Reviews & features: Edinburgh Festivals

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Exhibit B

17 Aug 20145 stars

A deeply moving and confrontational work staging the hidden Curiosity Cabinets of European racism

It's the eyes that get you first when you step into South African artist Brett Bailey's searing damnation of historical and modern-day racism. Set up as a series of tableaux vivants in the most quietly ornate of human zoos, the audience are invited to…

Title and Deed by Will Eno

17 Aug 20144 stars

Brilliantly unsettling piece of Edinburgh Fringe theatre questioning the essence of humanity

In 2005 the New York Times described American playwright and Pulitzer Prize winner Will Eno as a Samuel Beckett for the Jon Stewart generation. Almost a decade on, it seems Eno lives up to that weighted description with his monologue Title and Deed, a…

Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2014 interview: BJ Novak of the US Office on debut short story collection One More Thing

15 Aug 2014

'There’s a story in my book called “Regret is Just Perfectionism Plus Time". That’s how I feel'

If you’ve ever watched the US series of The Office, BJ Novak’s face will be instantly recognisable as obnoxious temp Ryan Howard. A producer, writer and actor on the show (he landed the gig aged just 25, after producer Greg Daniels saw him at a comedy…

Peter Ross on his new book Daunderlust ahead of 2014 Edinburgh International Book Festival

17 Aug 2014

Scottish journalist talks about his storytelling style and hidden spots in Scotland

Five words to describe your storytelling style. Rather than high-five myself, I'll quote the reviews of my book: ‘Funny’; ‘Beautiful’; ‘Full of heart’. None of those were written by my mum, the landlord of my local, or anyone else who has cause to be…

Victoria Crowe: Real and Reflected

17 Aug 20144 stars

Solo show transforms the Scottish Gallery into a tranquil haven at the Edinburgh Art Festival

Stepping in to Victoria Crowe’s exhibition out of the bustle of Edinburgh mid-festival is like finding an oasis of calm. Her delicate, multi-layered paintings, with titles like ‘Considered silence’ and ‘Ordered Reflection’, are still and thoughtful…

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21 Things You Should Know About Toronto's Crack-Smoking Mayor

17 Aug 20143 stars

Rob Ford-themed political theatre at 2014 Edinburgh Fringe that credits audience with intelligence

Canadian politician Rob Ford had a non-existent profile on the world stage until May last year, when clickbait news website *3Gawker*2 published evidence of him smoking crack cocaine. When Ford’s eventual admission only made things worse (‘Yes, I have…

The Hibrow Hour

17 Aug 2014

Multi-media arts for smart audiences including Alison Jackson and Jonny and the Baptists

The Hi-Brow Hour, which takes over an afternoon slot at Summerhall for the third week of the Fringe, is more inclusive than the average show. Not only are the individual events be recorded, they are being streamed on BBC Arts Online and shown at Odeon…

Like Fireworks, Like Butterflies

17 Aug 20143 stars

A Korean legend revisited through dance, storytelling and puppetry

Once described as 'the Isadora Duncan of Korea', Choi Seung-Hee's vibrant career is explored here, through dance, storytelling and puppetry. Performer Kim Kyungmin selects an audience member to help her carry a suitcase, in which a box of letters is…

New Media Scotland: Alt-w

17 Aug 20143 stars

Works by Donna Leishman, Calum Stirling and Mehrpouya and Powell on show at Edinburgh Art Festival

Bringing traditional aesthetics and digital programming together, the artworks showcased in Alt-w approach ‘new media’ in a variety of ways. Two large sculptural works by ~ in the fields are first over the threshold, though they sit uneasily in the…

Highlights from 2014 Edinburgh International Book Festival: Fri 22 – Mon 25 Aug

17 Aug 2014

Martin Amis, Gruff Rhys, Haruki Murakami and Peter Ross among guests at Charlotte Square

Friday sees a joint event with two of the literature’s bright young things, Ned Beauman and Clemens J Setz discussing their recent work. Beauman will be speaking about Glow, his follow-up to 2012’s Booker Prize-longlisted The Teleportation Accident, and…

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Nathan Caton: Teenage Mutant Nathan Caton

17 Aug 20144 stars

Edinburgh Festival Fringe comedy show exploring what it means to be a man and a role model

At the top of the show Nathan Caton chats to the crowd making amiable jokes about a few topical subjects such as Scottish independence, the Commonwealth Games and UKIP. It looks like we're in for an hour of solid and accomplished club-style stand-up.

Twins

17 Aug 20144 stars

Laidback, freewheeling comedy from Annie McGrath and Jack Barry at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe

Annie McGrath and Jack Barry patently aren't twins. This misguided assumption that people can't tell them apart is a running joke throughout their show. It's simple and silly but they just about manage to keep the notion weird and quirky rather than…

I Do, Do I

17 Aug 20144 stars

Musician Greg Sinclair creates profound nonsense with kids at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe

Is I Do, Do I even a kids’ show? Well, yes and no. Edinburgh-based cellist and actor Greg Sinclair’s multi-layered, deceptively simple offering is actually for anyone – there’s nothing aimed directly at children here, although its free-thinking…

Reduced Shakespeare Company in The Complete History of Comedy (abridged)

17 Aug 20143 stars

A playful and clever retelling of the history of comedy from the Reduced Shakespeare Company

The Reduced Shakespeare Company are famous for their irreverent wit and quick-fire comedic stagecraft. To see them turn their efforts to a history of their own profession presents a treat in unexpected ways. Alongside countdown lists of history’s least…

Josie Long: Cara Josephine

17 Aug 20144 stars

A flawless hour, unequivocally delightful

Josie Long’s handcrafted blend of upbeat whimsy, curiosities and earnestness has attracted a lot of ardent fans and netted her the Best Newcomer award in 2006. Detractors dismissed her as too fluffy and then, when she started to take on more political…

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Woyzeck

17 Aug 20144 stars

Splendid Productions' energetic and playful hour finds new meaning in the great unfinished play

In their rendering of Büchner’s unfinished text, Splendid Productions adopts a playful timbre that sees them skip between scenes, co-opt the audience as the rumour mongers, and gleefully demonstrate the mechanisms behind their skilful stagecraft: as…

Iain Stirling: Everything

17 Aug 20142 stars

Tighter writing needed to elevate likeable comedian

Former CBBC presenter and Chortle Student Comedian of the Year, Iain Stirling is so keen to take the stage that he springs about in the wings impatiently waiting for his crowd to take their seats. He’s a relative youngster at 26 and is disarmingly eager…

Symphony by Ella Hickson, Tom Wells & Nick Payne

17 Aug 20143 stars

Three delightful theatre pieces exploring growing up and falling in love

Individually, Ella Hickson, Tom Wells and Nick Payne have seen their fair share of theatrical success. Hickson's had a number of hit plays since her 2008 Fringe debut, Eight, brought her to nationwide attention. Payne's Constellations recently won the…

Mildred and the Midnight City

17 Aug 20142 stars

Adventurous children's theatre piece that feels a little crowded

There are plenty of understated heroics in HookHitch Theatre's overly quaint tale of a little woman who has adventure thrust upon her. And there is plenty of puppetry, involving clever duel-screen shadow projectors, a peculiarly poodle-like Polar Bear…

John Ruskin: Artist and Observer

17 Aug 20142 stars

An all too comprehensive overview of the painter's practice shows him to be less than outstanding

John Ruskin: Artist and Observer at first appears to be an unassuming display of watercolours, sketches and photos, appealing only to enthusiasts for either the media or the natural or architectural subjects that form its visual content. Yet by the time…

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Broken Dolls (Razbitye Kuklu)

17 Aug 20142 stars

Strong performances in sex trafficking drama let down by unresolved plot lines and poor set

Broken Dolls tells the story of Narcisa, a young girl from Moldova who is sold into sex trafficking and imprisoned in a Turkish brothel. The play explores the brutal psychological abuse inflicted on women in order to desensitise them and trap them in a…

Can't Stay Away!

17 Aug 20141 star

A messy experiment which feels more like an under-rehearsed work-in-progress

Some Fringe shows thrive on experimentation, with a loose structure which well serves an atmosphere of seeming spontaneity. Some merely fail. Sadly, Fourth Monkey's Can't Stay Away! falls into the latter category. Examining an asylum seeker's…

Marie-Michelle Deschamps: Don’t trip over the wire!

17 Aug 20143 stars

An information overload undermines deliberately enigmatic work at the Edinburgh Art Festival

Marie-Michelle Deschamps’ Don’t trip over the wire! is the latest work produced for the Collective Gallery’s ‘Satellites Programme,’ a development programme for emergent artists in Scotland. Deschamps has produced a sound installation, which emanates…

Jamaica Farewell

17 Aug 20143 stars

Solo Fringe performance presents thrilling journey across political turbulence and street violence

Jamaica Farewell is a solo performance by Deborah Ehrhardt in which she recounts episodes from her childhood in her beloved Jamaica and her conflicting desire to one day move to America, the place she thinks of as the land of opportunity. In the…

Shakespeare, His Wife and the Dog

17 Aug 20144 stars

Joyous celebration of language and proof there is still life in scripted theatre

Shakespeare, his Wife and the Dog, is a joyous celebration of language, despite the underlying themes of senility and death. Finding himself unfashionable, Shakespeare retires and makes his household's lives miserable. Challenged by his wife, he goes…