Reviews & features: Reviews

4,418 reviews

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An Invitation

20 Aug 20144 stars

Jo Fong’s free-flowing participation-improvisation is a morning glory

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…

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…

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…

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…

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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…

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…

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…

Travesti

18 Aug 20143 stars

Male bodies, female voices in intriguing Edinburgh Fringe Festival show

Mirroring the themes of Ontroeren Goed's Sirens, Travesti has an all male cast voicing the words of women. This juxtaposition, putting words in the mouths of men, is the show's main concept and while it is initially shocking, it can't sustain the weight…

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…

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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…

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…

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…

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…

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…

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The Twins Macabre: Small Mediums at Large

19 Aug 20144 stars

A series of grisly black comedy vignettes at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe

Ivy and Morris are The Twins Macabre, two psychic siblings that come across like creepy Victorian children trapped in the modern world. Equally influenced by Hammer Horror and the Addams Family, they brilliantly inhabit their characters: Ivy is the…

Once Upon a Nightmare

18 Aug 20143 stars

Dynamic adventure play in need of streamlining at Edinburgh Festival Free Fringe

Although there is much to enjoy in this fantasy adventure from Box Step Productions, including some fine performances, there is one over-riding problem with Once Upon a Nightmare – it wants to be a film. It came as no surprise to discover, after…

Billie Was Tap Dancing for the Seagulls

18 Aug 20143 stars

Intrinsically odd and captivating one-woman show at Edinburgh Festival Fringe

With such an esoteric title, it's hard to know what to expect from Billie Was Tap Dancing for the Seagulls. Yet, even after seeing Katie Bridget O'Brien's one-woman show, it's still hard to know exactly what to make of its intrinsic oddness. She comes…

Sam Brady: Kindness

18 Aug 20143 stars

Departure from typical cynicism in hour of endearing comedy at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe

It’s not always easy to stand out as a stand-up in an overflowing Fringe, and in this respect, Sam Brady was dealt an unfortunate hand. The well-seasoned comedian plays just a few exposed bricks away from another act, whose habitually loud audience…

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…

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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…

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…

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…

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…

Bal Moderne: Escaping War

18 Aug 20143 stars

Interactive workshop emphasising the importance of dance during wartime

Having run for over twenty years, company Bal Moderne – based first in Paris, now in Brussels – has built a successful reputation for getting people up and dancing. Escaping War, a collaboration with the International Festival, eases us in slowly. On…