Reviews & features: Reviews

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WitTank presents The School

14 Aug 20134 stars

Runs headlong in the corridors of satire and surreal

Three nice young men present a sketch show about a boarding school. A prospectus for execrable lessons in applying keener analytical faculties at the box office? Nothing about the pre-curtain music, the sparse set or the first seconds of the opening act…

Bridget Christie: A Bic for Her

13 Aug 20134 stars

A very funny and wholly committed hour about feminism

It doesn’t seem that long ago when Bridget Christie was mucking about to little acclaim in dank Fringe caves in the guise of Charles II. The world didn’t seem quite ready for her patience-testing, semi-surrealist fare back then, but only the most…

We Will Be Free! The Tolpuddle Martyrs Story

13 Aug 20134 stars

Charming resurrection of folk theatre tradition, with political insight to boot

Mummers plays – informal folk performances with hundreds of years of British history – are seeing something of a renaissance in smaller British theatres, with Townsend Productions leading the charge. The chandeliers of the Assembly Rooms Ballroom jar…

Cape Wrath

13 Aug 20133 stars

Intimate and heartfelt show set on a minibus

‘It’s not compulsory but if you want a more authentic experience you’re welcome to buckle up’, says Alexander Kelly as 12 audience members clamber onboard a minibus outside St Stephen’s Church. The bus doesn’t move an inch in the next hour but…

Leaving Planet Earth

13 Aug 20132 stars

The future is filled with promise, but its delivery throws up some awkward truths

Grid Iron has previously demonstrated itself as a master of the site-specific play, with 27 awards in 18 years. Working on a massive scale for the Edinburgh International Festival, their latest show Leaving Planet Earth is a dystopian science fiction…

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How to Occupy an Oil Rig

13 Aug 20133 stars

A useful guide for popular protest against unecological fuels

In these troubled times, with so much to protest against, we could all do with some tips. Enter Dan Bye with a news-you-can-use show full of interesting advice on bust cards and anti-tear gas remedies for those of us who would like the Arctic to stay…

Death and Gardening

13 Aug 20132 stars

Disappointing physical theatre about death and beyond

Wet Picnic take a quotation from painter Edvard Munch (‘from my rotting body, flowers shall grow’) as an inspiration for this slight study of one man’s death. While the incidental details of David’s life most ordinary are movingly expressed through…

Dave Callan

13 Aug 20132 stars

Study of comedy from Irish-Australian comic that wanders from core subject

In his 1913 book The Psychology of Laughter, academic Boris Sidis delved into the psyche to analyse why we find things funny. In his show of the same name, Irish-Australian comic Dave Callan aims to bring to light Siris’ findings. While he succeeds in…

Hope, Light and Nowhere

13 Aug 20133 stars

Three men discuss alienation after an apocalypse

Consisting of a series of conversations between three men in a dystopian future, Andrew Sheridan’s script is well structured and he has an ear for the telling, brutal phrase. The three actors are professional, convincing and appropriately disturbing.

Lee Kern: Bitter Twitter

13 Aug 20132 stars

Wannabe blue-badged Twitter elite

Like many social networkers among us, Lee Kern is a man who both embraces technology and resents it. He wants to be one of the blue-badged Twitter elite: a genuine, verifiable celebrity who swaps jokes with his A-list cronies and can generate 400…

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Nish Kumar - Nish Kumar is a Comedian

13 Aug 20134 stars

Weighty subjects, quality delivery

Last year, Nish Kumar reflected on how his ‘ethnically ambiguous face’ led to him being mistaken (usually by racists) for having his roots in everywhere from Brazil to China and many more in between. More recently, a meme did the internet rounds with…

Al Lubel is Mentally Al

13 Aug 20133 stars

Intelligent, tightly-woven narratives and wending stories - plus some bad singing

The first 45 minutes of Al Lubel’s show are tight, smart and wonderfully funny. The American comedian, former lawyer and one time winner of Star Search begins by spending a good five minutes pulling apart the concept of his own name – a theme he…

Colin Geddis

13 Aug 20133 stars

Northern Irish comic expands on I Am Fighter YouTube clips with well-delivered filthy material

Having secured enough hits with his online show I Am Fighter to be able to claim himself to be something of an internet sensation, the Northern Irish comic has come to the Fringe to mix his video material with some old school stand up. Geddis…

Liam Williams

13 Aug 20134 stars

Member of sketch show Sheeps performs intelligent and inventive material

On Williams' poster the text is written upside down. No surprise then that his debut solo hour of stand up is deliberately obtuse. That could be greatly annoying but as it turns out he can back up this insistence to be different with an intelligent hour…

Pirates and Mermaids: A Fairytale for Adults

13 Aug 20133 stars

A clever mix of legend and 21st-century alienation

Cameron is sitting on a bench in Central Park in his kilt. By a happy coincidence he has brought his manbag filled with with props; using these he unfolds the tale of how he comes to be swigging whisky and lurking around in full highland regalia instead…

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Abigoliah Schamaun: Subtle

13 Aug 20133 stars

Charismatic hour feels like a full-on celebration of female sexuality

There can't be many acts with as much sass as Schamaun. Her second Fringe show, as she wryly notes, is all about her favourite subject, 'me'. As well as a few impressive sideshow tricks – you can still hear the sound of grinding glass echoing through…

Baddies

13 Aug 20133 stars

Self-referential Hollywood satire

Sergio is a method actor, successful in mainstream filmmaking but dissatisfied with his type-casting as a one-dimensional villain. Self-centred himbo Joe, a former classmate of Sergio’s, has disregarded his classical training in favour of becoming an…

Brett Goldstein

13 Aug 20133 stars

Decent material and delivery in lively and likeable comic's rant against porn

The subtitle of the lively, likeable London-based comic’s show, Contains Scenes of an Adult Nature, alludes to both its theme (pornography) and its content (monologues about shagging). Goldstein’s thesis is porn, primarily internet-based material, is…

Felicity Ward: Irregardless

13 Aug 20134 stars

Infectious energy in straight stand-up show full of exuberant, unexpected moments

Close to the top of Ward's show there's the most joyous introduction for a slightly tipsy medical receptionist you're likely to witness. Ward's show is full of exuberant, unexpected moments. Deciding that there's no reason that people with more regular…

Alistair Green is Jack Spencer: Sex Addict

13 Aug 20133 stars

Nicely-observed character and some gloriously inappropriate moments

You may know him as the face of Big Brother's Little Brother's Labrador's Cousin but Jack Spencer has been hiding a secret from us. His life, sheets and bannister rail have all been marked by his terrible sex addiction. Even Papa Smurf (not a euphemism…

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Hannah Gadsby: Happiness is a Bedside Table

13 Aug 20134 stars

Beautifully constructed and moving show that has an important point to make

A show that manages to be both cheek-achingly funny and genuinely touching is a rare thing, so make the most of this treat from Tasmanian comic Hannah Gadsby. To the uninitiated, her slurring way of speaking could almost have you believe she’s come to…

Festival of the Spoken Nerd – Full Frontal Nerdity

13 Aug 20134 stars

Loveably shambolic science show from three comics showcases love for their craft

There are no pretensions about the unashamed geekiness of Festival of the Spoken Nerd: the trio who lead this celebration of all things smart already have their cards proudly stamped, coming from separate pursuits (Matt Parker – Things You Need to Know…

Hedluv and Passman: Two Cornish Rappers and a Casiotone Two - This Time It’s Similar

13 Aug 20133 stars

Cornish rappers' show a fun farce interspersed with the odd catchy tune

They say you should write about what you know. Well if Cornwall natives Hedluv and Passman’s show is anything to go by, then this maxim also applies to rapping. The regional rapper’s playlist predominantly revolves around all things Cornish and slightly…

Kieran Hodgson - Flood

13 Aug 20132 stars

Confusing plethora of disparate characters pulls the show down

Hodgson's is a one man show telling of how the inhabitants of Gainsborough, Lincolnshire recreate the story of the previous year's flood (2012 was indeed a rainy year) at a surprise birthday party for Owen as thrown by his girlfriend Stephanie. If that…

Adam Kay: How to Be a Bogus Doctor

13 Aug 20133 stars

Fun hour of medical satire that plays on public's assumptions

Adam Kay steps away from musical parody group Amateur Transplants for a solo show. The conceit is that Kay is giving a lecture in how to defraud sick people by setting yourself up as a doctor, minus the irritating difficulty of going to medical school.