Reviews & features: Edinburgh Festivals

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Janeane Garofalo

23 Aug 20134 stars

Rambling but hilarious show from the actor and comedian

There’s a lectern stocked with topical notes pulled from recent news stories that Janeane Garofalo keeps returning to refresh her mind after previous stories wander off track. That’s how we get from an in-depth discussion of why she can never go back to…

Faux Latino Show Pony

23 Aug 20133 stars

Jacob Edwards' delirious character comedy is addictive, joyful and ballsy

There are some who reckon that comedy has got a little too safe in these over-commercialised days. Those people should pop along to see Faux Latino Show Pony and cop a load of the jeopardy and danger on display during almost every minute of its ballsy…

Last One Out

23 Aug 20134 stars

A non-traditional opera featuring text from Johnny McKnight and music from Gareth Williams

Last One Out is hardly an opera in the traditional sense – it’s more of a poignant, highly evocative mystery tale that happens to be sung. In any case, much of its music comes from an onstage radio – in the form of composer Gareth Williams’ masterful…

Solstice

23 Aug 20132 stars

An uninspired, unsubtle and flat attempted thriller, set in the Scottish Highlands

There are shades of Sightseers (Ben Wheatley's Bonnie and Clyde-style serial murder comedy which was, surely, the worst film of 2012) in Solstice, an attempted thriller by Angela Ness and Glen Davies. In a croft in the north of Scotland, we find a…

Gravity Boots

23 Aug 20133 stars

Australian duo manages to create a state of incantatory unexpectedness

With a show directed by bizarre-haircutted, Noel Fielding cohort Paul Foot, Gravity Boots put paid to all those shows that market themselves as 'surreal' when they are anything but. Hailing from down under, James Lloyd-Smith and Michael Cleggett display…

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Another New World

23 Aug 20133 stars

A dramatic retelling of Franklin’s Arctic tragedy

In this low-key but entertaining take on Franklin’s doomed Arctic expedition, the four-strong cast consider the stories of both the men aboard ship and the women left at home. Franklin’s goal is to find the Northwest Passage, which would open up new…

The 27 Club

23 Aug 20131 star

Now That’s What I Call Tragic Dead People

When you decide to base your show around a tragic procession of musicians who have died aged 27, you are giving yourself some pretty big boots to fill. Jack Lukeman, an Irish fellow with last century’s facial hair and partial green nail varnish, has not…

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…

Interview: Composer Nico Muhly on his role in artistic collective LA Dance

22 Aug 2013

Collective perform at Edinburgh International Festival 2013

‘New York City is kind of like the Edinburgh Festival in August,’ composer Nico Muhly is explaining. ‘Except it doesn’t quit. There’s so much going on, great stuff – but it can get overwhelming at times.’ Muhly is familiar with that nagging F.O.M.O.

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…

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Margaret Atwood set for Edinburgh International Book Festival 2013

22 Aug 2013

Discussion of The Blind Assassin and her newest work MaddAdda

Margaret Atwood makes a welcome return to the Book Festival with MaddAddam, the concluding book in her disturbingly credible dystopian trilogy, begun in 2003 with the Booker-shortlisted Oryx and Crake. This is the first time one of her novels has…

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…

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…

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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…

Pulitzer Prize-winner Paul Harding returns to the world of Tinker with Enon

22 Aug 2013

Harding will discuss the new adventures of Tinker's Charlie Crosby at the EIBF 2013

Paul Harding won the 2010 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction for his debut novel Tinkers. This year he visits Edinburgh to discuss his latest book, Enon, which is narrated by Charlie Crosby, a relative of the dying protagonist in Tinkers. Charlie is also…

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…

Top 5 literary heatwaves at the Edinburgh International Book Festival 2013

22 Aug 2013

Margaret Atwood, Jonathan Jones and Chris Dolan deliver some of the hottest Book Fest events

Whether the sun is shining or it’s raining so much that yellow plastic ducks pop up in the puddles, things are getting damn steamy at Charlotte Square Gardens. Put extra ice in your drink and delve into these high-temperature books. Jonathan…

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…