH JULIETTE BINOCHE Sat 8 – Sat 22 August

Supported by

The Pirie Rankin Charitable Trust With additional support from

The Embassy of the Kingdom of The Netherlands and Institut français d’Ecosse Produced by the Barbican and Les Théâtres de la Ville de Luxembourg, in association with Toneelgroep Amsterdam Co-produced by Edinburgh International Festival and Théâtre de la Ville – Paris and Ruhrfestspiele Recklinghausen

EIF.CO.UK 0131 473 2000

Photo Gavin Evans Charity No SC004694


Focus on:

Blind Summit The Table was a hit for Blind Summit at the 2011 Fringe. After touring the show all over the world, the acclaimed puppet theatre company are back with something new. Artistic director Mark Down talks to Tom Wicker about Citizen Puppet

So why tell such a story with puppets? While they’re a “nightmare to figure out,” says Down, he Table felt like the end of a long journey “they’re fantastic when you finally hit on the answer.” about the nature of puppets and puppetAnd with puppets, “instead of talking about the world eers,” reflects Mark Down, artistic director and seeing the metaphor, you talk about the metaof Blind Summit Theatre, on the company’s last, phor and see the world.” In other words, storytelling highly acclaimed show at the Edinburgh Fringe. of the fairytale kind is built into their very nature. “We wanted to move forward into a show that’s After years of working with puppets Down is more about ‘something’.” still fascinated by the imaginative leap, the way they That show is Citizen Puppet, which opens at require you to “hold two concepts in your head at the Pleasance Courtyard on 5 August. Billed as a the same time” – belief in their ‘aliveness’ but also in ‘puppet-docudrama’, it tells the “true” story of Jack the puppeteer. This “bizarre and thrilling” experience and the Beanstalk. Where The Table was a comically is what keeps Blind Summit going, even though “it foul-mouthed tirade by one puppet, this time Blind seems just as hard this time as it did last time”. Summit are tackling one of the archetypal stories of With 10 puppets, Citizen Puppet is a big step up western childhood. from The Table. But while Down jokes about being Citizen Puppet stemmed from the company’s de- “terrified”, he’s excited by “upping the ante” and welsire to do something verbatim and monologue-based. comes the Fringe’s support of risk-taking. “It chal“But we realised that when puppets talk about the lenges you to try something unusual,” he says. “But I real world, it didn’t seem real,” says Down. “Instead, it also know [audiences] won’t support just anything,” seemed that what was ‘true’ for a puppet was a fairy- he stresses. “You have to do good work.” ✏ Tom Wicker tale.” If puppets could talk, theirs, surely, would be a VENUE: Pleasance Courtyard language of metaphors, myths and magic beans. TIME: 5:00pm – 6:00pm, 5–30 Aug, not 17 While the title came first (“sort of a backwards TICKETS: £6 – £12 way of thinking,” says Down, with a laugh), a tale of foreign lands and things quite literally crashing to the ground felt perfect for taking a sideways look at the meaning of ‘citizenship’ in our world of banking Your show in five words: crises, inequality and political upheaval. Political, verbatim, fairy tale, puppetry. Jack and the Beanstalk is “clearly propagandist for colonialism,” says Down. “It became popular in Fringe top tips: Britain in about 1700 and is absolutely tied to the That’s a difficult one. Bryony occupation of America, the growth of the British Kimmings I always like to see; and Empire and the entire financial system we’re sitting Stewart Lee is always just a guilty on.” And the fear of difference embodied by the giant pleasure. was ripe for subversion.  

Features

Q&A

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Bryony Kimmings:

“I’m an artist, babes”

A Sex Idiot no more, Bryony Kimmings talks to Matt Trueman about growing up and getting serious

“I

just think I grew up,” says Bryony Kimmings, with a girlish shrug. We’re talking about how her art has changed since she first came to Edinburgh six years ago, how it switched from scatterbrained self-regard to passionate, clear-sighted and, yes, fun-filled campaigning. She’s 34 now, and five months pregnant with her first child, a boy – hence what comes next. She leans into my dictaphone: “I’m going for a wee now.” Back in 2009, Bryony Kimmings was Queen of the Overshare. Her debut Sex Idiot was an account of her chlamydia diagnosis. For 7 Day Drunk she spent an entire week pissed to explore the link between art and alcohol. Neither show did much for me. They didn’t say much and thought they said it with aplomb: outré costumes, ramshackle dottiness

and no shame whatsoever. Content was elevated by sheer force of personality, but I wanted sincerity as well as stupidity. I wanted something that mattered. Then came Catherine Bennett, the fictional popstar Kimmings invented with her nine-year-old niece, Taylor: a singer-songwriter-palaeontologist with curly hair and glasses, a million miles from Rihanna, Katy Perry and co. Kimmings toured schools with Credible Likeable Superstar Role Model, hoping to provide a wholesome alternative to sexualised pop icons. Suddenly, it mattered: “I gave a shit about it.” “When I stopped looking at myself and going, ‘Oh, it’s so difficult being me.’ As soon as I allowed myself to become furious, to become passionate on someone else’s behalf, that was when it meant something.”


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So was born Bryony Kimmings Mark II, Art Activist. “I’m obsessed with massive issues now. People might not agree. They might see the same bird talking about the same old taboos, but I genuinely think it’s become the opposite. I don’t give a fuck about my own agenda now. It’s like: ‘Ok, who needs help?’” The answer lay close to home. Her partner Tim Grayburn, father to her bump, has chronic depression. Six months into their relationship, Kimmings found anti-depressants in his backpack. “He hadn’t mentioned it; hadn’t presented any symptoms that I could see. I found these tablets and I was like, ‘I know what these are – what the fuck?’ It didn’t compute. I was thinking: ‘He’s obviously not mentally ill because he’s totally normal. He doesn’t seem like a weak man.’ How dare I have even thought that?” Grayburn had always kept his depression private – even from some of his family. “The thing that made me angry, in the same way that the sexualisation of young girls made me angry, was Tim’s not being able to talk about his emotions as a man; the diabolical stress that put on his brain and the strain that puts on him as a human being. That made me fucking angry.” A year later, they agreed to make a show about it. “I reckon people need to hear this story,” she told him, “and I happen to tell stories for a living.” He left his job in advertising to give it a go and they put their relationship, and his condition, onstage in Fake It ‘Til You Make It. Doing so has taken real honesty – sometimes uncomfortably so. In one rehearsal they realised that their first reactions were identical: “I was like, ‘I could quickly dump him and find someone who isn’t mentally ill’. He thought, ‘I could quickly get rid of her and keep my secret again’.” Grayburn hadn’t performed before and so wanted to feel protected somehow, hidden. He wears masks throughout – clouds and tangled knots obscure his face. It’s like he’s not really there, not in any real way. Grayburn’s tall and handsome, with cheekbones so defined you’ll find them in the Oxford English Dictionary. “He looks like a typical Great White Male,” says Kimmings. “It’s really telling how we look at him: he’s hasn’t got problems. He looks like Eddie Redmayne. He could walk into any job, do whatever he wants. He’s a bloke. He’s young. He’s middle-class. To see that guy whimpering about how sometimes he can’t stop thinking about the fact that sometimes he just wants to be hanging by the throat – that skews every single stereotypical idea we have about those men and that illness.”

In addition to Fake It she’s writing a musical about cancer for Complicité and, after a huge Royal Court-led commission, she’s working with 70-odd young men from working class backgrounds all around the country—“boys the Evening Standard paint as thugs”—in a piece about social revolution. “They leave the workshops and they’re like, ‘I’m going to change the fucking world’. They become like the Hulk.” This is a far cry from her twenties, working in arts management and “fucking around at the weekend in working men’s clubs”. One of her shows was “a spoof E-News” called Celebrityville, a live soap opera about fake celebs. Mostly, it was an excuse for a party. “It was all for shits and giggles. I wasn’t really an artist at all.”

“I reckon people need to hear this story, and I happen to tell stories for a living” It’s a word she mocks, ‘artist.’ 7 Day Drunk included a jaunty, self-satirising song: “I’m an ar-tist, a fucking ar-tist,” sung with Ting Tings-style swagger. “I still think it’s a bit cunty, if I’m honest. If people are like, ‘What do you do?’ I’m never like,”—she puts on an Essexy lisp—“Oh, I’m an artist, babes.” Often she’ll plump for comedian instead. “It’s just easier.” This is one of Kimmings’ greatest assets. She cuts through art’s bullshit – all its loftiness and academia. Her work is down with pop culture and happy to make a proverbial tit of itself. “It has to be entertaining. It has to be accessible and it can never be up its own arse.” Kimmings is avant garde, for sure, but her pop sensibility makes her fit for the mainstream. She talks, at various points of aspiring to be “the British Lena Dunham,” “the female Russell Brand,” and “an artist household name, like Grayson Perry.” “The aim is to increase my audience. Why would I make a piece of work for the Cambridge Junction, if I can make work for the Royal Court or the BBC or 20th Century Fox. If it’s the same voice, if it still has political and artistic integrity, why would I stop? There’s no limit to it.” Like I said, she’s grown up. “I reckon people need to hear this story, and I happen to tell stories for a living.” ✏ Matt Trueman VENUE: TIME: TICKETS:

Traverse Theatre Times vary, 6–30 Aug, not 10, 17, 24 £12 – £18


Returning Heroes A Fringe First Award is the Holy Grail for artists trying their luck in Edinburgh. Everyone wants one... and these guys and gals have got ‘em. This summer they’re up with new delights: shows that are intriguing, delightful and downright grotesque.

Islands

Human Resources

Summerhall, 2:05pm 22–29 August Caroline Horton (who won a Fringe First in 2012 with Mess) matches the obscenity of tax avoidance with the obscene in her bouffant show Islands. Horton wanted to reflect the obfuscation that surrounds the issue. “It’s about something grotesque and visceral that can potential horrify,” she says. “But it will also make us feel something, something about this issue”

Wail Forest Fringe, 2:00pm 7-19 August You’ve only got three days to see work-in-progress Wail but it’s an unmissable chance to get inside the brains of Fringe favourites Little Bulb (Fringe First for Crocosmia, 2008). “By collaborating with a scientist [Professor Paul White of Southampton University], we gained inside access to facts like it is predominantly male humpback whales that are recognised as having a ‘song’,” Little Bulb’s Clare Beresford says. “It was fascinating.”

Summerhall, 3:55pm 8-30 August, not 12, 19, 26

Tonight With Donny Stixx Pleasance Courtyard, 2:45pm 5-31 August, not 18, 25 The team behind 2013 Edinburgh smash hit Dark Vanilla Jungle are back with Philip Ridley’s Tonight With Donny Stixx. Starring Sean Michael Verey, this one-man play takes a provocative look at domestic violence, constructions of gender and the catalysing power of the media. “[It] builds on many of the things I’ve found incredibly exciting about Phil’s recent work,” says director David Mercatali. “Pushing an actor to the extremes of performance and taking the audience on an exhilarating journey with them.”

Human Resources is the newest piece from long-term collaborators and Fringe First winners Chris Thorpe and Hannah Jane Walker and looks at the stories we tell that make up who we are. Thorpe says “Human Resources is about the tension between me and Hannah. She tells a lot of stories about herself. I don’t. I don’t know much about my history. She knows all about hers. Neither of us understands the other. The show is made up of poems and stories about that.”

The Alphabet Girl theSpace on the Mile, 5:10pm 7-29 August, not 10, 16, 23 Renny Krupinski won a Fringe First back in 2010 with Bare and now he’s turning his attention to contemporary womanhood. “The Alphabet Girl is a quirky, intriguing and funny [look into] the hidden depths of the psyche through three generations.”

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AUG 12-16 3PM DAILY Venue 150@EICC 7th Annual!

5 DYNAMIC DANCE COMPANIES FROM THE USA IN ONE SHOW!

bookingdance.com

I M P E R M A N E N C E DA N C E T H E A T R E

DA-DA-DARLING ‘POETIC ENERGETIC RACY VINTAGE STYLISH’

SIMON CASSON DUCKIE

7 - 31 Aug (except 17) 10.15pm (1hr) zoofestival.co.uk

‘Visually dazzling’

5 – 29 August, 1pm

Financial Times

£8.50 – £14.50

Tickets www.pleasance.co.uk or 0131 556 6550

www.geckotheatre.com Tweet @GECKOTHEATRE

Room 2 Manoeuvre presents

Squish Squared Dance meets squash!

14th - 23rd Aug (not 18th) 1130 & 1300 (50 mins) £5 preview (£8/£6) Venue 457 | ZOO Grange Tickets: www.zoofestival.co.uk t: 0131 662 6892

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Focus on:

Shakespeare’s

Globe

Shakespeare’s Globe is making its Fringe debut this year with creative twists on two of the Bard’s plays. Jane Howard talks to one of the writers doing the reimagining

S

hakespeare has been at the Edinburgh Fringe from the beginning, with the Christine Orr Players of Edinburgh’s Macbeth one of the eight productions in the first festival in 1947. It’s not surprising to see that the Bard is still a staple: a search for his name in this year’s programme brings up no less than 71 results, and that’s just the ones where his name is part of the show’s title. What is surprising, perhaps, is 2015 being the first year that Shakespeare’s Globe is joining the crowd. It’s not quite the Bard they’re bringing, though: instead, this is Shakespeare Untold. This is Romeo and Juliet from the perspective of the Party Planner and Titus Andronicus from the Piemaker, with writers Harper Ray and Adam Sibbald asking what happens when you shift the lens on these famous plays. “Knowing a play, people can have preconceptions,” Ray tells me on choosing to tell these untold stories. “Even not knowing the play can be intimidating. New work levels the playing field.” Of course, Shakespeare remains at the heart of the work. “The themes and emotions of Shakespeare’s plays are very real for each of us,” he says. Through re-examination, these themes become open and exciting to a whole new family audience. “A new character meant we could hear the story from a different perspective. They talk to the audience as friends, including and exciting them while staying true.” Titus Andronicus, concedes Ray, is “not necessarily the obvious choice” for re-examination or for children’s theatre. But then, perhaps that’s exactly why it should be chosen. “People baked in a pie?” he says. “Classic fairy story fare.”

“It doesn’t matter if you know either of the plays. These are stand-alone works that assume nothing. The characters tell you a complete story: their own story. It just so happens that their story reveals the key moments, characters, themes and even language of Shakespeare’s play.” Titus Andronicus is a popular pick of this year’s festival, with productions by Cambridge Shakespeare Collective, Tripped Theatre, China’s WeAct, and Smooth Faced Gentlemen’s all-female cast. And, of course, Romeo and Juliet gets a look in as ever: with N6 Productions, the American High School Theatre Festival’s Latino take, and Captive Theatre at the Spiegeltent. And although this may be the Globe’s first time to the Edinburgh Fringe, it’s hardly Ray’s. “I love the Fringe and have been coming since my days as a student,” he says. “It’s obviously a great honour for Adam Sibbald and myself to be charged with co-creating the Globe’s debut.”pro The festival, he says, “gives the Globe a chance to connect with completely new audiences: those who arrive in unimaginable numbers to be part of the most exciting arts event in the world. Shakespeare Untold couldn’t have hoped for a better first outing than this.” ✏ Jane Howard

VENUE: TIME:

TICKETS:

Pleasance Courtyard 12:30am – 1:20pm, 5–31 Aug, not 12, 19, 26 1:40pm – 2:30pm, 5–31 Aug, not 12, 19, 26 £5 - £10


Win Tickets to the

Fest Magazine

E

verybody loves a secret. For example, did you know that Fest throws a launch party at the start of every Fringe? Probably not, as it’s strictly for those in the industry. We put on a secret showcase of select estival acts, in a top secret location, with a little tipple and a nibble, too. This year we’d like to offer 20 lucky readers the chance to win guestlist to the bash. It’s on Monday the 10th of August at a city centre location, with drinks provided by Russian Standard Vodka.

To Enter...

Launch Party

To enter, simply tweet @festmag with your favourite one-liner joke, and the best 20 entries get the worm. The worm, in this case, being a name +1 on our guestlist, you early birds you.

The Skinny Showcase Credit: Laura Porteous

31 Jul–23 Aug at Hill St Design House

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Digital Dreams, Analogue Realities The minds behind Close Up and Francesca, Francesca... tell Sean Bell about building a multimedia world

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he more things change, the more they stay the same. It’s one of the many truisms that find unexpected justification at the Fringe, where the techniques of performance are always in flux, but the motivations behind them remain eternal. Technology, forever on the march, is an expression of the former, while the theatrical experience it helps create embodies the latter. With characteristic eclecticism, this year’s Fringe offers an impressive variety of shows that exploit advances in digital technology to summon innovative multimedia experiences. There is Francesca, Francesca..., an experimental exploration of photography that straddles the second and third dimensions. In Close Up, an intimate circus troupe expresses its vivid physicality both onstage and on video, as its performers confront their own image. Visual maestro Robert Lepage offers a meditation on memory in the age of digital capture in 887, and in Annabelle’s Skirting Board Adventures, children’s theatre meets live digital animation, enchanting all ages in the process. It would be easy—and wrong—to dismiss any or all of these as productions hypnotised by the superficial thrill of hi-tech bells and whistles.

What’s immediately apparent when talking to the shows’ creators is how aware they are of the balance between technical and human elements, and the importance of both. “I wanted a dance between the acrobats, the audience and the artform of circus,” says Yaron Lifschitz, creative director of Close Up. “The show seeks to bring the audience close to our circus – a world where you can see, touch and connect with these wonderful artists and the amazing things they do. It combines extreme slow motion close-up footage of acrobatics and acrobats with strong physical sequences. We started with every technical trick we have and in rehearsals we stripped them back. The video element is now quite simple and refined – it is based around using 1,500 frames-per-second specialist cameras filming acrobatics close up – and then putting this on in contact with live performance.” Lifschitz is clearly excited by what digital technology has allowed Close Up to achieve, but his emphasis is on the performers and the audience. “I have the privilege of watching acrobats work every day, and I’m left with a great sense of beauty and power and connection. I want to share these with an audience. So I started by asking: how close could an audience be?


“I have seen so many great uses of multimedia that I’m happy to say there are plenty of great options and no ideal ones,” admits Lifschitz. “In Close Up the really special and warming thing is how the characters relate to the images of themselves. They encounter it with wonder and discovery. They use this amazement to create the show. This makes me think the ideal multimedia experience is one where the media serves the inner life of the show and they work together to create more than the sum of their parts.”

Features

festmag.co.uk

“I wanted to push the envelope of visual theatre and what we could do with more technology”

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Megan Lewicki, director of Francesca, Francesca... and one of the brains behind 2014 Fest favourite Pomegranate Jam, aims for a different but by no means less intimate experience. “Pomegranate Jam was very analogue, using techniques like shadow puppetry that have been employed for thousands of years. This time, I wanted to push the envelope of visual theatre and what we could do with more technology. “Video-live performance is an aspect of visual theatre I’ve always been interested in – using projection and different lighting techniques to create a story on stage. With this show, we use a mix of old and new technologies – modern, digital video projectors and antique slide projectors. What I’d like to pursue is having performers interacting with imagery in a way that goes beyond a physical set. The old adage is a picture tells a thousand words; I really want to see just how much an image can resonate with an audience.” In order to understand the effect Lewicki and her team are trying to achieve, one must first know about Francesca Woodman, the late American photographer who serves as the play’s inspiration, acclaim for whose indefinable work has been largely posthumous. “She’s not very accessible,” Lewicki admits. “Only those close to her actually knew her, and those who did haven’t really spoken about her. So when it comes to writing a play, what we have is this: an artist, a prodigy, who achieved artistic maturity when she was 16, and yet struggled to find her voice, to find a way to be relevant in a time that wasn’t ready for her... And then committed suicide, for reasons that still aren’t clear. I like telling women’s

stories, and I particularly like crafting narratives about women whose stories have not been told. We know so little about her, yet I feel everyone should know about her. “The character we’ve created is representative of the person we see in the photographs,” Lewicki explains. “A person who’s stuck in time, catalogued and archived, who we’ve come to know as Francesca Woodman.” Francesca, Francesca... makes use of entirely original photography inspired by the most iconic pieces of Woodman’s work, presented via illumination to create a haunting world within the camera’s lens. Technologically, Lewicki is keen to emphasise that the show is as much analagoue as it is digital. “Using a digital projector is easy – everything goes on your Macbook – but we decided to make it as complicated as possible. We had 35mm slides specially made for our antique projectors, yet they were based on digital imagery. They give it a very film-like quality, as opposed to the overly crisp effect of digital projection. Now, we project through cheese cloth, onto wax paper. Stuff you can find in your kitchen. “It’s a humble presentation of a visceral medium,” she concludes. “I think the greatest innovation you can achieve is doing a lot with very little. How do you make a beautiful piece of theatre with cheese cloth and wax paper?” And where exactly does one find antique slide projectors? “Ebay,” Lewicki says with a laugh. It’s hard to think of a better metaphor than that for the meeting of old and new technology. ✏ Sean Bell

SHOW: VENUE: TIME: TICKETS:

SHOW: VENUE: TIME: TICKETS:

SHOW: VENUE: TIME: TICKETS:

SHOW: VENUE: TIME: TICKETS:

887 Edinburgh International Conference Centre times vary, 13–23 Aug, not 17 £32 Annabelle’s Skirting Board Adventure Just the Tonic at The Community Project 11:30am – 12:30pm, 6–30 Aug, not 18 £5 – £9 Francesca, Francesca... Venue 13 6:45pm – 7:45pm, 8–29 Aug, not 10, 17, 24 £8 Close Up Underbelly, George Square 8:00pm – 9:00pm, 5–31 Aug, not 12, 18, 25 £11 – £18


62 Theatre

Focus on:

Jamie Wood Clown doctor Jamie Wood wants Fringe-goers to fall in love at his hippy hour of “playful experiential exploration”

been married 20-odd years. He cried, and afterwards he said, ‘Thank you for reminding me how much I love my wife.’” Of course, Yoko Ono’s own love story ended in tragedy. But Wood’s performance is suffused with a glow of optimism and hope: “I only knew sad love stories – how can you have the belief in what life can hold if you think they all end up shit in the end? But my partner and I have just had a baby girl and that makes you think about what stories you pass on.” At the performance’s opening he promises the audience that they’ll all fall in love with each other. Whether or not Fringe cynics open their hearts, his show’s romance with life is one that can only end happily. ✏ Alice Saville VENUE: TIME: TICKETS:

And Finally...

F

ringe First-winner Jamie Wood begins his new performance wrapped in a silk kimono, inviting the audience to play chimes looped around his body. In the right order they’ll play ‘Imagine’. O No! is a blend of mysticism, live art and silliness that sums up Wood’s attempts to reassess Yoko Ono, his parents’ troubled marriage and love stories themselves in a magical hour of off-kilter psychedelia. With golden messianic beard and locks, Wood’s presence fills the stage. But his performance is a high-concept hour that relies on as much conceptual art theory as charisma. Wood quotes Yoko Ono: “I hate sculpture because there’s so much beauty in the world. Why do you need to make something else?” His avant-garde (and Fringe-friendly) set relies on familiar poundshop props put to uses their makers never dreamt of – a yoga ball and a torch become a glowing solar eclipse, for example. The audience are invited to fall in love with the world through “playful experiential exploration” and avant garde art games of childlike intensity. The idea for O No! came from John Lennon. Fresh from his bed-in for world peace, Lennon said: “Yoko and I are willing to be the world’s clowns, if by doing it we do some good.” It’s an ethos that’s got a lot in common with Jamie Wood’s day job as a Giggle Doctor – performers trained to work in a medical or therapeutic environment. As he explains, “When I started I’d just studied with Gaulier, the great French clown teacher. But once you’re with a sick child and their family, suddenly you are the least important person in the room and you don’t give a shit about all that. The thing you bring is space to be naughty, to listen, to laugh.” O No! has a similar aim: “To open up a space for talking about love.” The performance’s emotional expansiveness reaches summer of ‘67 levels when he invites an audience member to talk about love with him, naked, inside a large sack. So what happens inside? Wood recalls that, “One guy said he’d

Assembly Roxy 7:00pm – 8:00pm, 5–31 Aug, not 17, 24 £5 – £12

Your most memorable Edinburgh Fringe moment When performing Beating McEnroe, there was a performance where I looked into the audience and saw a whole load of my heroes in the audience, Dr. Brown, Trygve Wakenshaw, Nina Conti, Daniel Kitson, Simon Munnery. It was terrifying and wonderful. Your top tips for the Fringe Stay open and talk to people, take risks and go to things you’ve got no idea what they’ll be.


CalArts Festival Theater -12th Season on the fringeBayou Blues

Enter the dream a girl named Beauty in the bayou of New Orleans.

15:45

JUMP ABOARD THE

WORST AIRLINE IMAGINABLE

Your favourite show might be just around the corner!

Francesca,Francesca...

Explore the mythology surrounding the remarkable Francesca Woodman. From the creator of 2014’s hit Pomegranate Jam 18:45

IamI A multimedia dreamscape within the Eversphere, following an eclectic group discovering life after death.

17th-29th* @ 12.45pm £8.00 (£6.00)

Find out what’s on near you, plus up-to-theminute Festival reviews on festmag.co.uk

*no performance 23rd from rting Depa eTriplex Spac e 38 Venu

w ced Ne k-Pa Quic Comedies @BuckleUpTheatre

21:30 Bayou Blues 15:45 Francesca, Francesca... 18:45 IamI 21:30 £8.00 General | £6.00 Concession

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On Lochend Close - Just off the Royal Mile 100m past Cannongate Kirk

Aug 8-29 | tickets:

£6-8

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Study at Pleasance Dome

12.15pm 5-15 Aug

11.00am 16-31 Aug


Theatre

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Speaking Up for Free Speech Debate about censorship and freedom of expression raged at last year’s Fringe when an Israeli show was cancelled following disruptive protests in Bristo Square. Catherine Love talks to the artists making work in response Walking The Tightrope: The Tension Between Art and Politics

O

n the Fringe, it can feel as though anything goes. Nudity, swearing, violence – in August, Edinburgh’s stages have it all. But freedom of expression in the theatre remains a live issue. The Lord Chamberlain may have retired his red pen in 1968, but more insidious forms of censorship – from disruptive protests to intrusive corporate sponsorship – regularly threaten to take its place. The debate flared up again in Edinburgh last summer when The City, a show by government-funded Israeli company Incubator Theatre, was cancelled by Underbelly following protests in Bristo Square. A few days later, London’s Tricycle Theatre decided not to host the Israeli-funded UK Jewish Film Festival, and in September Brett Bailey’s controversial installation Exhibit B – seen in Edinburgh as part of the International Festival – was pulled by the Barbican after accusations of racism. For two months, questions of censorship and freedom of expression were at the eye of a furious storm of debate and indignation. Now, one year on, director Cressida Brown

wants us to talk about it. Walking the Tightrope: The Tension Between Art and Politics, a collection of short plays followed by open discussion, is Brown’s response to events last summer. The plays, penned by the likes of Mark Ravenhill, Caryl Churchill and Neil LaBute, are a springboard for conversation, directly inspired by what happened at the Tricycle, Underbelly and the Barbican. “It was a very specific provocation,” Brown explains. Walking the Tightrope started with a Facebook post. Responding to the UK Jewish Film Festival furore, Brown wrote: “How can the Tricycle be accused of being anti-Semitic?” The response was startling. “I just had an assumption that everyone would agree with me,” recalls Brown, who has a “liberal crowd” on social media. “It turned out people didn’t agree with me and it was the most popular post I think I’ve ever had; it started to escalate into almost 100 comments.” As Brown quickly discovered, these are divisive issues right across the political spectrum. Trouble is, it’s rarely a case of black and white. The line between


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Features

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freedom of speech and incitement of hatred can be perilously thin, while arts funding and sponsorship is murky territory. “Is BP worse than Israeli funding?” asks Brown. “What constitutes dirty money and where does the buck stop?” For Tim Fountain, one of the contributors to Walking the Tightrope, the shutting down of shows like The City is “a symbol of mob rule”. He worries that art has lost its right to offend and that we’ve got into a habit of “tiptoeing around” contentious issues. “We have the right to protest,” says Fountain, “but that does not mean the right to actually prevent something from taking place just because you don’t like it.” Writer Sam Steiner, on the other hand, suggests that “the freedom of speech advocates can be quite bullish”. Dealing less directly with censorship, Lemons, Lemons, Lemons, Lemons, Lemons, his company Walrus Theatre’s debut show, images a world in which everyone’s speech is constricted. Following a new law, communication is capped at 140 words a day, making every word count. The play shows the legislation’s effects through the lens of one relationship, asking what it means to express ourselves both personally and politically. “I think the play explores how we censor ourselves personally,” says Steiner. “That reverberates politically, through our unwillingness to stand up for what we mean and what we believe in. The play takes that personal inability to communicate and suggests that that could be the case politically as well.” Though the fictional law in Lemons applies to everyone, unequal power structures mean that freedom of speech is more vital for some than others. There’s a question, as Steiner puts it, of “who needs words more”. Similar inequalities led playwright David Greig to call for the boycotting of The City and to set up Welcome to the Fringe, a fund for both Palestinian theatre-makers and Israeli artists who want to reject government backing. As he argued at the time, “there is no equality of access to stages” for Israeli and Palestinian theatre-makers. As well as collaborating with Forest Fringe and the Gate Theatre to bring several young Palestinian artists to Edinburgh this August, Welcome to the Fringe is helping to fund Here is the News from Over There, (Over There is the News from Here), an ambitious international project in Northern Stage’s programme at Summerhall. Taking its lead from the brilliant chaos of The Bloody Great Border Ballad, which saw artists coming together to consider the possibility of Scottish independence two years ago, Here is the News will be staging new stories

from across the Middle East in each performance. The project will also have an online life, with each day’s stories released on Twitter in advance. The aim is to create, in the words of Northern Stage’s artistic director Lorne Campbell, “an emotional and political and intellectual space which feels very immediate”.

“Is BP worse than Israeli funding? What constitutes dirty money and where does the buck stop?” Campbell makes it clear that Here is the News is not an answer to last summer’s debates, but instead an “invitation” to artists whose voices might not otherwise be heard. “This is not an effort at journalism,” he stresses. “This is not an effort at being completist or balanced or offering all views in a democratic way, it’s the creation of a space and then the amplification of the voices that rush into that space.” The role of arts organisations, Campbell argues, is to facilitate conversation. “I think dialogue is everything,” he says, suggesting that the Barbican’s downfall with Exhibit B was its reluctance to engage with protestors. “If people politically object or are morally or culturally offended by something, that to me always represents a breakdown of communication.” Walking the Tightrope is likewise about discussion. Brown describes the plays as “provocations for people to have a talk, have a listen, and then go into the bar and continue those conversations”. Looking back on the project’s London run, Fountain says that the debates, which involve a changing line-up of panellists, “can be very exciting if people are prepared to say what they really believe”. And if they disagree? “That’s part of the fun.” ✏ Catherine Love SHOW:

VENUE: TIME: TICKETS:

SHOW:

VENUE: TIME: TICKETS:

SHOW: VENUE: TIME: TICKETS:

Here Is The News From Over There (Over There Is The News From Here) Northern Stage at Summerhall 11:10pm – 12:10am, 8–29 Aug, not 12, 19, 26 £10 – £12 Walking The Tightrope: The Tension Between Art and Politics Underbelly Potterrow 3:35pm – 5:05pm, 5–31 Aug, not 17 £11 – £15.50 Lemons, Lemons, Lemons, Lemons, Lemons Zoo Southside 4:00pm – 4:55pm, 7–22 Aug £9


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W

hile the world’s heavyweight authors come crashing in to the Edinburgh International Book Festival, hugely popular US poetry slam contest Literary Death Match is rivalling the comedy world’s bombast by using words as weapons in its first ever Fringe run. But Scotland’s homegrown spoken word scene is determined to fight its corner, too. Leading lights Rachel McCrum and Bram E. Gieben have ganged up with five other poets to create a new showcase in Summerhall’s Shift/, wowing the crowds with everything from Ali Maloney’s Lovecraftian bouffon rap apocalypse to Sam Small’s ketamine love poems.  These homegrown slam champions are part of a vibrant scene that’s often put in the shade during August’s heat rash of festivals. Shift/ artist Harry Giles explains that “the Fringe is often something that happens to Scotland, rather than with Scotland. It’s incredible – but sometimes it feels like the world has a massive party on our front lawn and doesn’t clear up the mess afterwards.” There’s also a toxic hangover for independent venues and artists, courtesy of deadly quiet surrounding months. Giles feels that “if artists are to survive here they have to diversify. Shift/ collective’s economic model spreads the risk and benefit, which means none of us are bankrupting ourselves.” Giles exposed his struggles to stay afloat in Everything I Bought and How It Made Me Feel, littering the stage with Scotmid receipts. In ‘Drone’, the poetry cycle he’ll perform at Shift/, he fuses personal and political by imagining himself as depressed office worker and military death machine all rolled into one. Fellow Shift/ artist Jenny Lindsay’s ‘Ire & Salt’ carries a similar theme, playing on the imagery of the Scottish flag’s cross to explore last year’s independence referendum from all angles, including her own stability as an artist. Shift/’s performers have honed their skills in a diverse scene that encourages them beyond reading

Harry Giles

As US poetry slam contest Literary Death Match makes its Fringe debut, Alice Saville talks to the spoken word artists of Shift/ collective about Edinburgh’s own thriving scene

Theatre

Fighting Talk Your show in five words Genre-bashing poetry superhero team-up! Your top tips for the Fringe Conspicuous artistic consumption sprees are bad for art, bad for artists and bad for audiences. You don’t have to see everything. Maybe just see one good thing and then go for a walk? You’ll probably enjoy the art more and the art will enjoy you more.

to croon, dance, rap and perform their work. Rachel McCrum’s work toys with the gap between page and stage: her performance ‘Do Not Alight Here Again’ acknowledges spoken word critics by writing that, “Performance is cheating in poetry/ Accidents of cadence confer charmplate weight/ On anecdote.” But her poems stand up just as well in pamphlets as they do in the livelier company of Rally & Broad nights, a “cabaret of lyrical delight” that she co-hosts with Lindsay. Rally & Broad make it extra tempting to cheat on the written word with gender-balanced billing, dancing and even raffles. By comparison, Shift/’s rotating programme is all about the power of a voice to pin an audience and not let it go. As Literary Death Match presses authors into battle, the Shift/ team are collectively pinning down questions of politics and Scottish identity in knockout performances. Who said wrestling isn’t a team sport? ✏ Alice Saville SHOW: VENUE: TIME: TICKETS:

SHOW: VENUE: TIME: TICKETS:

Shift/ – A Best Of Spoken Word Summerhall 9:30pm – 10:30pm, 5–28 Aug, not 6 £3 – £6 Literary Death Match The Stand Comedy Club 3 & 4 4:25pm – 5:25pm, 23–30 Aug £10


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Music

Music Top Picks HUG Forest Fringe, 3:30pm & 4.15pm 24-28 Aug A gig with a difference, this interactive musical experience by performance artist Verity Standen involves being blindfolded and hugged by a singer. HUG was at last year’s Fringe too but so brief was its appearance, and so wonderful the show, that it’s making it into this year’s picks too. So sue us.

The Church of Malcolm Assembly George Square Studios, 5-23 Aug, 8:00pm Malcolm Doherty formed this energetic rock gospel project after facing down death and living to tell the tale. An hour in the company of Malcolm and his disciples and you’ll see the world with new eyes.

Sweet Dreams: Songs by Annie Lennox Assembly George Square, 6:00pm 6-31 Aug, not 18 Aussie cabaret singer Michael Griffiths returns to the Fringe

Silver Darlings: Alexander McCall Smith and James Ross

fresh from bagging a Best

The Famous Spiegeltent, 7:30pm

Cabaret Award on home

20, 23-24 Aug

territory at the Adelaide Fringe. Previous Edinburgh appearanc-

New song cycle about Scotland’s

es have seen him performing

relationship with the sea, created

stripped down – no accents, no

by the No. 1 Ladies Detective

elaborate costumes – versions

Agency novelist, and leading

of Madonna songs, and this

Scottish composer James Ross,

year it’s Annie Lennox in the

and performed by a company of

spotlight.

singers and musicians.


Camille O’Sullivan – Brel The Queen’s Hall, 10.30pm 11-16 Aug The French/Irish singer has been reciting Jacques Brel for the entirety of her stage life, so in a sense, this isn’t anything new. Except that, to hear Camille inhabit these miniature emotional epics is to hear them as if

Triveni

for the first time, straight off the ships in the Port of Amsterdam.

theSpace @ Venue45, 6:30pm 13-15 Aug Prabhat Rao arrives the Edinburgh as one of the leading

festmag.co.uk

young Indian classical vocalists working in the UK today. Accompanied by Pulkit Sharma (tabla) and Drupad Mistry (sarod), it’s a perfect opportunity to get to grips with the mesmerising raagas of a form which fits none of our European critical

Iestyn Davies & Ensemble Guadagni

categories.

The Sun Ra Arkestra

The Queen’s Hall, 11:00am 19 Aug

Summerhall, 8:30pm 20 Aug

Top Picks

Undoubtedly one of the world’s

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best-known countertenors

If you’ve never before seen a ninety

(that’s men singing high, FYI),

one year-old blasting out free jazz

Iestyn Davies seems hell-bent

blowouts while sporting Egyp-

on snatching early music from

tian-inspired robes, then you’re in

the clutches of dry academics.

for an intergalactic, avant garde

Davies brings Purcell to life,

adventure. 22 years after Sun Ra’s

invigorating it with sass, long-

death, the space age tomfoolery is a

ing, humour and tenderness.

bit dated, but bandleader Marshall

300-year-old songs that speak

Allen’s angular musical gestures

across the ages.

remain thoroughly future-proof.


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Focus on:

King Creosote For two nights only, before a return to the studio, King Creosote performs his long-form homage to Scotland

W

orkers holding hand-stitched banners march through city streets in black and white, cine-film staccato. Factory smoke mixes with morning fog over the Clyde or the docks at Leith. Vast boats are riveted together with whitehot bolts by sweat-drenched shipwrights. Couples step out, smiling, for Friday nights at dance-halls and fairgrounds. And over it all, the music and the voice of King Creosote, Fife’s own shaggy monarch of folk, lays imagined stories of Scotland’s social history. This is From Scotland with Love, a film entirely consisting of archive footage of mid-20th century Scottish city life, compiled and directed by Virginia Heath with a soundtrack newly written and performed by the King himself. Originally commissioned for the 2014 commonwealth games, it’s a gorgeous, yearning collaboration, and one for which King Creosote, real name Kenny Anderson, will be providing a live soundtrack at this year’s International Festival. Anderson took some time to explain a little about the process of bringing the film together: “Once Virginia had identified the themes she wanted to explore, I got to watch a few full-length archive films to get ideas for songs, my brief being to bring a few of the myriad of characters to life. A lot of the detail in the film was cut to the lyrics.” The ideas that came to him, the characters and locations drawn out by his songs and then fed back

into the film, have created some more upbeat and wholeheartedly carefree numbers than long-time King Creosote fans might have come to expect. There are songs like ‘Cargill’ that bring home the fear and bittersweet reunions of fishermen with their wives, who have lived with “the dread of counting home the fleet”. But against this there are also tracks like ‘Largs’, with their more homely, holiday vistas of caravan parks and 99 Flakes, as well as the demob-happy single ‘For One Night Only’. Reckoning that the two screenings of From Scotland with Love at the Hub, which will see him accompanied by a 13-piece live band, “will be more than enough King Creosote for this year’s festival”, Anderson suggests they may be the only chance to see him in the city this August, when he’ll also be spending some time in the studio. So whether or not you manage to snap up a ticket to one of these two performances, which promise to be some of the month’s undoubted musical highlights, it’s good to know that there’s more King Creosote on the way, and soon: “Once the pollen count dies down again I can stop lamenting over my dislike of July and get back to writing those spiky three-minute pop songs I’m renowned for.” ✏ Stewart Pringle VENUE: TIME: TICKETS:

The Hub Times vary, 14–15 Aug £25


Michael Griffiths in the acclaimed cabaret that will play with your heart.

WINNER BEST CABARET ADELAIDE FRINGE 2014

18:00 06 - 31 AUG

“A DEEPLY FELT REFLECTION OF THE MAN. SAVOR EVERY MINUTE.” – NEW YORK TIMES

NOMINA TED FOR A 20 15 DRAM A DESK AW ARD IN NEW YO RK

WITH THE MUSIC AND LYRICS OF JOHN LENNON LENNON & McCARTNEY

JOHN WATERS with STEWART D’ARRIETTA 6 – 28 AUGUST

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22:30 6–27 AUGUST

Extra shows 19:30, 10, 17, 28 August Extra Shows 14:30 17 & 24 August Extra Shows 21:00, 24 August


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All The Nice Girls Lesbian Love in the Limelight. A tribute to pioneering performers in music hall and revue. Aug 6th-16th, 18th-29th 15:15 £7 / £5

Vision 2015

A dramatic and tragic life is played out through this stunning rock opera. Aug 18th-23rd 13:35 £8.50 / £5.50

The Genius of Charles Dickens Famous characters from the novels of Charles Dickens brought to life. Aug 10th-16th 16:40 £8 / £6

101 Reasons Why I #@%$ Katie Hopkins A one women rant on Britain’s favourite rent-a-gob. Aug 6th-30th (not Weds) 18:35 £8

See a show at Sweet? Share your thoughts, tips, reviews and more on this year’s shows using #SweetGrassmarket across twitter, facebook & instagram!

Explore Edinburgh’s Hidden History

Experience More in 2015: Tour | Café | Shop

The Royal Mile, Edinburgh

Imagine... The Stories They Could Tell Tel: 0845 070 6244 www.RealMaryKingsClose.com Open 9am-10pm daily


A New

Features

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Season

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Composer Max Richter describes collaborating with Vivaldi, resurrecting deleted music and writing the world a lullaby

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ou know The Four Seasons, whether you think so or not. Even if you confess to an ignorance of Vivaldi, a disinterest in the Baroque repertoire and the sneaking suspicion a concerto is a kind of ice cream, chances are Le Quattro Stagioni has etched a groove in your mind so deep you instinctively recognise it without conscious thought. It is an experience composer Max Richter understands well. “We fall in love with The Four Seasons as one of the first pieces of orchestral music we hear,” Richter explains. “Then later on, it turns into background noise, an advertising jingle, a ringtone. It became musical wallpaper, and I got sick of it. I couldn’t hear it any more.” Both professionally as a composer and as someone with a passionate personal investment in music, Richter could not accept that Vivaldi’s masterwork should suffer such familiarity-bred contempt, even if he had felt it himself. “I set out to rediscover it as a piece of music, by stepping into this landscape that Vivaldi made and seeing if I could encounter it afresh.” Richter’s career has been an ongoing endeavour to marry the classical with the modern, forging unlikely syntheses, using the new to reflect upon the old and vice versa. His 2004 album, The Blue Notebooks, gave Franz Kafka a fresh voice via Tilda Swinton and ambient electronica; in 2006,

Max Richter

Songs From Before provided a soundtrack to Robert Wyatt reading Haruki Murakami – a combination of talents no one else could have conceived, but absolutely everyone should hear. Now, Richter has reimagined The Four Seasons as something not entirely original, not entirely the same, but still faithful, and still beautiful. Recomposed: Vivaldi – The Four Seasons is the result. At the outset, The Four Seasons posed a particular challenge, even for a talent as wide-ranging and unconventional as Richter, if only because he is far from the first to consider its reinterpretation. The concertos have been covered in the style of hip hop, reggae, jazz and thrash metal, remixed for video games, melded with the score of Disney’s Frozen, performed by Chinese pipa, Indian sarangi and Inuit throat-singing. Richter, however, never found such a sprawling context intimidating. “I think the fact there are thousands of versions out there is evidence of how amazing the original piece is. It can embrace this enormous variety of interpretations without falling apart.” Given that the recomposition was Richter’s response to the way overplayed omnipresence can kill a piece of music, is there any way great art avoids becoming just another part of our cultural furniture? Richter admits he doesn’t have all the continues 


› answers: “I don’t know, really. My inspiration was

to reconnect to the original, rather than an annoying jingle. That’s my personal answer. Pieces get overplayed because they’re really popular, and generally, they’re really popular because they’re really good.” If Recomposed: Vivaldi is Richter setting forth into the terrain of another composer, audiences at this year’s EIF will also have the chance to enter Richter’s own musical landscape with a new performance of his solo debut Memoryhouse, a piece Richter once thought would never be heard. “It was initially available for a year or two, and no one knew,” he recalls. “No sales, no reviews, nothing. Eventually, they quietly deleted it. Now we’ve resurrected it.” What was it like to revisit a work composed so early in his career? “Like meeting a younger version of yourself. Writing music is very emotional; it’s part of your history and trajectory though life. The things you write are a map of your enthusiasms and thinking at the time. It’s been lying dormant for a long while—I assumed it would never be played—so it’s exciting to finally get the chance to put it on its feet.” If further proof of Richter’s innovative thinking were needed, listeners can look out for his upcoming project Sleep, set for digital release this September, which is “intended to be slept through.” “It lasts roughly eight hours, and it’s an experiment in how music and consciousness can interact. It ties in with recent research into neuroscience

and what’s called ‘slow-wave sleep’, which is where memory and learning are consolidated; it’s kind of an organisational brain-state. It’s very healthy, and since we live in a sleep-deprived society, it’s a gigantic lullaby, essentially.” Lesser composers may worry about their audiences falling asleep during the performance; Richter is imaginative enough to actually plan for such an eventuality. Such talent deserves attention, whether we are awake or not.

"I think the fact there are thousands of versions out there is evidence of how amazing the original piece is“ “I think the fact there are thousands of versions out there is evidence of how amazing the original piece is. It can embrace this enormous variety of interpretations without falling apart.”✏ Sean Bell

VENUE: TIME: TICKETS:

The Edinburgh Playhouse 8:00pm – 10:15pm, 24 Aug £10

Music

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Focus on:

Puddles Pity Party The Puddles Pity Party comes to Edinburgh for its full run debut, where the Sad Clown with the Golden Voice gets emotional with his audiences

Features

I

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suppose this is what the Fringe is all about, isn’t it. Interviewing a clown over Skype who mimes his responses. Right then. Puddles the Clown is a gentle giant: 6’8”, but slow, soft and sweet in gesture and expression. And though his act—the Puddles Pity Party—features him performing moving, melancholic renditions of contemporary pop with his hearty baritone, the character is otherwise mute. This silence, coupled with his appearance (traditional Grimaldi/Pierrot all-white clown garb, big ruff and fluffy buttons), lends him a sombre, timeless air, like a bygone cartoon. His answers are therefore simple – a nod, a shrug, a few words on paper. A purity of message. So, the basics: what is the Puddles Pity Party? “It’s about feelings and showing it,” the card says. And what can Fringe audiences expect from the show? “Tears, laughter, fellowship, hope,” says the next card.

This will be his first full Edinburgh run, having been here just two nights last year. “No clowns allowed in the castle,” he comments with a frown. “The nice guard said no fancy dress allowed.” Outrageous! “Hence the Pity Party,” he adds. Is he excited for August? He nods, reluctantly, and holds up a shaking hand: he’s nervous. “Chip butty,” he writes, as if the prospect makes it all okay. I suggest more Scottish delights to sample, deep fried Mars bars a particular favourite. The Pity Party often involves audience interaction. Have these crowds ever been difficult? He thinks deeply on this. “Unpredictable, not difficult,” he writes, before quickly conceding: “I stopped a fight a few nights ago...with a cuddle and a kiss.” A true ambassador for good feelings, I proffer, and he shrugs modestly. He scribbles: “#feelings”. continues  


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Some might recognise Puddles from YouTube, as “The Sad Clown with the Golden Voice” in an entrancing cabaret cover of Lorde’s ‘Royals’. “I like the words in songs,” he says of his covers. “Sometimes their meaning is lost in production. I like to focus on the emotions.” And at twelve million views, it’s a viral hit. “Social media has been the deciding factor in spreading the word,” he explains. “People are so engaging online,” he gestures between us talking now, via webcam, separated by thousands of miles. “The future is now.” I manage to catch up with ‘Big Mike’ Geier—the man behind the facepaint—over email later, and the bond between creator and persona is heartwarming. “He seems to prefer the awkwardness of communicating silently, rather than risk saying something stupid,” he explains. “Puddles gives me a call, text, email, letter, telegram, knock on the door or smoke signal, and I stop whatever I’m doing and we get to going... I’ll put my life on hold for that fella, gladly. He has taken me on the most incredible journey since I met him.” The simplicity of his act is a refreshing counterpoint to the more fussily complex shows on offer. “Puddles explained to me once that the key is to be honest and true,” writes Geier. “Feel the feelings. Cry it out. Cut an onion if you have to… and cry it out.” ✏ George Sully

Q&A

Puddles makes a splash

Why should people see your show People have told me it’s a cathartic experience. They laugh. They cry. They leave feeling like a kid again. Your top tips for the Fringe Chip butty at Spoon Cafe. My pal Kevin turned me onto it, and I still can’t thank him enough.

VENUE: TIME: TICKETS:

Assembly George Square Gardens 7:25pm – 8:30pm, 6–31 Aug, not 18, 25 £14


Ludwig

Live

0131 510 2385 www.thespaceuk.com theSpace @ Symposium Hall

He’s written operas, sonatas and symphonies Now he brings his epic piano skillz to the cabaret circuit

6TH -20TH AUGUST - 14:30 THE CELLAR MONKEY

19:25

PERFORMED BY IKRAM GILANI WRITTEN BY SARA SHAARAWI & HENRY BELL DIRECTED BY DEBORAH SASHA HAHN

6 - 30 AUG

Fest recommends

The I Hate Children Children’s Show Award winning magic for kids and cool parents.

PERFORMED BY

IKRAM GILANI WRITTEN BY

SARA SHAARAWI & HENRY BELL 6TH -20TH AUGUST - 14:30 THE CELLAR MONKEY

Get your tickets now! Best

Children’s Show

IHATECHILDREN.COM

Mornings at 11:45 Pleasance Courtyard

Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2011

Editor’s Choice

Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2011

The List No2

at the Fringe 2013

A REQUIEM FOR EDWARD SNOWDEN

Three Candles Theatre Company Presents

A digital opera by Matthew Collings and Jules Rawlinson

An exhilarating adaptation of Chekhov’s The Seagull.

8pm 20-22 August 2015 Stockbridge Church (Venue 317) Tickets: £10/£7 conc/£6 students 11-15 August 13:40 (14:55) SpaceTriplex, Venue 38, £10 07 – 31 August 2015

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Kids

Kids Top Picks Funz and Gamez Tooz Assembly George Square, 3:20pm 6-31 Aug, not 25 The prequel to this show won the Edinburgh Comedy Award Panel Prize and was splashed all over the ‘serious’ comedy press. Treading the line between a children’s show (interactive games, a man dressed as an elf) and

Cinder-Ella

definitely not a children’s show

Pleasance Courtyard, 10:00am

(resentful divorcee, alcoholism)

5-23 Aug, not 12, 17

Phil Ellis’s creation has kids rolling in the aisles. For over 5s.

The Princess and the Pea story, set in a Scottish castle and told by two actors using puppetry and music. Sign language is integrated throughout – including signing from the puppets themselves – making this the ultimate inclusive kids show for audiences both hearing and deaf. Ages 3-7.

The Handlebards: Secret Shakespeare Bedlam Theatre, 5:00pm 18-19 & 25-26 Aug An introduction to Shakespeare like no other on this three-hour, five-mile cycling tour of the city. The four-strong, all-male troupe play all the parts to a mystery Shakespeare play performed–with a great deal of silliness–at a mystery location. Bikes provided for kids and grown-ups of all sizes.

Get Your Own Back: Live! Gilded Balloon, 4:30pm 5-31 Aug, not 6, 20 This live version of the long-running TV gameshow offers an irresistible combination of gunge for the kids and nostalgia for the parents who remember it from their own childhoods. The incorrigibly enthusiastic Dave Benson Phillips is at the helm, still overseeing the slapstick fun after all these years.


Abigoliah’s GoPro Comedy Talk Show! Laughing Horse @ The Free Sisters 12:45pm, 6-30 Aug, not 19 So, here’s the thing. If you’re precious about your precious, probably don’t look at what Abigoliah’s ‘adult’ show is about. If you’re not, and are content to

Annabelle’s Skirting Board Adventure

go along with the NYC-native’s penchant for anarchism, then

The Community Project, 11:30am

there is likely riotous fun afoot.

6-30 Aug, not 18

For over 6s.

A new show from Howard Read (creator of the popular CBBC show, Little Howard) and Steve

festmag.co.uk

Pretty (of the Hackney Colliery Band – also performing at the Fringe), Annabelle’s story is theatre for a generation of digital natives. No less than six cameras mean live theatre, puppetry and

The Biggest Marionette Circus in the World Momentum Venues , 11:00am 5-30 Aug Circuses aren’t allowed to tour with wild animals these days, but Poland’s Theatre Klinika Lalek have found a brilliant alternative: life-sized lion,

Top Picks

giraffe and elephant puppets

79

that inspire all the excitement of the real thing, but without the poo and animal rights abuses. They even sing too.

animation are yoked together in real time. Magic. For ages 3-12.

Anatomy of the Piano (for Beginners) Summerhall, 10:00am 6-30 Aug, not 17, 24 It’s almost certain that Will Pickvance has inspired hundreds of adults to get tinkling the ivories. He’s directed his enthusiasm, charm and charisma towards children this year, with a tale of his own childhood and a journey through Bach, Beethoven and Fats Waller. He has a new grown ups’ show, too, FYI. For over 6s.


Focus on:

Comedy Club 4 Kids Comedy Club 4 Kids turns ten this year and resident MC Tiernan Douieb tells us all about it

Kids

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Hi Tiernan, how are you? Good thanks. Apart from being trapped indoors by pollen. As in hayfever. I’m not super weak and weighed down by plant gametes. How are you?

anyway as they haven’t been indoctrinated into society yet. We’re essentially the same. Just that they don’t have beards. Yet.

How did you get into performing comedy for kids? And do you prefer it to performing for adults? I got asked to do it by James Campbell (original founder of CC4K) as he’d seen my adult material and thought it’d work for children. Which I took What’s the point in that? Children don’t ‘get’ as a compliment at the time, oddly. Turns out he comedy, right? was sort of right, but it took a little while not to be They definitely do. Children laugh at more things terrified of doing the shows. Kids make no qualms than adults do on a daily basis. We’re proper about letting you know if they’re bored. Not sure grumps in comparison. Often people presume kids I prefer it to performing to adults. It’s just nice to only laugh at slapstick things or physical comedy have a different outlet for material. Kids get all but that’s mainly because that’s what they’re fed my silly jokes about snot and pets. Adults get all on TV. They very much get wordplay, punchlines, my grumpy stuff about the world being a mess, etc as long as the subject matter is in their field of and lots of swearing. Having the two types of understanding. From my experience they usually audience keeps me almost sane. Almost.  understand a lot more than some adults!  Imagine you’re 10-years-old. How would you A wise man once said, ‘Kids say the funniest make the most of the Fringe? things’. Is that true? Firstly I’d wonder where my parents were and how Yeah to an extent. Children usually, effortlessit came to be that I was allowed to run amok by ly, come out with brilliantly funny things, but myself at the world’s biggest arts festival. Then I’d it’s not always on purpose to be funny. Either watch Comedy Club 4 Kids every day at 4.15pm way you can still spend ages crafting a joke and because even at 10-years-old, kids are much more then a small boy will tell you he’d ‘like to invade savvier at PR opportunities than you think. Finland, because his brother is called Finn’ and you’ll wonder what the point of trying is. Imagine you had a 10-year-old (do you?!). How would you make the most of the Fringe? Are you smarter than a 10-year-old? I don’t have kids, yet. But if I did, the Fringe is an Yeah,  but it depends what on. On driving a car? amazing place for children’s entertainment. This Yep. On maths? Probably not. On drinking? Yep. On year there are tonnes of good comedy shows for the complexities of human existence? Probably not.  kids: Abigoliah’s Go Pro Comedy Show, Comedy Sportz, Martin Mor, Lee Kyle, Funz and Gamez Do you ever get heckled by kids, or are they Tooz, Jay Foreman and James Campbell. There’s more polite than their parents? magic from Morgan and West, circus shows, All the time but it’s not really heckling, as it’s raretheatre, and I’ve even seen kids flamenco lessons ly malicious. It’s usually just something in their in the programme. I’d take them to loads of shows brain they need to shout out. Like when a little girl so when they returned to school their ‘What I Did held her hand up for 20 minutes just to tell Nick in the Holidays’ presentation totally ruled over all Doody he looked like a “half dinosaur, half fish”. their classmates.

Features

festmag.co.uk

I n a sentence, what’s Comedy Club 4 Kids? What it says on the tin, a comedy club, that’s for kids, and isn’t in a tin.

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Are comedians particularly good at communicating with children, and can we read anything into this? Not all of them are, but there are a good amount that are naturals. Some because they have kids. Some, like me, because we’re hugely immature and have never really grown up. You should totally read things into this. We have a job where we have to look at things differently to everyone else. Kids already look at things differently

SHOW: VENUE: TIME: TICKETS:

SHOW: VENUE: TIME: TICKETS:

Comedy Club 4 Kids Assembly Roxy, 6–30 Aug 4:15pm – 5:15pm £8 – £10 Comedy Club 4 Kids 4 Grown-Ups Assembly Roxy 11:00pm – 12:10am, 14–15 Aug £7


Kids

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Gruffalos and Ladybirds and Dragons! Oh My! Stewart Pringle talks to bestselling children’s writer Julia Donaldson about bringing her gang of much loved literary creations to the Edinburgh stage

“I

often think about it when I’m writing. I’m often thinking about whether this is something we can perform, about writing something we can actually perform onstage. But it doesn’t always work like that. I’ll aim for that and end up with a book about a superworm going around rescuing all his insect friends, and I’ll have no idea how to stage it at all.” This free-wheeling imagination, one that refuses to be cowed by the practicalities of staging and flings out crime-fighting invertebrates, love-struck scarecrows and green-pimpled, orange-eyed monsters with gay abandon, belongs to Julia Donaldson. One of the UK’s most beloved children’s authors, her books are the pre-school equivalent of crack cocaine. Read, re-read and re-re-re-read by millions of parents and children across the world, the combination of Donaldson’s ear-worm rhymes and

Gruffalos, Ladybirds And Other Beasts - With Julia Donaldson

linguistic invention, and Axel Scheffler’s wide-eyed illustrations is utterly irresistible. Donaldson has been a stalwart of the Edinburgh International Book Festival “since the start of this century, when The Gruffalo first took off”, but this year marks her first return to the Fringe since 2006, and her most full-on and ambitious show yet.  “There’s such a lot to do for this show”, Donaldson explains. “There’s so much more going on than I’m used to. Our last show in 2006 was just me and my husband Malcolm, and it was a miscellany thing. Excerpts from the books and some songs. Now we have a director, and a set, and a cast of five. It’s a really full show.” The show in question, Gruffalos, Ladybirds and Other Beasts, will be taking over the Udderbelly all through the Fringe. It’s all set in a library preparing


festmag.co.uk

Features

83

for a reading by the author, “with a couple of dippy librarians throwing the books back and forth” until she arrives and brings her stories to life, the room unfolding into familiar scenes from her work. Donaldson’s not giving away too much, but visits by the dragons of Zog; the farmyard avenger from What the Ladybird Heard; and a certain hairy favourite with “terrible teeth in his terrible jaws” are all promised.  Part of the brilliance of frequent collaborator Scheffler’s illustrations is the way they are able to fold out onto the stage, to become an instantly recognisable Donaldson world, something which theatre companies Tall Stories and Scamp Theatre have taken full advantage of in their numerous rich and musical adaptations. Scamp are returning to Edinburgh themselves this year, Donaldson points out: “They got in touch and offered to produce my show, and they’ve been great. They’re doing their own production of my book The Scarecrows’ Wedding in the same purple cow a little later in the day.” Donaldson may have recruited some “proper, professional actors” for this production, together with director Peta Maurice, a Scamp Theatre stalwart, but Gruffalos also stars her sister Mary and husband Malcolm, so it’s still got the feel of a family affair. After all, that’s how it all began. Before The Gruffalo, before there was (or rather wasn’t) Room on the Broom, Donaldson met her husband and constant performing partner Malcolm as a busker in the 1970s. Together they wrote and performed folk songs across the UK, Europe and the US. They continued to write together through the 1980s, eventually breaking into contributing songs to children’s television at the turn of the decade. It was one of these songs, ‘A Squash and a Squeeze’, about an old woman who learns a lesson about perspective from a crush of farmyard animals, that provided the basis for Donaldson’s first book. When she found herself on the book fair and promotion circuits, and wanted to bring some performance elements in, she turned to her family first. “Obviously there was Malcolm, but also my two sons, and sometimes my nieces – even my publicists would get dragged into performing on occasion.” There’ll be a return to her roots this year at Edinburgh too, as the husband and wife perform a set of their songs for grown-ups, honed at those folk gigs of their youth, in the Book Festival’s own Spiegeltent on 20 August. The performance takes the form of a loose autobiography, “telling the story of us busking, and meeting each other, becoming parents, raising children”. Other performances and events include a chat

with James Robertson, who has translated Donaldson’s books into brilliant Scots dialect (read The Gruffalo’s Wean and fall in love all over again) and a discussion of the work she’s created in children’s workshops with deaf charity Life and Deaf. She has a busy Edinburgh ahead of her. Donaldson credits her history of performance for informing some of the rhythms and rhymes of her work, that inimitable vocal pleasure that comes from reading her ingenious and jangling rhymes. “The books are designed to be read aloud, and the more you perform them the better sense you get of turns of phrase,” she says. They certainly stand up to repeated reads, and Donaldson recalls one parent who had been driven to stashing their copy of The Gruffalo behind the radiator to prevent their child from demanding it be read for the fourtieth or so time. But she takes this for the compliment that it surely is – “they were quick to tell me how much they’d enjoyed it for the first 39 times.” The admiration that spreads from child to parent, the genuine pleasure and enjoyment that can be derived from reciting lines over and over until the child can recite them on their own, is something Donaldson shares with very few of her peers. “What people usually say about the books, and not just The Gruffalo, is that they appeal to adults as well as children and that they’re fun to read aloud. It helps if you’re a parent and you actually like a book.” It’s a fair bet there will be as many adults as children keen to see what magic Donaldson and her team unfold on stage this August. ✏ Stewart Pringle SHOW: VENUE: TIME: TICKETS:

SHOW: VENUE: TIME: TICKETS:

SHOW:

VENUE: TIME: TICKETS:

SHOW: VENUE: TIME: TICKETS:

Julia Donaldson & Peter May Charlotte Square Gardens 7:00pm – 8:00pm, 18 Aug £7 James Robertson Charlotte Square Gardens 5:00pm – 6:00pm, 23 Aug £10 Gruffalos, Ladybirds And Other Beasts - With Julia Donaldson Underbelly, George Square 11:30am – 12:30pm, 6–31 Aug, not 19 £6 - £11 The Scarecrows’ Wedding Underbelly, George Square 2:50pm – 3:50pm, 6–31 Aug, not 19 £6 – £11


Kids

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Auld Reekie

for Young Families Edinburgh in festival time is great, but it can also be challenging if you have a young family. We take a look at what’s on—and where—for the littlest theatre-goers

The Tiger Who Came to Tea


Features

festmag.co.uk

T

85

he sprawl of the Edinburgh festival can be exciting, varied and throw up some gems for families. But if you have little children, heaving a buggy up and down successive stone staircases, only to end up seeing a mediocre show, can take the shine off. To this end, providing a single, child-friendly space for Edinburgh’s littlest theatre-goers has been the goal of the Pleasance Kidzone since 2009. “It was so parents could have a stress-free experience,” says Candida Alderson, coordinator of the Kidzone, located at the Pleasance Courtyard. “To give them somewhere to go with their kids where there were toys, books and food.” With 26 shows in this year’s Kidzone, it’s a one-stop shop for all the times when popping into a pub to change a nappy is tricky. “It’s also to help all these amazing children’s companies publicise their work,” adds Alderson. Getting penny-pinched parents blasted from all sides by flyers to look beyond the best known shows can be tough. If you’re at the Courtyard, check out Albee Vector the Sound Collector. And if big cats are your kids’ bag, The Tiger Who Came to Tea and You Look Tasty! (A Play by A. Tiger) should satisfy their cravings. There’s also the return of stunning Dr Seuss adaptation The Cat in the Hat. If you’ve got older children, check out New Old Friends’ adaptation of Anthony Horowitz’s The Falcon’s Malteser, also in the Pleasance Courtyard. New this year is Underbelly’s Circus Hub, a space that embodies the “ethos of families working and playing together which is at the heart of a lot of circus tradition,” according to Underbelly co-directors Ed Bartlam and Charlie Wood. Each day will start with a circus skills workshop for anyone over the age of eight, while shows like Trash Test Dummies are aimed at younger audiences. Located on The Meadows, Circus Hub is a short walk from the Pleasance Dome and Gilded Balloon at Bristo Square, with Summerhall around the corner. Assembly Roxy, another venue with strong family-friendly offerings can be found between Bristo Square and the Pleasance Courtyard.  Gilded Balloon’s line-up includes Arabian Nights, winner of the 2014 Primary Times Children’s Choice Award, as well as Kids Do Forth on the Fringe, which features big names in kids’ entertainment and is presented by CBBC’s Bec Hill and comedian Tom Goodliffe. And for magic, time-travelling Victorian duo Morgan & West are among the best.   Summerhall has a reputation for creative and

unusual programming, and with Anatomy of the Piano (For Beginners) and The Assembly of Animals – combining puppetry, magic and scientific demonstration – it’s the place to go if you want less traditional kids’ entertainment.    Likewise, with shows like the Neil Gaiman-inspired The Bookbinder hitting Edinburgh after winning awards in New Zealand and Australia, Assembly Roxy also has plenty to offer parents and children. Meanwhile, the Edinburgh International Festival is branching into shows for young people this year. As well as free opening event The Harmonium Project, celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Edinburgh Festival Chorus, this year’s programme includes the award-winning Dragon – a co-production between National Theatre Scotland, Vox Motus and Tianjin Children’s Art Theatre. It doesn’t have to be an uphill struggle with kids at Edinburgh. Don’t be afraid to explore. ✏ Tom Wicker Show details available at festmag.co.uk

The Cat in the Hat


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This year’s Fringe is stuffed with interactive theatre and comedy for kids. Jane Howard explores the options for children who just love to get involved

O

ne of the joys of taking children to the theatre is, of course, their commitment to the illusion. When the work is good, children buy fully into the magic on stage and the adults get the pleasure of both watching the performance itself, and watching the delight the children take in watching. This all gets taken up a notch when children are asked to participate in the work. For children with good attention spans, interactive work gives them an even stronger channel for their commitment; for those who can’t seem to sit still, interactive work can be the perfect anecdote. Stand-up comedy isn’t something we typically think of as being for children, but Abigoliah Schamaun wants to prove us wrong. She’s done lots of comedy for kids before, but this time in Abigoliah’s GoPro Comedy Talk Show (6+) she’s filming the whole thing – from a camera mounted on her head. A talk show where the audience becomes the guests, with perhaps a few other surprises besides. For parents that are willing to get in on the action, The Piper from My Darling Patricia draws its cast largely from children and their guardians. A retelling of the Pied Piper of Hamlin, in each performance a group of children (5+) and their guardians are given headphones and put on stage with actors and puppets from the company. Through the headphones, this new cast are fed instructions on what to do so the rest of the audience can watch the show come to life. Is there anything as enduringly exciting for children as bubbles? The Nutty Professor and his Amazing Magic Bubble Show will take the humble bubble and turn it into something spectacular, promising square-bubbles, people inside bubbles, and fog-filled bubbles. There will hopefully be plenty of chances for children (3+) to get involved: and this is a show whose magic can be carried on later at home, even if the bubbles there are a tad smaller and less dramatic. Disco is something you want to start your children with young, and Baby Loves Disco (0-5 years)

Kids

Child’s Play The Nutty Professor And His Amazing Magic Bubble Show

is for those really little ones, less a show than just good old-fashioned DJs filling the dance floor. The organisers promise both juice with sandwiches for the children and a licensed bar for the adults – the perfect daytime distraction. For those children who are old enough to be budding artists in their own right, Release Your Inner Cartoonist (8+) promises to transfer skills from the experts to the kids. Harry Venning will talk about what it takes to make a good cartoon, before handing the reins – and pencils and paper – over to the audience. Like all good workshops, this should have children drawing long after the festival is over. ✏ Jane Howard SHOW: VENUE: TIME: TICKETS:

SHOW: VENUE: TIME: TICKETS:

SHOW:

VENUE: TIME: TICKETS:

SHOW: VENUE: TIME:

TICKETS:

SHOW: VENUE: TIME: TICKETS:

Release Your Inner Cartoonist Pleasance Courtyard 11:00am – 12:00pm, 7–20 Aug £6 – £8 Abigoliah’s Gopro Comedy Talk Show! Laughing Horse @ The Free Sisters 12:45pm – 1:40pm, 6–30 Aug, not 19 FREE The Nutty Professor And His Amazing Magic Bubble Show theSpace @ Surgeons Hall 2:10pm – 2:55pm, 7–29 Aug £8 Baby Loves Disco Electric Circus times vary, various dates between 8 Aug and 31 Aug £6 – £9 The Piper Underbelly Potterrow 10:30am – 11:30am, 5–31 Aug, not 17, 24 £6 – £14


“NO WORDS! JUST APPLAUSE!“ SO IN LD 32 O U CO T UN SHO TR W IE S S!

THREE WEEKS

PLEASANCE BEYOND

3:15PM

5–31 AUGUST (NOT 17)

0131 556 6550 WWW.PLEASANCE.CO.UK

Deadly Dungeon Murder Mystery! A thrilling Fringe return from Scotland’s Best Visitor Attraction 2014. Last year’s sell out show returns with a brand new mystery to solve!

Join the Secret Society of Scottish Scoundrels on 7th, 12th, 14th, 19th, 21st, 26th & 28th August Limited tickets available – book now!

thedungeons.com/Edinburgh

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Preview

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Aug 14 -15 - From Scotland with Love – King Creosote Aug 18-20 - Anna Calvi and Heritage Orchestra Aug 22 - Magnetic Rose – Oneohtrix Point Never Aug 27 - Alexi Murdoch Aug 28 - Wave Movements Aug 29 - Sufjan Steven’s “Round-Up” – Yarn/Wire

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Features

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The Argyle Bar and Cellar Monkey

Bannermans 202 Cowgate | @BannermansBar

15 Argyle Pl

Amelia Ryan Assembly Roxy, 9:30pm – 10:30pm, 5–30 Aug, not 17, 24 £6 – £12

Marchmont residents need not venture out to the Old Town to find a decent pub, thanks to the sterling work of the Argyle Bar. The cosy corner pub with a 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.

Juniper Where else does your cocktail arrive in a plume of smoke?

Artisan Roast 57 Broughton St, 138 Bruntsfield Pl | @artisanroast

The Hanging Bat Offers an astonishing variety of gin and gourmet hot dogs! Heads & Tales This creative little gin nook has a distillery on site. Assembly Roxy Snug Bar A cosy little gaff, perfect for a wee post-show tipple.

Bar 50 50 Blackfriars St | @smartcityhostel

Top 5: Gin Joints

The Jolly Botanist Great if you like Pimms and distressed Victorian interiors.

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?

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.

99 Hanover St

The Auld Hoose

99 Hanover St | @99HanoverStree1

23-25 St Leonard’s St | @TheAuldHoose

You’ll never guess where this pub is. Go on – take a punt. Once you crack the code, you’ll find a cosy, comfy spot with plenty of range behind the bar and a good mix of people in front of it. It’s right in the heart of the action, making it a great place to kickstart a night out, not least because no one will have any excuse for getting lost.

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.

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.

Bar Soba 104 Hanover St | @BarSobaGlasgow

Having gravitated over from Glasgow, Bar Soba has set up shop in the heart of the Capital to show the squares of Edinburgh how it’s done. Part Asian-fusion restaurant, part stylish bar and part pre-club hangout, it provides everything you need under one roof. Cocktails, music, noodles, the lot. And it’s in the middle of town. What more could you ask for?


Blue Blazer

Cameo Cinema

2 Spittal St | @blueblazeredin

38 Home St | @cameocinema

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.

Brass Monkey festmag.co.uk

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.

Brew Lab 6-8 South College St | @BrewLabCoffee

BrewDog 143 Cowgate | @BrewDogEdin

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 Fraserburgh brewery dominate the taps alongside an ever-changing cast of guest beers, a great food menu, and regular beer-tastic events. Oh, and they have Pop-Up Pirate. And Jenga.

Burger Meats Bun 1 Forth St | @BMBEdinburgh

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.

Cabaret Voltaire 36 Blair St | @cabaretvoltaire

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.

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Deep in the heart of the OldTown, Cab Vol is one of the city’s bestknown clubs.The upstairs room is now a trendy cafe and meet-up point during the day, while downstairs has kept much of its sweaty former glory. A new soundsystem has upped the noise level, and a range of club nights from electro to dub give the DJs a chance to put it to good use.

Famed for its atmosphere and charm, the Cameo shows everything from mainstream hits to arthouse fare to retro cult classics. The cosy bar and 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.

Stevie Martin Pleasance Dome, 6:50pm – 7:50pm, 5–31 Aug, not 18 £6 – £9.50

Top 5: Late Snacks Olly Bongo’s They do nachos the size of the world, and it’s open late. Palmyra The king of drunk food. Don't bother with the pizza or the burgers, get a kebab or a wrap. Favorit The nachos are great here, as is the mezze. And by great I mean fine when you’re drunk. Under the Stairs Low lighting, olives, they do some nice things with meat. Giuliano's A nice Italian place with food up until 1am – perfect for when you don't feel like junk food.


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Henry Maynard Assembly Roxy, 5:45pm – 6:45pm, 5–31 Aug, not 19, £6 – £12

Top 5: Fringe Escapes Craigmillar Castle The best-kept ruined castle ever, or something like that. That little garden up by the Castle. I’m being vague as that’s MY spot... Back off! Portobello Walk along the beach and partake in some arcade fun. The Royal Mile at 5:00am  (In the rain) refreshingly empty and beautiful, eat chips from soggy paper and skip. One of the cemeteries Dead people don’t do shows.

City Art Centre

Dominion Cinema

2 Market St | @EdinCulture

18 Newbattle Ter | @DominionCinema

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.

Sitting in the decidedly bijou Morningside suburbs, this family-run cinema blends Hollywood fare with nostalgic pomp and circumstance. It can seem a little on the pricey side, but it’s well worth checking out for two reasons; the outrageously comfy leather seats, and the complimentary snacks rolled into the ticket price. A far cry from your average multiplex.

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.

Collective 38 Calton Hill | @1984_collective

It’s been on the go for 30 years, so it’s fitting that Collective recently moved into a big new home. The former City Observatory on Calton Hill now plays host to Collective’s collection of powerful visual work and contemporary exhibitions.

Chop Chop

Cloisters

248 Morrison St | @eatatchopchop

26 Brougham St | @Cloisters_Bar

Cheap, cheerful and charming Chinese food that more than lives up to the growing hype and endorsements from angry celebrity chefs. Chop Chop’s entire menu is made, from scratch, on the premises – it comes across in the food, but isn’t reflected in the rather friendly prices. It’s an unpretentious local legend, and another favourite in The Skinny’s annual Food Survey.

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.

The Electric Circus 36 Market St | @circusedinburgh

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.

Edinburgh Printmakers 23 Union St | @EdinburghPrints

The clue’s in the name: Edinburgh Printmakers make prints. Besides the making and teaching of lithography to all comers, Printmakers run regular exhibitions by artists from all over. Their window into the print studio from the exhibition space gives a first hand look at the craft for any interested art students or lovers of printed tote bags.


Eteaket

The Hanging Bat

Forest Cafe

41 Frederick St | @eteaket

133 Lothian Rd @TheHangingBat

141 Lauriston Pl

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.

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.

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.

Filmhouse 88 Lothian Rd | @Filmhouse

festmag.co.uk

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.

Gilded Balloon Teviot Place | @Gildedballoon

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.

Finnegan’s Wake 9B Victoria St | @FinnegansWakeEd

There aren’t many pubs that namedrop James Joyce in their titles, and even fewer that will do you a pint for £2. Finnegan’s Wake does both from its Victoria Street home, and the strong Irish influence ensures that the place is always busy and full of atmosphere. There’s Irish sport on the TV for homesick students, and regular live music for everyone else.

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Fruitmarket Gallery 45 Market St | @fruitmarket

The Fruitmarket Gallery is hard to miss, as you tend not to see too many huge pink signs in the Old Town. It’s just as well, as missing out on the great art, compact but well-stocked shop and brilliant downstairs cafe just wouldn’t be right. With free exhibitions taking in everything from painting to light installations, the Fruitmarket isn’t just hard to miss but difficult to get away from.

The Hive 3 Niddry St | @clubhive

Miss Behave

Assembly Checkpoint, 10:15pm – 11:45pm, various dates, £8 – £15

Top 5: Places

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.

Old Dalkeith Rd Dump From fridge-freezers to analogue TVs, this place is perfection for PRIZES!

Henry’s Cellar Bar

Geek Squad I SMASH (I mean break!) a lot of smart phones!

8 Morrison St | @henryscellarbar

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.

Lidl CHEAPEST TEQUILA IN TOWN!

Hobbycraft I get through glitter like it’s tequila. Fortunately these kids help make a restock effortless. Cafe Royal To survive the Fringe you need two things: coffee and oysters.


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Miss Plum

Assembly George Square Theatre, times vary, 6–31 Aug, not 17, 24 £7 – £11

Top 5: Walks Arthur’s Seat Spectacular views of Edinburgh. An absolute must. Portobello Promenade Very popular with dog walkers. Right next to the beach. 

Kismot

Machina Espresso

29 St Leonard’s St

2 Brougham Pl | @MachinaEspresso

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.

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.

The Liquid Room 9C Victoria St | @LIQUIDROOMS

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

Cramond Island A lovely spot in the Firth of Forth with some great views. Roslin Glen & Rosslyn Chapel A chance to see the worldfamous chapel Water of Leith  Cuts through the whole city and you’ll find great cafes.

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.

Joseph Pearce’s

Hula

23 Elm Row | @JosephPearces

103-105 West Bow | @hulajuicebar

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.

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!

Mother India’s Cafe 3-5 Infirmary St | @Official_MIndia

Nothing beats a good curry, but when there’s loads of dishes you fancy but can’t decide on a favourite aren’t you a bit stuck? Not at Mother India, where the tapas style means that the breadth and variety of your dinner is limited only by your ability to share with 'friends'.

National Museum of Scotland Chambers St | @NtlMuseumsScot

One of the UK’s top museums, the NMS has a plethora of fascinating galleries holding items from across the ages, and is also home to the first cloned mammal: a stuffed Dolly the Sheep. For lovers of nice views, head to the seventh floor roof terrace for a look across the city, and those of you who like your nights out with a side of heavy culture will enjoy the regular “Museum Lates”.


Opal Lounge

The Pleasance Dome

Studio 24

51 George St | @opallounge

1 Bristo Square | @ThePleasance

24 Calton Rd

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.

By day, George Street is all about vaguely posh shopping, but by night its basements turn into some of Edinburgh’s more well-heeled nightspots. Opal Lounge may be the pick of the bunch – inside manages to be both dark and shiny. It’s a fun place to hang out with a different vibe from the Old Town’s host of damp caverns.

Out of the Blue Drill Hall 36 Dalmeny St | @ootbdrillhall

festmag.co.uk

An old TA Drill Hall might not seem the most likely place for a bustling arts community, yet Out of the Blue is just that. The military past is soon forgotten at the regular art exhibitions, occasional ping-pong tournaments and one of the city’s best flea markets once a month.

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 and wielders of a superb array of drinks.

Mary’s Milk Bar

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.

Gilded Balloon , 12:30am – 2:30am, various dates, £5 – £10

Top 5: Clubs Why Not Nightclub An LED room, electronic shisha pipes and 3 rooms.

National Portrait Gallery Queen St | @NatGalleriesSco

18 Grassmarket | @MarysMilkBar

When it’s time for something sweet, head to Mary’s Milk Bar on the Grassmarket. A favourite of The Skinny’s readers in their annual Food and Drink Survey, it’s a cute little gelateria inspired by the milk bars of the 1960s but with the flavours brought right up to date. If the Festival ever gets to be too much, it’s time for ice cream.

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The Mac Twins

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, while also housing a shop with gifts and study guides, and a cafe serving delicious hot main dishes and essential home-baked cakes.

Lulu Lisa’s favourite place to be. The Liquid Room For indie heads like Alana, this underground cavern is for you. Opal Lounge This was the first to ever play us in Scotland so we are forever in its debt. Garibaldi’s All the reasons you shouldn’t go are all the reasons you SHOULD!


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Annabelle

Just the Tonic at The Community Project, 11:30am – 12:30pm 6–30 Aug, not 18, £5 – £9

Top 5: Animal spots Royal Botanic Gardens There are lots of tiny animals here, like bees and beetles. Animal Senses Gallery, National Museum of Scotland This is a very interesting exhibition about how we tiny animals communicate. Belhaven Beach There are some brilliant beaches right near Edinburgh.

Traverse

Wannaburger

10 Cambridge St | @TraverseTheatre

8 Queensferry St | @wannaburger

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.

These guys serve arguably the best burgers in the city, and certainly offer the most bang for your buck. Locally-sourced meat is the key to Wannaburger’s success, and their ludicrously tasty milkshakes just add to the appeal.

Under the Stairs 3A Merchant St

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.

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.

Arthur’s Seat All animals look small from up here! Camera Obscura This place has brilliant things like optical illusions that make everyone look small.

Ting Thai Caravan

Wee Red Bar

Vittoria

Summerhall

Bridge @VittoriaEd

1 Summerhall | @summerhallery

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.

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.

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 pore 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.


DAVID JOHNSON AND JOHN MACKAY IN ASSOCIATION WITH SOHO THEATRE AND DAA MANAGEMENT PRESENT

STEWART LEE

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