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Three Weeks: Barry Cryer (31/08/11)

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It’s Christmas; the heavy dew of alcohol and feast induced drowsiness is thick on everyone’s brow, as the fire’s shadow flickers over Dad who, as normal, is cracking wise in the corner whilst everyone watches, smiling knowingly. A scene that pretty much encapsulates the legendary Barry Cryer’s set, and this is no bad thing, as there is something truly warming about Cryer moving through, joke by joke, and reminiscing on the greats – from Tommy Cooper to Kenn Dodd – whilst the audience laugh and nod along. Yet even for a tender young ‘un like me, there are jokes that I’ve heard before, so the show is nothing new – but it’s still heartening to see a real professional doing what he does best.

Gilded Ballon Teviot, 5 – 18 Aug, 6.45pm (7.45pm), £11.00 – £12.00, fpp43.
tw rating 3/5

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Three Weeks: May I Have The Pleasure? (30/08/11)

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It’s always the best man, never the groom for Adrian Howells who – in this interactive fabricated wedding reception, where the audience sit around on tables decorated with helium balloons and a stacked cake – takes us through the more than 60 weddings he has attended. Along the way we are invited to view Adrian’s old wedding movies, give our thoughts on what makes the ultimate wedding reception, and one person from each table is even invited to slow dance with Adrian under the spinning disco ball. Like the best weddings, by the end of the night I found myself dancing with strangers, sipping bubbly, eating a slice of cake, and wishing the night would never end.

Traverse at The Point Hotel Conference Centre, 15 – 28 Aug (not 20, 25, 26), times vary, £6.00 – £19.00, fpp279.
tw rating 5/5

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Three Weeks: Charlie And The Chocolate Factory (30/08/11)

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This performance features the cast of Portobello Youth Theatre, a group of children ranging from ages nine to thirteen, returning to the Fringe following their performance last year of ‘Little Shop of Horrors’. This version of the play contains all the songs from the film plus some additional scenes that bring more depth to the story. Some lines are occasionally forgotten, which is a shame; when audible, there are some witty one-liners that keep the script entertaining. Although these mistakes are generally due to the younger ages of the cast, the play also feels closer to its original source material because of it. An altogether capable performance from those Roald Dahl wrote his tales of magic and confectionery for in the first place.

Zoo, 5 – 13 Aug (not 7), 12.00pm (1.30pm), £5.00 – £7.00, fpp224.
tw 3/5

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Three Weeks: Tempus Incognit (30/08/11)

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Time flies. It also provides an intriguing setting for an hour of surrealism, as we follow characters Tick and Tock who follow a ticking clock which tells them when to eat, sleep, bathe, and, of course, cut their bonsai trees. Until, one day, the clock stops, and they are left contemplating what to do. Feeling much like an Ionesco play with its absurd moments – a talking slice of cake muses on its wasted life, for example – there is a real sense of fun which comes thick and fast in the form of sight gags, wordplay and quips. The sound cues are occasionally messed up, jarring with the play, but it’s still worth taking your time to see.

theSpaces On North Bridge, 22 – 27 Aug, 5.15pm (6.15pm), £7.50 – £10.00, fpp302.
tw rating 3/5

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Three Weeks: I Am The Dead (30/08/11)

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Some say life is like a box of chocolates. Others, like a highway. Very few, however, can say they’ve ever heard anyone say in passing that life is in fact like an artichoke. It’s a continuous metaphor that sticks out sorely in this compelling two-member cast performance about life and dealing with its obstacles. One of those terrifying obstacles faced is testicular cancer, – which really warrants a play on its own, as the lead male character is too busy babbling about all his other thoughts – so the problems he faces after his diagnosis are left until the final third of the play. A likeable lead female makes this a watchable rather than an engrossing hour.

Edinburgh City Football Club, 13 – 28 Aug (not 14, 21), 12.35pm (1.35pm), free, fpp270
tw rating 3/5

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Three Weeks: Debris (30/08/11)

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Poverty, body fluids and the necessity of television are all amongst – quite literally in this show –  the rubbish. It’s as though playwright Edward Bond decided to take his infamous play ‘Saved’, stick a new title onto it and hope no one would notice. As two children struggle with their poverty-stricken lives, powerful imagery is conjured – but whilst Bond’s play stays along the lines of the appalling but believable, ‘Debris’ crosses this line into shocking for shocking’s sake. That’s not to say that there aren’t some moments of great acting, just that, for having similar themes to a play way back from the 60s, it’s a shame that nothing new has been added.

Zoo Roxy, 5 – 29 Aug (alternate dates), 3.00pm (4.10pm), £5.00 – £8.00, fpp255.
tw rating 3/5

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Three Weeks: The Social Anxiety Network (30/08/11)

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Watching the ginger guy from ‘Big Cook Little Cook’ – that’s right, Little Cook! – swear and get increasingly angry at the world and its quirks feels a little wrong at first, but his likeability makes it easy to move past this bizarre fact and get on with watching some fine comedy. Most of the jokes are standard fare but Wright’s skill (and experience) in performing turns them into something more entertaining. Similarly, Tony Jameson, whilst not always highlighting the most original content, builds a great rapport with the audience. Slicker than much of the free comedy at the Fringe, the show may generate an audience because of Wright’s celebrity status, but certainly doesn’t rely upon it.

Laughing Horse at Espionage, 4 – 28 Aug, 7.15pm (8.15pm), free, fpp155.
tw rating 3/5

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Three Weeks: The Good, The Bad And The Cuddlier ‘Ride Again’ VI (30/08/11)

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The comedians of this show must have made a pact with the Almighty himself, as the only reason I can see why anybody stayed by the end was the abhorrent torrential rain pounding down on the streets outside; even then I felt like paying tribute to Gene Kelly by shouting, “I’ll take my chances with the rain!” and throwing myself down the fire escape to dance around some lampposts. Featuring a compère with no jokes, a slightly funnier comedian from Newcastle, and finishing with a man who brought the crowd around only by mentioning his autistic child, you’d be better to make like Clint Eastwood and go and see something ‘For A Few Dollars More’.

Laughing Horse at Meadow Bar, 13 – 24 Aug, 5.15pm (6.15pm), free, fpp84.
tw rating 1/5

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Three Weeks: From My Sleep With Horror (28/08/11)

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Exploring the night that gave inspiration to author Mary Shelley to write the gothic classic ‘Frankenstein’, we see characters such as Percy Bysshe Shelley tell tales of the supernatural as a storm rages outside. The stories come alive as the rest of the group slot into the guises of the various beasts and ghouls and the added use of dance enhances the mystery and suspense of each mythical circumstance, as the group of bodies move to the rhythm, enraptured, animalistic and primal. It’s a shame that interesting characters such as Byron are not developed more in order to fit the tales in, but in general, this is a play with depth and full of gothic intrigue.

Paradise In The Vault, 16 – 27 Aug (not 22), 1.45pm (2.45pm), £6.00 – £8.00, fpp264.
tw rating 4/5

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Three Weeks: Hiroshi Shimizu: From Japan With ‘Rub’ (27/08/11)

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‘HEY JAP!’ the audience is encouraged to shout at mad Japanese comedian Hiroshi Shimizu, because it is, he reminds us, his nickname. He jumps into the audience and runs up and down the aisle sporadically, in between telling us the difference between the Japanese and us ‘western people’. It’s all light hearted fun and his tongue is firmly in his cheek, which is possibly why Hiroshi has such problems making the words ‘love’ and ‘rub’ sound different, but as he points out, they’re “pretty much the same anyway”. Madcap and just a little bit insane, this is one of those rare performances, especially free ones, where the comedian could say anything and have the audience rolling in the aisles. Or indeed, rorring.

Laughing Horse at The Three Sisters, 14 – 28 Aug, 8.45pm (9.45pm), free, fpp88.
tw rating 4/5