Reviews & features: Edinburgh Festivals

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Show Pony

18 Aug 20144 stars

Oddly delightful theatre piece from LetLuce at Edinburgh Festival Fringe

This is one pair of crazy ladies. Each playing one half of pink pony Eamonn, LetLuce tell the tale of how, finding himself unemployed, he ends up being punched by a nun in a field and sold into a circus that is somewhat surprisingly run by Ian McShane.

Beats North

18 Aug 20143 stars

A touching theatre double-bill that reminds of the power of music at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe

In this double-bill of plays by Ishy Din and Luke Barnes, Al and Jack are two young northern men trying to find their way into adulthood. Jack prefers Bonnie Tyler and Meatloaf to football, and needs to make sure his ragdoll – a hand-me-down toy from…

Ute Lemper with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra

19 Aug 20144 stars

Stellar interpretations of Weill and Brecht at the Edinburgh International Festival

What a treat. Ute Lemper is the peerless interpreter of the Weimar songbook, making her cabaret competitors look like greasy lightweights. And the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, conducted by American Lawrence Foster, have the most fun with these lush…

Movin’ Melvin Brown: The Tap-Dancing Preacher

18 Aug 20143 stars

Gospel music with a little hot shoe shuffle at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe

Melvin Brown is almost part of the Fringe furniture, and as such has to constantly re-invent his shows for new and returning audiences. This latest outing finds Brown in preacher mode, singing gospel songs and clearly lighting a fire under the more…

Land of the Dragon: Gwlad y Ddraig

18 Aug 20144 stars

Imaginative and dramatic retelling of Welsh folk tale at Edinburgh Festival Fringe

You only have to look around the audience at PuppetSoup’s engaging show to see that it works for all-comers. From toddlers through to grown-ups (many of them there without a young companion), there is enough here to entertain any age. This is, in…

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Jacqueline Donachie: Mary and Elizabeth

18 Aug 20143 stars

Subtle installation across Princes Street Gardens commissioned for the Edinburgh Art Festival

For those visiting Edinburgh during the Festival, Jacqueline Donachie’s red chalk lines, running from Cockenzie to the city centre, could easily be lost among the ubiquitous red of the Fringe stands. Seeking it out and starting at Elizabeth instead of…

Song Noir: The Director’s Cut

19 Aug 20143 stars

Pumajaw successfully conjure late night glamour of film noir at Edinburgh Festival Fringe

Song Noir's theatrical trappings – moody lighting, video, a series of pre-recorded spoken word interludes – are neglible, adding little depth to the already moody and profound songs. Through a mixture of classic covers, with cinematic associations, and…

The Twins Macabre: Small Mediums at Large

19 Aug 20144 stars

A series of grisly black comedy vignettes at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe

Ivy and Morris are The Twins Macabre, two psychic siblings that come across like creepy Victorian children trapped in the modern world. Equally influenced by Hammer Horror and the Addams Family, they brilliantly inhabit their characters: Ivy is the…

Once Upon a Nightmare

18 Aug 20143 stars

Dynamic adventure play in need of streamlining at Edinburgh Festival Free Fringe

Although there is much to enjoy in this fantasy adventure from Box Step Productions, including some fine performances, there is one over-riding problem with Once Upon a Nightmare – it wants to be a film. It came as no surprise to discover, after…

Top five books to revisit at the Edinburgh International Book Festival 2014

18 Aug 2014

Works by George Eliot, William S Burroughs, EM Forster, Mervyn Peak and Jane Austen reappraised

Middlemarch, George Eliot (1874) Set in the fictitious Midlands town of Middlemarch, Eliot’s complex novel has multiple plots with a sprawling cast of characters, with themes including the status of marriage, idealism, and religion. Rebecca Mead…

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Bal Moderne: Escaping War

18 Aug 20143 stars

Interactive workshop emphasising the importance of dance during wartime

Having run for over twenty years, company Bal Moderne – based first in Paris, now in Brussels – has built a successful reputation for getting people up and dancing. Escaping War, a collaboration with the International Festival, eases us in slowly. On…

Billie Was Tap Dancing for the Seagulls

18 Aug 20143 stars

Intrinsically odd and captivating one-woman show at Edinburgh Festival Fringe

With such an esoteric title, it's hard to know what to expect from Billie Was Tap Dancing for the Seagulls. Yet, even after seeing Katie Bridget O'Brien's one-woman show, it's still hard to know exactly what to make of its intrinsic oddness. She comes…

Travesti

18 Aug 20143 stars

Male bodies, female voices in intriguing Edinburgh Fringe Festival show

Mirroring the themes of Ontroeren Goed's Sirens, Travesti has an all male cast voicing the words of women. This juxtaposition, putting words in the mouths of men, is the show's main concept and while it is initially shocking, it can't sustain the weight…

Sam Brady: Kindness

18 Aug 20143 stars

Departure from typical cynicism in hour of endearing comedy at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe

It’s not always easy to stand out as a stand-up in an overflowing Fringe, and in this respect, Sam Brady was dealt an unfortunate hand. The well-seasoned comedian plays just a few exposed bricks away from another act, whose habitually loud audience…

I AM

18 Aug 20144 stars

Lemi Ponifasio's exploration of war is a raw, brutal howl at Edinburgh International Festival

New-Zealand based MAU’s response to the 100-year anniversary of the start of World War I contains some of the most raw and ungodly images you are likely to see this festival. Combining dance, theatre, song and poetry it treads a landscape backed by…

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Standby for Tape Back-up

18 Aug 20143 stars

Arresting performance/video installation mash-up at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe

Like his fellow Aisle 16 poetry boyband-ers – Luke Wright, John Osborne and Joe Dunthorne, to name a few – Ross Sutherland's a talented guy. That's certainly evident in his Fringe show this year, Standby for Tape Backup, a mash-up of drama, comedy…

Seann Walsh: Seann 28

18 Aug 20144 stars

Comedian returns all grown up to deliver well-crafted show at Edinburgh Festival Fringe

Seann Walsh is a changed man. Having previously regaled audiences at last year’s Fringe with tales of his bachelor lifestyle and Jägerbomb antics, Walsh has since settled down with his girlfriend. Fans needn't worry though, far from peddling smug…

Cal Wilson: It Could Have Been Me

18 Aug 20144 stars

Loveably mad performance from New Zealand comedian with fantastic use of props

Cal Wilson is a thoroughly loveable performer and is also a bit mad. She takes us on a journey through her many and disparate alternative selves, pondering what she might have been had she not ended up a married mother-of-one performing a one-woman show…

Lloyd Langford: Old Fashioned

18 Aug 20143 stars

Solid, dependable and reliably funny stand-up at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe

Welsh comic Lloyd Langford has been bubbling under for a while now as Rhod Gilbert's regular sparring partner (and former flatmate) on radio and TV alongside guests appearances on QI and Russell Howard’s Good News. His show, Old Fashioned, fits the…

Brush

18 Aug 20144 stars

Live illustration and song make for accomplished Korean tale at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe

Charming in its simplicity, Korean company Haddangse has found a universal language in which to tell its very home-grown story of young boy Daesung who wants a baby brother. The story is strongly embedded with Korean cultural references, as the boy…

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Robert Newman's New Theory of Evolution

18 Aug 20143 stars

Comedy veteran puts on engaging show but lacks spark at Edinburgh Festival Fringe

Richard Dawkins comes in for a kicking in this show by veteran comedian Robert Newman – and it's a pretty funny one too. In 1993, alongside his erstwhile comedy partner David Baddiel, Newman was once the first comedian to sell out Wembley Stadium. This…

Interview: artist Alessandro Massimo on new show I’ll Be Your Mirror

18 Aug 2014

Artworks exploring the ideas of borders, boundaries and citizenship at the Edinburgh Art Festival

Alessandro Massimo’s interest in geographical borders started when he was researching the Biala river in Poland: ‘observing how the history and geographical configuration of some regions of Poland have changed around this river began my interest in how…

Echolalia

18 Aug 20143 stars

Echoes of vaudeville in one-woman performance at Edinburgh Festival Fringe

Kiwi performer Jen McArthur's character Echo is a woman on the autistic spectrum, who needs numbers and endless routine to make it through the day. Her seemingly endless struggle to leave the house is an amusing spin on retro vaudeville, right down to…

In The Surface Of A Bubble

18 Aug 20143 stars

Ambitious allegorical study into human motivation and creativity at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe

Edward Day's play is nothing if not ambitious- an allegorical study into human motivation and creativity. In The Surface Of A Bubble weaves together Lecoq trained physical theatre, live music and puppetry with a dark, fragmentary structure. Michelle…

Back Door

18 Aug 20143 stars

A gender-bending twist on Alfred Hitchock’s Rear Window at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe

Offering a gender-bending twist on Alfred Hitchock’s Rear Window, Off-Off-Off-Broadway’s Back Door joins truculent war reporter Tabitha Montgomery (Laura Louise Baker) in 1920s Paris as she recovers from a broken leg. Attended to by wittering fop John…