Reviews & features: Reviews

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Kai Humphries: Shameless!

22 Aug 20133 stars

Salt-of-the-earth stand-up

Kai Humphries considers himself to be shameless and not, as he points out, in the sense that he’s from the Geordie equivalent of the Chatsworth Estate. Instead, he means that he’s prone to being a bit naughty. But really, he appears to be a genuinely…

Lead Pencil

22 Aug 20133 stars

A bubbly sketch show

Lead Pencil are the Portlandia of the Fringe. Like the US cult TV comedy, the trio of Louise Beresford, Maddie Rice and Dave Bibby have chosen to pitch their hour as being rooted in the 1990s. But, like the Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein show…

Sight Gags for Perverts

22 Aug 20133 stars

Zig zagging through a warped world

John Kearns is a very strange man. Judging by the fright wig, false teeth and opening ‘musical’ number, you know this isn’t going to be conventional stand-up. The Guardian review that he mentions here is right on the money: there are no jokes per se…

Sofa Specific

22 Aug 20133 stars

Slapstick and silent buffoonery

Certainly, there are few shows that will be like Sofa Specific this Fringe. Anyone assuming that an hour featuring four young guys will be just another patchy sketch show has something of a surprise awaiting them. For there’s a fifth character on board…


22 Aug 20133 stars

An intimate setting for plays about sex

This isn’t a review of a show. It’s a review of a venue and an idea. That’s the only way to talk about PEEP, a series of performances in a dirty black box in the middle of George Square. The space is a white room with a panel of two-way mirrors around…

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22 Aug 20134 stars

Being Stanley Kubrick, the story of Alan Conway

During the early 1990s, a failed North London travel agent named Alan Conway successfully passed himself off as the famous filmmaker Stanley Kubrick. Despite looking nothing like the legendary director, Conway ‘conned’ several dozen people and…

Scroobius Pip - Words

22 Aug 20134 stars

Spoken word mastery

A dark figure walks onto the stage to the boisterous cheers and applause of a packed crowd. With his black leather jacket, black slacks and long black beard, Scroobius Pip exudes an obscure aura and powerful charisma which instantly captures the…


22 Aug 20133 stars

An engaging but often obvious hour

He may be little known on these shores but, on Australian TV, Akmal is a familiar face; though not, he notes, quite as ubiquitous as Adam Hills. Much of his material concerns how he moved Down Under at the age of ten with his orthodox Christian parents…

At Wit's End

22 Aug 20132 stars

Good chemistry but trite material from this sketch comedy show

If you’re trying to escape the railgun hustle and bustle of the Fringe, this might not be the show to remedy it. Spoofs from London-based sketch group Rankin & Holme are almost one a minute, featuring all the regular hang-ups of modern life: speed…

David Trent: This Is All I Have

22 Aug 20133 stars

Strong satire let down by flaccid finale

Cassetteboy meets stand-up in David Trent’s new Fringe show. The follow-up to last year’s debut success, Trent has brought along his trusty PowerPoint once more to unpick the hidden subtext of modern advertising, corporate oligarchs who are slowly but…

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Paul F Taylor Presents The Greatest Show in the World Ever

22 Aug 20134 stars

An unhinged, dizzying but quality hour

Having picked his show title for the Fringe brochure back in March, Paul F Taylor spent the intervening months searching for a mysterious Chinese man to buy The Greatest Show in the World Ever from. Cue a dodgy accent and a not-so-mysterious looking…

Eric's Tales of the Sea - A Submariner's Yarn

22 Aug 20133 stars

Fringe regular shares affable story of life on the ocean

There may some who see the title of this show, read that it features the stories of a former submariner and conclude that this will be a more than subtle character hour to match Count Arthur Strong or the Pub Landlord as a precisely authentic creation.

Piff The Magic Dragon

22 Aug 20133 stars

Faux-grumpy yet fun magic show

His glamorous assistant rolls her eyes whenever his back’s turned; his sidekick is a vacant chihuahua, stealing his limelight with a sleepy thousand-yard-stare; and the guest star is a mindreading goldfish who forgets his lines. In short, Piff the Magic…

Liam Mullone: Game Over

22 Aug 20133 stars

One of the more enjoyable stage presences you'll see at the Fringe

In Liam Mullone’s poster image, his facial strain is so tight with unrestrained rage that his glasses look as though they are about to explode with the force. On stage, his fury has been boiled down to a manageable level of barbed annoyance, as the…

Jigsaw - Jiggle It

22 Aug 20134 stars

A tight little sketchy bundle

From their entrance – charging onto the stage pursued by an unseen threat – to their exit 50 minutes later, Dan Antopolski, Tom Craine and Nat Luurtsema barely pause to catch breath while delivering a rapid-fire series of sketches that consistently hit…

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Slightly Fat Features

22 Aug 20133 stars

Ensemble buffoonery and a grand finale

A coming together of circus skills, comedy and chaos, Slightly Fat Features strikes a bizarre balance between the brilliant and the banal. Maybe that’s the point, but you can’t help but think if they stuck to the former, it’d make for an even better…

Marcus Brigstocke

22 Aug 20133 stars

The comic's 2013 act is a refreshing change from previous years, even if it doesn't always work

He may have badly damaged his leg during an energetic performance right at the beginning of his Fringe run, but experienced campaigner Marcus Brigstocke throws himself fully into his hour here. This year, he has opted to change tack from his previous…

Sam Fletcher - Drawn-out Jokes

22 Aug 20133 stars

A slice of his loveable lo-fi comedy from 2012 Best Newcomer Award laureate

Making the leap from the Free Fringe and a Best Newcomer Award from 2012, ‘Fletch’ brings us another slice of his loveable lo-fi comedy, merging a bit of technology with some pencil drawing. We start off with him poking fun at sketches of our host…

Nathaniel Metcalfe: Enthusiast

22 Aug 20134 stars

Making comedy hay with triviality

Enjoy an hour of storytelling at its finest with the curious Nathaniel Metcalfe. Guilty of having a little too much time on his hands, he has developed a series of bizarre fascinations with less-than-gripping subject matters over the years (trivia about…

The Secret Agent

22 Aug 20132 stars

Disappointing adaptation of Joseph Conrad classic

There’s a large emphasis on presentation in theatre O’s adaptation of Joseph Conrad’s 1907 novel. The tale of anarchy, terrorism, disability, exploitation and betrayal – set in the waning years of Queen Victoria’s reign – is introduced via a showman’s…

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John-Luke Roberts: Broken Stand-Up

22 Aug 20133 stars

Refreshingly random stand-up

A welcome deviation from the numerous observational comedy shows at the Fringe, the talented John-Luke Roberts performs a refreshingly random set aided by his various quirky (and extremely well-drawn) illustrations and props. He occasionally slips…

Chris Coltrane: Compassion is Subversive

22 Aug 20132 stars

Political comic never quite hits the mark

As he steps on stage in front of a full house, Chris Coltrane enquires if we are all aware that this will be a political comedy show. Duly warned, the audience endures a long hour of idealistic views and Tory-bashing begins. Part activist and part…

Mat Ricardo: Showman

22 Aug 20133 stars

An potent act aided by a showbiz-slick performance

Mat Ricardo has done his time and served an apprenticeship in street clowning and reaching the Fringe stage, he has an act that is potent aided by a performance that is showbiz-slick. It’s hard not to fault a magic act (in this case, a juggler) if they…

Pigmalion Zoo

22 Aug 20132 stars

Disappointing absurdist piece exploring family, advertising and religion

Set in a surreal world, where an unnamed God of unknown denomination has been found dead in a Sainsbury’s car park, OLTA’s Pigmalion Zoo delves into a world where advertising and reality TV hold the power, and where gods can be made and destroyed simply…

There has Possibly Been an Incident

22 Aug 20133 stars

Politically engaged play from Chris Thorpe

In this politically engaged, minimalist play from Chris Thorpe, several characters’ stories are expertly woven together to create a thought-provoking meditation on personal responsibility against a backdrop of civil unrest. Thorpe is particularly deft…