Reviews & features: Edinburgh Festival Fringe

4,462 reviews

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Martha Reeves & The Vandellas - Assembly Rooms, Edinburgh, Wed 7 Aug 2013

23 Aug 20134 stars

A show of incredible vocals and vivacious energy from the ‘First Lady of Motown Soul’

Imagine one giant ballroom, rainbow lighting, dry ice and a giant disco ball – it's a fitting setting for, as her personal compère puts it, the ‘First Lady of Motown Soul’. Detroit’s Martha Reeves looked every inch the part in purple sequins, tambourine…

Opinion: Edinburgh Comedy Award 2013 announced

22 Aug 2013

Bridget Christie, Nick Helm, Aisling Bea, Romesh Ranganathan and Seann Walsh all nominated for gongs

And so, the Edinburgh Comedy Award nominations are in. And are we spitting blood with the outrage? Well, no, not really. The all-British main list features old-school stand-up (Seann Walsh, Carl Donnelly), a funny feminist (Bridget Christie), a bit of…

The Radicalisation of Bradley Manning

22 Aug 20134 stars

Gripping portrayal of events leading to the US army leaks

Bradley Manning is Welsh. That was the spark that led Tim Price to write this pulsating play about the WikiLeaks whistleblower’s life for National Theatre Wales. That the infamous 25-year-old was, not long ago, a teenager in Haverfordwest, shapes the…

Tony Law: Nonsense Overdrive

22 Aug 20134 stars

Nonsense overdrive from Canadian wag

For years, Tony Law has peddled his own unique brand of hardcore whimsy at the Fringe, to varying degrees of enthusiasm and indifference. Staying power (and probably a few more high-profile TV appearances) have ensured that he has finally captured…

Richard Herring: We're All Going To Die

22 Aug 20134 stars

A delirious exploration of death

‘22 fucking years’. That’s how long Richard Herring has been heading up to Edinburgh with plays and stand-up shows, and while he might come across as sounding a little begrudging that he makes this annual trek north, he clearly still loves it. And after…

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Humza Arshad presents Diary of a Badman

22 Aug 20133 stars

Mixed bag from the Badman

Humza Arshad first came to prominence thanks to his phenomenally popular Diary of a Badman series, which has had more than 47 million views on YouTube. In it, he plays a hyper, stereotypical version of himself, deriving humour from the day-to-day life…

Luke Wright: Essex Lion

22 Aug 20134 stars

Showcasing the poet's electric delivery and carefully sculpted craft

In case you missed last year's silly season scoop, Luke Wright's sweary titular poem recounts the tale of Essex natives losing their shit after spying a lion in a field. (Spoiler alert: was not a lion). Their impotently impassioned refrain, 'We fucking…

Wayne Thallon: Procreation

22 Aug 20131 star

Wholly artless and unenjoyable display from 'A Spanking in Paradise' writer/director

Straight from the kick-off, Wayne Thallon confesses that he’s not a stand-up comic, he’s never even done an open mic slot and he won’t be stepping up on a comedy stage again beyond August. The reason he’s doing this at all is to raise funds for the…

Lebensmüde – A Comedy Show

22 Aug 20133 stars

Pitch perfect sketches fear the dark

After running comedy and performance evenings in that London, Lebensmüde (which consists of Celeste Dring, Edward Kiely and Freya Parker) make their Edinburgh debut. This trio is jostling for space among all the other sketch groups in the Fringe…

The Tobacco Merchant’s Lawyer

22 Aug 20134 stars

Return of a classic solo comedy

It’s five years since Enoch Dalmellington first took to the stage at his home city venue, the Òran Mór. What a joy it is to see Iain Heggie’s 18th-century Glasgow solicitor on the Fringe, and played once more by John Bett – the actor who made the role…

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Vikki Stone - Definitely

22 Aug 20133 stars

Musical comedian leaves her audience feeling warm and fuzzy

The big ending to Vikki Stone’s latest head-meltingly brash musical comedy hour is one of the cutest the Fringe has seen (or is likely to witness) in a very long time. This climax to a brazen show of double, single and triple entendres and busy, loud…

US humourist David Sedaris entertains at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2013

22 Aug 2013

Author's events follow the publication of his essay collection, Let’s Explore Diabetes With Owls

With over seven million book sales and a Grammy nomination for the Carnegie Hall recording of his droll essays, David Sedaris could be forgiven for resting on his laurels. But the American humorist and author is back on the road, returning to the…

Tim Key: Work-in-Slutgress

22 Aug 2013

Comedy Award winner brings us an excellent work-in-progress

If Tim Key’s 2011 Masterslut could have been dubbed his ‘bath show’, it looks like his next venture will be viewed as the ‘bed show’. This Work-in-Slutgress (man, he has really painted himself in a corner with the old Slut branding) that he is parading…

John Williams: My Son's Not Rainman

22 Aug 20133 stars

Show based on comedian's blog about his autistic son

This decent-sized room is filled to bursting for an afternoon show, no doubt many drawn in by the My Son’s Not Rainman blog which gives the show its title. Stand-up comic John Williams has an autistic 11-year-old son (‘The Boy’) and this is their…

Katie Mulgrew

22 Aug 20133 stars

An amiable if unsubstantial hour about father-daughter relations

Dads, we are told, are simply not funny. The evidence is, of course, difficult to dispute with the phrase ‘dad joke’ surpassing ‘dad dance’ as a term of modern parental abuse. But what if you had one of the most recognisable comedy personalities on…

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Matt Green - Alive

22 Aug 20133 stars

Seasoned pro on the matter of death

Matt Green is almost amazed still to be alive. When he reads out the official list of how many people in the UK died from certain causes last year (everything from falling down stairs to bee stings), it certainly makes you pause for thought (and…

Dan Nightingale

22 Aug 20133 stars

Meandering fun from Nightingale, a comic who's silly and intelligent in equal measure

Dan Nightingale seems to have settled into the idea that he’s not going to be majorly famous in comedy. He would love to be a ‘bumper sticker big’ stand-up but his priority now seems to be getting a girl. Love in the Time of Cholesterol might be the…

Nick Hall: Live!

22 Aug 20133 stars

Promising debut in trying circumstances

There are some spaces at the Fringe that really shouldn’t be used as venues, and this is one of them. There’s nothing but a vague partition to separate the show from the diners in this spot’s restaurant, while its main bar runs alongside the audience…

Ed Byrne: Roaring Forties

22 Aug 20134 stars

A master of the stand-up art lets rip

By now, you know exactly what you’re getting with Ed Byrne: a slice of first-rate stand-up comedy that acts as an anchor of quality in the often choppy storm of the Fringe. ‘Since I’ve hit my 40s, I’ve felt the need to be a dick more often,’ he opens…

Matt Okine: Being Black & Chicken & S#%t

22 Aug 20133 stars

Grasping towards a bigger narrative

With this solid Fringe debut hour, affable Aussie Matt Okine races through a torrent of material with an eye for the intermittently strange. Gentlemen, how many of you have attempted, even just the once, to orally pleasure yourself? The ensuing…

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Sofa Specific

22 Aug 20133 stars

Slapstick and silent buffoonery

Certainly, there are few shows that will be like Sofa Specific this Fringe. Anyone assuming that an hour featuring four young guys will be just another patchy sketch show has something of a surprise awaiting them. For there’s a fifth character on board…

Peep

22 Aug 20133 stars

An intimate setting for plays about sex

This isn’t a review of a show. It’s a review of a venue and an idea. That’s the only way to talk about PEEP, a series of performances in a dirty black box in the middle of George Square. The space is a white room with a panel of two-way mirrors around…

Kubrick3

22 Aug 20134 stars

Being Stanley Kubrick, the story of Alan Conway

During the early 1990s, a failed North London travel agent named Alan Conway successfully passed himself off as the famous filmmaker Stanley Kubrick. Despite looking nothing like the legendary director, Conway ‘conned’ several dozen people and…

Lead Pencil

22 Aug 20133 stars

A bubbly sketch show

Lead Pencil are the Portlandia of the Fringe. Like the US cult TV comedy, the trio of Louise Beresford, Maddie Rice and Dave Bibby have chosen to pitch their hour as being rooted in the 1990s. But, like the Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein show…

Scroobius Pip - Words

22 Aug 20134 stars

Spoken word mastery

A dark figure walks onto the stage to the boisterous cheers and applause of a packed crowd. With his black leather jacket, black slacks and long black beard, Scroobius Pip exudes an obscure aura and powerful charisma which instantly captures the…