Nassim with Greg McHugh

Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh


I think Nassim is one of the most exciting projects at this year’s Fringe. It’s an incredibly moving breakdown of language, theatre and the barriers both possess. It has an overwhelming community feel that stays with you.

Nassim Soleimanpour’s work this festival is a celebrated return to a format similar to that of his previous immersive work, White Rabbit Red Rabbit. At the time of performance he could not leave Iran, so a different actor took on the piece each night. They could tell his story for them.

Nassim matches this. Soleimanpour is backstage with his script printed on sheets of paper that are projected onto the stage. He controls the pace and turns the page. This is when the actor, different each night, will first read them. On the night I saw, it was Greg McHugh that was tasked with the play’s performance. Known for his comedic talents mostly, it was beautifully refreshing to see him tackle Soleimanpour’s work with such sensitivity and curiosity. He was moved to tears at one, as was the adoring audience.

Soleimanpour now lives in Germany, so is able to move freely and take part in the performance of his own work. Under the projected camera, he gives us a tour of his passport. He is strikingly well-versed and well travelled. Nassim questions whether this is his own free choice. His home language is Farsi, but he’s never had a play performed in his mother tongue. He promised his ‘Muman’ that he would one day, and Nassim is the beginning stroke of that promise coming true.

There is a small, wholesome, story at the heart of the script. It’s about a little boy, sat on his balcony with toys and tomatoes, who wants to tell a story to his mother. Through different techniques and play points, Soleimanpour tries to teach McHugh this story in Farsi so that he can have it performed in the language it was written in. A privilege we have become so accustomed to in English.

Through whimsical jokes and touching audience participation, Soleimanpour succeeded in promise. He called his mother and McHugh performed the story in Farsi. It doesn’t feel sentimentally stagnant, as you might expect. What moves you is the tender earnestness of McHugh - he’s moved to tears and you feel the urgency of what this promise means to a whole country of speakers.

Understanding each other is what makes us human, meaning our differences shouldn’t be driving us apart. This is what this work taps into. There’s a moment where three volunteers are called to stage to help the actor learn phrases. One of the people called up, by chance, happened to be an actor that had been the ‘Greg’ when Nassim was staged in Stanford, California. The coincidence brought Soleimanpour to tears and the pair embraced, with joy. There’s also a point where a gift for Soleimanpour needs to be picked from the audience. I held up my favourite Mackie’s of Scotland Dark Mint chocolate bar, and it was chosen. Somewhere, there’s a polaroid of McHugh and this chocolate bar. I’m glad to have contributed to the Nassim experience, in confectionery and connection.


Eden Sher: I was on a Sitcom Turret

Gilden Balloon

Teviot, Edinburgh



Eden Sher started playing Sue Heck when she was 17. She’s now over 30, with children, and The Middle has ended its run. That’s if you don’t count the daily reruns on Comedy Central and beyond. She can’t avoid being recognised, so instead she’s set out to find out where Sue ends and Eden begins,  or if there’s any true distinction at all.

The Middle is a show my family and I will never tire of watching together, and we’ve shared some lovely moments giggling away at the telly as we’ve grown up. Sher is a phenomenal comedy character actress: animated, great timing and incredibly loveable. Her show this Fringe only cements this further, and confirms that she’s a sensitive and talented storyteller too.

This show is mainly anecdotal, her stories interrupted with a mini-science-lesson explaining the miraculous way identical twins come to happen. She sets you up to think this is because it’s how she sees herself and her character self. This is more a metaphorical bonus; she’s telling us about identical twins because she’s the mother of a pair. Her birth was ‘the worst day of her life’, despite the ferocious love she has for her babies. And, after her visceral, emotional retelling of that ordeal, that is absolutely fair enough - a million times over.

Her delivery day consisted of a premature birth to two twins - one as she planned and one emergency caesarean. 11 minutes apart. Her babies stay in the hospital for 61 days and she tries to adjust to new life; the hurdle she fixates on is painting the nursery with assistance from her husband, who is most definitely colour blind. She faces a tough battle and this show is testament to her strength as a mother.

It’s a show about motherhood, identity and adaptability. Sher has that wonderful ability to not just look at life positivitely for herself, but to cling onto humour when others would shut out joy. She’s a professional at bringing so much joy to others. That’s exactly what I Was on a Sitcom achieves.

She’ll interrupt her own storytelling and perform in sketch style, taking on characters of people that have recognised her - people in stores, her gynaecologist and of course a nurse on her delivery day. The nurse talks to her mid c-section and asks where he knows her from. She (OBVIOUSLY) deflects, but by the time her babies are delivered he’s realised. She’s from Modern Family. She’s not, but after all that, she’ll take it.

Extra shows are being added for this one and there’s many reasons why. You’ll fall in love with Sher by the end, as her storytelling is enthralling, and her style of comedy is so playful and palatable. She was fighting a Fringe induced cold, but still delivered a wonderful show. She humbly basked in her standing ovation, but she should get used to them from now.