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FringeReview at PBH’s Free Fringe


Edinburgh Fringe 2017 - Free Fringe Logo

The spirit of free and the free spirit thrives again at The Free Fringe of the great PBH (Peter Buckley-Hill).

Here are our top recommendations, previews and interviews for PBH’s Free Fringe…


I want to see…

Our easy and intuitive show-finding tool

I want to see..

… some very unique theatre – a  true artist’s personal struggle for humanity. Then see Van Gogh Find Yourself #VGFY

… a multi-slam-winning and much-published poet from the South West of England. Then see My Cloth-Eared Heart

… an improv comedy show. Then see An Imp-Revised History of the World

… a one-woman show about control, expectation and the crap that women face every day. Then see Syd and Sylvia

… a history-inspired mind reading show based on the true story of America’s psychic spies. Then see David Narayan: The Psychic Project

… an hour of upbeat stand-up from two thoughtful souls. Then see Andy Storey and Maddie Campion: Epoch

… some comedy magic. Then see The Card Players With Kane & Abel or see Ada Campe and the Psychic Duck

… a burlesque show. Then see Elsie Diamond: The Sensible Undresser

… some LGBTI comedy. Then see Big Fat Gay

… some afternoon spoken word. Then see Anxiety and Animal GIFs

… some madcap musical comedy. Then see #Jollyboat: Pirates of the Karaoke

…  a show that combines monologues, film, theater and music, having stand-up comedy as its core. Then see Adrian Minkowicz: Best Newcomer

… a sketch comedy show. Then see Fish Finger Fridays: Fun Time Friends

… a musical satire show. Then see The Creative Martyrs: Kabakunst

… the world’s first and only human/cartoon double-act. Then see Big Howard Little Howard: Man and Boy

… some music – playful songs about life’s big things. Then see No Rest for the Lizard

… a world premiere cabaret. Then see A Tutti Frutti Cabaret / PBH’s Free Fringe

… a politcal stand-up comedy show. Then see Chris Coltrane: Make Love and Smash Fascism or see ForniKATEress

… a spoken word musical theatre show. Then see The Other Side of the Flood

… an afternoon of song and banter, with classics from musical theatre, cabaret and pop. Then see Rosie Sings: Facts About Me!

… poetry in the afternoon, cabaret style. Then see Other Voices Spoken Word Cabaret

… some live early evening comedy – Jane Austen with a handgun. Then see Cheeks

…  fringe comedians performing their most triumphant ten minutes to amuse and encourage you to attend their full-length shows. Then see Clash of the Tight Tens

… some late afternoon surrealist comedy. Then see Dada Surrealist Cookbook

… a theatre piece – new writing horror. Then see Father of Lies

For children…

… a lunchtime children’s show (5 and overs). Then see Dommy B Presents…

… an late morning educational children’s show (6-14s). Then see The New Maths Magic Show

… some stories for kids. (4-10s) Then see There May Be Pirates… There May Be Dragons…


More to come

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How Eva Von Schnippisch Won WWII

An action-packed, spy-thriller, one-woman musical.

About the Show
Here’s the lowdown: The Official Secrecy Act is over – and Eva is ready to set the record straight. Germany’s greatest cabaret star is transformed into Britain’s No.1 spy. After a hair-raising mission in occupied France and her explosive death-defying getaway in Russia….Eva is given the toughest mission of all: infiltrate to the very top. Back in her mutti-land Germany she embarks on a love affair to end all love affairs.

Eva tells an action-packed story of love, betrayal, Frankfurters, the ‘other’ Eva…and de-bunks the bunker story once and for all. It’s time to burn your history books!

The show is written, Produced & Performed by Stephanie Ware with an original Score composed by Oliver Collier
Assistant Directors are Mike Carter & Michelle Roche

About the Performer
Stephanie Ware graduated from The Bridge Theatre Training Company in 2001 having excelled in clowning, comedy and physical theatre. Since then she has been living and breathing the London cabaret scene with her multiple character-comedy musical acts and is a consummate professional compere hosting events, parties, festivals, supper-clubs, stages / tents, concerts, and bar nights round the UK, Europe and the UAE.

Oliver Collier learned the piano by ear under the Suzuki method before studying composition and principle piano at the Junior Guildhall School of Music and Drama. After that he studied Music at the University of Edinburgh taking honours in Contemporary Composition, Counterpoint and Music Technology. For the last 6 years he has been following a modern folk and pop pilgrimage entertaining people in bars, clubs, parties, and pubs around the UK. His memorable songs are simple and straightforward yet “powerful and sincere”.

Stephanie and Oliver joined forces in 2012 and became Sidney & Percy: a comedy cockney double act delivering driving sing-a-long classics and originals on the piano and uke. How Eva Won WWII is Eva Von Schnippisch’s back-story, and our first musical.

Show details and booking:
TITLE: How Eva Von Schnippisch Won WWII
VENUE: CC Blooms (Venue 171) – Basement Lounge, 23-24 Greenside Lane, EH1 3AA.
DATE: 5 –27th August (except Monday’s)
TIME: 18:45-19:45

Book here


Luke Closely: Mugician – Magic with a Jazzy Difference

Scottish performer brings his new Jazz and Magic show to this year’s fringe!

About the show
Debuting at the Edinburgh Fringe 2017, Luke brings you his new solo show Mugician – a combination of music and magic. Luke sets the scene with some funk music performed live with his Jazz trio, the show then develops through engaging, comedy magic interspersed with more Jazz & Blues music. From this show, Luke wants to make you laugh, amaze you and leave you feeling relaxed. Musician + Magician = Mugician.

About Luke
Luke is from the West coast of Scotland and has spent a great deal of time in New York City over that last few years visiting his girlfriend and enriching his love for Jazz and the arts. Luke debuted at the fringe last year with his show Luke Closely & Listen. While performing in the Voodoo Rooms – Ballroom, he got to work alongside and learn from celebrated acts such as Anna Morris (BBC’s Outnumbered, ITV’s Bad Bridesmaids). Luke graduated this year from a music degree where he dedicated his final year to researching theatre, music, performance, comedians, and magicians.

He commented on this saying: “I wanted to draw together all these elements and find my own brand of variety show that challenges convention and expectations. I find that the live music from my trio complements and balances against the sometimes chaotic, comedy magic.”

Venue: Fingers Piano Bar (Venue 221)
Dates: 5-27th August (Except Mondays)
Showtime: 4.20pm (50mins)

Details and booking here
Website: www.lukecloselymagician.co.uk


Melanie Branton talks about My Cloth-Eared Heart

What’s the theme of your show?

In it’s simplest form: not having a boyfriend.

But it’s about much more than that – it’s about desire, aspiration, failure, loneliness, obsession, the pressures on women to please others and conform.

What’s new or unique about the show?

I see a lot of young spoken word performers doing the whole hyperbolised emo thing. I see a lot of middle-aged spoken word performers doing shows about their children and their marriages. I have never seen another show by a middle-aged woman about being single. I’m often told that I say things that everybody thinks but no-one else admits to.

I also think there are far too few shows that reflect female subjectivity and female desire. There’s a lot of “Girl power!” kind of feminist shows and a lot of “This is how women are oppressed!” feminist shows, but surprisingly few women write about what they feel and what they want as if it matters,in the way that almost every man writes unthinkingly.

How did the show come into being?

I am a spoken word artist and a page poet and some of the poems for this show were written as standalone pieces for my 20-minute touring spoken word set or for submission to journals.

I have a book of page poetry called “My Cloth-Eared Heart” coming out with Oversteps Books later this year and some of them were collected together for that.

I write about lots of topics, but I’ve noticed that the ones that seem by far most popular with audiences and editors are the ones whinging about my non-love life.

Then last summer a friend suggested I pull them together into a 50-minute show. I was sceptical at first, but I realised there was a chronological journey to them and I wrote some extra material to fill gaps in that journey.

Describe one of your rehearsals.

Nothing terribly exciting, to be honest.

How is the show developing?

I put together a 30-minute scratch version for Raise The Bar London in June. Feedback from the audience was generally good, so I’m now trying to ensure that the 50-minute version doesn’t lose the through line and the comic/serious balance that worked well in that.

As someone who is more used to 20-minute, alone-with-the-mic spoken word sets, but who comes from a theatre background, I’m working on the challenge of making it a little more visual, without creating the need for a gazillion unwieldy props that will only be used once.

How has the writer been involved?

I am the writer,so at every step of the way!

How have you experimented?

This is my first full-length spoken word show,so it’s all a bit of an experiment.

I like mixing comic and serious material in a way that makes the audience uncomfortable. I think there’s far too much cosiness about serious issues in spoken word, far too much of performers pandering to right-on audiences who want to be able to congratulate themselves on how sensitive they are and come away from shows about sexual violence, self-harm etc feeling morally superior and good about themselves. I like to take the audience hostage a bit and frogmarch them out of their comfort zone.

Where do your ideas come from?

Anywhere and everywhere. Some of my most popular poems are pure expression of how I was feeling at the time I wrote them: I vomited them out almost as is. Others are less spontaneous: one of the poems in the show came about when I was coming home from work on the train and I passed through an unmanned station.I thought, “Hey! You could make a pun on “unmanned” = “unstaffed” and “unmanned”= “emasculated”!” and then ended up constructing the rest of the poem around that one gag.

I take a lot of inspiration from environmental print, tannoy announcements etc. I tend to work tag phrases that I hear/read all the time, like “Will you stop writing now,please”, “Store in a cool, dry place, well away from strong flavours and odours” and “On alighting the train, please ensure you have all your personal belongings with you” into my work in unexpected ways.

My imagery tends to come from my environment. A few summers ago, I worked as an exam invigilator and exam metaphors started appearing spontaneously in my work. Last year I was teaching an ‘A’level English Language unit and I couldn’t stop writing in grammar puns and imagery.

How do your challenge yourself or yourselves?

In this show, I have tried to open up about very dark periods of my life that I have never spoken to anyone about before.One of the poems, I literally didn’t attempt to write until I knew I had a counselling appointment the next day, as I knew there’d be fallout. I am not generally a let-it-all-hang-out, misery-memoir sort of poet and the more personal I’m getting, the more I tend to lapse into complex metaphor and symbolism or jokey a,b,a,b rhyme schemes as an instinctive distancing device.This doesn’t come easily to me and some of these poems are hard to perform (although therapeutic and – I’m told – hard-hitting when I do)

I have also challenged myself stylistically – there’s a wide variety of styles,including some technically quite challenging ones in the show.

What are your future plans for the show ?

I would like to tour it for a bit, but I already have ideas for my next show.

What are your favourite shows, and why?

I like spoken word performers who address serious and/or deeply personal subject matter, but in a deceptively light way: Harry Baker when he touches on being a nerd and being bullied, for instance; Robert Garnham,who says more about LGBT issues in what is on the surface surreal fluffy comedy than a thousand tedious,overearnest “Homophobia is bad” poems ever could; Jemima Foxtrot’s “Melody”, which dealt with tough autobiographical matter such as abortion through the medium of popular music; Sam Boarer, who writes filthy, hilarious comic poems which are underscored with pain. I think understatement is more powerful than hyperbole.

Show dates, times and booking info: Room 1, Black Market, 32 Market Street, Edinburgh EH1 1QB, 5th-26th August inclusive, 1.30 pm, duration 50 minutes. Part of PBH’s Free Fringe – unticketed

Company web site

Book here


INTERVIEW – Sketch Comedy and Music

Jack Jarvis Gouther talks about Weegie Hink Ae That? presents- Where Ye Fae? 

What’s the theme of your show?

Glasgow based sketch comedy. From politics, to football we try to cover all relatable things for people living in Glasgow. We shine light humour on all the doom and gloom of the world.

What’s new or unique about the show?

Original sketches along with original songs and live acoustic music.

How did the show come into being

We are all students studying BA Acting for Stage &a Screen at Edinburgh Napier University and as part of the course next year we havthe to form a theatre company and perform at the fringe but we decided to start early and try it out to see what reaction we got. We formed the group as we were four of the few Glaswegians on the course and that we all share a love for comedy, in particular sketch.

Describe one of your rehearsals.

Our rehearsals can get pretty mental. We are all lively young weegies so it is quite hard for us to keep on track but we normally get a full run through at each rehearsal and also experiment with improv and new sketches during rehearsal. We have also decided to do a sort of back stage vlog so we get some… interesting footage at rehearsals.

How is the show developing?

It has done really well. We did our first performance in Glasgow and it went down a storm. We had great feedback. Our first 3 shows at the fringe have been incredible. The love and support we have received from friend and family as well as random members of the public has been overwhelming. We have sold out most performances and the show has gotten slicker and tighter with each performance.

How has the writer been involved?

We all co-wrote the show with a couple of sketches written by a few class mates who have all come to support and see the show as well as promoting it online.

How have you experimented?

We have used improv in rehearsals and it has worked really well, infact some sketches have come from experimenting in rehearsals.

Where do your ideas come from?: They come from things that we experience growing up in Glasgow and also from current affairs. We tend to try and shine positive and humourous light on tense and touchy subjects.

How do your challenge yourself or yourselves?

We thought bringing this specific Glasgow based sketch show to Edinburgh was quite a big challenge but we have adapted the show to suit and it has worked really well. Also by doing this a year before we have to, was also a big challenge.

What are your future plans for the show ?

We plan to use new material and write another show for the next year’s fringe. We also plan to take this show on a mini tour to our local areas.

What are your favourite shows, and why?

My favourite shows are naturalistic shows, as well as dark comedy and contemporary theatre. I like things that are honest and relatable as it appeals to a lot of people and it makes people feel comfortable and under less pressure to understand.

Show dates, times and booking info

This is part of the Free Fringe so the show is absolutely free.
It’s at Blackmarket, Room 4, 32 Market Street (next door to Edinburgh Dungeon). The show runs from 4:35pm-5:15pm and it is from Saturday 5th- Wednesday 9th. So we only have two more performances left.


Part of PBH’s Free Fringe