Reviews & features: Edinburgh International Festival

309 reviews

Sorted by popularity / date / title / rating

Sweet Mambo

2 Sep 20144 stars

Production by Pina Bausch’s Tanztheater Wuppertal at the Edinburgh International Festival

The difficulty in writing about a Pina Bausch work is that it sometimes seems impossible to find words to convey exactly what is being expressed; which is probably why the late dance theatre choreographer and director chose a mixture of words and dance…

Gnosis

2 Sep 20145 stars

Akram Khan's tale from the Mahabharata masterfully performed at the Edinburgh International Festival

Two thirds of the way into the first half of Akram Khan’s programme he stops to talk to the audience. Softly and carefully he explains that the rhythms of the Kathak dance he has been performing so virtuosically are based around mathematics. He…

Ubu and the Truth Commission

1 Sep 20143 stars

Handspring Puppet Company tackle abuses of power at the Edinburgh International Festival

A revival of the 1997 production that mashed up Alfred Jarry's anarchic satire Ubu Roi and episodes from the Truth and Reconciliation process in the aftermath of the dismantling of apartheid in South Africa, Ubu and the Truth Commission is an…

FRONT

1 Sep 20144 stars

Thalia Theater revive the spirits of Remarque and Barbusse at the Edinburgh International Festival

Thalia Theater's production, set in Belgium 1914-18 and based on classic anti-war literature by Erich Maria Remarque and Henri Barbusse, initially seems like a radio broadcast, until individual testimonies unfurl like battered flags. There are, among…

Les Troyens

1 Sep 20143 stars

Mariinsky Opera delivers stylised Berlioz production at the Edinburgh International Festival

Anticipated as one of the must-sees of this year’s Edinburgh International Festival, Mariinsky Opera’s visit with Berlioz’s epic Les Troyens (The Trojans) was a mixed bag. Running for five and a half hours, admittedly with two extended intervals, the…

back to top

Helen Lawrence

27 Aug 20142 stars

Impressive but confused multimedia theatre piece at Edinburgh International Festival

Helen Lawrence is the definition of ‘impressive’ multimedia theatre, as Canadian Stage has enlisted the help of artist Stan Douglas and screenwriter Chris Haddock to create a homage to 1940s film noir through a combination of theatre and film. Femme…

Minetti

22 Aug 20143 stars

King Lear meets Waiting for Godot in challenging theatre piece as part of 2014 EIF

On New Year’s Eve, in a hotel lobby in Ostend, an ageing actor waits for the arrival of a director who will orchestrate his comeback in a production of King Lear. But will he come? The night wears on, and Minetti (a towering performance by Peter…

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…

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…

Edinburgh International Festival 2014: 10 things you should know about Pina Bausch

15 Aug 2014

Sweet Mambo, one of the final pieces by the late choreographer, will be performed at this year's EIF

1. Critics weren’t always her biggest fans Today Pina Bausch is recognised as one of the most influential choreographers in contemporary dance but it wasn’t always that way. Critics were divided when her work was first unleashed. It was seen as being…

back to top

Edinburgh International Festival 2014 interview: Jonathan Mills on his Sandakan Threnody

15 Aug 2014

The outgoing artistic director of the festival discusses his WWII memorial piece

Back in March, Jonathan Mills announced the theme for this year’s Edinburgh International Festival. He wanted the programme to look at the relationship between conflict and culture – how war and political unrest leave their mark on art. It probably…

James III: The True Mirror

15 Aug 20144 stars

The king goes bling in the third of Rona Munro’s plays at the Edinburgh International Festival

The king gets some bling in the third of Rona Munro’s historical trio of plays: the huge dagger digging into the stage at the Festival Theatre has shining jewels embedded in the handle, and James (Jamie Sives) is keen to pimp up his reign. He wants a…

James II: Day of the Innocents

15 Aug 20142 stars

The second of Rona Munro's historical plays at the Edinburgh International Festival has too much fat

Halfway through the second part of Rona Munro's trilogy, there is a banquet sequence. The cast chant and demand 'meat, meat, meat’: yet meat is absent from this episode, with too much gristle to chew on. Munro charts King James' transition from…

Edinburgh International Festival 2014: exploring death camps through music

15 Aug 2014

Holocaust survivor Samuel Pisar and the Pavel Haas Quartet among contributors to EIF's music strand

Bernstein’s Kaddish Symphony The man who wrote West Side Story also wrote this sweeping, tense work for a narrator, choir and orchestra, his tribute to Kaddish – a hymn traditionally sung in the synagogue at times of mourning. Holocaust survivor Samuel…

James I: The Key Will Keep The Lock

15 Aug 20144 stars

The opening chapter of Rona Munro's Edinburgh International Festival trilogy has pace and energy

Henry V makes a cameo appearance in the opening scene of Rona Munro’s trilogy of history plays, a canny nod to Shakespeare’s iconic historical drama. These plays move confidently out of the shadow of the great Shakespearean history cycles, capitalising…

back to top

Delusion of the Fury showcases Harry Partch instruments at 2014 Edinburgh International Festival

14 Aug 2014

Ensemble musikFabrik present music-theatre with song, glass bells and a goat

Consider a picture of Ensemble musikFabrik playing the music of innovative 20th-century composer Harry Partch. It is not immediately clear what is happening. Is this a kinetic sculpture or other art installation? Should they even be touching these giant…

Ganesh Versus the Third Reich

13 Aug 20144 stars

Thoughtful, elegant show unfolds its ideas slowly at the Edinburgh International Festival

Ganesh and the Third Reich has all the ingredients for controversy. A Hindu god represented on stage, actors with disabilities, Australians appropriating Indian mythology and a European holocaust, a series of arguments between director and actors…

The War

13 Aug 20143 stars

Epic Russian opera detailing the horrors of WWI, staged at the Edinburgh International Festival

A multi-lingual co-production from the Chekhov International Theatre Festival, this grandiose imagining of the futility of war, specifically World War One, is likely to leave audiences somewhat shell-shocked; loud, bombastic and brutal, it’s short on…

Inala

12 Aug 20144 stars

Beautiful Zulu ballet set to Ladysmith Black Mambazo at the Edinburgh International Festival

It’s often the case that dance at the International Festival, while pushing the boundaries of creativity – Batsheva, Preljocaj – isn’t always the most accessible. In this sense Zulu ballet Inala is a breath of warm fresh air, rich in its costume colours…

Talks around 'Culture and Conflict' highlight the WWI focus of Edinburgh International Festival 2014

10 Aug 2014

Topics include women's roles in wartime, soft power, pacifism and anti-war activism

It may have come in for some knocks last year when it was announced that 2014’s Edinburgh International Festival wouldn’t be touching upon certain timely political subjects, but in the ancillary programme which accompanies the high-end performance…

back to top

Alasdair Gray to discuss his biography, Of Me and Others, at Edinburgh International Book Festival 2014

7 Aug 2014

The book provides an insight into the Gray that often doesn’t shine through his work

One of the country’s finest writers and painters, Alasdair Gray has been a monumental influence on Scottish writing since long before the publication of his first and most famous novel, Lanark. Known for his eccentricity and individualistic style, his…

Edinburgh Festivals 2014: the lasting influence of All Quiet on the Western Front

31 Jul 2014

Tony Bradman, Christina Bellingen and Guy Masterson discuss different approaches to WWI

Banned by the Nazis and immortalised in the 1930 film adaptation, Erich Maria Remarque’s All Quiet on the Western Front is one of the greatest anti-war books of the 20th century. First published in 1929, excellent translations from the original German…

Edinburgh International Festival 2014 interview: Bruce Gladwin discusses Ganesh Versus the Third Reich

31 Jul 2014

The elephant-headed Hindu god sets out to rescue the swastika from the Nazis

Bertolt Brecht's innovation as a director was to encourage performances to unpick the magical trappings of theatre and remind audiences that what they are watching is neither real nor inevitable. Hoping to detach the spectator from a passive, emotional…

Edinburgh Festivals 2014: three stage productions from New Zealand

28 Jul 2014

Highlights include Arthur Meek’s On the Upside Down of the World and Lemi Ponifasio's I AM

In the popular view of the northern hemisphere – and indeed, much of the country’s neighbours – New Zealand is a remote idyll populated by hobbits and sheep where not very much ever happens. Yet history tells us that a country so young is unlikely to be…

Edinburgh International Festival 2014: 10 unmissable programme highlights

22 Jul 2014

Featuring Kronos Quartet, Helen Lawrence and Ganesh Versus the Third Reich

Czech Philharmonic Two concerts from the orchestra conducted by Jiri Belohlavek. The first features Nicola Benedetti as they tackle Janácek, Korngold and Martinu together, while the second has mezzo soprano Bernarda Fink singing the powerful ‘Biblical…