Why go to Edinburgh this year? Here are at least 12 good reasons

Once again, the festival is full of Jewish-interest acts worth catching.


By Lee Levitt, August 4, 2011
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Ruby Wax and Judith Owen poke fun at depression.

Ruby Wax and Judith Owen poke fun at depression.

1. Andy Zaltzman: Armchair Revolutionary/political animal
The Oxford classics graduate, experienced stand-up and co-star of BBC Radio 5 Live's 7 Day Sunday, has been performing at the fringe since 1999. This year he brings his popular brand of political satire to the Stand Comedy Club. Performance details: www.thestand.co.uk

2. Ruby Wax: Losing It
Seen in London earlier this year, Wax's show about her history of depression is part autobiography, part confessional, part therapy, and all set to music played by fellow depressive, pianist Judith Owen. Performance details: www.underbelly.co.uk

3. Isy Suttie: Pearl and Dave
The Hull-born musical stand-up is best known for her role as Dobby in the hit Channel 4 sitcom Peep Show. Since 2008 she has been a "comedy consultant" for Skins, the Channel 4 teenage drama. Her multi-character tale of internet romance offers an intriguing peep into her own love life. Performance details: www.pleasance.co.uk

4. Josh Howie: I Am A Dick
In a competitive stand-up comedy scene, Howie stands out for his high-energy style. The Crouch End-based son of the PR guru Lynne Franks was on top form at the last Fringe with his punchy, Jewish-flavoured show, Gran Slam. Expect nothing less this time. Performance details: www.thestand.co.uk

Andy Zaltzman gets political

Andy Zaltzman gets political

5. Brett Goldstein Grew Up in a Strip Club
Comedy as therapy again. In Goldstein's case, he is working out issues raised by his experience running a strip club in Marbella as a 20-year-old after his father had a midlife crisis. No shortage of material there, then. In his debut solo show, the actor, writer and comedian offers the chance to "marvel at dancers, laugh at the Mafia and cry at the management". Performance details: www.pleasance.co.uk

6. Nuclear Family
Set in New Zealand, Desiree Gezentsvey's semi-autobiographical play follows a group of Venezuelan and Soviet Jewish immigrants questioning freedom and fate on the day 25 years ago when the Chernobyl nuclear disaster struck. Gezentsvey's Venezuelan-born daughter, 26-year-old actress Yael, plays around a dozen characters in this solo show. Performance details: www.thespaceuk.com

7. Shylock
In his one-man show, Gareth Armstrong looks at Shylock through the eyes of Tubal, a minor character in The Merchant of Venice. Antisemitic stereotypes are confronted and the various portrayals of Shylock through the centuries - from comic villain to victim of racial discrimination - unpicked. Performance details: www.assemblyfestival.com

8. Julian Sands in a Celebration of Harold Pinter
Yorkshire-born actor Julian Sands - best known perhaps for starring opposite Helena Bonham Carter in the 1985 film, A Room with a View - draws on poems and personal anecdotes to offer "a fresh and poignant insight into Pinter's literary legacy" in this production, directed by John Malkovich. Performance details: www.pleasance.co.uk

9. Terezin: Children of the Holocaust
Anna Smulowitz, the daughter of Auschwitz survivors, wrote this play in 1971 as part of her masters degree thesis at the University of Cincinnati, and intended it to be a tribute to her many relatives who had died in the Holocaust. The winner of an American children's television award, it is set in a prison camp in 1943, and performed by the Actors' Studio of Massachusetts. Performance details: www.thespaceuk.com

10. Vinegar knickers: sketchy beast
Sketch-based comedy and impersonations from Katie Burnetts, Harriet Fisher and Samantha Baines, who claim Jackie Mason as an influence. Look out for their Jewish Justin Bieber and their incredibly naive yiddishe grandma. Performance details: www.edfringe.com

11. The Investigation
Peter Weiss's script famously dramatises the 1960s Frankfurt war trials of those responsible for the day-to-day running of Auschwitz. A raw docu-drama, with music, physical threatre and contemporary dance, it is told through witnesses' stories by 3Bugs Fringe Theatre, from fhe University of Birmingham. Performance details: www.edfringe.com/venues/zoo-southside

12. Simon Sebag Montefiore: A History of Jerusalem is a History of the World
Jerusalem: The Biography, by the historian and bestselling author Simon Sebag Montefiore, has been described variously by critics as "masterly", "fascinating but ghastly", "engrossing" and "astoundingly ambitious, triumphantly epic". Sebag Montefiore expands on the book's vivid depiction of Jerusalem's "3,000 years of faith, slaughter, fanaticism and co-existence" at this International Book Festival talk - one of at least 10 events of Jewish interest at Edinburgh's celebration of literature. Details: www.edbookfest.co.uk

Also look out for...
Scrabrous stand-up from Brooklyn-born, south-east Londoner Lewis Schaffer; hard-working veteran comedian Ivor Dembina with two shows, Free Jewish Comedy and Ivor's Other Show; a mixture of magic and edgy humour from Jerry Sadowitz in his Comedian, Magician, Psycopath, which merits an 18+ rating, and the Friends Academy's new musical, We Didn't Have Time To Be Scared, based on a diary chronicling two sisters' flight from Nazi-occupied Austria. Full details: www.edfringe.com

    Last updated: 3:34pm, August 8 2011