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THE WEE SHORT STEWART FRANCIS BOWS OUT Plus interviews with

Tina T'urner Tea Lady Paul F Taylor Dreamgun Ciara Harvie The mysterious West End Producer and must see comedy recommendations

theweereview.com shortcom.co.uk

Issue 2 August 2019

The Free Alternative Fringe Guide



Contents 4

Headliners of State

Welcome to The Wee Short, Part Deux.

6

Australian Comics

8

Alternative Choice

12

Stewart Francis

16

To Be Fair

18

Turn Up for Tina

22

Let's See Your Shorts

24

Jo Caulfield's Advice

26

Taking a Left Turn

31

Harriet Braine

The collaborative effort between Edinburgh Fringe voyeurs Short Com and The Wee Review. Our second year of providing you this little zine that we’ve packed with interviews and recommendations of artists that we feel deserve visibility in an ever expanding Edinburgh Fringe Festival. New and exciting talent emerge every year from the Fringe, but it’s not often that we say goodbye to a comedian, which is just what cover star Stewart Francis is doing as he performs stand-up for the last time at the Fringe as he calls time on his distinguished comedy career. Jo Caulfield returns to give you new Fringe newcomers a guide to navigating through Edinburgh and the festivities. Robert Peacock interviews rising local classical singer Ciara Harvie who makes her Fringe debut after making a name for herself on BBC’s The Voice.

32

A Solitary Life

34

Ciara Harvie

36

West End Producer

38

Veg Out Editors Chris Aitken Robert Peacock Contributors Si Hawkins, Paul Dance, Adam Larter, Pete Carson, Joe Gardner, Jo Caulfield, Alice Shone Design Pete Carson

The Fringe would not exist for all the people who work at it but it has recently only started come to the publics’ attention that a lot of the young staff who make up for a lot of the workforce have been exploited by some venue promoters. I spoke to David Bleese from the Fair Fringe about their efforts to see change and fair work practices brought to the Fringe. On the theme of being conscientious, Edinburgh is not shy on great eateries, but it has experienced an explosion of vegan restaurants that offer some tasty delights for those transitioning to a plant based diet. Edinburgh resident and vegan fiend Alice Shone lists some of her favourite tasty choices. Do visit our respected sites for our latest review coverage throughout August. And do remember to properly recycle this magazine when the time comes for you to put it down. Have a wonderful August, just don’t turn on the news. Chris Aitken Short Com editor and co-editor ofThe Wee Short

Contact robert.peacock@theweereview.com // info@shortcom.co.uk theweereview.com // shortcom.co.uk @theweereview // @ShortComReviews 3


HEADLINERS OF STATE The world has never felt more on a political knife edge with many countries being more politically divided than ever and despair amongst anyone who respects science or has a modicum of empathy. Before Sky’s Chernobyl made waves on TV, Ukraine made headlines for electing their most popular comedian Volodymyr Zelensky as their president. Chris Aitken asked some international comedians participating at the Fringe what they would do if they were head of office. Daniel Muggleton - Australia

Laufey Haralds - Iceland

1. We have to refer to Prime Minister’s by their full names, the current dude is ScoMo and calling him that makes him feel less responsible for destroying the Great Barrier Reef. You expect less from people with professional nicknames. 2. Legalise cocaine, it currently costs £170 a gram which is ridiculous. It’s an ambitious drug and by taxing it we can make enough money to keep healthcare universal. 3. Increase jail time for marijuana related offences, it’s a drug for hippies and I don’t like hippies.

If I was the leader of Iceland, I’d be an authoritarian dictator. And my first order of business as supreme leader of Iceland would be to ban cars. Iceland would be a country of cyclists and efficient public transport (buses, lorries and specialized vehicles for people with disabilities would still be allowed). Then I would retire.

Laufey Haralds - photo by Pall Reynisson Sukh Ojla - India Ban all single use plastics in shops, bring in a four day week and swap footballers salaries with teachers, nurses and emergency staff. The monarchy would be dismantled and their wealth distributed amongst those who need it most. The palaces would be turned into temporary shelters for those who are without homes.

Daniel Muggleton - photo by Geoffrey Zhu 4


Daniel Muggleton: Pimpin’ Ain’t Easy (But I imagine It’s Easier For Straight, White Men?)@ Laughing Horse, The Counting House - Lounge, @16:00, 1st-25th Aug Laufey Haralds: Nordic Noir @ Gilded Balloon Rose Theatre @14:00, 31st Jul- 25th Aug (Not 12th) Sukh Ojla: For Sukh’s Sake @ Gilded Balloon Patter Hoose @17:15, 31st Jul - 25th Aug (Not 12th)

Sukh Ojla - photo by Polly ByCroft-Brown Isa Bonachera - Spain

Isa Bonachera: The Great Emptiness @ Gilded Balloon Old Tolbooth Market @ 16:45, 31st Jul- 25th Aug

I’ll make everyone use onions when making Spanish tortilla de patatas. I’m a proud onionist, and I think that it’s time to stop making tortilla recklessly and with no onions. Also, if someone could assure my non-English-speaking parents that I’m good at comedy, that’ll be generously rewarded with a Spanish tortilla (with onions).

John Hastings: 10 John Hastings I Hate About You @ Monkey Barrel 2 @ 21:30, 1st-25th Aug Colt Cabana & John Hastings Do Comedy and Commentary to Bad Wrestling Matches @ Monkey Barrel 2 @ 23:00, 2nd -25th Aug

John Hastings - Canada If I were President. Prime Minister or whatever I would...I dunno cancel debt. Honestly these questions are hard to answer as they diminish respect held for the elected office and make it seem as if anyone could be the leader of a country which is totally not true and in fact most people can’t. Me the most. I am a c***.

Isa Bonachera - photo by Adrian Tauss

John Hastings - photo by Troy Conrad 5


THEY COME FROM THE LAND DOWN UNDER Still buzzing from a trip to the Melbourne International Comedy Festival in April and a stint as the joint-youngest panelist at the Edinburgh Comedy Awards to date, The Wee Review’s Joe Gardner takes us through five of his top picks of Aussie comics to see at this year’s Edinburgh Fringe. Aaron Chen: Piss Off (Just Kidding) @ Pleasance Courtyard @22:45, Wed 31 Jul - Sun 25 Aug 2019 (not 13)

It’s nearly impossible not to be thoroughly entertained in the company of Double Denim. Sam Taunton: It’s Nice, It’s Modern @ Assembly George Square @19:40, Wed 31 Jul - Sun 25 Aug (not 12)

With two Best Newcomer awards from both the Sydney Comedy Festival and the Melbourne International Comedy Festival respectively, it’s not difficult to see why Aaron Chen’s Edinburgh debut could prove to be a very successful one. After reaching the final of Australia’s RAW Comedy competition at the age of 17, Chen has bided his time well. His fresh style and original voice onstage puts him in a very good position to find a whole new audience this August.

Taunton makes his Edinburgh debut very much on the front foot. A former Best Newcomer nominee at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival in 2017 and joint-winner of the prestigious Pinder Prize at the same festival this year, he’s hotly tipped as one of Australia’s most exciting new comedians. The title of his first Fringe hour comes from a self-description of his own style of comedy. One could argue, what’s wrong with nice and modern?

Double Denim: Adventure Show @ Underbelly Cowgate @20:40, Thu 1 - Sun 25 August (not 12)

Tom Ballard: Enough @ Monkey Barrel @21:00, Thu 1 -Sun 25 Aug (not 13)

Making their second visit to Edinburgh, the Australian sketch duo comprised of Michelle Brasier and Laura Frew return with Adventure Show, brilliantly described as “part safari party, part murder mystery”. In a time where a lot of performers are using their Fringe runs as a platform to raise awareness of an issue or cause, it’s sometimes nice to have a bit of escapism. Double Denim is a catapult into a world of utter joy, and occasionally, complete madness. Judging by previous work, one minute can be a musical theatre outburst and the next can be a pastiche of Masterchef Australia.

Anger and passion is nothing new when it comes to a driving force behind an Edinburgh show. However, Ballard’s acerbic wit turns moans and gripes into pacey, thought-provoking and sharp comedy. The 29 year-old brings us an hour that follows the cancellation of his own late-night satirical TV show on Australian television last year. Expect full-force and no holds barred from this Edinburgh Comedy Award nominee who has literally had, enough. 6


Zoe Coombs Marr: Bossy Bottom @ Monkey Barrel @19:30, Wed 31 Jul - Sun 25 Aug (not 12) Coombs Marr last performed in Edinburgh as Dave. Dave was a chauvinistic, terrible male comedian, who in Marr’s 2016 show Trigger Warning, was training at the Gaulier clown school whilst trying to shed his misogynistic, blokey reputation. It was a hugely clever and highly creative hour that pushed and challenge the so-called “boundaries” of comedy. How do you follow that up? Fresh from two successful seasons in Melbourne, Zoe is back performing as herself. With huge critical and audience praise alike, it’s not hard to see why her return to Edinburgh is met with some excitement.

7


THE ALTERNATIVE CHOICE With the Malcolm Hardee Awards making its return this year to celebrate and reward comics who veer towards a twisted sense of logic and penchant for the bizarre, we asked one of the founders of the alternative super groups, The Weirdos Comedy Collective’s Adam Larter on his picks’ of acts who are doing it differently at this year’s Edinburgh Fringe. Michael Brunstrom: World of Sports Heroes @ Dragonfly @18:00, 12th-25th Aug All of the fanfare of the Olympics seen through the charming surrealist lens of Michael Brunstrom. Somewhat Nostalgic and comforting all the while looking for laughs in unusual rhythms and curious visual spectacles. Andy Barr: The Ruby @ Black Medicine @20:15, 1st-25th Aug (Not 14th)

Sooz Kempner - photo by Samuel Black Joz Norris Is Dead. Long Live Mr Fruit Salad. Heroes @ The Hive @16:40 1 -25th August (not 9th & 10th)

In last year’s show Neustadt Andy found a formula that worked well for his gruff, bitter and somewhat poetic stand-up. A crumbling narrative prodded along with DIY Multimedia – like Johnny Vegas doing an Alan Bennet show. The Ruby takes this concept on a colonial story about heritage, spices and greed.

It’s testament to Joz’s natural comic timing, writing and stage presence that even with a dreadful fake-beard, annoying voice and sunglasses on he can still make a room of strangers laugh.

Sooz Kempner: Mega Drive @ PBH’s Free Fringe – Globe Bar @ 13:00, 3rd - 25th Aug (Not 14th & 21st)

Jayne Edwards is Top Bodybuilder Brian Heroes @ Dragonfly @22:00, 1st - 25th August (not 15th)

Sooz went and got famous on Twitter this year, but she’s still the same Sooz on stage. MegaDrive is her best show yet, about ambition yes – but also about computer games. Wry Multimedia stand-up with a genuine love for her subject matter.

This is the show I’m very excited about but haven’t seen. Finally the world of Bodybuilding is rightly lampooned! 8


Jayne Edwards - photo by Foxdog Studios Eleanor Morton: Post-Morton @The Stand Comedy Club 3 & 4 @12:05, 1st-25th Aug (Not 12th & 19th) Eleanor is no longer the twee, ukulele fronted performer she was when she first arrived on the comedy scene. Now she is a dry, straight-to-the-point, incredibly relevant stand-up. Brim-full of daft jokes post-morton is a “growing up” show, that is in itself a show cynical of “growing up shows” Consignia Present: Pеволюция (Weltschmerz Treppenwitz) @Banshee Labyrinth – PBH’s Free Fringe - @ 01:50, 11th-17th August Consignia – for the sort of people who still want to watch alternative comedy at 1.50am. Adam Larter will be performing his new show Good Morning Croissant Heroes @ the Hive @19:20, 3rd-25th Aug (not 13th) 9




STEWART FRANCIS EXITS THROUGH THE GRIN SHOP

The Canadian Punster speaks to the Wee Short about leaving stand up for good

“I don’t know if I’ll miss it, because it’s not something I’m completely comfortable with”


Certain topics tend to crop up regularly in conversations with comedians: ludicrous new show ideas, lucrative bucket-speech techniques, the spirit-sapping cost of renting a small room in Edinburgh this August. But retirement is a fresh one.

This last Edinburgh run is just one stretch of the mammoth Into the Punset farewell tour, which is nearly halfway through, pre-Fringe. “Only another 74 [gigs] to go,” he says. “Edinburgh’s quite daunting, 23 shows in 25 days. I try not to think about it too much.”

“Comedians can’t get their head around the fact that I’m quitting,” admits Stewart Francis, the popular Canadian who will soon stop knocking out puns for a living. Or so he says. “One of my favourite responses, a Canadian comedian chum of mine, I told him I was quitting and he said ‘I didn’t know that was an option.’ That very much sums up the psyche of a comedian: you’re in it for the long haul. But no, not this one.”

His last ever gig is in London’s Hammersmith in December, although that momentous event won’t be filmed, as he’s already recorded this set in Dublin, “which was phenomenal, just absolutely wonderful,” he says. “People were saying it’s the best live comedy they’ve ever seen.” Why, then, is Francis stopping? Because he was never in love with live comedy in the first place, really. He would much rather just be acting now, or doing voiceovers, whereas some comics clearly need that rush. “They can’t go a week or two offstage without getting antsy,” he agrees. “And that speaks more to other things in their personality, but between tours I don’t think about it at all. I’ll write jokes, but I’ll go months, half a year without performing, and I’ll be happy.”

Famously deadpan onstage, Francis sounds deathly serious about quitting comedy. Actually he’s pretty serious throughout our phone chat, but then such a radical decision shouldn’t be taken lightly. The now 60 year-old comic remains immensely proud of his onstage abilities, so this situation as he suggested - will bewilder his fellow comics, particularly those at the Fringe who’d give anything for a decent crowd. Francis got a big audience almost by accident, and is now giving that audience up.

He won’t miss the camaraderie of fellow comics, because touring is hardly sociable anyway. “For me, it’s very solitary, which suits my personality: I will continue to be solitary!” he says. “Performing, I don’t know if I’ll miss it, because it’s not something I’m completely comfortable with; it’s one person holding court over a roomful of people, which, by its description, is kind of unnatural.”

“Edinburgh’s quite daunting, I try not to think about it too much”

It’s an interesting point, and to be fair to Francis, each new tour show does require a huge batch of new jokes to be written, road-tested, and memorised.

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The Toronto-born comic originally started joke-writing in an even more remote fashion, as a cartoonist, knocking out one-panel gags under the moniker Hammersmith, so that final location is oddly appropriate. Then he took it onstage, and became a familiar face back home.

although that can be a minefield: one joke gets misconstrued and you’re toast. “Terrifying!” he says. “One little tweet. Or someone videos you doing something inappropriate – I mean, you have to have some comeuppance in that scenario, but careers are being destroyed because of that. The immediacy of the world we live in; wonderful technology, but it can be so damaging. But, just be a good human being, and chances are you won’t get into trouble, that’s the way I go through life.”

“I’m leaving at a good time, we’re taking things a little too seriously”

It’s a dangerous era for a comedian though. “Yeah, I’m leaving at a good time, we’re taking things a little too seriously. I do say some politically incorrect things, but there’s balance, I don’t make a theme of it.”

“18 years in Canada and I’d done everything I could over there; sitcom, a game show host, I was popping up as a stand-up in Just for Laughs, that kind of stuff.” So he came to Britain, bubbled under on the circuit for a while, then broke big on Mock the Week, and Live at the Apollo. “I had a career that I didn’t know I would have, but kind of knew I deserved, based on my talent. And that’s why I moved here: one of my ethos early in my career, I just wanted to reach the level of success my talent warrants. I’d not quite gotten there in Canada, I knew there was something bigger out there.”

Francis turns briefly confessional. “There’s only one [ joke], that I wished I’d changed a word. As a wordsmith, all it took was me changing one word, and I could have taken a joke and turned it on itself and still gotten a laugh, but I’d have been a better person for it. But that’s not too bad in a 30-year career.” Can he give us a hint what that gag was about? “No, I won’t, you can retrace things. And people have not pointed it out to me, but it’s just me on a professional level, ‘Oh come on Stewart, I could have done better on that one.’ But it was still getting the laugh…”

That led to sizeable UK tours, although he’d been hoping to give them up earlier, before making the big Sinatra-like statement this time. Presumably his head must still be wired to write gags though – what will he do with them? “Burden my wife with them – ha! – poor thing.” Later he mentions potentially returning to cartooning, and there’s always social media,

Francis may be an old-school type of comedian - the dapper suit, the dry one-liners – but this retirement plan is certainly a big, bold step into the unknown. Compared to singers, rappers, sports stars - most people leaving jobs, really comedy retirement parties are pretty rare. “Good! I try to be original,” he says. 14


"Just be a good human being, and chances are you won’t get into trouble, that’s the way I go through life." “But I’m not doing it just for that. It’s a natural conclusion. We all need closure, and what a way to go.” What does he remember about his first Fringe? “One of the comedians I shared the bill with would always take off his clothes at the end of our show, so sadly, my memory of my first Edinburgh Fringe is Craig Campbell’s penis.” And what will he miss most - and least about the Fringe? “Simultaneously most and least: Craig Campbell’s penis.”Then, tellingly, an extra note: “They need to be done in that order for full comedic effect.” He’ll never stop gagging. Interview By Si Hawkins Stewart Francis : Into the Punset @ Assembly Rooms - Ballroom @20:00, August 1st -25th, (not 12th, 19th)

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Changing Times

If you missed the controversy in the past few months, theatre promoters C Venues were kicked out of their long established home at Adam House on Chambers Street along with the public shaming of their long practice of poor working conditions for their Fringe working staff. Whether their treatment of their staff were the reasons for their removal or not, it highlighted the disparity of usual young staff forced to work long hours in return for wages well below the national minimum wage and sometimes staying in living accommodation that Eddie and Richie would turn their nose up at. Remarkably, the response from the head of the Edinburgh Fringe Society Shona McCarthy was one of resistance that calling for fair working practices from venues and promoters was one that could seriously threaten the future of the Fringe. If the past six years are to go by assessing tickets sales, which have steadily risen for the past six years, it could be said that Shona McCarthy’s argument is a little hollow.

Making it as some people say, a festival exclusively for the middle classes. Assembly, Pleasance, Underbelly and Gilded Balloon sold 58% of box office tickets last year out of 1.7 million tickets. It would suggest that the Fringe is in fairly rude health, particularly for those at the top. So is it impossible for venues to not use volunteers and employ a system that is fair to its staff, performers and even the customer? Monkey Barrel Comedy on Blair Street is one such venue that looks to do so. The purpose built all year round comedy club has garnered a glowing reputation for having a roster of some of the most in demand comedy acts and this year's line up is no exception. With Edinburgh comedy award winners and nominees such as John Kearns; Ahir Shah, Olga Koch as well as regular TV faces Ed Gamble, Spencer Jones, Jen Brister and local heroes in Ross McClelland, Susan Riddle, Richard Brown and Amy Matthews. It's the venue very much in demand by acts and this year they open up three new rooms right across the road.

Whilst volunteering can be an excellent means for someone to learn valuable skills that might not be available to them otherwise, Short Com and The Wee Review have existed on the kind dedicated work of volunteers over the years (thanks guys), it’s certainly can be something that some businesses look to exploit. Let’s not forget Underbelly trying to get ‘volunteers’ to clean the streets after Hogmanay last year. The wide scale use of volunteers also makes it harder for people from certain economic backgrounds to work and experience the Fringe. 16


online presence in the run-up to August. Hopefully people can make an informed decision with the information available to them'.

I asked David Bleese, one of the owners of Monkey Barrel about what they think about some of the common arguments that say the Fringe can't exist without the status quo, and how they put their own ethos into practice.

It gets more expensive year after year for people to perform or visit the Fringe, is it not likely that it might be the performers facing the increased costs other than the venues?

‘The important thing to start with here is that our Fair Fringe approach isn’t about anyone else. We operate in Edinburgh all year around and our people, acts and customers are part of what we are 365 days of the year. We’ve an obligation to make sure our people get paid for the work they do, in a safe, positive environment. We don’t change this during August just because we open more venues or have new people come to work with us. We've heard references to how it wouldn't be possible for some operators to do x if they couldn’t do y. Perhaps this is a feature of coming up to Edinburgh on such a huge scale for such a short period of time? Either way, we don’t get involved in the working practices of other operators. We just concentrate on finding the best outcomes for us and our people’.

'Our Fair Fringe approach has three key elements. Pay people properly for the work they do; offer a package to acts that makes it profitable to perform; and ensure shows are affordable for those that visit us. Get these things right and with a bit of luck you have a great line-up of acts, with shows that are well attended and enjoyable to be part of. I’ve heard it said to acts that there is more to The Fringe than just making money. There might be a little bit of truth in this, but we think it’s important that acts can put on a great show and finish the month with some cash in their pockets'. The Fringe was a break away from The Edinburgh International Festival, would you look to break away from The Fringe?

The majority of the public and visitors are often unaware of the actual business practices in how they operate. How do you make people aware of what you guys do?

‘No. This is our way of highlighting that it’s possible to run a venue during August that doesn’t leave acts in debt, have overworked staff or a ticketing model that isn’t affordable. If other operators want to follow us, then we would be delighted to share our experiences. Moreover, the great thing about The Fringe is how many different and new ideas happen each year. We’re always learning how to put on a better experience, and there’s probably no better place than The Fringe to speak with more like minded people on how to do this.'

'2019 will be our fourth Fringe and what we’ve achieved in such a short period of time should prove there is a sustainable model which can benefit everyone who participates in this great festival. This year we are going to make a stronger case for how we operate, but we’re certainly not an arbiter of what is or isn’t good practice. We spend a lot of time with our customers during August and it’s great to be able to chat to them about how we do things. I think we’re starting to make an impact, especially as we expand to 5 rooms and with www.fairfringe.com being our main

Chris Aitken 17


TURN UP FOR TINA

Comedy cabaret performer Tracey Collins was packing out free fringe venue Frankenstein’s last year with her foursome of fabulous, flirty characters. She’s back at the same place this year with more of the same, including the tea-toting, stocking-stroking Tina T’urner Tea Lady. Get ready for conga lines and a flash of the fishnets! We spoke to Tracey to find out a bit more about the woman behind the characters. What’s your background and how did you come to be doing this?

Were you already a big fan or did you have to immerse yourself in Tina world?

I started performing in youth theatre in my hometown of Leicester and ending up being signed by a record label in London. After making a pop album in Norway, I sang in various bands and started getting into the Electroklash music scene. Watching people merge character, costume and music together really appealed to me. I knew I wanted to perform as a solo artist after seeing Peaches play live at The Astoria. She was anarchic and looked like she was having an absolute blast. So I started performing a comedy piano sprawler act on the cabaret scene and then I wrote Tina T’urner Tea Lady. She became the platform for other characters such as Audrey Heartburn, Flo, Ed Cheerup and Fanny Legup.

My mum was a huge Tina fan and it rubbed off on me. We would watch her performances together in awe. When creating Tina T’urner Tea Lady I immersed myself in her music but not in Tina’s world. I was experimenting playing her in an absurd way, rather than a tribute or impersonation. As the character has developed, I have come to see her more as a deluded Yorkshire tea lady who finds joy in performing Tina Turner songs and seducing men with her tea. I performed in Switzerland last year, and heard a story about a local man who walks around Zurich singing the opening line of Lionel Ritchie’s Hello. He only knows that first line and I thought yes, that’s what my character is like! Tina T’urner Tea Lady doesn’t know the correct words to the songs, she mumbles. Her stories of the 80s are ridiculous, but she loves showbiz and glamour. I think that joy for life is infectious.

Where did the idea of Tina T’urner originally come from? My best mate and I were booked to play old tea ladies for a promo gig at a national newspaper. The assembled hacks loved watching us frisk the editor and play with his tie. It was such fun, it stayed with me. Then one day I was writing ideas of how to create a new act and I thought of Tina T’urner Tea Lady. I wasn’t sure what I was going to do exactly, but I started with a foldaway tea trolley, a very limp wig and a few songs.

What characters are making an appearance with her this year? This year’s show is much more darkly comic and explores the theme of “freaks”. The characters are a celebration of showbiz and the surreal. Tina T’urner Tea Lady will get things off to a steamy start with her famous hot brew. Tina is followed by Ed Cheerup 18


parody - an angst ridden caricature version of him. The same is true of Tina as well.

my drag king version of Ed Sheeran. Cheerup is a tortured artist and “misunderstood genius”. He is, in his own words, the Shakespeare of pop. Audrey Heartburn will be making a return appearance with new tragic stories of online dating and her fruitless search for love in the real world. Bringing up the rear is obnoxious self-made billionaire Fanny Legup, who will close the show with a grotesque motivational seminar. What are you looking for when you create a new character? I’m drawn to larger than life characters. I look for the tragedy and vulnerability within them - the need to be loved or the illusion of power. I start with a bizarre idea which I can play with, then try to make it emotionally relatable. I love interacting with the audience and getting them to play along. I look for devices (cups of tea, hair brushing, dating advice) to get them directly involved.

Tracey Collins - photos by Vessi Ves What’s it like channelling these people? Can you switch them off easily or do you find them constantly invading your normal life? It’s wonderful. I can be really daft and connect with strangers. My characters allow me to be free, whether that’s rolling around on the floor, belting out my favourite songs or being brutally honest. I’m happiest when I really know the character and can improvise around the structure of the set. I love that I can switch my characters off easily, and don’t find them invading my normal life at all. But in a way, I wish they did.

How pernickerty are you with your characters? Take Audrey Heartburn - do you want to learn all the finer details about her and her life or are you more casual about it, just aiming for a vaguely Hepburn vibe? With Audrey I haven’t spent lots of time researching her life. But I have learnt about women in the Golden Age of Hollywood and all the pressure put on leading actresses of that time to be pretty and demure. While I mimic Audrey’s on-screen voice and mannerisms, it’s not a straight impersonation. I heighten her behaviours to challenge traditional perceptions of the Holly Golightly archetype. I want her to come across as a flawed human being. With a character like Ed Cheerup, I’m creating a ridiculous

If Simply The Best comes on in a pub nowadays, what’s your reaction? My muscle memory kicks in and I long to start a conga line (wherever I am). Tina T’Urner Tea Lady and Freaks! @ Frankenstein’s @14:30, Fri 2 Aug - Sat 17 Aug 2019 19




Let’s see your shorts then Stuart Laws - Photo By Anna Kofield

Stand-up Pete Carson talks to the fringe comics making quality comedy films on their writing process for the screen and stage

Not long after most comedians walk offstage they’re often left with a sense of desperation to get back into the spotlight, so the parallels between performing comedy and shooting films make them perfect counterparts. Making a comedy short is the next best hit for any comic craving stage time.

and stand-up, starting off with a solitary idea that has legs. “I think it’s good to get that first draft out. I quite like being able to run with something and then after that sitting down and looking at what you introduced, which elements are left dangling early on and then retrofitting a complexity onto it.” As a stand-up director Laws recently produced James Acaster’s Repertoire for Netflix, a job that pushes comedians to give their best performance. “It’s very different depending on each person. I’ve sat down with people and made them do their entire show to me without losing eye contact because a key part of their show was being able to engage the audience.”

Barely out of school, Stuart Laws and his friends set up Turtle Canyon Media, a production company specializing in web-series, films and stand-up specials. As a director for film and TV, he approaches stand-up by letting it exist in a surreal little world of his own creation. Trying out new material in front of live audiences has helped Laws balance the rhythm of a scene. “You get to be able to gauge an audience reaction live and that’s useful in film to be watching something and feel that the audience would be dropping off a bit here, the pacing of this bit is wrong. I think there’s a lot of lessons in stand up like making sure you’ve explained enough to allow the majority of people to get the actual joke, but not over explaining so everyone’s ahead of you.” Toying with absurd concepts is the basic process Laws uses to write screenplays

Daniel Audritt - photo by Adrian Tauss 22


Taking inspiration from the frantic work ethic at Saturday Night Live, stand-up Daniel Audritt made a pact with himself to write and direct a new short every couple weeks for a year, eventually landing a job directing videos for Comic Relief. Confessing to being a terrible actor, he doesn’t appear in any of his shorts, concentrating on every other facet of production. “It’s never been about trying to build a name or build a reputation. It was about trying to keep productive, get better at comedy and make stuff that I was proud of, itching a creative scratch.” Dreamgun - photo by Ste Murray

The success of these online sketches led to Modern Horror Stories, a Comedy Central series written with Kat Butterfield. A fan of writer-comics like John Mulaney, Audritt’s joke writing style plays with familiar feelings, twisting relatable insecurities into comedy premises and wringing every possible joke out of them. Shooting sketches had a knock on effect on how Audritt works out the material for his fringe show. “I’ve kind of started looking at stand-up in the same way that I look at editing. You can really shape a film in the edit, where in stand-up everyone writes, goes up and says ‘That’s my bit finished’. I’ve stopped trying to look at it like that, every time I do it I’ll change it, basically re-edit it and see if there’s a different way of doing it.”

to help us out financially, less people will come to see the theatre shows but they’re willing to pay for tickets.” The group channelled their love of cinema into Dreamgun Film Reads, a live podcast that adapts classic films into meta-comedy radio plays. While hoping to get back to filming later in the year, transitioning from screen to stage has been positive for the group, Colfer joking that “It’s funny that the modern medium of the internet has somewhat helped us revive the dead one in theatre.” Stuart Laws Is All In @ Monkey Barrel @12 : 20, Aug 1st-25th (not 14)

Dublin sketch group Dreamgun (Heber Hanly, Gavin Drea, James McDonnell and Stephen Colfer) started making shorts for the monthly Firehouse film festival. When satirical site Waterford Whispers shared their videos online, it propelled the success of their live comedy shows. Colfer says “The big realisation for us was all our online content serves as an advert for the live shows. A lot of people are going to watch the online videos but they’re not going

Daniel Audritt: Better Man @ Just the Tonic at The Caves @13 : 05, Aug 1st -25th (not 12) Dreamgun Film Reads @ Underbelly, Bristo Square @22:15, Aug 1st -25th (not 13)

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AUDIENCE ADVICE WITH JO CAULFIELD With wisdom gained over many an August in Edinburgh, perennial Fringe favourite Jo Caulfield dispenses some sound advice for anyone paying their first visit... Buy one of those refillable water bottles and carry that around in the day, you’ll save a fortune. In the evening, buy a drink, you cheapskate miserable bastard. Daytime compilation/showcase shows are a good way of deciding what you do or don’t want to buy tickets for. Always factor in ten minutes of not being able to find the venue and you will be on time. Check out Pickles Winebar at the bottom of Broughton St, where a nice couple of glasses of wine will cost around the same as the expected donation at a “free” show - it’s potentially more fun and much less likely to leave a bitter taste in your mouth. Escape the festival crowds and jump on a bus to Leith, where pints cost less than a fiver each and you may get to see some truly innovative street performers. Man fighting a seagull for his Greggs pasty was a personal highlight last year.

Jo Caulfield - photo by Tony Briggs Bring an umbrella and flip-flops. The weather in August is unpredictable. It’s hot, it’s cold. It’s wet, it’s dry. It’s like Edinburgh is going through the menopause.

If you like a show, tell your friends. And tell complete strangers. Word of mouth is the best form of advertising. And it’ll hopefully drive the PR companies out of the festival and, more importantly, out of business.

See a show at The Voodoo Rooms. It’s camp, it’s decadent, it has glass chandeliers. I love playing here. It’s like doing a gig inside Liza Minnelli’s vagina. 24


You will encounter at least one drama student who thinks lying down in the middle of the Royal Mile is an innovative and hilarious way to flyer their show. Humour them. They’ve spent a good couple of years honing their skills. Recognise and acknowledge their talent - if they’ve decided to play the role of a bit of pavement, go with it, believe in them and tread on them as you would any other bit of pavement… Hire a bike. Edinburgh has a vast network of old railway lines that have paved as cycle lanes. You can go from Murrayfield all the way to the shores of the Firth of Forth at Cramond.

If someone does this in an attempt to flyer you, they might be trying too hard.

If you see a comic you recognise, talk to us, we are surprisingly friendly/needy. But not me. Stay away from me, please.

If the comic tries to embarrass you, then politely say “ It’s just not for me.” If they argue with that, they are being a dick and you are right to leave. Take several other audience members with you. You can rent out rooms in student halls of residence during the Fringe, worth checking out, can be a good cheaper option. One of the best things about the Fringe is that every basement, back room and cupboard is suddenly transformed into a venue. This is also one of the worst things about the Fringe…

Venture up to Port O' Leith for a pint. Photo by Catherine Boyce

Take a flyer - especially if it’s one of mine - I’m paying over a tenner an hour to get them handed out; make it worth my while.

If you don’t like a show you can walk out. We don’t have a right to waste your time. Just try not to be disruptive. If the comic asks, just politely say “Sorry I have to leave.”

Jo Caulfield: Voodoo Doll is @ The Stand, @ 19:40 from Fri 2 - Sun 25 Aug 2019 25


Taking a Left Turn

Paul F Taylor - photo by Edward Moore

Alternative comedy is often being daft or silly, almost the complete opposite to subjects that are considered personal and emotive. But this year, there are several performers at the Fringe who have something deeply personal to say. Paul Dance asked Ali Brice, Harriet Dyer, Dave Green, David McIver and Paul F Taylor about how they felt about constructing a show considered left of field with emotive elements. ‘My shows have always contained something personal, but it’s becoming more explicit what I’m talking about. After my very first rehearsal with Jonny my director he turned to me and said, “That’s’ about as far from a comedy show as it’s possible to get” So, you can imagine how dark that was!’ states Ali Brice.

my head always has a way of wiggling itself into whatever I’m working on.’ But for Dave Green the leap was a big one, ‘It’s the first year where I have decided to tackle anything personal in my stand-up, so it has been a big deal for me. I thought it would mean becoming a totally different type of comedian which I wasn’t prepared to do’.

David McIver found it much more of a challenge, ‘When I started doing the show it was way too serious, I stopped having any fun when I was performing it, so I took out all the serious stuff for a while, which helped me find the fun in it again.

Although award-winners Hannah Gadsby and Richard Gadd weren’t the first to contain

Paul F Taylor also found the transition difficult, ‘I was quite fearful choosing to reveal anything about myself as my previous shows were all driven by my love for silliness.’ For Harriet Dyer it seems a natural evolution, ‘I had no intention of talking about anything serious as it’s a daft show about dinosaurs, but I think whatever I happen to be going through in

Dave Green - photo by Edward Moore 26


serious revelations in their performances, there is a bit of cynicism from fellow professionals and audiences alike who feel that comedy should be comedy and that difficult subject matters should be left for theatre. I ask them their opinions on that thinking. ‘A worthy show is always going to carry more weight than a funny one’, replies Paul. ‘If you can achieve both then that’s just so powerful! What I dislike are performers who have seen the success of shows like Nanette and mistakenly think you achieve success through simply taking on a difficult subject. If it’s not funny you’ve only done half your job’.

"The danger is when a show is more therapy than comedy"

Harriet Dyer - photo by Nigel Hillier states, ‘The only thing that a show needs to have in order to be comedy is a decent number of laughs, which Gadd and Gadsby’s shows both had’.

‘I totally understand the backlash against comedians dealing with serious subject matter in their shows’ says Dave Green, ‘because I used to hold that opinion myself. But I would say my past aversion to comedians doing heartfelt stuff was pure psychological projection based on my own insecurities’. ‘I think a person’s show can contain whatever that person wants’, says Ali, simply, ‘But I think the most frequent reaction in a comedy show is laughter, be it borne of confusion, surprise, a waffle,… anything, but you should be laughing’.

Some people believe that performing comedy is therapy. Do any of these acts find it easier to talk on stage about their problems than in private? ‘Yes’, says Ali, ‘but hopefully, it gets people laughing. The danger is when a show is more therapy than comedy. I’ve been guilty of that and it’s not fair. An audience needs to be able to take something away from what I’ve said – it can’t just be, “Good evening, here’s a load of my problems. Good night!” It’s an opinion shared by Paul, ‘Depends if it’s funny. If it’s funny, then talking to an audience about it is easy as you’ve made them laugh. If it isn’t it funny, then they will stare at you and the bleak sadness of your revelation will confront you in front of a crowd of judgy strangers.’

A sentiment echoed by Harriet, ‘If one wants to cover a darker subject matter than usual so be it, one should talk about whatever the dickens they want to talk about! Whose business is it to say what anyone else should be talking about in THEIR show. All acts agree and as McIver simply 27


‘It’s not something I’ve ever really had to think about before’ adds Dave Green, ‘as I’ve never been the type of comedian to talk about personal stuff on stage. Preparing for this year’s show has totally changed though. I can’t speak for anyone else, but I think whatever you’re dealing with you’ve got to process it first before you can effectively tackle it creatively’.

David McIver- photo by Adrian Tauss the years has acted like therapy for me and many people have got in touch to say being so open about my mental health has helped them too. If it’s genuinely helped even just one person, I’ll take them apples.’ Ali Brice : Bin Wondering Heroes @ Spiegel Yurt @17:00 1st-25th Aug (not 13th)

Ali Brice - photo by Alex K Graham David McIver finds talking to audiences much harder, ‘Trying to talk on stage about painful events in my life has been deeply depressing. I’m too needy for laughs! Developing this show has been therapeutic though. It’s meant I’ve had to think about a painful experience almost every day for the last year, but I’ve come out the other end feeling better about it. I’m also in therapy though, which I must say is one of the most therapeutic things you can do.

Harriet Dyer : The Dinosaur Show @ Gilded Balloon Patter Hoose - Dram @20:15, 31st Jul - 26th Aug Dave Green : Guest Bed @ Mash House - Just The Attic @ 19:55 1st-25th Aug (Not 12th) David McIver : Teleport PBH @ Banshee Labyrinth @12:20, 3rd-25th Aug (Not 12th)

But for Harriet, talking to an audience about her problems is much easier, ‘I’ve got bipolar and tend to be very honest onstage about my struggles. I’d say talking openly about my issues over

Paul F Taylor - Odd Paul @The Stand 2 @13:20 1st Aug - 25th Aug (Not 12th) 28




Fringe? Big deal… Pass me the mop work of all kinds, but especially bar work. People who go to bars during Fringe are somehow way worse than people who go to bars anywhere else. The problem is, everyone in the whole city is exhausted, even the punters. It’s all a bit much. I was lucky to make excellent friends during these summers, some of whom have, like me, not been altogether put off by the piles of vomit, and now perform at the Fringe every year. I did get to see some shows thanks to venue passes and/or the free fringe, including some which really stuck with me, but I didn’t exactly fall in love with the prospect of one day applying as a performer, and it never occurred to me to do so until years later. It all seemed a massive, expensive mess. Which it is, but enough love and attention from strangers can do wonders. This, plus the camaraderie, and the beauty of the city and its surrounds, are more than enough to make me completely forget about the negatives.

Harriet Braine looks back at those difficult first years working at the festival I lived in Edinburgh between 2010 and 2014 as a student at Edinburgh College of Art. Before I started eventually doing comedy in 2016, the Fringe was something I had to endure over the summer. I fancied myself as an Edinburgh local, I’d roll my eyes at the people in costumes handing out sweaty flyers as I marched up Middle Meadow Walk to work. I did various menial jobs over three Fringes, some of which sound much more glamorous than they were. Press Office Assistant, you say? Wow, you must have gone to so many parties and met so many famous c... Let me stop you there. Granted, I did meet some amazing people, including some of my comedy heroes, but I was very much a dogsbody, and it was clear that none of them had any interest in talking to me. I wouldn’t have known what to say anyway, as I wasn’t a comedian yet, so there was no need to try and persuade these fat cats that I had talents which didn’t involve a bucket of wallpaper paste. (As Press Office Assistant I had to print out and paste up reviews on a wall outside the venue). I was doing fifteen-hour days non-stop for thirty days for next to no money. Looking back, working at the Fringe didn’t give me a great first impression of the industry in which I now find myself. It may have even pushed me so far in the other direction that I ended up pursuing a career in museums, with their hallowed, dim, quiet, temperature-controlled rooms...

Nowadays when I do the Fringe, it is indeed a massive, expensive mess (and it takes up all my annual leave, as, dear reader, you’ll be glad to know I ended up working full time in a nice quiet museum library), but at least now I get exhausted doing something I love instead of something rubbish (no offence, pubs and press offices of Edinburgh). The drudgery of my first few Fringes helps put it into perspective: I’m never disappointed by it, as my expectations have been kept so nice and low. Don’t get me wrong, I still had the time of my life even back then. It’s a festival in the truest sense of the word (as long as you don’t look up synonyms of the word “festival”, which include the word “holiday”, because a holiday it sure ain’t.)

You’d maybe think that as a student with embryonic comedic aspirations that I’d have been completely inspired and grateful just to be in the midst of it all, but to be honest it was just a load of hard work. And I hated hard

Harriet Braine: Les Admirables Gilded Balloon @ Old Tolbooth Market, @ 18:00, 31st Jul - 25th Aug (not 12th) 31


A SOLITARY Actor Kathryn Haggis tells the tragic story that inspired Watching Glory Die, the Fringe play in which she stars

LIFE

Ashley Smith was a young teenager at the time of her first offence and her first offence was not unlike that of a child. Hurling crab apples at a postman because you think he is withholding the welfare cheque is a childish way of wanting to right a bad situation, but once the civil servant decided to press charges, Ashley became a poster child for unsupervised, undiagnosed, ineffective confinement.

“Ashley Smith had the heart of a child. She packed stuffed animals and CDs to take to prison,” quoted her friend Jessica. Jess also mentioned, “we’d dig holes in the floor until we could hear each other and read Harry Potter. We read the whole series, she loved it. Ashley wouldn’t hurt anyone.” According to Crown Attorney Margaret Creal, assigned to work with the coroner on the case, one guard named Melissa was quite nice to Ashley. Ashley loved to watch What Not To Wear, a live make-over show helping people with personalized styling. Melissa also testified that Ashley had never worn make up. Melissa promised Ashley she would bring a make-up bag the day she was supposed to get released and do her make-up for her, but, in 2007 Ashley successfully choked herself to death while in solitary confinement.

Ashley’s childhood was not riddled with childhood adversities or personal tragedy her adoptive parents can attest to her “very typical” upbringing in Atlantic Canada - yet she went on to break the mould with what’s now almost common place in teenage behaviour: post digital social anxiety, riddled with boredom, impatience and entitlement, served with a side helping of undiagnosed learning disabilities and mental health issues.

In 2007, the year she died, she’d spent four and a half years incarcerated with two-thirds of her sentence in “therapeutic quiet” or “solitary confinement”. She’d been tazered twice and incurred over 800 prison charges and violations.

She found social solidarity in Juvenile Detention and why wouldn’t you turn life into a Hayley Mills movie to create your own reality? Like most fourteen year olds, Ashley and her new friends loved to provoke the guards. Their antics would be her only source of entertainment for the next four years. 32


has access to. It also proved to be respite for prison staff required to wait until Ashley was “non-breathing� before going in her cell to prevent her from choking. Ashley wrote to administration, often. She voiced her concern regarding exercise and social engagement - a hard task for most students these days, given the continued decline in social, emotional and academic functioning - and the only thing that really got attention was her attempts to tie ligatures around her neck. Ashley had no advocates, except for a weekly nurse and a drop-in prison representative who mentioned her repeated requests for someone to talk to but seemingly did not action anything. In almost all the footage, the treatment was the same: fully armed guards with full frontal masks, physically restraining her on a gurney while trying to wrap her in what looks like a toboggan with velcro straps and a hockey mask. She was often left overnight in the restraint, soaking in her own urine. And yet in all the footage you can hear her say please and thank you after almost every request.

Ashley Smith leaves a long legacy. The laws of restraint in Canada are changed forever: no longer will permission need to be granted for emergency procedures, adequate staffing of qualified mental health staff is now mandatory, as well as creating a federally operated treatment centre for high needs, high risk women complete with independent patient advocacy.

How did we let this happen? With proper sleep and nutrition being essential to brain and behaviour development, how did we fail so badly here?

Ashley Smith’s case was the first and only case in Canadian Penitentiary that was tried and convicted as a homicide from an all female jury, resulting in a long list of suggestions and recommendations we should feel ashamed to need.

There are reports that removal and transfer laws, stating that an inmate cannot be in solitary confinement for more than three months, were circumvented by continually transferring her before the 90 day period, making it nearly impossible to get a diagnosis for psychiatric care, despite the endless resources the prison system

Watching Glory Die : Judith Thompson and Windsor Feminist Theatre Company @ Assembly Rooms,@ 13.50 Thu 1st - Sun 25th Aug (not 7, 13, 20)

33


BUSKING BEHIND THE CONCERT HALL Ciara Harvie is the 21 year old classical singer from Longniddry who you may recognise from her 2017 appearance on The Voice. Singing Nessun Dorma, she unfortunately didn’t get a chair turn. However, she so impressed the coaches they technically broke the rules by bringing her back on stage. She’s busked at the Fringe before, but she’s now preparing to make her “official” Fringe debut with three concerts at St Andrew’s and St George’s West. We spoke to her to find out a little more... What’s the first thing you remember singing and how old were you?

copying the way they pronounced each Italian word. I then went on to get vocal coaching from a Russian vocal coach called Sergei Desmond who was shocked that a young girl was so enthusiastic to sing classical music instead of singing Adele or Lady Gaga!

I never knew I could sing at all until I was about 14 years old. I am naturally a very shy person so the idea of singing in front of anyone frightened me a lot! I wasn’t sure if I was any good or not, so I got my dad’s phone and recorded myself to give to my family to have listen. They didn’t believe it was me! For a long time after that people would have to turn their backs before I would sing, until my first performance in public at the final of Edinburgh’s Got Talent at the Festival Theatre. I knew then that singing was something I was determined to pursue.

Has it always just been classical singing or are there other styles you do too? In the beginning before I discovered I could sing classical music, I tried to sing the usual pop music. I could sing it and hold the tune but it definitely wasn’t anything special! However, I like to sing a lot of modern classical music such as classical crossover songs and songs that people would often recognise from movies and TV adverts. I also take some pop songs and put a classical twist on them such as Perfect by Ed Sheeran and Everything I Do (Quello Che Faro) by Bryan Adams in Italian.

Who was the first performer which made you think “I want to sing like that”? I was first inspired to try singing when I saw a 10 year old girl called Jackie Evancho sing O Mio Babbino Caro on America’s Got Talent. I loved the way it sounded and wanted to give it a go for myself. I went onto YouTube and listened to many other classical singers such as Andrea Bocelli and Katherine Jenkins and tried to sing the songs just by listening to them and

Tell us about your experience on the Voice. What’s it like in real life compared to what we see on TV? I had an amazing experience on The Voice. It was so interesting to see how it all worked 34


Ciara Harvey For five years I was busking on The Royal Mile, St Andrew’s Square and various outdoor bars and restaurants. I don’t look like a “typical” classical singer so when people walked down the streets they would usually stop and look a little shocked. When I was 15, STV News did a report on the impact I was making as a classical singing busker at the festival so it is amazing to have been able to take a step forward and hold my own show at an official Fringe venue.

and came together. I think a lot of people (including myself ) don’t realise the amount of work that goes on before the show is even filmed. You definitely don’t just turn up on the day and sing your song. I had many auditions to pass and visits down to London and Manchester before my blind audition was filmed in the October of 2016 and aired February 2017 (which was a long time to wait and not tell anyone that I was going to be on!) What doors has it opened to you?

What are your hopes for the future? I got great exposure from the show which lead to so many amazing opportunities such as: representing the UK at a classical concert in Moscow at The Tchaikovsky Concert Hall, performing alongside Stormzy and Paloma Faith at a YouTube event in London, performing at Game Of Thrones star, James Cosmo’s celebration of 50 years in film and many other events in places such as Budapest, Amsterdam and Italy.

My ultimate goal is to become a recording artist and tour around the world performing with orchestras! I would love to make classical singing more trendy and cool as I get so many young people come up to me and say that they wouldn’t usually listen to classical music but actually enjoyed my performance, which is so lovely to hear. Concert with Ciara Harvie @ St Andrew’s and St George’s West Mon 12, Tue 13 & Sun 18 Aug.

What have your previous Fringe experiences been like?

35


KILLER WHALE OF THE WEST END Geoff Ford talks to the mysterious theatreland figure making his Fringe debut this year... Theatreland’s anonymous cult figure West End Producer makes his Edinburgh Fringe debut this summer with West End Producer (and Guests) – Free Willy! WEP, as he is known in theatrical circles, will be flipping theatre on its head with his first hilarious show as he auditions special guests for his Free Willy musical. “I’m going there to find my Willy,” he explained. “It’s a fun show where I talk about my time in theatre, I have lots of fun with the audience, teach them the rules of the business, how to act properly. There, you see, the show’s slightly different as the audience are all auditioning. It is an open audition for my Dolphin Ensemble, they are auditioning to be part of my musical!

West End Producer “I’m looking for an actor who eats exclusively fish, can dive down to depths of at least 2,000 metres, who is black and white and can speak in Welsh. It is essential that they can do all of those things, you see. Ideally, if they can also hold their breath for at least 30 minutes as the show is going to be performed in the first ever giant fish tank housed, permanently, outside The Houses of Parliament.” Well then, that should be easy!

“They will be getting involved, on stage, as well as my special guest, later on, who I’m auditioning for the coveted role of Killer Whale Willy. So, it involves lots of songs, me showing material from my Free Willy show, talking about theatre, lots of silly little anecdotes that have happened to me throughout the years and getting some of the audience on stage.

For those of you who may not be familiar with WEP, I asked him for a little background to his time in theatreland. “I was actually born on the stage during a particularly bloody version of Macbeth, you see. And, if you’re born on stage, that’s the only way to guarantee that you are going to be involved in the entertainment business.

“Someone will win some show pants and someone will be my Willy of The Day! Hopefully the special guest will have the talent that I’m looking for to be my whale.” Whilst WEP has an open mind about who his Willy will be, there are a few essential requirements needed for the role.

“After that I used to work backstage at my local theatre and went on a national tour, working backstage in a junior position assistant stage managing and 36


article for The Stage newspaper. I’ve also written two books on theatre and entertainment Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Acting (But Were Too Sloshed To Ask), Dear, and the second about going to the theatre, so I’m heavily involved which is great fun.”

playing a tiny little role in one of the shows, My Fair Lady. In this production the woman who played the leading role of Eliza Doolittle couldn’t dance all night, which was a bit of a shame because it didn’t really work with the song I Could Have Danced All Night, so I thought I’ll do my own production, my dear. I did, it toured so well and I’ve been putting the eatre into theatre ever since.

And so, WEP is now looking forward to his debut at the Edinburgh Fringe.

“I’ve also done some talent competitions, Search For A Twitter Star at the Lyric Theatre looking for a talent of tomorrow. We did a few shows at the Soho Theatre, theatrical composers of the future, my dear, which was also marvellous.” Could it be, then, that a certain Simon Cowell has modelled himself on WEP? “Oh that’s 100% right. I don’t like to go on about it but, yes, he did! And does!”

“I am beyond thrilled to be spending the summer in Edinburgh as I search for my perfect Free Willy. I’ve been in Edinburgh many times, my dear, since the sixties, but lots of those stories must remain anonymous… I’ve visited the Fringe many times, seen lots of shows and I just thought I’d do my own this year. Why not? You only live once, don’t you?

Did that extend to wearing one’s trousers high?“Well, my dear, it depends on how much pasta I’ve eaten, how bloated I am, you see. If I haven’t I can wear the trousers high, if I have then I have to wear them a bit lower.” WEP’s own talents know no bounds and he is a familiar sight around the West End. “I go to all the shows and I write a weekly

“There is always a special atmosphere, it involves vomiting in the streets, lots of people losing their way and losing lots of money. It’s absolutely bloody horrific! It should be good, dear, and the weather should hold out, I’ve had a little look, and we have some lovely venues. I think the show should be rather fun! “These things are not easy to find and, when you are dealing with the so called talent I tend to be stuck with, it is a terrifically hard job. I will need your help so please do visit me in Edinburgh and together we will find my Willy.” West End Producer (and Guests) – Free Willy! @ Assembly Rooms, Edinburgh, 31st July - 6th Aug 2019 @ Assembly Checkpoint, Edinburgh, 12th - 26th Aug 2019

West End Producer 37


VEG OUT Vegan food in Edinburgh is incredible. Selecting only a few eateries to write about has been challenging, but I am not one to be intimidated by hard work! Harmonium - 60 Henderson Street EH6 6DE Leith - harmoniumbar.co.uk Intricate, yet powerful flavours and textures guaranteed with every bite. From scallops to chicken parmigiana, their menu has lots of takes on what would normally be dishes associ-ated with meat. My personal favourite is the no fish and chips. It’s mind blowing. I don’t know how they do it. Wizardry perhaps. This is a fantastic place for an evening meal, and don’t for-get to try their cocktails! Seeds for the Soul - 167 Bruntsfield Pl, Edinburgh EH10 4DG seedsforthesoul.co.uk Here is where I drank my favourite mocha of all time. And I’ve had quite a few. What’s great about this place is that whether you’re in the mood for something a bit healthier (Buddha bowls) or something kinda dirty (cheesey poutine), you’re covered! Plus the cake is to die for. Great place for lunch. These guys really give a shit.

Edinburgh is not shy for its vast array of diverse and tasty eateries. But in recent times, there has been an explosion in vegan based cafes and restaurants in the Scottish capital. Once the butt of everyone’s joke, the tables have turned and moving to a plant based diet is seen as one of the key changes to fighting global warming. We asked Edinburgh resident and vegan enthusiast Alice Shone for some of her tasty tips. Naked Bakery - 24a Hill St, Edinburgh EH2 3JZ -nakedbakery.co.uk Not just a bakery (they do great burgers and breakfast dishes too), but holy shit their cakes/ doughnuts are out of this world. Aesthetics are a big deal here, but the beauty of these creations only match the gorgeous taste. I also had a caramel coffee here which had toasted marshmallow fluff on the top. If sweet treats are your thing, definitely head here! Chapter One - 107 Dalry Rd, Edinburgh EH11 2DR - facebook.com/chapteronecoffeeshop Had to share the love for this place because it’s my local, and has newly turned vegan. I love their range of sandwiches (sweet chilli chicken nugget wrap anyone?) and the amount of bacon rolls I’ve eaten will soon have the staff saying “The usual?” when I walk through the door. Another of my favourite things they offer are the coffee smoothies, such a delicious boost and a great quick breakfast/second breakfast. Also, they have lots of cake and they are all fantastic, trust me. Vegan food pictures from Naked Bakery Photos by Louise Nicholson




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