Reviews & features: Reviews

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Oscar Guardiola-Rivera discusses Story of a Death Foretold at 2014 Edinburgh International Book Festival

29 Aug 20144 stars

Colombian historian delivers thrilling talk on Salvador Allende's last stand

In Story of a Death Foretold, Columbian historian Oscar Guardolia-Rivera chronicles the rise of Chile's socialist president Salvador Allende and the brutal CIA-supported coup which ousted him. In this electrifying hour, Guardolia-Rivera describes…

FRONT

1 Sep 20144 stars

Thalia Theater revive the spirits of Remarque and Barbusse at the Edinburgh International Festival

Thalia Theater's production, set in Belgium 1914-18 and based on classic anti-war literature by Erich Maria Remarque and Henri Barbusse, initially seems like a radio broadcast, until individual testimonies unfurl like battered flags. There are, among…

Les Troyens

1 Sep 20143 stars

Mariinsky Opera delivers stylised Berlioz production at the Edinburgh International Festival

Anticipated as one of the must-sees of this year’s Edinburgh International Festival, Mariinsky Opera’s visit with Berlioz’s epic Les Troyens (The Trojans) was a mixed bag. Running for five and a half hours, admittedly with two extended intervals, the…

Dan Clark: Me, My Selfie and I

1 Sep 20143 stars

Enjoyably bitter observations about love and shame at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe

Richard Herring once did a show about how anxious he was feeling at having just entered his fifth decade. You can really sense that something similar is on the horizon from Dan Clark who can’t quite believe how he has managed to get this elderly (he’s…

Claustrophobia

1 Sep 20143 stars

Evocative theatre production let down by disappointing climax at Edinburgh Festival Fringe

Claustrophia, created by To The Moon theatre company in association with Theatre Bench, explores exactly what it means to be in control when two unnamed strangers become stuck in a lift together. Jessica Macdonald plays a neurotic woman on her way home…

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Al Donegan: The Five Worst Things I Ever Did

1 Sep 20143 stars

Technical comedic skills and stories to burn at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe

You have to admire the brave act who makes that their show title. It’s practically an open-goal invite to any cynical hack looking for an easy ‘in’ to give that show a kicking. Thankfully (or annoyingly), Al Donegan has technical skills (he’s a…

The Devil Without

1 Sep 20143 stars

Faustus myth given fresh take at Edinburgh Festival Fringe

Ian Harvey Brown is a mentalist. Unlike those who use their power for evil – persuading old ladies that their husbands are happy – or to celebrate their own brilliance like Derren Brown, Brown applies his tricks of the mind to reconsider the myth of…

Ubu and the Truth Commission

1 Sep 20143 stars

Handspring Puppet Company tackle abuses of power at the Edinburgh International Festival

A revival of the 1997 production that mashed up Alfred Jarry's anarchic satire Ubu Roi and episodes from the Truth and Reconciliation process in the aftermath of the dismantling of apartheid in South Africa, Ubu and the Truth Commission is an…

Charlie O'Connor: Dandyisms

1 Sep 20141 star

Limp musical comedy and flat jokes at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe

Charlie O’Connor is a guy who looks like a girl and is often mistaken as such. This leads to awkward moments with bigoted cabbies and confused women in supermarkets, and we seem to be off to a decent start. Even if he hadn’t told us, it becomes patently…

FAILE & Båst: Deluxx Fluxx Arcade

1 Sep 20144 stars

Brooklyn based artists create luminous video games arcade for the Edinburgh Art Festival

Hidden deep in the bowels of Summerhall, the building’s clinically austere atmosphere gives way to a riot of colour and sound as Faile and Bast’s Deluxx Fluxx Arcade explodes against the senses. Those of a certain generation might remember the ambience…

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Hayley Ellis: We Need to Talk About Kevin

1 Sep 20142 stars

Amiable hour too timid for impact at Edinburgh Festival Fringe

As amiable as they come, Hayley Ellis has a show which occasionally bears some rather sharp claws, but is ultimately a little too timid to hit home fully. Initially stunted early on in the run by not being in possession of a licence to have a dog on…

Helen Lawrence

27 Aug 20142 stars

Impressive but confused multimedia theatre piece at Edinburgh International Festival

Helen Lawrence is the definition of ‘impressive’ multimedia theatre, as Canadian Stage has enlisted the help of artist Stan Douglas and screenwriter Chris Haddock to create a homage to 1940s film noir through a combination of theatre and film. Femme…

Rhys Mathewson: Hombre Lobo

28 Aug 20142 stars

Charmingly likeable comedy in need of stiffer writing at Edinburgh Festival Fringe

It can’t be easy performing to three charity workers, your own dad, a reviewer and a dog. That might sound like the set-up to a decidedly poor joke, but it was the stark reality of his evening. At the tender age of 23, Rhys Mathewson has been up on…

The God That Comes

28 Aug 20144 stars

Classical cult cabaret from Canadian performer Hawksley Workman at Edinburgh Festival Fringe

Hawksley Workman does not lack ambition. The God That Comes reworks Euripides' Bacchae as a one man show, with Workman playing both the vengeful god of wine and his regal victim. Performed as a song-cycle, Workman also plays drums, keyboards and guitar…

The God Box: A Daughter's Story

28 Aug 20143 stars

Overtly emotive play based on Mary-Lou Quinlan's New York Times best-selling book

Mary Lou Quinlan’s The God Box is based on her autobiographical New York Times best-selling book, and is exactly what the subheading tells us: ‘A daughter’s story’. In this one-woman, deeply personal show Quinlan recounts her relationship with her…

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Ed Gamble: Gambletron 5000

28 Aug 20143 stars

Blokey but non-laddish stand-up from Almost Royals star at Edinburgh Festival Fringe

This feels a little like Ed Gamble’s break-out year. Having worked closely for years with Ray Peacock, he can now be seen on E4 screens in Almost Royal as a (very) minor heir to the throne making a posh twit of himself in the US while here he has come…

Wuthering Heights

28 Aug 20143 stars

Bravely abstract take on the nineteenth century classic at Edinburgh Festival Fringe

This is not a faithful theatre adaption of Emily Brontë’s classic: from the beginning the all-male cast announce they will be playing various characters from the novel as well as themselves, taking Heathcliff’s temperamental disposition as the driving…

Letters Home

27 Aug 20143 stars

Four snapshot stories of exile at 2014 Edinburgh International Book Festival

Consisting of four short scenes and an unnecessary epilogue set 'backstage' where the actors turn back into civilians, Letters Home is surprisingly slight for a two hour flagship production at the Book Festival. Only Grid Iron's own Ben Harrison deals…

Tommy Rowson: Down and Out in Powys and London

27 Aug 20142 stars

Disappointingly mundane and occasionally mean-spirited show at Edinburgh Festival Fringe

While he wets the palette of an audience member by offering them a free shot of Jameson’s, Welsh comic Tommy Rowson’s deadpan delivery is dry as a bone. In itself, such a laidback presence and limited-tone presentation is far from a stand-up crime…

The Grandees: BaBoom!

28 Aug 20142 stars

Childlike comedy in need of a revamp at Edinburgh Festival Fringe

A man who can make emit an earth-shattering sound. The parliament of owls. Projectors in hidden realms. Welcome to the wacky, wacky world of the Grandees. Perhaps BaBOOM! and its over-arching daftness is something you just have to get onboard with…

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Chris Coltrane: There's No Heroes Left Except All of Us

28 Aug 20143 stars

Strong political comedy from committed activist at Edinburgh Festival Free Fringe

There’s no denying that Chris Coltrane is a man who has the cojones to back up his beliefs. A self-proclaimed ‘Maltesers Marxist’, he has doorstepped the Daily Mail editor (he wasn’t in) and larked around relentlessly at a BAE Systems shareholders…

Get Divorced and Join the Circus

28 Aug 20143 stars

Harp playing comedian unique to Edinburgh Festival Fringe

There’s little doubt that Ursula Burns has a unique selling point for a Fringe comedy show. She has a harp and she’s not afraid to use it. Remarking from the off that being placed in the comedy section is merely a ploy to get people into her show, Burns…

Miss Fletcher Sings the Blues

28 Aug 20143 stars

Hayley Sproull's monstrous music-teacher creation hits the right note at Edinburgh Festival Fringe

Dubbed as the new Tim Minchin or Flight of the Conchords, it’s little surprise to learn that Hayley Sproull is of antipodean extraction and can bash out a mean tune on her keyboard. But her Miss Fletcher music-teacher creation is a more fully-formed…

Clever Peter: The Dreams Factory

28 Aug 20142 stars

Lukewarm sketches from comedy trio at Edinburgh Festival Fringe

Clever Peter have been tagged as one of the brightest sketch trios to emerge in the past few years but there seems to be no real evidence to back up that claim here. The Dreams Factory is a hotchpotch of bits and bobs and predicated on pretty shaky…

And Blithely Spent the Gowden Day

27 Aug 20144 stars

Wounded Knee and Daniel Padden produce sonic smorgasbord at Edinburgh Festival Fringe

Inspired by Edinburgh and the Pentland Hills, Wounded Knee – nom de plume of Edinburgh songwriter and artist Drew Wright – and Daniel Padden’s collaboration And Blithely Spent the Gowden Day is a sonic smorgasbord celebrating Auld Reekie. Padden and…