Reviews & features: Reviews

4,374 reviews

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Christeene: The Christeene Machine

20 Aug 20144 stars

Unashamedly sexual and seductive queer live art hip hop at Edinburgh Festival Fringe

Given hip-hop's uncomfortable relationship with sexuality beyond the exploitative norm, the opening of The Christeene Machine is a violent, delightful jolt. Spitting lyrics of queer rage, accompanied by two beautiful beefy boys, Christeene arrives on…

Mark Watson: Flaws

19 Aug 20144 stars

Superb show at Edinburgh Festival Fringe ensures a decade on comedian remains at the top of his game

The Thomas the Tank Engine theme song is playing on repeat, the audience are blowing whistles and popping balloons at random and Mark Watson is stumbling around the room followed by a man demanding that he tweet about this experience. It’s both an…

An Invitation

20 Aug 20144 stars

The audience and five dancers, including the show’s creator Jo Fong, sit either side of a brightly-lit performing area. Fong’s playfully risky, informal yet active premise is that we’ve either just seen or been in a performance, and this is the…

Kevin Day: Standy Uppy

20 Aug 20144 stars

Delicious line of black comedy runs through show at 2014 Edinburgh Festival Fringe

It’s been seen many times before that a comic returning to the Fringe after a decade or more’s absence proves to be less than match-fit for a gruelling August. A steward’s enquiry won’t be necessary after Kevin Day’s run of Standy Uppy is over; he’s…

Conor O’Toole's Manhood

19 Aug 20143 stars

Clever and witty writing let down by clumsiness at Edinburgh Festival Fringe

‘It’s quite difficult to fill a show at noon,’ says Conor O’Toole, ‘when apparently a lie-in is the best free show on the Fringe'. Luckily for him, the pillow troupe and duvet ensemble appeared to have been let out early, with the fundamentally likeable…

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James Acaster: Recognise

20 Aug 20143 stars

2014 Edinburgh Festival Fringe show fails to live up to majesty of previous form

Last Fringe, a chance encounter with James Acaster’s father led him to berating me for only awarding his little boy four stars. Let’s hope our paths don’t cross again this August once papa Acaster gets wind of this three-star slating. The fact remains…

Ivo Graham: Bow Ties and Johnnies

20 Aug 20144 stars

Talented young comedian delivers fine hour of comedy at 2014 Edinburgh Festival Fringe

As a successful young Etonian, Ivo Graham has probably not had much experience of re-sits. Yet, here he is asking a group of lads in his front row to re-arrange themselves to avoid any further disruption. Being a child of privilege this should almost…

Jonny & the Baptists: The Satiric Verses

19 Aug 20143 stars

Catchy, political songs from musical comedy double act at Edinburgh Festival Fringe

Musical comedy double act Jonny & The Baptists (aka Jonny Donahoe and Paddy Gervers) got an unlikely publicity boost earlier this year. After setting out on their 'Stop UKIP' tour and releasing a video on YouTube, the party sat up and took notice…

Alun Cochrane: (Me Neither)

20 Aug 20144 stars

Comedian returns to Edinburgh Festival Fringe with yet more brilliant no-frills stand-up comedy

There are many things that you can rely on during an Edinburgh August: aggressive flyering and passive-aggressive rainfall being two. A third is that Alun Cochrane will deliver a warm and witty hour of comedy (probably at his second home of The Stand).

The Addams Family: The Musical

19 Aug 20143 stars

Song and dance with a touch of gallows humour at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe

The company have gone as big as they dare for this musical take on the ghoulish television show with an orchestra, chorus line and a two hour running time. The set changes and choreography are slick, which is no mean feat on a reduced stage space, and…

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WitTank: Old School Secrets

20 Aug 20143 stars

Smart, psychotic and very funny twisted world presented by comedy trio

The moments of insanity scattered throughout WitTank’s new show make Old School Secrets a must-see. There is no reason why a boisterous Shania Twain should be visiting a boarding school to perform at their New Year’s Eve party but Naz Osmanoglu pulls it…

Natasia Demetriou: You'll Never Have All of Me

20 Aug 20143 stars

Fun hour of comedy with help from comic Mae Martin at Edinburgh Festival Fringe

It's hard to imagine that Natasia Demetriou has much of a clue as to where this show is going, and she has the air of someone flying by the seat of her one-piece tuxedo. It's pretty joyous knockabout stuff though, despite, or perhaps because of its…

The Duck Pond

20 Aug 20143 stars

Pacy and poignant re-telling of Swan Lake at Edinburgh Festival Fringe

Theatre company withWings certainly knows how to pack a stage. A fairground set, live band, dance, theatre, comedy, tragedy, dodgems and the moon on a stick; they’re all in this sweet and pacy re-working of the tale that inspired Swan Lake. Prince…

Josh Howie: AIDS: A Survivor's Story

20 Aug 20144 stars

Comedian on top of his game and unafraid to test crowd's limits at Edinburgh Festival Fringe

Calling your show AIDS: A Survivor’s Story is one thing. Riffing for an hour on and around the disease which had a generation permanently on edge is a tough sell. At one point, Josh Howie even claims that his agent baulked when he first proposed this…

Jim Holland: Shoegazing

20 Aug 20142 stars

Entertainingly awkward shuffle around comedian's quirks at 2014 Edinburgh Festival Fringe

‘Anything an extrovert can do, an introvert can do more awkwardly.’ That’s the mantra of Jim Holland, Portsmouth-born shy guy. He also believes that real integrity is persevering with a thing you love, even if no one else will like it. He drops in this…

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Rachel Parris: Live in Vegas

20 Aug 20143 stars

Charismatic musical comedy show at 2014 Edinburgh Festival Fringe lacks hilarity

It can be hard to strike the right note in musical comedy, but Rachel Parris is definitely in key as she returns to the Fringe with Live in Vegas. The premise of the show is a night of entertainment in a seedy hotel, with Parris playing an array of…

Chris Turner: Pretty Fly

20 Aug 20143 stars

Gags and impressive ad-libbing abound in archaeologist's comedy show

Chris Turner has a little warning sign ready to let us know that a pun is on the way. Holding the microphone at a higher, slightly awkward angle is the cue for his crowd to brace itself ahead of a spot of wordplay that will either make us laugh out loud…

Lysistrata

20 Aug 20142 stars

Greek comedy becomes a tragedy with constant mood shifts destroying narrative journey

The script, freely adapted from Aristophanes' fifth century comedy about women going on sex strike to stop a war, has massive ambitions. Sometimes using passages from the source - including an argument between old men and women and an ill-judged…

Ute Lemper with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra

19 Aug 20144 stars

Stellar interpretations of Weill and Brecht at the Edinburgh International Festival

What a treat. Ute Lemper is the peerless interpreter of the Weimar songbook, making her cabaret competitors look like greasy lightweights. And the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, conducted by American Lawrence Foster, have the most fun with these lush…

The Sma Room Seance

20 Aug 20143 stars

Hybrid music-theatre in search of poet William Soutar's spirit

Here is the setup. We, the audience, are a group of poetry-hungry gullibles, attending a session with a medium of unidentified origin and heavy makeup, name of Madame Lozatska. On stage there is a jazz-folk band playing the poems of Perth-born poet…

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SPIN

20 Aug 20142 stars

Contemporary dance/hip hop meets indoor parkour in unexciting quartet

Presented as part of the Welsh Dance Strand, Sandra Harnisch-Lacey’s quartet combines elements of contemporary dance and hip hop with an indoor version of parkour. The latter element is thanks to two wheeled ramps that the dancers (three men and one…

Alistair Green: Nobody's Twisting Your Arm

19 Aug 20142 stars

Thin material from self-confessed loser at Edinburgh Festival Fringe

It’s ironic that comedians often become rich, overpraised successes by playing the hapless, dateless, penniless non-starter. Alistair Green peddles the line of self-confessed loser and outsider who ‘used to have hope’, and he certainly lays out a varied…

Song Noir: The Director’s Cut

19 Aug 20143 stars

Pumajaw successfully conjure late night glamour of film noir at Edinburgh Festival Fringe

Song Noir's theatrical trappings – moody lighting, video, a series of pre-recorded spoken word interludes – are neglible, adding little depth to the already moody and profound songs. Through a mixture of classic covers, with cinematic associations, and…

Simon Thacker’s Ritmata

19 Aug 20143 stars

Tight-knit ensemble pulsing with internationally inspired energy at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe

Hardly surprising for a group bearing an Italian name that means rhythm, Simon Thacker’s Ritmata is a tight-knit ensemble characterised by an internationally inspired pulsating energy. For their Made in Scotland show in Summerhall’s Café, their…

Bonenkai

19 Aug 20143 stars

Dynamic musical theatre based on Japanese drinking celebration at Edinburgh Festival Fringe

Named for the Japanese drinking celebration – essentially an end of year blow-out designed for blocking out the past year's woes, Bonenkai is an energetic display with a cast that doubles as a vigorous live band. With little plot, or character…