Reviews & features: Reviews

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The State vs John Hayes

14 Aug 20133 stars

Two-for-one killer in a death row show

Either a one-woman show, a one-man show, or possibly a two hander played by one person, The State vs John Hayes is a tricky show to categorise. Billed as a psychological thriller, it’s really a confessional monologue in which a Death Row killer, facing…

Mitsuko Uchida - Usher Hall, Edinburgh, Tue 13 Aug 2013

14 Aug 20134 stars

The celebrated pianist performs Bach, Schoenberg and Schumann at the EIF

It doesn't get any more temple-of-high-culture than Mitsuko Uchida at the Usher Hall during the EIF, and everything suggested that tonight was going to obey the wacky rituals of the contemporary classical concert. The Usher Hall itself seemed to have…

Joe Lycett - If Joe Lycett Then You Should've Put a Ring On It

14 Aug 20133 stars

Naughty but nice show from former Best Newcomer nominee

He might have the finest punning title on the Fringe (If Joe Lycett Then You Should Have Put a Ring on It) but some could have a case in arguing that this is the most creative thing about his new Fringe hour. But Lycett (a Best Newcomer nominee last…

Pete Cain: Everybody Out!

16 Aug 20133 stars

Comedian raises important political points and offers a solution to Britain's overpopulation

In this day and age where everyone has their own opinions on the current state of overpopulated Britain, who should stay, who should go (can’t we all just get along?) Pete Cain may have just come up with the perfect solution, everybody out! Apparently…

Rhys Mathewson - The Best £10 You'll Ever Spend

16 Aug 20133 stars

Value for money applied to comedy by the New Zealander comic

Hailing from New Zealand and looking like a cross between the country's two national species (sheep and hobbits), stand-up Rhys Mathewson is very concerned about money, or the lack of it. In a conglomeration of titbits about his life, loves, homeland…

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Marlon Davis: Crackin' Up

16 Aug 20133 stars

Likeable and charismatic, this comedian is difficult to resist

Being nice can get you far in life and Marlon Davis' charm is his greatest asset. After a few anecdotes in which he establishes himself as a nice guy, a bit of a try-hard, an inoffensive fellow, he starts in with a few standard gripes about his…

Wot? No Fish!

16 Aug 20133 stars

Danny Braverman's lecture about his Jewish family is cleverly constructed and perfectly paced

Danny Braverman is the perfect host, welcoming us to his lecture theatre with a fishball, passing round the accompanying beetroot and horseradish sauce. He explains that this condiment is traditional in Jewish culture and that it sums up Jewish history…

Pete Firman - Scoundrel

16 Aug 20134 stars

One of the reliable Fringe solids by the humourous magician

Pete Firman’s comedy-magic cocktail is one of those reliable Fringe solids. There’s a reason his face keeps popping up all over the telly as well (Derren Brown’s 3D Magic Spectacular, The Magicians) – he is amiable, good humoured and a joy to…

Tanyalee Davis – Big Trouble in Little 'Gina

16 Aug 20133 stars

Turning gynaecological misadventures into an enjoyable hour of positivity

The Canadian comic offers up a frank discussion of her downstairs lady area and the medical problems it has created for her over the last year. Her gynaecological misadventures took her to three continents and Davis takes us right along with her…

Neil Hickey: Escape Artist

16 Aug 20132 stars

Irish newcomer's nerves undermine his bags of obvious potential

Clearly running on an abundance of nerves, Irish debutante Neil Hickey initially looks like he’d love to play the title role of his show (Escape Artist) and bolt from this small venue. A pre-entrance visual gag hasn’t gone down as well as he thought it…

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Now Leasing

15 Aug 20133 stars

An hour with an idiosyncratic artist and tales from her journeys

A solo show that sits comfortably as both theatrical monologue and variety show – Lea McGowan is as adept at acrobats as acting out episodes from her biography – Now Leasing is a cheerful canter through the life of an artist. While she doesn't handle…

The Year I Was Gifted

15 Aug 20132 stars

An uninvolving year at theatre school

Writer and performer Monica Bauer chronicles her single year spent at a performing arts school. Her journey to the school is fraught, involving lies about her musical abilities, desperate applications for money to cover the fees, and the final loan of…

John Lloyd: Liff of QI

14 Aug 20134 stars

Expert raconteur wields his massive brain

The veteran writer, director, performer, producer and founder of classic television comedy including Not the Nine O’Clock News, Blackadder, Spitting Image and QI looks back over the highlights of his extremely impressive career. Alongside Douglas Adams…

Artaud: A Trilogy

14 Aug 20132 stars

Yesterday's shocking provocation becomes today's saucy romp

Although The Lincoln Company may not have caught the spirit of Artaud - it's difficult to imagine his impact, since he was writing before the internet made nudity and blasphemy accessible - this student company certainly enjoy the signifiers. A naughty…

Twonkey’s Blue Cadabra

14 Aug 20133 stars

More bizarre absurdity in Twonkey's latest journey to some very strange places

You have to be fully committed when you sign up for a Twonkey show. Through his frequent flights of bizarre absurdity, the man only occasionally known as Paul Vickers (of The Leg and John Peel favourites Dawn of the Replicants) will take you on a…

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Maydays: Confessions

14 Aug 20132 stars

Improv makes its way into musical comedy at the Edinburgh Fringe

The once-derided musical comedy has been given a credible spin over the last few years thanks to the likes of Hans Teeuwen, Tim Minchin, Bo Burnham. This has resulted in improv finally reaching the bottom of the pile when it comes to the comedy genre…

Albert Einstein: Relativitively Speaking

14 Aug 20133 stars

Einstein a-go-go in John Hinton's Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2013 performance

The brilliance of The Big Bang Theory sitcom is that it works on two levels; the science and pop-culture references are amusing to geeks, while the rest of the audience can laugh at the failure of the boffins to get to grips with the complications of…

Geoff Norcott Occasionally Sells Out

14 Aug 20133 stars

Friendly verve and wit for the openly Tory comic

Now this isn’t something you see on a comedy stage every day. As a Christian and a Tory (albeit one with vague doubts about his twin faiths), Norcott is quite an anomaly within the British stand-up circuit. When he admits to being on David Cameron’s…

Bonanza

14 Aug 20132 stars

A documentary examining small town mentality in America that unfortunately loses momentum

Antwerp multi-media company Berlin's documentary focuses on the town of Bonanza, America, a once thriving, seedy place populated by miners, prostitutes and hard drinkers, now reduced to just seven permanent residents. Yet even here, the folks just can't…

Sean Hughes - Penguins

14 Aug 20133 stars

A new look and a pleasing youthful effervescence from the London-Irish comic

It’s over 20 years since Sean Hughes became the then-youngest winner of the Perrier Award, and it would probably be fair to say that for a while he may have fallen out of love with stand-up. But these days, the London-Irish comic bounds around with a…

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Tumi Morake in Herstory

14 Aug 20132 stars

Tame and botched gig of weakly observed one-liners and considered jokes

It’s easy to see why Tumi Morake has been billed as the Queen of South African comedy. Her nifty blend of political reflection and racy asides can make this new show a completely watchable and well-spent hour of standup, but certain patches of suspect…

Mark Smith: The Most Astonishing Name In Comedy

14 Aug 20133 stars

A pleasant exploration of the comic's inability to truly grow up

An act playing to just six people is all too common an occurrence at the Fringe. Even worse when at least one of them is a critic. But Smith is admirably upbeat about it, which has the immediate effect of putting us at our ease. He high-fives each one…

Manos Kanellos: Greekonomics

14 Aug 20132 stars

A Greek comic to introduce us to Greece's recent financial decline

Who better to take a comedic look at the Greek economy's woes than a Greek comic? Manos Kanellos combines his knowledge of Greek culture, contemporary and ancient, and European politics with the aim of gently educating folks about the situation and…

Wardens

14 Aug 20132 stars

A sluggish script not elevated by the performances

In this new play by Darren Richman and Garrett Millerick, five people take shelter from a mob rioting over an unspecified cause. As the threat from outside builds, tensions rise within the group and revelations drop like bombs. Three of the…

Fraser Millward's Masquerade!

14 Aug 20133 stars

A ballsy character affair makes for a memorable Fringe experience

This is the kind of memorable, if occasionally questionable experience that the Fringe was once renowned for before heavy marketing and slick professionalism got right in the way. Though given that the audience comprised one reviewer, one paying punter…