Reviews & features: Reviews

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Mat Ewins: Once Upon a Time in the Jest

16 Aug 20132 stars

Comic's routine finds itself wandering aimlessly into mediocrity

He wants to be different and to do the best he can – warm sentiments that occupy the core of Mat Ewins’ time-lapse history lesson. But this routine, delivered with the best intentions in the world, finds itself wandering aimlessly into mediocrity.

Rob Carter: Murder (and other hobbies)

16 Aug 20132 stars

Musical comedy from Mr. Nice guy trying to act tough

Rob Carter is ‘a real bad arse’, he announces in clipped West Sussex vowels. Swathed in John Lewis cashmere, fresh from a ten grand drama school course, he is all too aware that his anecdotes about an ‘anarchic’ childhood (running away from his…

Killers

16 Aug 20133 stars

An insight into murderers' minds

Bathed in harsh white spotlights, three of Britain’s most notorious killers – Dennis Nilsen, Ian Brady and Peter Sutcliffe – sit in front of the audience, reading letters they’ve written to admirers from their prisons or secure hospitals. But if you’re…

Esio Trot

16 Aug 20134 stars

Delightful Roald Dahl adaptation by Cambridge students

Roald Dahl’s tale of two lonely people brought together by a tortoise was adapted for the stage by Cambridge University’s Ryan Ammar and brought to Edinburgh by the Uni’s ADC Theatre. The script bolsters the slight story by amping up the villainy and…

Pat Cahill: Start

16 Aug 20132 stars

Hard to find a footing in this hasty hodge-podge of a show

Pat Cahill begins by explaining how it’s hard to start – though in fact once he gets going it’s hard to stop him. It’s all too rushed in this confused jumble of a show, with erudite observations flying by amongst inane remarks, without giving the…

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Paul Pirie: Me

16 Aug 20132 stars

Dundonian comic's routine derails thoughout

Alongside his free Fringe show, Dundonian comic Paul Pirie also makes an appearance at Best of Scottish Comedian of the Year. At times, it’s hard to see how he was booked for the latter, after enduring a set in which he derails throughout, with…

Simon Evans: Leashed

16 Aug 20133 stars

Successful material about everyday things

Simon Evans has a mightily long list of television appearances and writing credits to his name and, as a result, draws a large crowd. His familiarity with the limelight and comfort with chatting with an audience leads to him eating up a large chunk of…

Terry Clement: Din Time 8

16 Aug 20132 stars

Innocent, happy go lucky persona that doesn't quite hit the mark

Hallucinatory comic Terry Clement brings his first full-length show to the Fringe all the way from Canada, unclassifiable humour chaotically in tow. From his opening gambit – a parody spoken word piece in which he describes idly watching a turtle on a…

AntiGraham

16 Aug 20133 stars

The sketch crew Graham on the right tracks to produce a jaw dropping Fringe set

Not sure what sketch crew Graham did to have a negative applied to this year’s almost-eponymous show title, but the positive outweighs any genuine downsides to this sprightly hour. You may recognise the quartet from their School of Comedy days and with…

Mixed Doubles

16 Aug 20132 stars

Young foursome present pop culture sketches with mixed results

’Aaand, that’s why kittens love twine’, simpers one particularly dreary Scottish folk musician, coming to the end of another whimsical, truly insipid ballad, as an imaginary guest on Later... With Jools Holland. Game of Thrones, Benny Hill and The…

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Phil Ellis: Unplanned Orphan

16 Aug 20134 stars

Unlikely tale told by a comedian who knows his business

Anything we tell you about this show will spoil it. Seriously. Stop reading now and just buy a ticket. And don't go reading anything by less scrupulous reviewers either. You're still reading? OK. We'll do our best. At the age of 30 Phil Ellis found…

Short & Curly: A Ripe Pear

16 Aug 20133 stars

Sketch comedy duo don't let any opportunity for a laugh escape

A sketch comedy duo who, like the name suggests, are identifiable by their stature and hair type, respectively. The first sketch, set aboard the RMS Titanic, could have easily drifted into the treacherous waters of French and Saunders' famous parody…

Simply the Jest

16 Aug 20134 stars

Good solid writing and delightfully silly sketches

Simply the Jest perform pared down almost prop-less sketches, which is probably a very good thing given that there are nine of them and there's barely enough space on the stage. It's a gag in itself on the rare occasion that they all perform in the same…

[Title of Show]

16 Aug 20134 stars

Upbeat meta musical about the realities of creating a Broadway production

The trials and tribulations of a group of young performers in New York form the basis of the UK premiere of Patch of Blue’s [Title of Show]. Written in just three weeks for the New York Musical Theatre Festival, this 'musical about two guys writing a…

Panda Suit, Pythagoras and Plenty of Puns

16 Aug 20132 stars

New York comic's routine and puns lack structural integrity

Although he doesn't say so outright, Nikhil Tilwalli is obviously a fan of Saussurean linguistics, in which there is always a gap between a word and what it represents leading to problems in communication. After drawing in the audience with a title that…

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Zoe Lyons - Pop-up Comic

16 Aug 20134 stars

Incredulous fast talking way honed to perfection

Pop-up Comic may well refer to the irrepressible Lyons’ ability to find work (or ‘be available’, as she puts it) in the oddest of places – she takes the piss gently out of herself for appearances on Celebrity Pointless and University Challenge (‘Not…

Ben Champion: Human

16 Aug 20132 stars

Musical comedy that could be watched at home

Musical comedian Ben Champion faces the difficult task of transforming a series of three-minute ditties into a fully-fledged hour. Choosing the theme of 'being human', he certainly gives himself a lot of scope to work within. Skipping between…

Markus Birdman: Happily Ever After

16 Aug 20133 stars

Engaging guide through his personal turmoil

It’s not been a good couple of years for Markus Birdman. Last year’s show was about how at the age of 40 he had a stroke. This year his material comes from the fact that he has just split from his partner of 14 years and is heartbroken. The recency…

Leeds Tealights: The Ultimate Indoor Experience

16 Aug 20133 stars

Fringe experienced foresome aren't afraid to plunge into the dark side

This is one of the most slickly choreographed sketch shows at the Fringe, it's a feat of co-ordination that no one falls off the tiny stage. This year's four strong Tealights troupe certainly form a tight and tidy team. Formed in 2005 at the…

The Prima Party Scrapbook

16 Aug 20131 star

A messy performance lacking coherent narrative

Matthew Squance attempts to reconstruct a drug-fuelled London party in this chaotic, uncomfortable one-man show. On entering the venue, the audience are all handed a pair of glowsticks – and this, unfortunately, is the most exciting thing to happen in…

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Tom Wrigglesworth: Utterly at Odds With the Universe

16 Aug 20133 stars

Down-to-earth humour based on comic's relationship with his granddad

Funny-sad shows about earthy but inspirational old relatives have been something of a vogue these past few years at the festival, so while you can hardly fault a man for wanting to tell what seems to be a genuine (if…

Yannis Pappas

16 Aug 20133 stars

New Yorker with a well-honed set that deserves to be seen

Due to an administrative error with his Fringe booking, audiences are struggling to find Yannis Pappas, with a confusion of times throwing people off the scent. In fact, tonight's gathering is so small that when a fly starts bothering him on stage he…

Gráinne Maguire's One Hour All Night Election Special

16 Aug 20133 stars

Retrospection of past failures and general election obsession

It’s difficult not to allow yourself to be dragged along on the wave of Gráinne Maguire’s infectious enthusiasm for her subject. But given the slight dearth of laughs in this hour, it could well be that she hasn’t quite trawled deep enough into the…

BEASTS

16 Aug 20133 stars

Quickfire visual gags hit the mark despite bridled material

In a year in which some young bucks have ripped up the sketch show format to blistering effect (The Pin, Thünderbards), there lingers a slight feeling that the likes of BEASTS might be getting slowly left behind. After a solid enough debut last year…

Milo McCabe: Schiz

16 Aug 20134 stars

A wonderful conceit for a character comedy show

This a wonderful conceit for a character comedy show. On a screen on stage Milo McCabe sits in ethereally white room talking to the characters in his head. They're a disparate bunch, camp actor Troy Hawke, the Glaswegian trainspotter who thinks he's…