It’s half time at the Edinburgh Fringe and having spent another fantastic week of running around catching as many shows as humanly possible, I will now report back on the 5 must-see shows from this year’s festival.

In no particular order:

LadyKiller: Pleasance Courtyard, 1pm, Aug 15-27
The Thelmas have produced a blood-soaked morality tale about social responsibility, zero-hour contracts, and victimhood, delivered by the chambermaid in a hotel room and a dead woman. Was it self-defence or pure wickedness? What it is, is a beautifully crafted, smart black comedy that rushed by in an instant and has already started to create a buzz, so get your tickets sharp.

Brian Gittins – Don’t Feed the Monkey Man: Heroes Boteco, 6:40pm, Aug 15-26
If you have seen Ricky Gervais’ Derek or Cemetey Junction then you couldn’t have ignored David Earl’s finest comedy creation, Brian Gittins, one of the best comedy characters alongside Alan Partridge and Angelos Epithemiou. The show will confuse, inspire and amaze. It surely can’t be the same show twice as Gittin’s interaction with the audience is what makes the show one of the most unique hours of the festival. Who else will reduce half a room into tears of laughter from just saying Portsmouth?

Ciaran Dowd – Don Rodolfo: Pleasance Courtyard, 10:40pm, Aug 16-26
Don Rodolfo is a libertine, and so called greatest swordsman in the world with eyes you can drown in. Ciaran Dowd took us on a journey (maybe slightly inspired by Princess Bride) through his conquests and delivered some of the finest montages, songs and swordplay in the entire country of Scotland; though Adam Riches also has some fine swordsmanship too. Dowd came to fame in the sketch troop Beasts, and with direction from Tom Parry (Pappys) he could just be up for some awards.

Mr Swallow (Nick Mohammed) and the Vanishing Elephant: Pleasance Courtyard, 7:30pm, Aug 15-26
Mr Swallow’s shows are becoming legendary up in the Fringe. Previously we have seen him try out musicals,¬†escapology and now conjuring, but an elephant? Surely not. Nick Mohammed is one of the most charming performers in the land and puts so much effort into each show. Mr Swallow’s last show had him escaping locks underwater and now he has learnt magic, all the while keeping in character as the idiotic, yet endearing Mr Swallow (think, crap supply teacher with an ego, but lovable). Surprisingly he has yet to have his own TV spin-off.

Sean McLoughlin – Hail Mary: Laughing Horse 4:45pm, Aug 15-26
The most conventional stand-up on the list, but this doesn’t mean any less creatively minded; as Sean McLoughlin tackles the question of not where are we, but when are we? Like, how is it that the two most popular music formats are digital downloads and vinyl? McLoughin discusses his mediocre life as he reaches 30. He’s living his dream job as a stand-up, but playing to a 100 people in a cave isn’t exactly playing arenas. Though McLoughlin is far from a mediocre comedian and his smart take on modern-life is honed to pin-point accuracy, this is a sharp, well focused hour of comedy and surely this time next year he will leave the caves behind him.

Five of the best – please check them out whilst up in Edinburgh or catch them on tour later in the year (hopefully).

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