Reviews & features: Issue 611

182 reviews

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Matthew Bourne's Dorian Gray

21 Aug 2008

Thoroughly modern Oscar

Although no one would bat an eyelid today, Oscar Wilde’s gothic novel, The Picture of Dorian Gray caused shock and outrage when it was published in 1890. The tale of an impressionable young man who becomes obsessed with his own image, had a little too…

Treasure Hunt

21 Aug 2008

Rosalie Doubal leads a team around the city on a scavenger hunt in the name of art

9am City Art Centre Equipped with a bike, a laptop, a compass, eight sandwiches and some anoraks, my team – a dyspraxic researcher, a father-of-one, a diehard Buckfast drinker and a token ginger – joins a long queue of eager scavengers. Neither the…

Dan Le Sac Vs Scroobius Pip

21 Aug 2008

Electrifying collaboration brought together by MySpace

Opposites attract, right? That certainly seems true for Dan Le Sac vs Scroobius Pip, the former being a short, stocky, shy beatmaster while the latter is a tall, skinny hyperactive wordsmith. ‘We both bring the best out of each other,’ says Pip, aka…

Scott Capurro

21 Aug 20083 stars

A mix of the inspired and the obnoxious

It’s been said that the older people get, the less worried they are about causing offence. Scott Capurro, veteran of some 15 Fringe summers, has clearly decided to go for broke this year, trampling all over every sacred cow and totem of political…

Kristen Schaal & Kurt Braunohler

21 Aug 20084 stars

Schaal and pal delve into surreal corners

A warning is gently dispatched: Double Down Hearts will break our minds. Co-written in reverse chronological order by Kristen Schaal, of Flight of the Conchords fame, and Kurt Braunohler, her ‘gift’ of a comedy partner, the play pastiches the melodrama…

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Bryan Talbot

21 Aug 2008

Graphic detail in the finest strips

Bryan Talbot is a bit of a legend in the UK comics industry. He’s provided art for the likes of 2000AD, Sandman and Batman but you can still see the influence of underground comix artists such as Robert Crumb and Gilbert Shelton even in his most…

Simon Armitage

21 Aug 2008

Pop poet turns wordy rock star

Simon Armitage is a very modern poet, as happy to ruminate over Arctic Monkeys’ lyrics as he is to translate 14th century romantic poetry. During the 15 years since he handed in his notice as a probation officer to concentrate fully on his writing, he’s…

Koko the Crocodile

21 Aug 20084 stars

A little touch of Africa

Mara Menzies is fairly new to the storytelling game, but has taken to it like a duck to water. Or rather, like a crocodile to a riverbank – much like the wriggling, paw-waving one that appears in her charming new show. Based on Menzies’ recently…

Michael McIntyre

21 Aug 20082 stars

The accent is on over-familiarity

Last year, Michael McIntyre apparently harangued two judges on the if.comedy panel for doing this nation the great disservice of not handing him the award on a plate. Still, he could at least reassure himself of his genius with all those flattering star…

Miniprofile: Jay Brannan

21 Aug 2008

Sound sugar-coated acoustica with crystal clear swooping vocals and an edge of stark sexuality.

Was it terrifying releasing your first album Goddamned yourself? It seems like the natural order of things to me because I’m such a weird person with very specific ideas and opinions and beliefs. It’s a lot of work, for sure. I’m like, ‘do I get to…

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Janey Godley

21 Aug 20083 stars

Family tale from straight-talking Glaswegian

The title of this show, Domestic Godley, doesn’t refer to the cooking, cleaning, dinner parties ‘domestic goddess’ stereotype. Janey Godley’s candid stand-up is specific to her east end of Glasgow upbringing and subsequently eventful life. With a…

Scottish Dance Theatre

21 Aug 20084 stars

Two very different displays of talent

It’s not bombastic patriotism to suggest that some of the most accomplished and satisfying contemporary dance on the Fringe is homegrown. These two works performed by Scottish Dance Theatre are an excellent showcase for the jaw-dropping versatility of…

5 Questions - Irvine Welsh

21 Aug 2008

Give us five words to describe Crime? Crime is an existential thriller. Which authors should be more famous than they are now? I used to say Ron Butlin, but I think that’s changing now. I think Doug Johnstone will soon be very famous. If I have…

365 - One Night to Learn a Lifetime

21 Aug 2008

Shock tactics

With 365, a series of fragmented narratives about children leaving care, Vicky Featherstone’s National Theatre of Scotland cements its commitment to telling stories of the people. Kirstin Innes meets the cast, writer and director. Lunchtime, and…

Regal king size

21 Aug 2008

Karol Szymanowski considered himself an outsider which is why he identified with Sicily’s King Roger II and why his opera has become a gay favourite, finds Carol Main The Edinburgh International Festival’s staged opera programme is swinging from one…

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Josh Howie - Festival virgin

21 Aug 2008

Josh Howie remembers the first time and asks the probing questions

At various points over the last few weeks I have been referred to as an 'Edinburgh Virgin'. The more I think about it the more connections I see between my time here and my first sexual experience. Nervousness, sweat, the bad weather, the applause, the…

Festival Books - Mark Watson

21 Aug 2008

Eco-friendly, my dear Watson

According to Mark Watson, saving the planet would, at the very least, ‘look pretty smart on all our CVs’. With an already sterling comedy résumé, Watson takes on environmentalism in his latest book, Crap at the Environment, which through the author’s…

I Went To The House But Did Not Enter

21 Aug 2008

First person peculiar

Edinburgh favourite Heiner Goebbels returns to the Festival with the world premier of his collaboration with the Hilliard Ensemble, I Went to the House but Did Not Enter. Mark Fisher catches up with him The scene is Lausanne, Switzerland where a…

Fettes Jazz Festival

21 Aug 2008

Swingin’ in the Marquee

The fourth Fettes Jazz Festival offers another attractive weekend festival housed in a marquee in the grounds of Fettes College, with a programme that combines top local talent with some exciting guests. The familiar format features an opening session…

Festival Books - Rosemary Goring

21 Aug 2008

The history woman

Rosemary Goring tells Doug Johnstone about finding the voices or ordinary people. There’s been a resurgence of interest in Scottish history among ordinary punters, a trend Scotland: The Autobiography taps into brilliantly. Edited by Rosemary Goring, a…

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Once And For All We're Gonna Tell You Who We Are So Shut Up And Listen

21 Aug 20082 stars

Kids' stuff

OK, so enough with the sweet cheeky kids already. The audience pretty much obeyed the injunction in the title of this new piece from Belgium's Ontroerend Goed at the Traverse and came away amused, if not exactly enlightened. The piece essentially…

Andrew Sean Greer

21 Aug 2008

No one can stop his California dreaming

With his recent impressive run in the literary world, it’s hard to imagine Andrew Sean Greer ever feeling edgy about his work. Since the release of critically acclaimed debut The Path Of Minor Planets in 2001, the San Francisco-based scribe has come up…

Simon Callow - A Festival Dickens

21 Aug 20084 stars

A rich performance of moving, entertaining tales

Having taken his celebrated one-man show The Mystery of Charles Dickens around the world, British thesp Simon Callow is no stranger to the Victorian writer and philanthropist. Here, Callow performs his second solo Dickens show under the sure-handed…

Carol Leifer

21 Aug 20081 star

A Fringe debut to forget

Of course, it’s daft to generalise, but when heavily-anticipated American stars have come across to the Fringe they’ve either blown us away or totally bombed. In the happy former camp are Demetri Martin, Kristen Schaal and Doug Stanhope. In the…

Jason Cook

21 Aug 20085 stars

Finding comfort and joy in the darkest of places

It’s his birthday today, so you’d expect Jason Cook to be in party mode. His sister has even showed up for Joy in this tiny and packed Stand back-room. But while we pile out onto the street having hugged strangers and armed with paraphernalia that would…