Reviews & features: Reviews

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Danny Mcloughlin Feels Alright

13 Aug 20142 stars

'Competitive dad'-themed 2014 Edinburgh Fringe show doesn’t really cut it

It’s wholly fitting that Danny McLoughlin should be performing Feels Alright in the basement of a pub. His stand-up could actually act as the template for the ‘funny guy entertaining his mates down the pub’ sub-genre that perfectly does the business in…

True Brits

13 Aug 20143 stars

The trials of gowing up Gujarati in Blair’s Britain, staged at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe

True Brits switches between narrator Rahul’s experiences at school in 2005 and the 2012 Olympics. Juxtaposing the shock of the terror attacks on 7/7 against the national unity of the games seven years later, the script uses these iconic moments to…

Mr Swallow: The Musical

13 Aug 20144 stars

Hysterically funny and relentlessly silly musical of Dracula

With the unstoppable force of monstrous nature that is Mr Swallow having pretty much obliterated the competition in Nick Mohammed ’s canon of characters, the next step was almost inevitable: starring in his own musical of Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Not that…

I Killed Rasputin

13 Aug 20143 stars

Free-wheeling style and strong cast in Richard Herring play at 2014 Edinburgh Fringe

Comedian/writer Richard Herring's new play has the free-wheeling style of a Marx Brothers comedy, playing fast and loose with historical accuracy- and film noir tropes. Stephanie Williams' gorgeous, ornate set, with large screens which cunningly…

Super Tramp

13 Aug 20143 stars

Michael Rivers delivers one-man show of homelessness and tragedy at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe

This one man show is based on the true life story of Shane Fox, a schoolboy who ended up living on the streets after his dad was imprisoned for shooting his Mum during a drunken argument. Starting with a speech of regret at a hospital bedside, solo…

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Dr. Longitude's Marvellous Imaginary Menagerie

13 Aug 20144 stars

Magnificent family show channelling carnival, puppets and a hallucinogenic toad

Ever wanted to run away with the circus? Les Enfants Terribles have created something special here: a magnificent carny sideshow, with cool puppets for the little 'uns, bawdy gags for adults and an appealing, colourful set design for both. A fantastic…

Hooray for Ben Target

13 Aug 20143 stars

Oddity and uniqueness lift curious hour and make for a breath of fresh, daft air at Edinburgh Fringe

The gentle, kind demeanour of Ben Target masks the vicious reality that he is a cold-hearted cynical comedian seeking to destroy both entertainment as we know it and his audience’s fragile confidence. Well, probably not, but it’s difficult to know…

Mark Cooper-Jones: Geography Teacher

13 Aug 20143 stars

Edinburgh Festival Fringe performance showing a love of learning

Mark Cooper-Jones would like you to know that, actually, he chose to perform in the tiny Globe pub because its name encompasses the theme of his show. A former supply teacher, he's here to share his contagious enthusiasm for geography. The pub's cramped…

Vive Le Cabaret

13 Aug 20143 stars

A riotous cavalcade of the cabaret and burlesque world

Vive le Cabaret pulls together some of the weird and wonderful from the Fringe. The rotating hosts meant on this occasion it was the irrepressible Jonny Woo, who, in the guise of Mary Portas, managed a difficult crowd and a thrusting Liza Minnelli drag…

Art Rooms

13 Aug 20144 stars

Black Cube Collective's less orthodox encounter with contemporary art showcases brilliant new talent

Set in the 17th-century Cockenzie House, 30 minutes out of Edinburgh, the Black Cube Collective’s Art Rooms offers a less orthodox encounter with contemporary art. As well as an exhibition, with artists displaying work throughout the house and garden…

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The Ingenious Gentleman Don Quixote of La Mancha

13 Aug 20143 stars

Cheerful evocation of Cervantes’s crazy, crazy knight at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe

Taking on the thousand page novel by Cervantes might seem like a Quixotic attempt for a theatre company: the Little Soldier company may be tilting at windmills in their one-hour production, but emerge with a cheerfully and creatively shambolic…

The Tale of the Dastardly Defrost

13 Aug 20143 stars

Food-themed Edinburgh Fringe children's show that's a light piece of fun

A light piece of fun based on a cutely compelling idea, this show from As Told By Productions and writer Holly McKinlay gives personality to the contents of a fridge – then sets the environment to defrost and waits to see what happens. Most of the…

Invisible Walls

13 Aug 20143 stars

Serious theatre exploring isolation and surveillance performed outdoors

Performed outdoors, Teatri Oda of Kosovo's show takes its small audience through a whirlwind 35 minutes of warm hospitality, music and song, fear of surveillance, terror of conflict and prejudice in exile. It is rooted, no doubt, in the experience of…

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…

Return to the voice

12 Aug 20143 stars

High-impact musical theatre fraught with raw emotional honesty at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe

Return to the Voice by Wroclaw-based music / theatre company Song of the Goat was always going to have a lot to live up to. Following the universal eulogising of the company’s remarkable Songs of Lear back in 2012, this new work was specially…

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Backstage in Biscuit-land

12 Aug 20144 stars

Jess Thom talks Tourette’s to an entertaining effect at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe

‘It’s the only place I can sit in the theatre without someone asking me to leave,’ observes Jess Thom from the stage at the start of her simple but appealing show. Over the next hour, it’s quickly apparent why audiences elsewhere might find Thom’s…

Andy De La Tour

12 Aug 20142 stars

Lukewarm observations from alt-com trooper at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe

There are just four years between comedy veterans Andy de la Tour and Alexei Sayle but their Fringe returns have proved to be a world apart. Last year, Sayle rolled back the years with a raucous set which had packed Stand crowds breathless with…

The Capone Trilogy: Loki

12 Aug 20144 stars

Romp with the gender swap Norse god in the windy city, staged at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe

Given Jethro Compton's commitment to serious theatre with a conceptual foundation, it is a delightful surprise to discover that he is capable of directing fast-paced comedy. Loki is the first of his Capone Trilogy and it is a stand-alone whirlwind of…

The Object Lesson

12 Aug 20145 stars

Genius absurdist theatre by American performance artist Geoff Sobelle at Edinburgh Festival Fringe

In our society of hyper-consumption and digitisation it can be easy to lose the emotional connection which human beings have always had with the objects they have made, chosen or been given. In American performance artist Geoff Sobelle's delightful…

Nick Helm's Two Night Stand in The Grand

12 Aug 20143 stars

Flesh, self-abuse and lewdness abound in bombastic show

‘Don’t fuck this up’ is one of Nick Helm’s rallying cries for this ‘two-night stand at the Grand’. The character he portrays on stage (bombastic, spiteful, lewd and very, very loud) appears to be on a solo mission to achieve exactly that. ‘This is…

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Iain MacWhirter: After the Referendum - Sat 9 Aug 2014

12 Aug 20144 stars

Clear-sighted analysis of Scottish independence referendum from experienced political journalist

'What would happen if Putin invaded an independent Scotland?' asks one tweedy doomsayer of Iain MacWhirter. 'You can't be serious,' the political journalist laughs, 'Are you a Yes campaign plant?' That apocalyptic warning aside, this event, chaired by…

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…

FOMO: The Fear of Missing Out

12 Aug 20143 stars

Plot gets lost in this enjoyable exploration of Internet age sensation at the Edinburgh Festival Fri

FOMO is the name for the Internet age sensation of looking at all the fun and success your friends are having on social media and feeling like you’re missing out. Zoe McDonald (a name shared by both the character and the actress who plays her) is in a…

Danny Ward: Infra Dig

12 Aug 20143 stars

So-so comedy show hampered by the host's own politeness at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe

Danny Ward had a lot to contend with on this showing of his Infra Dig hour. On the front row to his left, a trio of girls giggling at their own jokes; on the front row to his right, Todd from Corrie accompanied by a small boy wearing headphones. Ever…

Kurakuraw Dance Glass Bead

12 Aug 20143 stars

Elegant Taiwanese dance and music performance blends East and West

This is the most refined of the four dance productions in the Taiwan season split between Dance Base and Summerhall. It’s the work of Tjimur, a company jointly run by siblings Baru and Ljuzem Madiljin and described as Taiwan’s ‘first and best-known…