Reviews & features: Issue 608

110 reviews

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Office Party

31 Jul 2008

Party On

The medieval feast of fools was an event where established hierarchies were overturned, sexual and social proprieties were transgressed and the everyday laws of the culture were suspended. It’s the subject of academic study all over Europe, where…

Saddle up

31 Jul 2008

As a posse of spoof country and western acts rides towards the Fringe, Allan Radcliffe asks why songs about rednecks, guns and erections make for sublime comedy

Pajama Men - Night moves

31 Jul 2008

Their brand of unique, unhinged comedy has had critics and judges raving about the Pajama Men. Claire Sawers finds that they’re keeping the silly wigs firmly in the bag The voice on the phone sounds impossibly camp. It has a slick and persuasive way…

Polish theatre

31 Jul 2008

Poles apart

Sitting in a picturesque café in the heart of Warsaw – Poland’s capital and largest city – it’s easy to forget the turbulent history that has shaped this country’s place in the world today. The city has long had a reputation as a vibrant playground…

Drive-By Truckers - Evolution rock

31 Jul 2008

Drive-By Truckers may hail from America’s south but they do way more than your average redneck stomp. Doug Johnstone meets an ambitious rock band unafraid to take themselves and their audience to new highs

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InvAsian Festival

31 Jul 2008

Culture shock

When, earlier this year, a BBC executive lamented the continued dominance of a ‘liberal, white, middle class elite’ across British television, his words could equally have been applied to Edinburgh in August. For all the Fringe’s variety, the number of…

On the Waterfront - Steven Berkoff

31 Jul 2008

Fighting talk

Steven Berkoff’s position in the British theatre is a bit like that of the mysterious nail that seems to belong nowhere after you’ve constructed your Ikea bookshelf. On the face of it, he simply doesn’t belong, but somehow things don’t work without…

Wisecrackin’ Mindsqueezin’ Behemoth - Big time

31 Jul 2008

Their first stage meeting involved simulated copulation. John-Luke Roberts and Nadia Kamil now make beautiful music in their Behemoth sketch guise. Brian Donaldson hears about the pair’s celebrity fans and those nasty critics

Three Billy Goats Gruff

31 Jul 2008

This is the third year in a row that the very wonderful Theatre of Widdershins has played the Fringe – and, rather appropriately, they’re doing a show all about threes: the eponymous goats, plus a few other fairytale characters such as Goldilocks’ pals…

Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller

31 Jul 2008

Six different, self-contained installation pieces by hugely acclaimed Canadian artist partnership Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller, which run a series of gamuts, taking in culture both high and popular, film, multimedia robotics and…

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Stage Oddities

31 Jul 2008

Death By Chocolate ‘Interview the suspects, sample the chocolates, solve the crime’ is the pitch for this interactive murder mystery night. The setting is a chocolate-themed singles’ night; the audience are given notepads and pens and encouraged to…

Edinburgh Art Festival

31 Jul 2008

Street arts

Edinburgh residents are used to a takeover at this time of year. As hoardes of performers, artists, comedians and their assorted entourages set up a whole other city on top of theirs, the festivals can feel divorced from the realities of Edinburgh life.

Tim Minchin - Looney tunes

31 Jul 2008

Not one for being stuck in a pigeonhole, Tim Minchin is a musician, actor, comic and father. Anna Millar meets the man who looks like a scarecrow and is terrifying the world of traditional stand-up comedy

War and Conflict

31 Jul 2008

Theatre of war

There’s always a profit to be made from war. The black market proved lucrative during World War II for the sale of rationed chocolate, coffee and cigarettes, while oil companies such as Halliburton have been kept ticking over nicely by the recent…

Felix Dexter - Comedy shuffle

31 Jul 2008

At the RSC he pretended to be the sea and in Edinburgh he sparred with Christian Slater. Leaving the theatre behind for now, Felix Dexter tells Julian Hall that he’s happy again with his first love It’s the first time in over a decade that Felix…

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The Meeting - Suits you sir

31 Jul 2008

Three young talents have variously got a boardroom comedy, a sketch show and a student competition to contend with. Our chair Julian Hall asks if there is any other business This year it’s going to be hard for many Fringe-goers to leave work too far…

Social networking

31 Jul 2008

Single files

Recent Pixar smash Wall-E imagines a future in which lumpen humans only engage with each other through computer screens. Worryingly, this seems all too plausible a prospect. Online interaction and social networking are two of this year’s Fringe hot…

Clubbing onstage

31 Jul 2008

Chemical Romance

As an experience that thrives on the spontaneity of the moment, and, often, some kind of altered state of consciousness, clubbing is a difficult subject to translate into drama. Since the mid-90s, the much-trumpeted drug movie or novel has largely…

Mark Olver - Journey's end

31 Jul 2008

In June, Mark Olver set off by foot from Bristol to Edinburgh, relying on the kindness of strangers to get shelter and material for Ramble On. He tells of the shuddering climax to his fantastic voyage ‘I can see Arthur’s Seat’ I said excitedly as I…

Sarah Millican - Credit crunch

31 Jul 2008

Sarah Millican is putting a sad past behind her and profiting from pain. Marissa Burgess pops round for a cuppa and finds that the Geordie comic may not be as dastardly as she wants us to believe

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Reginald D Hunter - Tall tales

31 Jul 2008

Reginald D Hunter is a giant of UK stand-up. But, as he tells Jay Richardson, he’s still trying to escape the sins of his father ‘I have always found Edinburgh intense, in my soul and in my belly. You can’t say there ain’t tension in my shows. It’s…

Andrew Lawrence - Sit tight

31 Jul 2008

He may no longer be the stage psychopath with a killer tune and attitude to match, but Andrew Lawrence is still not exactly a cosy act. Marissa Burgess tentatively meets the man behind the growl Andrew Lawrence is a comedian in a state of constant…

Ed Byrne - Cry freedom

31 Jul 2008

Amnesty International supporter Ed Byrne may not be sure where he fits in any more but, as he tells Doug Johnstone, this keeps him in material

Lucy Porter - Festival veteran

31 Jul 2008

Lucy Porter wanted to be like Kate Adie but ended up being more like Lee Evans. That’s what repeatedly coming to the Fringe does to you. She doesn’t mind though… The Edinburgh Fringe Festival ruined my life. That sounds melodramatic, but it’s absolutely…

Shout Out Louds

31 Jul 2008

Industrious Swedes do the happy/sad indie thing supremely

‘If you listen to Abba’s songs,’ says Adam Olenius, ‘they sound really happy, but the lyrics are sad. They sing of broken hearts and melancholy. Heartbreak and beautiful melody, that’s the Swedish sound.’ Olenius, lead singer of Stockholm quintet…