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Some Things for the Weekend

Leith Festival overlooked but a real jewel

Vlad headThis weekend sees the final days of this year’s Leith Festival, a much-overlooked event in the plethora of festivals in Edinburgh’s calendar. 

Having experienced several funding cuts over the years, it is testament to the commitment of its organisers that it is still running in 2016.  Furthermore, every second year, it has to battle against constant live football on TV, as its dates always seem to clash with either the World Cup or, as is the case this year, the European Championships. 

The Festival is a real jewel in the crown of North Edinburgh, and continues to provide its local audience with a programme of arts and entertainment curated specifically for their interests and tastes.  If you live in the north or east of the city, do pick up a programme.  I guarantee you will be surprised at the range of events on offer.

This is the last time I will be writing this column before I take a six-week break in preparation for my shows at this year’s Edinburgh Fringe.  I will be back again at the start of August.  In the meantime, have a good summer.  Here are some highlights to catch in Scotland this weekend and beyond.

PICK OF THE WEEK

Comedy

SIMON MUNNERY

The Stand Comedy Club, Glasgow   Thursday 16th to Saturday 18th June  8.30

The word “genius” gets bandied about far too often in hyperbolic reviews of all art forms.  However, in Simon Munnery’s case, there is some justification for applying the term to this utterly unique comedy practitioner.  To call Munnery a comedian does not do justice to the breadth of his artistic output.  He first gained public attention in the mid-nineties on LWT’s re-make of Saturday Live, where he performed his acutely-observed character act Alan Parker – Urban Warrior, whose political rantings and inner contradictions are still relevant twenty years later.  He followed that with the bizarre creation that was The League Against Tedium, a surreal high-tech piece of comedy that verged on performance art, and which toured globally.  More recently, in his 2012 Edinburgh Fringe show Fylm Makar Munnery never appeared on stage once, filming himself instead from a camera set up in the middle of the audience, in one of the most hilarious hours of comedy I have ever enjoyed.  There appears to be no end to Munnery’s inventiveness, and one suspects he could have chosen any path of life, such is the size of his intellect.  Thankfully, he chose comedy.  His somewhat shambolic demeanour hides one of the quickest minds in his or any other art form.  Quite simply, Simon Munnery one of the funniest people alive today.

JO CAULFIELD

The Granary, Leith   Thursday 16th June  8 pm

Radio 4 regular and perennial Edinburgh Fringe favourite Jo Caulfield is the highlight of this year’s Leith Festival comedy programme.  She headlines this show at The Granary on The Shore with support from 2014 Scottish Comedian of the Year Bruce Fummey.

ROB ROUSE, RAY BRADSHAW

Breakneck Comedy, The Blue Lamp, Aberdeen   Saturday 18th June  8.30

Rob Rouse is one of the most under-rated stand-ups on the UK circuit and he has a charming affability and sense of fun that audiences immediately warm to.  He also writes some of the best observational material I have seen in the last few years.  He is in Aberdeen this weekend in a show hosted by the effortlessly-engaging Ray Bradshaw.

Theatre

THE HANGING CAPTAIN

Out Of The Blue, Leith    Friday 17th and Saturday 18th June  7.30

Another highlight of this year’s Leith Festival, this especially-commissioned piece tells the story of Leith Docks, from the disastrous Darien Scheme in the eighteenth century, up to the strikes on 1913.  This is relevant and thought-provoking theatre, re-telling local history as part of this vibrant local festival.

MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING

Dundee Rep, Thursday 9th to Saturday 26th June   Times Vary

Shakespeare’s comedy about honour, love, shame and honesty contains some of The Bard’s wittiest wordplay. This production, by the critically-acclaimed Dundee Rep Ensemble Company has already been receiving rave reviews and should prove one of the theatre highlights of this summer in Scotland.

Music

SOLAS FESTIVAL

The Bield, Blackruthven, Tibbermore, Perth  Friday 17th to Sunday 19th June

It promises to b a very wet and cold weekend, which can mean only one thing.  The outdoor music festival season has begun.  Scotland’s first major festival of the year is the charming Solas Festival, just outside Perth.  This year’s programme is, as ever, as eclectic mix of music and literature and features Karine Polwart, Sam Lee, Stanley Odd, The Hazey Janes and Liz Lochhead.

Exhibitions

LAGI GLASGOW

The Lighthouse, Glasgow    Until 29th July

This exhibition, of the shortlisted entries for the Land Art Generator Initiative (LAGI) in Glasgow presents some stunning ideas for making power generation more aesthetically pleasing, including a wind farm that resembles a forest, each turbine an individual “tree”.  However, these are not merely theoretical concepts on display, as the winning design will be developed into a sustainable energy scheme in north Glasgow.

Vladimir McTavish is appearing at Monkey Barrel Comedy, Edinburgh on Friday 17th and Saturday 18th June at 8.30



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