+3 Interview: Naomi McDonald: Copycat

“The following year I attended the festival as a punter and it was the worst decision I’ve made in a while, only because I just felt so sad I wasn’t performing!”

WHO: Naomi McDonald, Comedian

WHAT: “Impressionist, comedian and singer Naomi brings to life all your favourite stars in her brand-new show. It’s your chance to see celebs as you’ve never seen them before! Adele croons over custard creams, Nigella Lawson defrosts meals in her bathtub and Melania Trump hits the bottle hard. This is a fast, fun hour full of impressions, spoof songs and full on ridiculousness. As heard on BBC Radio 2’s Celebrity Lip Service, Naomi is familiar to millions due to her work on Sky, Capital FM and Cartoon Network, as well as regular appearances on sell-out show NewsRevue.”

WHERE: Just the Tonic at The Caves – Just the Fancy Room (Venue 88) 

WHEN: 20:50 (60 min)

MORE: Click Here!


Is this your first time to Edinburgh?

I first performed at the fringe in 2016 in the infamous Newsrevue at the Pleasance. It was the most incredible experience and even though the thought made me feel rather sick; I knew I wanted to bring my own solo show to Edinburgh… one day. The following year I attended the festival as a punter and it was the worst decision I’ve made in a while, only because I just felt so sad I wasn’t performing! But after watching Colin Hoult’s phenomenal one-man show ‘Anna Mann- How we stop the fascists’, I knew 2018 had to be the year to bite the bullet and do it myself. And that’s exactly what I did and returned that year with my first debut solo show ‘Stardumb’.

What’s the biggest thing to have happened to you since Festivals ’18?

I discovered dairy-free Magnums. There is hope at the end of the vegan tunnel.

Tell us about your show.

Over the last 4 years I have been writing and performing on the comedy circuit, trying out new material, recording impressions-reels for YouTube and this year’s show ’Copycat’ is a product of all my favourite impressions and songs that have been developed into a fast fun hour of musical-comedy and sketches. It is directed by my incredibly talented and very lovely sister Jess McDonald. I’m very lucky to have a best friend who’s a sibling and a talented director, so the whole experience has been just beautiful! We have previewed it around various theatres and pubs in London and each one brings a different energy/ vibe and hurdle to combat… which is great prep for the ever-unpredictable Edinburgh Fringe!

What should your audience see at the festivals after they’ve seen your show?

Newsrevue! Dave Bibby! Joe Zimmerman! Eleanor Tiernan! Nick Helm! Tom Machell: Ticker! And Establishment: Le Bureau de Strange! They are all absolutely amazing and you should treat yourself to a ticket.


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+3 Interview: The Remarkables

“The show is a ridiculous original musical written by Sean Wareing and Matt Smith, two students at the University of Exeter.”

WHO: Jonathan Taylor: Producer

WHAT: “This summer, a hero will brew. Everyone loves The Remarkables, the heroes who protect Towntropolis, especially Wesley Bench. In fact, everyone loves them a little too much. A musical comedy of epic proportions. Exeter University’s boldest musical theatre society, Shotgun Theatre, is the recipient of the 2014 Cameron Mackintosh Award for Best New Musical. Following their 4-star run of Godspell in 2017, they return with a brand new musical The Remarkables!.”

WHERE: Greenside @ Nicolson Square – Emerald Theatre (Venue 209) 

WHEN: 12:40 (50 min)

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Is this your first time to Edinburgh?

This isn’t the first time Shotgun Theatre has visited Edinburgh, no. We brought Stephen Schwartz’s ‘Godspell’ up in 2017 and received some great 4-star reviews! This is our first time visiting with a totally Original Musical, and we are really excited to share the high-quality work that comes out of University of Exeter with festival-goers.

What’s the biggest thing to have happened to you since Festivals ’18?

After a year’s break from the festival, we knew that we needed to return! This is our third Original Musical, and we felt it was perfect to bring to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and share. The break from the festival really made us miss the energy and enthusiasm for sharing great work, and we are so pleased to be back again.

This year, we have produced three brilliant productions alongside developing this Original Musical. We’ve performed Urinetown, Bonnie & Clyde, and even a production of Spring Awakening that we especially enjoyed. For Spring Awakening, we partnered up with YoungMinds to raise awareness of Mental Health and were able to raise £250 for the charity from our ticket sales.

Personally, I have just finished my final year of University and happy to be graduating with a First-Class degree! I’ve been building some experience in producing, and really looking forward to meeting some like-minded people up at the Festival!

Tell us about your show.

The Remarkables follows Wesley Bench, a resident of Towntropolis who idolises the local superheroes: The Remarkables. The show is a ridiculous original musical written by Sean Wareing and Matt Smith, two students at the University of Exeter. We promise some daring fights and some hypnotising Yo-Yos, and can’t promise you won’t leave without wanting some Remarkables Merchandise! Our performance at Greenside @ Nicholson Square follows two preview shows in Exeter. At these previews, we have received 4-star reviews, with the show called ‘a thoroughly enjoyable and strikingly professional student-written musical.

Shotgun Theatre is a musical theatre society at the University of Exeter, built upon inclusivity and giving people opportunities to showcase their work.

What should your audience see at the festivals after they’ve seen your show?

We highly recommend University of Exeter Alumni’s 2 Mouthed Men, a brilliant sketch show that brings beatboxing and sketch comedy together. We love them, and you will too!

And if you are sticking around for the final week of the festival, we would also recommend catching Spotlights Show Choir’s ‘A Night at the Musicals’ at the same venue as us.


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+3 Interview: When the Birds Come

“I’ve passed the one year mark of scriptwriting FULL TIME – which is both a dream, and terrifying.”

WHO: Tallulah Brown: Writer

WHAT: “Margaret has always told her little brother Stanley it’s his fault the ice is melting. She doesn’t want to live in the Alaskan tundra. She wants to run away and be a normal teenager in Anchorage. Years later, the rift between the siblings has seismically grown. In a fast-melting world, will love be left behind? Hit writer Tallulah Brown returns to the Fringe following the blazing success of Songlines (2018): ‘Magic’ **** (Times). ‘Charming… unflinchingly accurate’ **** (Scotsman). ‘Sensitive and soulful’ **** (Stage).”

WHERE: Underbelly, Cowgate – White Belly (Venue 61) 

WHEN: 14:40 (60 min)

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Is this your first time to Edinburgh?

Last year my play Songlines was at Pleasance Beneath for the month. I also live scored it with my band, so I actually sat on stage (with my trembling guitar), staring out at the audience, hoping they liked it, for every single performance – 45 in total…

What’s the biggest thing to have happened to you since Festivals ’18?

I’ve passed the one year mark of scriptwriting FULL TIME – which is both a dream, and terrifying.

Tell us about your show.

I wrote ‘When the Birds Come’ originally as a radio play about five years ago. I’d heard about Newtok in Alaska which will be the first entire town to be relocated due to climate change. I grew up right by the sea in Suffolk, erosion and the Shoreline Management plans that the UK has put in place have always been an obsession for me. Newtok has been asking for governmental help to move away from the oncoming river since the 90s, this Summer 2019 marks the start of that move. The strangest of timings meant that this Summer was also when producer Debbie Hicks was looking for a two-hander to take to the Fringe. It felt like it was now or never. I re-edited the script I contacted the Yup’ik playwright Richard Perry, who was hugely helpful with my research. I worked closely with director Alexander Lassy and composer and sound designer Roly Witherow to create what I hope will be the most magical, almost fairytale, quite childlike but DARK telling of this climate-shifting story.

My play follows siblings Margaret and Stanley growing up on the Alaskan tundra. Older sister Margaret tells her little brother that it’s his fault the ice is melting, he is to blame for climate change. The second half of the play jumps forward 10 years. From 2015 to 2025 irreversible damage will have been done to the planet and I suppose the play asks what damage between siblings is irreversible? Casting we needed actors who could jump from acting aged 8 and 13, to 18 and 23, as well as having watertight American accents – so that was quite a search, but the two we found are brilliant.

What should your audience see at the festivals after they’ve seen your show?

Orlando by Lucy Roslyn, DugOut’s Ed Macarthur ‘Humoresque’ and ‘Goodbear: Dougal’, Lily Ashley’s ‘The Slinks’, the HighTide programme at Assembly looks like a banger (esp ‘Pops’!) AND all hail Fight in the Dog for yet another Edinburgh to do list – they do all the work for you! ‘Ticker’ at Underbelly I’m particularly excited for and Nicola Wren’s show ‘Superstar’ will be fab, as will be ‘Wake in Progress’.

DENIM’s Crystal and Glamrou both have shows this year (the only show I saw 4 times last year was DENIMS!) James Rowland has four shows there this year PRAISE BE I’ve watched his previous shows across multiple Fringes and they’ve always been fringe highlights for me. To have all of them there at the same time, is blowing my fringe mind. Everything everyone says about ‘It’s true, it’s true, it’s true’ is absolutely true true true. Rob Oldham and Rose Matafeo got me through a particularly bleak patch of last years Fringe, food for the soul, and they’re back – thank goodness and bring on the bleak patches for this years fringe! Ooo also if you’ve got little ones then The Herd’s ‘Slime’ is the one for you!


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+3 Interview: Lucrece

“My first visit to the fringe was as a drama student in 1981. I remember seeing Steven Berkoff and Linda Marlowe in “Decadence”, as well as an excellent production of “Marat-Sade”. I was 22 and it felt like the centre of the theatrical universe.”

WHO: Paul Goodwin: Director

WHAT: “Lucrece is raped by Tarquin, the King’s son. She chooses to tell her story and demand justice and revenge rather than remain silent. Her courage leads to the overthrow of the monarchy and the founding of the Roman republic. Following a critically acclaimed co-production with the National Centre for the Performing Arts Mumbai, The Shakespeare Edit brings its thrilling adaptation of Shakespeare’s epic poem to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. ‘A hard-hitting tale of courage we all need to see’ (in.BookMyShow.com). ‘I sat stunned and somehow hopeful’ (Mumbai Mirror). ‘A triumph’ (Mumbai Notebook).”

WHERE: theSpace @ Niddry St – Upper Theatre (Round) (Venue 9) 

WHEN: 12:15 (50 min)

MORE: Click Here!


Is this your first time to Edinburgh?

My first visit to the fringe was as a drama student in 1981. I remember seeing Steven Berkoff and Linda Marlowe in “Decadence”, as well as an excellent production of “Marat-Sade”. I was 22 and it felt like the centre of the theatrical universe.

I returned many years later in 2004 (as actor and artistic associate of Lifeblood theatre company), with a production of Glyn Maxwell’s verse drama “The Lifeblood” at Metro Gilded Balloon Caves, followed by a run in London at Wiltons Music Hall. The production was revived at the at Pleasance Courtyard. in the following year as part of the British Council Showcase.

In 2018 I came as a punter and had a great time seeing shows and family (my step-son lives in the city). This is my first visit as a producer, bringing something that I have adapted and directed.

What’s the biggest thing to have happened to you since Festivals ’18?

On a personal level I reached the age of 60 this year!! Professionally – I directed a production of Lucrece in India, as part of the inaugural theatre season at The National Centre For The Performing Arts, Mumbai. I also directed Shakespeare scenes at the Accademmia Nico Pepe – a drama school in Udine, Italy.

Tell us about your show.

Lucrece is Shakespeare’s original title for his epic poem known today as “The Rape of Lucrece”. It is a mythic story that first appears in literature 2,500 years ago. What makes Shakespeare’s version unique is that two thirds of the narrative is post-rape, with the focus on the psychological journey of the survivor. The language is beautiful, what happens to Lucrece is not, this contradiction makes it both thrilling and disturbing. Lucrece is produced by The Shakespeare Edit – an emerging theatre company whose primary purpose is to create urgent, engaging Shakespeare with a global vision. The company started work on Lucrece in November 2016.

A year later came the Weinstein exposé, and the #MeToo movement. That the issues Lucrece deals with; patriarchy, the abuse of power, sexual assault are so relevant today, is testimony to the timelessness of Shakespeare’s work. Lucrece was originally produced to critical acclaim in Mumbai – a co-production with the National Centre For The Performing Arts. The company are looking to tour the production nationally and Internationally after Edinburgh.

What should your audience see at the festivals after they’ve seen your show?

The things that I am looking forward to seeing are: “Oedipus”, International Theater, Amsterdam – King’s Theatre. Cut The Cord Theatre, both “I Run” and “Endless Second” at Pleasance. “Ubu the King” Misanthrope Theatre (Ukraine) at C Venues. “Subject Mater” at Paradise Green. “The Good Scout” The Space @ Surgeon’s Hall.


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+3 Interview: The Empathy Experiment

“The subject matter resonates strongly with people, and has sparked some animated and urgent discussion about how we use our phones and how we connect with each other.”

WHO: Rose Condo: Writer / Performer

WHAT: “Is empathy facing extinction? Are smartphones to blame? Multiple slam-winning Canadian poet Rose Condo returns with her latest spoken word show. Embarking on a day of no mobile phones, Rose delves into tech addiction and compassion using herself as the test subject… think Dr Jekyll meets Dr Seuss. Join Rose in the final hour of her experiment as she madly tries to capture data, record findings, navigate withdrawal and prove her theory that empathy can be saved. Runner-up for Best UK Spoken Word Show at Saboteur Awards 2017. ‘Emotionally charged performance’ (BroadwayBaby.com). **** (Winnipeg Free Press).”

WHERE: PBH’s Free Fringe @ Banshee Labyrinth – Banquet Hall (Venue 156) 

WHEN: 11:40 (60 min)

MORE: Click Here!


Is this your first time to Edinburgh?

I spent two glorious years (2003-2005) living in Edinburgh, and loved it. My first time at the Edinburgh Fringe was in 2004, working for the University of Edinburgh Fringe Office. The following summer I worked for the main Festival Fringe Box Office on the Royal Mile. They were both bonkers but beautiful experiences. I saw some brilliant work and made amazing friends. But I also remember thinking that actually getting to perform in the festival was some crazy pipe dream.

Now, fifteen (15!?) years later, I have acted in two productions (DESERT BLOOM and NOISELESS & PATIENT) and performed two spoken word shows (THE GEOGRAPHY OF ME and HOW TO STARVE AN ARTIST). This year I am bringing my third solo spoken word show to the Edinburgh Fringe. I am over the moon excited to be performing THE EMPATHY EXPERIMENT at the Banshee Labyrinth venue all month. I’ve seen some awesome spoken word there in past.

Big shout out to the PBH Free Fringe team, who work super duper hard to make performing in the Edinburgh Fringe financially available to artists.

What’s the biggest thing to have happened to you since Festivals ’18?

Big huge news for me was getting an Arts Council England grant to develop THE EMPATHY EXPERIMENT. It took me three times applying to be successful. The grant meant I had the resources to collaborate with some truly fabulous artists, such as Dominic Berry (who is doing two brilliant shows in Edinburgh this year), Kristen Luckins (who is the Apples & Snakes North Producer), Charles Leek (who did my very cool photos, video and promo artwork) and Kate Morton (whose keen theatre design eye helped me create a minimalist set that I can cart around in a flight case on wheels). I also worked with a composer for the first time. Eleonora Rosca created and recorded the cello and piano music that plays during the show. Her composing came from improvising alongside my poetry, which was a really cool creative experience.

Tell us about your show.

THE EMPATHY EXPERIMENT explores whether addictions to mobile devices are having an impact on how we feel and demonstrate empathy. I weave spoken word poetry through this hour-long show. The premise is that I’ve given up all my devices for 24 hours to see if I can measure increases in my empathy, and the show is the ‘final hour’ of the experiment where I frantically try to prove to the audience that my theory has worked.

I developed the show earlier this year, with R&D support at Harrogate Theatre, the Lawrence Batley Theatre (LBT), Square Chapel Arts Centre, and the Brewery Arts Centre. I had a sold-out premiere at the LBT in March and have performed it in Kendal, Harrogate and the Cotswolds. Feedback has been incredibly positive. The subject matter resonates strongly with people, and has sparked some animated and urgent discussion about how we use our phones and how we connect with each other. I’ll be performing the show at the Greater Manchester Fringe in July, before heading up to Scotland.

A new experience in this process was having live captioning at one of my performances. I connected with a woman called Margaret Hansard who provided captions for the show at Harrogate Theatre. I was featured in Limping Chicken (the world’s most popular deaf blog) about the reasons behind my decision to do this. As a result of the blog, I was contacted by Claire Hill and will have a captioned performance of THE EMPATHY EXPERIENT in Edinburgh on Tuesday 13 August. Claire is a seasoned captioner, and this will be her first time captioning a PBH Free Fringe show … we are so excited to make it happen!

What should your audience see at the festivals after they’ve seen your show?

Dominic Berry (who helped develop my show) is performing When Trolls Try to Eat Your Goldfish (fab kids show), as well as his wonderfully energetic show, I Can Make You Fail Slightly Less. Bróccán Tyzack-Carlin’s show Don’t Bother is superb (it won Best Spoken Word Show at the 2019 Saboteur Awards). I’ve been following Leanne Moden’s development of Skip Skip Skip on Instagram and am really excited to see it. Ros Ballinger’s Better Than Dying Alone was aces at last year’s Camden Fringe. Poet Henry Raby’s Apps & Austerity promises to be powerful, and Sez Thomasin’s Equality and Perversity will pull no poetic punches. Also excited for Mark Grist’s Mark Can’t Rap and Pete the Temp’s Homer to Hip Hop … SO MUCH TO SEE!!!

Plus, I’ve been invited to be a guest performer at some fabulous shows: That’s What She Said, Loud Poets: Best of Fringe, and She Grrrowls. All three shows feature different (and amazing!) artists each night, so are definitely worth checking out!


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+3 Interview: The Professor

“For me, the Edinburgh Fringe opened up a career’s worth of opportunities to work in the West End (12 Angry Men with Martin Shaw) and Australia, New Zealand, Germany, Holland, Ireland and Canada.”

WHO: David Calvitto: Solo Show Actor

WHAT: “The university’s oddest professor has made a remarkable discovery. He’s thrilled – but why is his lecture today even stranger and wilder than ever? An odd, surreal comedy about Dickens, shipwrecks, the Venus de Milo, fainting poets and the perils of original thinking. By two-time Fringe First winner Brian Parks. Performed by Stage’s Best Actor David Calvitto. ‘A brilliant piece of writing’ (BroadwayWorld.com). ‘There is no American writer more thoughtful – in an explosive and surreally comic way’ (Scotsman). ‘Calvitto is one of the funniest, cleverest performers around’ (Herald). ‘One of the most-admired actors on the Fringe’ (Scotsman).”

WHERE: Assembly Rooms – Drawing Room (Venue 20) 

WHEN: 15:20 (60 min)

MORE: Click Here!


Is this your first time to Edinburgh?

This will be my 15th year performing in the Edinburgh festival. Several times – including this year – I have acted in 2 or 3 different shows per day. I’m a masochist in that way. I think Phil Nichol and I are neck-and-neck in the contest for who has performed the most shows in the fewest years.

For me, the Edinburgh Fringe opened up a career’s worth of opportunities to work in the West End (12 Angry Men with Martin Shaw) and Australia, New Zealand, Germany, Holland, Ireland and Canada.

What’s the biggest thing to have happened to you since Festivals ’18?

I guess I’d have to say two things. First, I had the great pleasure of working with London’s Secret Cinema company on an amazing production of Bladerunner. Such an amazing cast and unforgettable production. The other was the two days of filming on the new Kingsman film with Ralph Fiennes coming out later this year.

Tell us about your show.

The Professor is a solo-show about a very eccentric teacher giving his farewell talk. His perceptions of the world and views of history, art and the sciences are outlandish and very, very funny. Let’s say he’s a highly original thinker who also happens to have a lot in common with his many four-legged friends.

This will be the 7th show I’ve done with the writer of ‘The Professor’, Brian Parks. He’s a two-time Fringe First winner and a friend and collaborator of 20 years. We had a great run of his play, Americana Absurdum, in London at the Menier Chocolate Factory after winning the Fringe First in Edinburgh.

We’d like to take it to London afterwards and then maybe Australia, but we have to prove our mettle here first!

What should your audience see at the festivals after they’ve seen your show?

The other play I’m doing this year is called Judas. It’s written by and also stars Tim Marriott, who made a big hit with Mengele two years ago. I get to play a baddy in this one. No, not a Roman with a spear. None of that in this one.

I want to see The Shark is Broken by Ian Shaw. Ian plays his father Robert Shaw in a behind the scenes look at the making of Jaws. Also, Stand Up Poet starring Gavin Robertson at Old Assembly Close, and Lucy Farrett: Lois which is at Underbelly.


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+3 Interview: The Dots

“We have had so many ideas that we have been going a little overboard!”

WHO: Nerine Skinner: Performer and co-creator

WHAT: “Slick and sophisticated cabaret trio. Well, they were ’til the soprano stormed out. And the mezzo died. Remaining Dot Helen (up Dot creek without a dotting paddle) frantically finds emergency understudies. Watch as this new ensemble launch into an under-rehearsed whirlwind of quavering fear, major malfunctions and minor injuries as Helen desperately tries to uphold the bar of her beloved trio without a minims rest. Will they strike the right chord? Will they B flat? Can Helen stave the day? Join The Dots for music, mayhem and a cataclysmic crescendo! For-tis-si-mo-ment!”

WHERE: Imagination Workshop – Hanover Suite (Venue 119) 

WHEN: 20:00 (50 min)

MORE: Click Here!


Is this your first time to Edinburgh?

I have been to Edinburgh with my own shows created by myself and comedy partner Lizzie Franks. We have taken two shows up there including ‘Myself and Myself’ and ‘Mindfulmess’ with our comedy duo ‘Franks and Skinner’. We had a great time up there and received 4 and 5 star reviews.

I have also been up to Edinburgh with another company called ‘Interactive Theatre International’ performing in an interactive, immersive theatre dining experience called ‘Confetti and Chaos’ (formerly ‘The Wedding Reception’), which both myself and my new comedy partner, Helen, will also be performing in this year alongside our brand new show ‘The Dots’.

Helen Colby, my new comedy partner also has performed in Edinburgh in the hugely successful ‘News Revue’.

What’s the biggest thing to have happened to you since Festivals ’18?

This year, the biggest thing to have happened to me is meeting my new comedy partner Helen Colby. We have entered into a new realm of creation! We met at panto in Salisbury while performing in ‘Beauty and The Beast’. Helen played Spite, the evil witch, while I played Souffle, an Instagram obsessed nightmare!!

We immediately connected and decided to create something different that would work on a universal level and ever since we have had so many ideas that we have been going a little overboard!

Tell us about your show.

Helen Colby formed ‘The Dots’ back in 2017 after a glittering career in London’s West End. She had performed in many shows including ‘Sweeney Todd’, ‘Sister Act’ and Charlie and The Chocolate Factory’ to name but a few and decided she wanted to put her focus into creating a slick, professional 3 part harmony group that would not only sound and look fantastic but would also provide a twist to the usual groups circulating in the industry. The group has been working regularly with very talented performers and the gigs have been flowing in.

When Helen and I met, I had come from a different background in performance. I have worked heavily in devising projects and writing and performing my own stand up sets as well as working within my already formed comedy duo ‘Franks and Skinner’. When Helen told me what she was looking to achieve with ‘The Dots’ long term, I knew we could work together to make this happen. We decided to bring a new edge to the the group that would involve a comedy arc that would bring all these elements together.

We started playing about with ideas in the room with our wonderful third Dot, Macey and soon ideas and concepts for a full show came to light and we decided to premiere this new mix of comedy, cabaret and dance in Edinburgh this year!

Post Edinburgh we hope to tour this and take it onto cruises as well as look at it on a television level as we feel it has legs to go further. We already have Christmas bookings in Theatres so we have a busy year ahead!

What should your audience see at the festivals after they’ve seen your show?

We would highly recommend our audience to see ‘Confetti and Chaos’ as both Helen and I are also in that show! The company producing ‘Confetti and Chaos’ also produce the ‘Faulty Towers Dining Show’ which I will also be performing it in Edinburgh! The Imagination Workshop Festival Hub has many different shows on this year at the fringe including a fabulous show called ‘Love/Hate Actually’ and ‘Only Fools and Horses, The Cushty Dining Experience’ among many others so it is a great venue to check out while up there… and good news… they are all in the same venue at The Principal Hotel, so make a day or evening.. or week of it!


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