Part of the Picture, Edinburgh Festival Fringe

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Peppered across the North Sea, giant metal birds stretch towards the sky and drill into the seabed below, hunting for life-giving oils and gasses. Along their wide bellies, men work day and night to keep them moving in dangerous, dirty conditions. The money’s good, and the work is plentiful.

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Instructions for Border Crossing, Edinburgh Festival Fringe

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Human instinct to categorise and label everything and everyone extends to drawing boundaries and borders around bits of land, dividing the world up into distinct nations with names and cultural features. They’re arbitrary really, and Daniel Bye channels obscure, near-mythical performance artist Edward Shorter to challenge them.

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Meow Meow’s Little Mermaid, Edinburgh International Festival

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by guest critic Tom Brocklehurst

The Hub has got its glad rags on for this one!

Meow Meow’s return to Edinburgh (now part of the International Festival, dontcha know!) is as spangly, feisty and marvellous as anyone might expect. This time she’s taking on Hans Christian Anderson’s The Little Mermaid. And please, nobody mention the Jamaican crab.

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Hot Brown Honey, Edinburgh Festival Fringe

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‘The revolution is childcare!’ proclaims Busty Beatz from the top of her honeycomb mountain. The revolution also honours people from First Nations around the world, respects women of colour and escapes the constraints of imperialism. It’s owning your body, your sexuality and your race. It is Hot Brown Honey, the radical feminist cabaret from Australian women of colour.

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Palmyra, Edinburgh Festival Fringe

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Two men glide around the floor on small wheeled platforms. Like children, belly down on skateboards, they relish the speed and inability to control their paths. There’s a sense of freedom and joy in their movements, but collisions soon turn happiness into hostility. The fights increase in aggression, and the audience is made complicit. No one is innocent here.

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The Coolest Kid in Competitive Chess, Edinburgh Festival Fringe

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by guest critic Jo Trainor

Is there a style of comedy that Steen Raskopoulos hasn’t mastered? Having found the Australian comedian as half of improvisation duo The Bear Pack, I knew how quick witted he is, and how absurd some of his characters are but it turns out he can throw all these skills together and create side-splitting sketches too.

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Sagar Mega Drive, Edinburgh Festival Fringe

By guest critic Jo Trainor

Sonic was always my go to when playing Sega, but Fiona Sagar has got a slightly different cast of characters to choose from in her show Sagar Mega Drive

They come fast and furiously, Sagar throwing on costumes in seconds to squeeze all six of them in within her hour. There doesn’t appear to be any link between them, ranging from an Australian nursery teacher to a chihuahua. Although they all fit within the premise of being from Sega, some sort of connection would have helped shape the piece. There’s a lot of interaction in the show, and Sagar creates a great rapport with her audience throughout. This People are so open to coming on stage with her, and everyone gives it their all rather than having awkward silences. 

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Three Shows Inspired by Shakespeare, Edinburgh Festival Fringe

In a festival that worships the new and the innovative, Shakespeare adaptations are surprisingly ten a penny at the fringe. Many are school groups, though there are some from professional companies in the mix. These are often adaptations or new work inspired by Shakespeare’s stories, characters or themes. Though more likely to be of higher quality, theatremakers often struggle to find a balance between innovation and the original source material. 

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The Class Project, Edinburgh Festival Fringe

Rebecca Atkinson-Lord speaks with an accent that she stole. Her family all have Wolverhampton accents, but her parents’ decision to send to private school meant that she adopted a voice that endowed her with a social status above the rest of her family. It allowed her to ‘pass’ as part of the elite and has benefited her career, her relationships and numerous other areas of her life.

Her reflection on her voice and tribute to the rich history of the West Midlands and Black Country is a moving acknowledgement of the deep-seated bias and associations between accent and social class in Britain. Though not confrontational, it asks the audience to reflect on their own attitudes towards people and the way they speak.

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