Reviews & features: Edinburgh Festivals

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God versus The Mind Reader  

27 Aug 20133 stars

Performer Mark Cairns questions the human need to rely on misplaced theories for life's answers

We'll start with this: God versus The Mind Reader isn’t what we’d call cabaret, so its categorisation in the Fringe programme might throw you. That’s not to say it’s not an entertaining fifty minutes, just that’s its more a theological monologue with…

Jerry Sadowitz

23 Aug 20134 stars

Consistently brilliant illusions and a furiously passionate performance

While it would be misleading to say Jerry Sadowitz has calmed down, he’s certainly mellowed somewhat over the years. Saying that, you’d have your work cut out to find a more controversial comedian at this year’s Fringe, with frequently eye-watering…

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…

In Vogue: Songs by Madonna

29 Aug 20134 stars

Madonna revered and redefined, with camp flair, by Australian star Michael Griffiths

The moment Michael Griffiths, the musical theatre star from down Down Under, sashays on stage for his debut performance at the Edinburgh Festival, we are hooked. With a fabulous flourish he seats himself behind the grand piano and launches into…

Don Quichotte Du Trocadéro

30 Aug 20134 stars

A balancing act of dance and physical comedy Edinburgh International Festival

José Montalvo is a choreographer who likes fusion; and as if to make sure we get this idea early on, Don Quichotte's opening solo mixes hip-hop ripples, flamenco wrists, ballet poses and the burlesque humour that will go on to characterise this take on…

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30 Aug 20134 stars

Spellbinding dark drama

This intense and emotionally charged two-hander really packs a dramatic punch. Set on a remote Scottish island, it turns on an encounter between a bewildered young man named Daniel (who has made the long journey from the mainland looking for answers to…

Doctor Brown: Because

29 Aug 20134 stars

Show full of the unexpected is lapped up by the audience

It's not often that you get pelted with olives during a show. But then of course as we've come to realise over the last four years at the Fringe, Doctor Brown's shows are full of the unexpected. Anyone who has seen or at least heard about him before…

Ensemble MusikFabrik: A Tribute to Frank Zappa - Usher Hall, Edinburgh, 28 August 2013

29 Aug 20135 stars

Earthy and soaring concert of outrageously good musicianship to nourish the adventurous concertgoer

It takes a certain effort of imagination to accept that the man who wrote a song called 'Why Does It Hurt While I Pee?' was the greatest American composer of his time, but Ensemble MusikFabrik's A Tribute to Frank Zappa, played with the precision of…

Adam Buxton: Kernel Panic

29 Aug 20134 stars

Maximum stupidity and joyous silliness from tech-heavy video show

The title 'Kernel Panic' is derived from the technical term when everything with your computer goes pear shaped. It's the one thing that certainly doesn't happen in Buxton's show – apart from the obligatory 'oh no the macbook's crashed gag'. But then…

Broadway Enchanté

29 Aug 20133 stars

The history of the Broadway musical, via Paris

Broadway – the sugary icing on the grand gâteau of musical theatre. For some the upbeat kitschness of a Broadway musical is a return to childhood. For others, it can be mindbendingly confusing, and the unwavering smiles of an all-singing, all dancing…

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An Evening with David Sedaris

29 Aug 20134 stars

Trademark real-life anecdotes and personal overshare stories

If there was any doubt as to the This American Life favourite's popularity in the UK, it was swiftly put down by the snaking queue that went from the EICC's front entrance to its back and right outside again. A mixed audience age-wise – half hipstery…

David O’Doherty: David O’Doherty Will Try to Fix Everything

29 Aug 20134 stars

Still stimulating, wry and utterly loveable, O’Doherty examines a world demystified

David O’Doherty is one of those comedians that now sits deep within the heart of Fringe audiences. Since 2000 he’s charmed and secured a loyal fan-base with the “low-level musical whimsy” that won him critical adoration. The danger, of course, is…


29 Aug 20133 stars

ImmerCity's effective site-specific seance

The audience is led to a darkened room by the three Wyrd sisters: Isabelle, a doctor, Lilith, who claims she's clairvoyant and Amanda, occupation unknown. The creepy, childlike Amanda plays psychological games with the audience by handing them insulting…

A Killer Story

29 Aug 20132 stars

Great noir script let down by poor acting

Here’s the scoop: a private eye is on the case of a missing scientist; he’s presumed murdered, with his dame and his former business partner both in the frame for pulling the trigger. A saxophone purrs like a prostitute in the night as all three step up…

Tig Notaro

27 Aug 20134 stars

The American comedian, famous for publicly discussing her breast cancer, proves she has more to say

Tig Notaro is a grand master of the wind-up. The drawn-out set-ups, the laboured pauses, the controlled nonchalance – it’s all part of her finely honed delivery, a masterclass in pacing and calm. Her soothing, diazepam-dose of a voice is the Fringe…

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Dido and Aeneas/Bluebeard’s Castle - Festival Theatre, Edinburgh, Sat 24 Aug 2013

27 Aug 20134 stars

Oper Frankfurt present a contrasting programme of warm, doomed love and psychological nightmare

In combining Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas with Bartok’s Bluebeard’s Castle, Oper Frankfurt have created a deeply powerful theatrical and musical experience for their audiences. Both productions are provocative but in quite different ways. While Barrie…

Rob Delaney

27 Aug 20133 stars

The US comic puts intriguing spins on icky subject matter, but comes off as Louis CK-lite

Let’s just get this out of the way straight off the bat. There is literally no way to avoid writing about Rob Delaney without drawing comparison to Louis CK: and ultimately, it comes down on the side of an unfavourable one. Delaney moseys on (in plain…

The Horne Section

27 Aug 20132 stars

Disappointing off night for the usually on-form Horne and his comedy-music hybrid

At one point early in tonight’s show, special guest James Walmsley (formerly of muso-comedy group Dead Cat Bounce) declares that ‘this hasn’t been rehearsed’. Unfortunately, this is more than obvious. Although there’s a certain sense of tightness…

Lillian Boutté - Barefootin’

27 Aug 20134 stars

A warm, vivacious show from the dainty American jazz dame

Lillian Boutté is in the middle of rip-roaring title track 'Barefootin’' when she clocks me dancing in my chair. Thirty seconds later I’ve been cajoled – with a few others – onto her tiny stage and I can only attribute the lack of dancers generally to…

Forest Boy

23 Aug 20133 stars

A slightly overplayed take on a Dutch boy's story of survival in the wild

Suitably set in the quaint Bosco tent, Forest Boy is a new musical based on the events that gripped Europe in 2011 when Robin ‘Ray’ van Helsum, a young Dutch boy, claimed he had been living in a forest in Germany for five years. Dubbed as a story of…

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23 Aug 20133 stars

Two solos that recast God in a more negative light

Genesis/Golgotha is a pair of monologues that attempt to reimagine two crucial Biblical characters: Eve, the mother of us all, and Jesus, The Messiah. Eve is given a relatively traditional make-over, bemoaning her fate and alternating between anger and…

Sad Faces Threw a Party

23 Aug 20132 stars

Not one of the better sketchy narrative fare on offer this August

Some people don’t do themselves many favours when adopting a name for their group or show. Sad Faces could, of course, go either way, but this reviewer was left with a decidedly unhappy visage after an hour in their fairly humdrum company. There’s no…

Dave Griffiths: C U In Court

23 Aug 20133 stars

A David and Goliath-like stand-up routine

We all love it when ‘the man’ gets it in the neck and with ‘C U in Court’, the little guy (Dave Griffiths) sure gives the top man (actually, French Connection) what for. A jobbing stand-up, Griffiths thought he was on the cutting edge of satire when he…

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…