Reviews & features: Edinburgh Festivals

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Ian Smith - Anything

20 Aug 20132 stars

Smith tantalisingly gets it right in places only to misjudge it in others

Rather than the nebulous 'anything', 'repetition' seems to be the theme of Ian Smith's solo hour. Sometimes it works, others not so much. Ostensibly a series of recollections of his life, Smith covers the everyday ephemera of horsing around with…

Russell Kane: Smallness

20 Aug 20134 stars

Physical fun and mind-tickling delights

Russell Kane wanted to see the ‘whites of their eyes’ for this Fringe run of Smallness in the titchiest venue he could find at the Pleasance. Lucky people in nightly clumps of 55 gained access to an act who is more used to playing in front of…

Holes by Tom Basden

20 Aug 20133 stars

New comedy that suffers from a crisis of identity

A Plane crash, office politics and the fate of mankind are just three of the themes that litter Tom Basden’s Holes, a new comedy that maroons a bunch of misfits on a deserted island. But, while it begins as a comedy, it soon gives way to something much…

Simon Munnery: Fylm

20 Aug 20134 stars

Fringe regular appears in a film/theatre mash-up with high gag rate

Gleefully playing with the conventions of sketch comedy, Munnery’s latest ‘fylm’ mixes super lo-fi animated cut-outs with his own disembodied talking head. The setup is a complex affair and it takes Munnery some time to explain, although he does so…

Squally Showers

20 Aug 20132 stars

Little Bulb's kitsch 80s satire is lacking in quality material

Little Bulb’s previous Fringe entries were surprising hits that offered a bold, witty approach to theatre. Their musical about a Christian rock band, Operation Greenfield, was charming and adventurous. This time, the company are looking back to the…

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Brendon Burns & Colt Cabana

20 Aug 20133 stars

Enjoyable hour of wrestling-themed entertainment

Brendon Burns and Colt Cabana Sit in a Fifty-Seater Around Midnight and Provide the Commentary to Bad Wrestling Matches is, as Burns quickly points out, not a misleading title. Aussie comedian Burns is right at home with his audience of Lycra-loving…

Essential Tom Stade: 12 Nights Only!

20 Aug 20133 stars

Likeable re-run of old ideas

Remember Tom Stade’s early bit on Chinese casinos? How about the incendiary ‘Meat Van Guy’ sketch that broke him on McIntyre’s Road Show? If you loved these skits first time round and want to relive them, you’re in luck: Tom Stade is playing his…

Je ne sais quoi

20 Aug 20133 stars

A music show by Nathalie Joly

In homing in on French cabaret singer Yvette Guilbert and her relationship with Sigmund Freud, Nathalie Joly has hit on a combination that is both informative and entertaining. Remarkably, the friendship between the pair was a lifelong one of fifty…

The Loveboat Big Band Summer Love-In

20 Aug 20134 stars

Many shows promise riotous musical fun, this one delivers it

An 11-piece brass band in sailor suits, a glittering mermaid twirling seductively from a ceiling hung hoop and Australian musical troupe Flap! making an exuberant cameo: welcome to the sights and sounds of The Loveboat Big Band’s Fringe voyage.

Henson Alternative's Puppet Up! Uncensored

20 Aug 20133 stars

A two level adult-orientated puppet show by the Jim Henson Company

The Jim Henson Company step away from their Muppet legacy to create something a little more adult-orientated. Chaired by Brian Henson (son of Jim), the company revel in semi-controlled anarchy and improvisation with strings attached. Host Patrick…

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The Soil

20 Aug 20134 stars

Spiritual and uplifting a cappella songs from South African trio

'We usually sing these songs until the sun comes up', Buhle Mda, the lady of Kasi Soul trio The Soil, tells us, bemoaning the lack of time afforded by an hour-long slot. At this point their boundless spirit and musical synergy render such an idea…

Luke and Harry's Journey to Sex Colony 01

20 Aug 20134 stars

Baffling but really kind of wonderful creepy sci-fi odyssey

Subtitled ‘Journey to Sex Colony 01’ Luke Davies and Harry Carr’s show is a vaguely creepy sci-fi odyssey. It's as far removed from stand-up as you can get, the entire show is an immersive experience. Most of the audience will only sway, chant and dance…

Fred MacAulay

20 Aug 20134 stars

The dependable Fringe regular shows his talent as a raconteur

Celebrating a quarter century of consecutive Fringes, Fred MacAulay is one of the most dependable Scottish comedians around. Playing this year in the Assembly Ballroom, he initially feels disconnected from the audience and his early forays into banter…

Lucy Frederick - In Pursuit of Cool

20 Aug 20132 stars

Wild-eyed and delirious comedian would gain in tapping into her concealed madness

Lucy Frederick really wants to be Miranda Hart. Although she never admits this over her sporadically amusing hour, it infuses everything about her performance, from her bumbling middle class demeanour and her attempts at physical comedy to her abject…

Robin (A One-Man Comedy)

20 Aug 20133 stars

Adam Drake gives fully committed performance of sheer absurdity

For the last few years Adam Drake has been playing around with a revolving cast of various characters and scenarios and innovative structuring that brings them all together for maximum impact. This year, his show takes place in a provincial tv studio…

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Eric and Little Ern

20 Aug 20134 stars

Hugely enjoyable piece of comedic theatre, more than just a tribute to Morecambe & Wise

Ernie Wise lies in a hospital bed in the final moments of his life. In waltzes his white coated doctor, picks up his notes, turns to the audience and with a gentle push up the nose of his thick rimmed spectacles becomes Wise's 15-years-dead comedy…

Lloyd Langford

20 Aug 20133 stars

The comic attends the Fringe to talk about the numerous eejits and muppets of the world

He’s not much of a Jessie J fan is Lloyd Langford. It’s not the music he’s less than enamoured with but her ongoing statements in the press that she would shave her head for charity, only for her life to continue for many months with her barnet intact.

Jonny Donahoe: Class Whore

20 Aug 20132 stars

Anecdotes about trangressing class bounderies for comedian's first solo show

Jonny Donahoe structures his first solo hour around the issues of class and how irrelevant it should be in contemporary society. He mixes in anecdotal evidence from his childhood during which he transgressed class boundaries. An unusual start, in…

Mark Restuccia: The Diary Of A Serial Internet Dater

20 Aug 20131 star

Comedian's badly written and dreadfully delivered drivel on internet dating failures

Mark Restuccia’s show from last year was titled How to Succeed at Internet Dating and his follow-up might properly be (though isn’t) called How to Fail at Internet Dating. Having met upwards of 1500 women online, the comic found himself shut out of…

Chris Kent: Second Fix

20 Aug 20133 stars

Irish comedian offers an unashamedly straightforward hour of stand-up for his Fringe return

Cork resident Kent has been pottering about the Irish scene quite successfully in the last few years not least having won a few competitions. However his luck seemed to run out last year when he caught an attack of mumps here at the Fringe - though it's…

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Ahir Shah - Anatomy

20 Aug 20133 stars

Cerebral humour succesfully displayed at the Free Fringe

Ahir Shah deliberately chose to leave the bigger venues circuit in order to take part of the Free Fringe, giving him more flexibility and greater control over his budding career. Stuck in a warm little attic, jam-packed, the freshly graduated comedian…

Gamarjobat (ga-ma-jo-bat) Rock Out!

20 Aug 20134 stars

Mime, magic and tomfoolery showcased in a pretty tidy hour of great fun

It doesn't feel like the Fringe if you haven't seen Edinburgh regulars and mohawk-sporting Japanese clowns Gamarjobat – even if it's just doing their shopping on Nicholson Street. It's one of those rare Fringe shows where it really doesn't matter how…

Helen O'Brien: Bronagh's Big Weekend

20 Aug 20132 stars

80's nostalgia act is more of a storytelling piece than an out-and-out comedy show

Was there a clerical error committed when Helen O’Brien’s show was popped into the comedy section of the Fringe programme? As a piece of nostalgic fare about the mid-1980s, it hits one or two spots, but it’s more of a one-woman storytelling piece with…

Silky: It Was This Show or Have Kids

20 Aug 20133 stars

Honest, heartfelt, slickly-delivered, irresistible and, yes, occasionally disturbing stand-up

Silky has made a reputation for himself by singing gently disturbing songs and this is the lure for his 2013 show. It's a trap. What Silky is really peddling is honest, heartfelt, slickly-delivered, irresistible and, yes, occasionally disturbing…

Tim FitzHigham: Challenger

20 Aug 20134 stars

Multi-awarded, world record-holding comedian returns to the Fringe with tales of superhuman feats

You'd be forgiven for thinking that Tim Fitzhigham is a bit on the bonkers side. He's rowed the English Channel in a bath tub, paddled the Thames in a paper boat, run 40 miles in 40 degree heat wearing a suit of armour, and it seems that most of his…