Reviews & features: Edinburgh Festivals

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Fringe comedy debut: Chris Fitchew

20 Aug 2013

The comedian presents his debut solo show at the Fringe 2013

What do you think might work out as the best piece of advice you receive ahead of your Fringe debut? Avoid the late night bars! What do you expect will be the least useful piece of advice? Avoid the late night bars! Imagine this is September…

Birdhouse

20 Aug 20133 stars

A comedic take on Alfred Hitchcock's The Birds by physical theatre company Jammy Voo

In the half-light live four elderly women, old-fashioned spectacles casting shadows across their faces, birds’ eggs nestled in their hair and white splashes of bird excrement running down their shoulders. Around them are clumps of bird feathers and, in…

Stuart: A Life Backwards

21 Aug 20134 stars

A touching meeting of minds in adaptation of Alexander Masters’ acclaimed story

The tale of an unlikely friendship, which blossoms in the most unlikely of situations, Stuart: A Life Backwards has leapt from book to TV film to stage, making a smooth transition at every turn. Partly, this is because of the quality of writing and…

Adam Page

21 Aug 20133 stars

Multi-instrumental comedy from the hirsute, high-spirited Aussie

Adam Page has an almighty beard and he’s not afraid to use it. The high-spirited Australian’s show starts with a cacophonous demonstration of loop pedals and a request that the house lights go down because people – apparently – make him nervous. If…

YurtaKids: Unleashed

21 Aug 20132 stars

Scarlattine Teatro's dance piece for under-5s lacks structure

Given that human beings are said to develop more between birth and the age of five than at any other point in our lives, creating a show that appeals to everyone in that age bracket is a task-and-a-half. And sitting next to those kids, of course, is an…

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Parkin'Son

21 Aug 20134 stars

Heartbreaking tribute from dancer Giulio D'Anna to his father

Simple beginnings give little indication of the painful honesty to come in Italian choreographer Giulio D’Anna’s love letter to his 63-year-old father, who suffers from Parkinson’s disease. By the end of the show, both men will have mirrored…

Starbird

21 Aug 20133 stars

Mara Menzies' colourful puppetry and storytelling lights up the night

There are a few key ingredients you need to entertain young children, and this show has pretty much got all of them. An engaging storyteller, Mara Menzies interacts with the children as if they were sitting in the library at school, instantly taking…

A Simple Space

21 Aug 20134 stars

Up-close acrobatic thrills from Australian company Gravity & Other Myths

Hailing from South Australia, Gravity & Other Myths is a wonderfully strong, fit young company who want the audience to be close enough to see the pleasurable prowess, and the occasional strains or tensions, underlying their acrobatic games.

Spiltmilk Say Dance

21 Aug 20133 stars

An informative and entertaining mash-up of old-school social dances with incongruous backing music

This show by Spiltmilk Dance is as much about education as it is entertainment. Did you know that the twist was the first social dance that didn’t need a partner? Or that the hand jive came about so people could dance in busy bars? All this and more…

The Three Lions

21 Aug 20134 stars

A satirical stab at the power of politics, celebrity and notoriety

Set in a hotel in Zurich in December 2010, William Gaminara’s The Three Lions presents an imagined account of what happened during England’s failed bid for the 2018 World Cup. However, the focus of this piece isn’t on the politics of the bid but on the…

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Tourniquet 2013

21 Aug 20134 stars

Belgian company Abattoir Fermé offer some unsettling, nightmarish sessions

Tourniquet contains all the ingredients of dark European visual theatre: nudity, ritualistic behaviour, a preoccupation with the startling image over precise meaning and a fascination with taboo subjects. Here DIY exorcism forms the basis for a lengthy…

Comedy Fringe Debut: Juliette Burton

20 Aug 2013

Comedian's debut solo show is at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival 2013

What do you think might work out as the best piece of advice you receive ahead of your Fringe debut? ‘Go for it!’ After two years of performing as part of a comedy duo, I was offered the chance to perform my debut solo show at the Gilded Balloon this…

Fringe comedy debut: Ronny Chieng

20 Aug 2013

The comedian appears for the first time at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival 2013

What do you think might work out as the best piece of advice you receive ahead of your Fringe debut? ‘Adapt to Edinburgh's weather by bringing outerwear that repels water but is easy to take off, and is warm, but not too warm.’ After considering my…

Fringe comedy debut: Phil Ellis

20 Aug 2013

The comedian appears for the first time at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival 2013

What do you think might work out as the best piece of advice you receive ahead of your Fringe debut? ‘FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, DON’T DO IT!’: most comedians. What do you expect will be the least useful piece of advice? ‘Always remember that the…

Fringe comedy debut: Jacob Edwards

20 Aug 2013

The comedian appears for the first time at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival 2013

What do you think might work out as the best piece of advice you receive ahead of your Fringe debut? Make sure you take sun cream. As everyone knows, the Edinburgh Festival is usually a month of prolonged and intense sunshine. During previous visits…

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Fringe comedy debut: Ivo Graham

20 Aug 2013

The comedian appears for the first time at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival 2013

What do you think might work out as the best piece of advice you receive ahead of your Fringe debut? The show is hardly going to benefit from any work in the last couple of weeks before the Fringe. Devote all your time to thinking up funny answers to…

Comedy Fringe Debut: Al Lubel

20 Aug 2013

American Comedian appears for the first time at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival 2013

What do you think might work out as the best piece of advice you receive ahead of your Fringe debut? Showing up is 80%. So you better do more than show up. What do you expect will be the least useful piece of advice? Showing up is 80%. So just show…

Author and historian William Dalrymple sees history repeating itself in Afghanistan

20 Aug 2013

His book, The Return of a King, draws parallels between historic and modern conflicts in the country

Renowned Scottish historian and travel writer William Dalrymple invites us to consider the striking parallels between the current situation in Afghanistan and the first Anglo-Afghan War of 1839-42. His book on the subject, The Return of a King, earned…

Fringe comedy debut: Benny Davis

20 Aug 2013

Human Jukebox appears for his debut solo show at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival 2013

What do you think might work out as the best piece of advice you receive ahead of your Fringe debut? One word: plastics. What do you expect will be the least useful piece of advice? One word: Dracula. Imagine this is September: looking back at…

Fringe comedy debut: Paul Currie

20 Aug 2013

The comedian appears for the first time at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival 2013

What do you think might work out as the best piece of advice you receive ahead of your Fringe debut? Never mix up ‘flyering’ and ‘fisting’ up the Royal Mile What do you expect will be the least useful piece of advice? Fisting works just as well as…

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Fringe comedy debut: Dan Cook

20 Aug 2013

The comedian appears for the first time at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival 2013

What do you think might work out as the best piece of advice you receive ahead of your Fringe debut? Remember to change your pounds to Euros. What do you expect will be the least useful piece of advice? Crying in front of an audience elicits…

Metamorphosis

20 Aug 20132 stars

Narcissistic interpretation of Kafka’s seminal text

The tantalising mixture of traditional Peking style opera, beautiful set design, and multimedia projections by Ethan Wang sounds like a play befitting the International Festivals Art and Technology theme, a special treat for the open-minded enthusiast.

Dilemma

20 Aug 20134 stars

Extraordinary dance solo through turmoil and grace, by Russian performer Olga Kosterina

Hill Street Theatre is flying solo this Fringe, offering a programme consisting entirely of shows with one performer. But while the monologue is familiar festival fodder, it’s rarer to see a dancer command the theatre alone for a full hour. Enter…

Joke Thieves

20 Aug 20133 stars

A decent mixed line-up of performers nicking each other’s sets

The practise of joke-stealing is so frowned upon in modern comedy circles, it’s bewildering to think that it’s become the central concept in a show – and a successful one at that. On the evening of this sold-out performance (many audience members had to…

Alexei Sayle

20 Aug 20135 stars

A masterclass from the alternative comedy pioneer

Without naming any names, a number of British comics who were big in the 80s and 90s have returned to the stand-up stage. Their comeback appearances merely proved that they made a wise move stopping in the first place. With this breath-taking hour…