Reviews & features: Reviews

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Sweet Potato and Callaloo: Voices from the Caribbean Diaspora

15 Aug 20145 stars

Project exploring Scotland's role in slave trade, featuring Dorothea Smartt and Millicent AA Graham

Fresh from their appearances at The Empire Cafe, a remarkable project exploring Glasgow and Scotland's under-acknowledged role in the transatlantic slave trade, come four poets from the Caribbean Diaspora. Warmly introduced by Scottish poet Jackie Kay…

The Capone Trilogy: Vindici

15 Aug 20144 stars

Betrayal and brutality in Chicago fuses Jacobean melodrama and film noir

Jethro Compton has become a firm Fringe favourite over the past few years: Vindici, part of his Capone Trilogy, is a fine example of his ability to bring together diverse influences into a coherent whole. The audacious melding of Jacobean melodrama and…

Alfie Brown: Divorced from Reality (And My Wife)

15 Aug 20144 stars

Comedian is back on top form with intoxicating, meaningful comedy at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe

It would be rude to say that Alfie Brown had a gap year last Fringe, but after a blinding 2012 hour, something didn’t quite seem right about his follow-up. For those of us who trumpeted him loudly as one of the natural torch-bearers for stand-up’s…

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…

Counterpoint

15 Aug 20143 stars

Eclectic mixed-media works from eight contemporary artists

Waiting plays a big part in the Talbot Rice's compendium of eight relatively off-piste artists for their EAF show. Nowhere is this more evident than in Ellie Harrison's 'After The Revolution, Who Will Clean Up The Mess?', an installation of four…

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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…

Camille O'Sullivan: 10

15 Aug 20142 stars

An inoffensive Edinburgh Festival Fringe show of cover versions camouflaged in glamour

Camille O'Sullivan has become one of the mainstays of the Edinburgh festival. This year marks her tenth at the Fringe and in that time she’s racked up an impressive collection of five-star reviews and sold-out shows. Backed by a trio of musicians, she…

Rayguns Look Real Enough: Hall of Fame

15 Aug 20144 stars

Fast and funny mashed up rock classics at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe

With Ray Gunn’s tiger outfit and Luke Reel’s electric shock goth hairdo, this rock duo look like Calvin and Hobbes hit middle age and formed a band. Pulling melodies, tunes, rhythms and lyrics from across the decades, the pair have put together a…

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…

Albee Vector the Sound Collector

15 Aug 20144 stars

Engaging storytelling adventure for all the family at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe

In the already thrilling surroundings of the Hispaniola, littered with caged skeletons and other Treasure Island artefacts, Greenlight Theatre create a level of entertainment of which even RLS would approve. Albee Vector and his love, Andromeda, are…

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Ellie White: Humans

15 Aug 20142 stars

Good moments and stand-out characters but not enough original material at this Edinburgh Fringe show

Character comedian Ellie White’s venue is a curse and a blessing. In the basement of a Mexican restaurant, the taco-stand aesthetic is super-cute, and recurrent references to her surroundings manage to ground her roster of characters and give the show…

Every Brilliant Thing

15 Aug 20143 stars

Depression has never been so charming in this slightly-too-short play at the Edinburgh Fringe

Paines Plough’s travelling Roundabout Auditorium is probably the loveliest venue at the Fringe. Tucked away in a cosy corner of Summerhall, this Tardis-like theatre is bright, colourful and a comforting antidote to the festival’s any-space-will-do…

Margaret Thatcher: Queen Of Soho

15 Aug 20143 stars

Uproarious, campy fun taking in key moments of political career

Revisionist history has seen ex-PM Margaret Thatcher absurdly transformed after her passing into a feminist icon. But Matt Tedford – who has the Iron Lady’s braying condescension down to a T – has now provided the ultimate makeover for Thatcher, turning…

All at Sea

15 Aug 20142 stars

Weak script lets down fearless acting by trio at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe

Intuitive Creatures' All at Sea employs a huge amount of audience interaction, and nowhere in the room is safe. During one skit they even come in from the back and mingle with the people hanging around casually at the bar who were mistaken in thinking…

La Loba

15 Aug 20144 stars

Beautiful exploration of mythology to conjure up the inner wild woman at the Edinburgh Fringe

Lenka Vagnerová’s La Loba would be a wild beguiling journey into a deep dark fairytale forest even without the added spark of its two sensational performers. With them it becomes a thrilling joyride through perceptions of femininity, strength, and what…

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Ready, Steady, Ceilidh

15 Aug 20143 stars

Lively kids' introduction to ceilidh dancing at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe

As a lively and entertaining introduction to ceilidh dancing, Ready, Steady, Ceilidh will give great satisfaction to 5-year-olds and up, including their parents. The short 40 minute show is structured around the mock rivalry of the MacReds and the…

Darling Ghost

15 Aug 20143 stars

Dark avant-garde musical cabaret is fascinating to witness, despite not always cohering

As the doors open you are greeted by four wind musicians at the front, a pianist with horns dressed in period costume and two women seated at a table to the left. Darling Ghost is hard to categorise; think free jazz meets Tori Amos or Regina Spektor at…

Nev: Gold

15 Aug 20142 stars

Surreal hour shows promise despite shortcomings with venue

The vast majority of free venues are great but occasionally things go wrong and it has to be mentioned here because it was so detrimental to the show. In The Wee Pub it's the massive amount of noise bleed from next door, people wandering in and talking…

Rubberbandits: Continental Fistfight

15 Aug 20144 stars

Irish hip-hop trio nail winning formula of outrageous songs at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe

If you’ve never come across the Rubberbandits before, then do not be put off by their awkwardly succinct website bio: ‘We are hardcore gangster rappers from Limerick city in Ireland’. Yes, they do come from ‘stab city’, talk with an Irish accent so…

Bette Davis Ain't For Sissies

15 Aug 20144 stars

Jessica Sherr inhabits the infamous Hollywood actress at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe

It's 1939, and the night of the Oscars. Double Oscar winner Bette Davis has lost to Vivien Leigh, for Gone With the Wind, and she is having a major hissy fit. Initially, this piece seems like an unprepossessing and thinly-veiled tirade against the…

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Pierre Novellie is Mighty Peter

15 Aug 20143 stars

Consistent but safe Edinburgh Festival Fringe comedy debut from former Cambridge Footlights funnyman

The overriding sense that Pierre Novellie resembles the lovable BFG is hard to dismiss as the 6ft 4 comedian breaks into infectious giggles throughout this comedy debut. Intelligent lines abound throughout the hour, as he succeeds in avoiding the…

The Initiate

15 Aug 20143 stars

Tense Edinburgh Fringe drama about the effect of Somali pirate kidnapping on London community

This intense, snappy drama from Alexandra Wood is an affecting tale of how the high profile Somali pirate kidnappings have affected London’s Somali community. Andrew French plays a cabbie who has lost his job for ‘talking too much’ – though it’s implied…

The Carousel

15 Aug 20144 stars

Second play in Jennifer Termblay's triology is truimphant torrent of emotion at the Edinburgh Fringe

Stellar Quines ’ production of The List at the Fringe in 2012 was a quiet sensation, for the quality of the writing, by French-Canadian playwright Jennifer Tremblay, and for the team brought together by Muriel Romanes, including Maureen Beattie as the…

Starchild: The Little Prince Reborn

15 Aug 20143 stars

Physical theatre with an Asian touch based on classic Antoine de Saint-Exupéry tale

As demonstrated by this likeable, if occasionally meandering, adaptation of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s world-famous fable, Shanghai-based ex-pat theatre company Urban Aphrodite International use drama and movement styles derived from influential…

Kerry Godliman: Face Time

15 Aug 20143 stars

Warm character, well-executed and unoriginal observations at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe

Judgement (or ‘being judgey’, as she irritatingly puts it), is the banner topic for this show in which Kerry Godliman sets her sights on a panoply of modern-day inconveniences. BT call centres, washing machines, reality television and the tyranny of…