Family plot: performers and authors that have made their art a family affair

This article is from 2018

Family Plot

Beth Vyse as Olive Hands / credit: Idil Sukan

There may be a reason why the chemistry between some people on stage seems almost too natural

Last year, Trygve Wakenshaw beguiled audiences with his toddler son Phineas. Slotting into that role this time around is Beth Vyse with her real baby son Henry, as she plays fictional semi-celeb Olive Hands who is making one last desperate attempt to get back on daytime TV. Grown-up kid and journo Rebecca Wilcox appears with Esther Rantzen in a reflection on her mum's showbiz life, while Philadelphia uncle and niece magician double-act John and Claire Lenahan dabble in quick-witted and noisy conjuring in Loud and Louder.

Paul Merton and his wife Suki Webster are part of the Impro Chums, while Helen Rutter and hubbie Rob Rouse play a couple going through a tumultuous period in The Ladder. Over at the Book Festival, more married couples abound with Chris Brookmyre and Marisa Haetzman morphing into one pseudonymous person, Ambrose Parry, to pen a new crime-writing novel, while wedded pair Charlotte and Adam Guillain discuss magic, giants and jellybeans as part of the children's programme. To mark the 100th anniversary of Nelson Mandela's birth, his daughter Zindzi and great-grandchildren Zazi and Ziwelene will be on stage to discuss his 27 years in prison.

Sibling rivalries may be spilling onto the stage as identical twins and Aussie musical comics Benjamin and James Stevenson ask us to Spot the Difference, while Alexandra and Kate Donnachie discuss growing up and eating disorders in theatre work 3 Years, 1 Week and a Lemon Drizzle. Nicola and Rosie Dempsey become embittered musical comedy duo Flo & Joan, and Maddy 'n' Marina Bye do their absurdist sketch show thing in Siblings: Acting Out.

In the circus world, Ethiopian brothers Bibi and Bichu Tesfamariam return in Circus Abyssinia, and two siblings called You and Me fling themselves about in acrobatics show Sisters, while back at Charlotte Square Gardens Isabel and Imogen Greenberg discuss Greek goddess Athena. And just for the record, darkly comedic duo of Sisters: On Demand are not related. Indeed, neither of them are even female.

Paul Merton's Impro Chums

TV comedy favourite Merton and his talented group of 'impro chums' (read: show offs) magically weave laughs from audience suggestions.

Circus Abyssinia: Ethiopian Dreams

Underbelly and Bibi and Bichu The smash hit of 2017 returns! An unashamedly joyful mix of astonishing stunts and enchanted adventure, Circus Abyssinia follows the journey of two Ethiopian brothers whose dream of joining the circus became a reality. Plunged into a world of daredevil wonders, they encounter a host of other…

John and Claire Lenahan – Loud & Louder

Ingenious Fools Prepare for loud and get ready for louder with some shouty thrown in for good measure. You will be amazed as this fantastical duo thrill your senses with a seamless, seam-bursting blend of comedy, magic, escapology, mind reading, cannibalism and lion-taming (pending permission from Edinburgh Zoo). Stalwart…

3 Years, 1 Week and a Lemon Drizzle

Alexandra and Kate Donnachie The show pieces together Alexandra and Kate Donnachie's sometimes heartbreaking but often hilarious memories of growing up together and managing their close bond when older sister, Alexandra, developed a severe eating disorder. When Alexandra (finally) decided to ask Kate what that time was…

The Stevenson Experience: Spot the Difference

  • 3 stars

RBM Comedy in association with A-List Entertainment As seen on the Comedy Channel. A brand-new show of uproarious musical comedy from Australia's favourite bickering identical twins. Settle in for hilarious songs that have seen them compared to Flight of the Conchords and Tim Minchin, mixed with their trademark sibling…

Flo & Joan: Alive on Stage

  • 4 stars

Musical comedy from sisters Flo and Joan.

The Ladder

Rob Rouse and Helen Rutter Starring husband and wife, Rob Rouse (Upstart Crow - BBC2, 8 Out Of 10 Cats - Channel 4) and Helen Rutter (Coronation Street - ITV, Playing with Fire - National Theatre) and based on a true story. Clare's day goes from bad to worse when she gets stuck up a ladder. Delirious with pain, events…

Esther Rantzen: That's Life!

Gilded Balloon and Avalon Promotions present… Broadcasting legend Dame Esther Rantzen and her daughter, journalist Rebecca Wilcox, discuss careers and family ties. Get up close with one of our national treasures as she shares anecdotes from over 50 years in broadcasting. The star of That's Life, Strictly Come Dancing and…

My Grandad, Mandela

To mark the centenary of former South African President Nelson Mandela's birth, his two great-grandchildren (aged 6 and 7) have asked their grandmother, Mandela's daughter Zindzi, 15 questions about the man the world remembers as an inspirational leader and peacemaker. Through her answers, they learn about the life of the…

Greek Goddess with Isabel Greenberg & Imogen Greenberg

Prepare to be amazed as you uncover the ancient myths surrounding one of the most fearless Greek goddesses, Athena. Isabel and Imogen Greenberg have created a stunning graphic novel about this inspirational, strong and determined figure. Today, they take you on a journey through ancient Greece before you get colouring and…

Magic, Giants and Jellybeans with Adam Guillain & Charlotte Guillain

Step into amazing stories with Adam and Charlotte Guillain in this lively interactive storytelling event. There will be costumes, puppets and silly songs galore as you join George on his search for a real giant with the latest book in the George's Amazing Adventures series, Jellybeans for Giants. Plus, meet the characters…

Chris Brookmyre & Marisa Haetzman

Meet Scotland’s newest crimewriting partnership. Novelist Chris Brookmyre's storytelling genius meets consultant anaesthetist Marisa Haetzman's PhD research into Edinburgh's history of medical innovation to shine a fictional light on the shadows of the city's 19th century underworld. The Way of All Flesh, written under…


Assembly Festival and The 7 Fingers An everlasting spell. An impossible quest. Two sisters named You and Me. A prince named Him. An audience named Them. Staying true to the ethos of previous shows by The 7 Fingers, Sisters takes us on an experimental and human voyage. Sisters explores, in all of its beauty and complexity…

Beth Vyse as Olive Hands: The Hand That Rocks the Cradle

  • 2 stars

Heroes of the Fringe The mother and baby show, like you've never seen before! She's tried everything to get back on daytime TV, but she's never gone this far before… Britain's number two in the morning, leopard-clad daytime presenter Olive Hands returns to the Fringe, and this time she thinks she's cracked it! 'Funniest…

Siblings: Acting Out

  • 2 stars

Maddy and Marina Bye with Mandy Ward Artist Management After a sell-out show at the Edinburgh Fringe 2017, part-time character comedians and full-time sisters Maddy and Marina Bye are coming back for another bite of the cherry, this time with Gaulier-trained clowning (no pie), intensely serious acting (some pie) and a…

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