Reviews & features: Theatre

2,062 reviews

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Race by David Mamet

10 Aug 20144 stars

Mamet makes everyone uncomfortable at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe

Although the South African theatre at the Fringe in recent years has been acclaimed for its ability to give familiar Western plays an African twist, Race does not escape its American preoccupations with the conflict between black and white. Set in a law…

Horizontal Collaboration

10 Aug 20142 stars

David Leddy's latest play has an interesting concept but fails to deliver at the Edinburgh Fringe

David Leddy's new play is based on an intriguing conceit: four actors – different ones each night – take to the stage to read from a script they have never seen before. They are judges at a UN war tribunal, reading transcripts from witnesses involved in…

KlangHaus

10 Aug 20144 stars

The Neutrinos present a part gig, part promenade sound installation at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe

KlangHaus, the House of Sound, smells of antiseptic, is dimly lit, and echoes with the sounds of dark lounge music and clattering snare drums. Part gig, part promenade sound installation, KlangHaus is presented by The Neutrinos, ‘a female fronted…

Out of Water

10 Aug 20144 stars

Magical seaside evocation by Helen Paris and Caroline Wright, part of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe

It's 6.30am. The Shipping Forecast plays through our headphones as we walk across Portobello beach to a group of mysterious figures waving and pointing out into the water, gently lit by the pinkish dawn sun. Music and narration in our ears merge with…

God's Own Country

10 Aug 20143 stars

Assured performance from Kyle Ross in adaptation of Ross Raisin's rural thriller

Rural idyll? Not here. Kyle Ross' adaptation of Ross Raisin's novel, where he takes the starring lead as young farmer Sam Marsdyke, is a monologue rich with imagery both bucolic and horrific. The set is simple, just a black box with straw around it…

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Mock Tudor

10 Aug 20142 stars

Satire on jobbing actor doing 16th century re-enactments at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe

Conceptually, Lily Bevan's Mock Tudor seems promising, a satire on the life of the jobbing actor doing 16th century re-enactments for tourists. Bevan (also starring as Sophie, who keeps missing cues and botching her Spanish accent when playing Catherine…

An Evening With Patti DuPont

10 Aug 20144 stars

Parody of the fawning biopic and celebrity documentary from member of The Boom Jennies

Anna Emerson’s debut solo show is the bottled essence of the Fringe. Not in the smug-bongo-drummers-tackling-racism-through-mime sense. In the best sense. Her show happens up a stairway, in a makeshift theatre during a restaurant mid-renovation. The…

Hancock's Last Half Hour

10 Aug 20144 stars

Touching deathbed biopic of comedy genius Tony Hancock, staged at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe

When Tony Hancock relocated to Australia in 1968, it was to be where he spent his final days. Heathcote Williams' play examines these last moments, with Pip Utton reviving the title character. In a hotel bedroom littered with discarded newspapers and…

Haggis Haggis Haggis

10 Aug 20144 stars

An easy-going illustrated lecture for all the family from a witty and charming host

Although this production wears its corporate sponsorship on its sleeve - MacSween provide both the inspiration and the free snacks, Stuart Delves makes Scotland’s national dish more playful than its reputation suggest. Looking at both the myths - they…

Binôme – Souris Chaos

10 Aug 20143 stars

Frenetic French obesity farce staged at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe

The ‘chaos mouse’ of the title is one that’s been genetically modified so that certain brain receptors controlling appetite and pleasure are never satisfied – part of a scientific experiment looking at the causes of human obesity. It’s quite a leap from…

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When it Rains

10 Aug 20142 stars

Anthony Black's Bible-inspired hilarity fails to engage at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe

Based on the biblical story of Job, four lives are interwoven in this high-concept romcom. Writer/director Anthony Black has crafted something that treads old ground – the neuroses of middle-class people – using imaginative multimedia and meta-narrative…

Working Title: The Orpheus Project

10 Aug 20142 stars

Nomanstime Automatics stage a reference-heavy sci-fi noir at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe

This two-hander certainly wears its references on its sleeve. The Orpheus Project takes its cues from modernist dystopias, Kafka's The Trial and the classical story of frustrated love to depict the city of London as an authoritarian city state run by…

Anthem for a Doomed Youth

10 Aug 20143 stars

Poetry from the First World War performed by Guy Masterson

It is the very anniversary of the outbreak of the First World War and Guy Masterson has a cold. He takes to the stage, apologising for his pink socks and creaking voice, and explains that the aim of his one-man show is to bring us the poetry of the…

The Dirty Talk

10 Aug 20143 stars

Two men deal with their mutual dishonesty in this Edinburgh Festival Fringe dramedy

Mitch is trapped in his father's cabin in the woods with Lino, who has lured him there under false pretenses. That's about all you get in the way of exposition in The Dirty Talk's first twenty minutes, and while this raises the anxiety levels and gives…

Animal Farm

10 Aug 20144 stars

Guy Masterson collaboration with Georgian theatre company brings new energy to Orwell classic

Olivier award winning director Guy Materson has collaborated with artistic director Keti Dolidze and Georgian-based Tumanishvili Film Actors’ Theatre for a sensational theatre adaptation of Orwell’s classic dystopian tale exploring the devolution of…

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Villa Design Group: The House of Adelaida Ivanovna

9 Aug 20143 stars

Postmodern European theatre/installation staged in a shopping mall, part of Edinburgh Art Festival

The vast top-floor warehouse space of Ocean Terminal's Logan's Run-style shopping mall is a gloriously incongruous venue for the Hamburg/London-based Villa Design Group to house its epic reimagining of Gogol's play, The Gamblers. While the array of…

Arabian Nights

9 Aug 20144 stars

Friendly a piece of children's storytelling theatre exploring classic tales

Fresh-spun and thrilling, Story Pocket Theatre's take on the tales of the Arabian Nights is as fine and friendly a piece of storytelling theatre as you are likely to find at the Fringe this year. You don't get many of the 1001 nights in an hour, but…

The Factory

9 Aug 20143 stars

Fun musical theatre piece with an edge of social consciousness, staged at the Edinburgh Fringe

Presented here as part of the NZ at Edinburgh showcase season, this fun musical theatre piece hits the right note both in terms of its light-hearted musical tone and its packaging of a slice of New Zealand's social history, which is doubtless largely…

Unfaithful

8 Aug 20144 stars

Sparkling new drama by Owen McCafferty about infidelity, staged at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe

A plumber having a pint after work in a boutique hotel is approached by a bold young woman with red lips and a swishing ponytail. She is the same age as his daughter. Does he, she asks with the electric confidence of youth, want to fuck her? With that…

The Illicit Thrill

8 Aug 20144 stars

Burlesque goes to the dark side with uncompromising eroticism at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe

Gypsy Charms is one of the original pioneers of the burlesque revival in Scotland: through her teaching, she inspired a generation of performers. The Illicit Thrill keeps her ahead of the pack, lending burlesque a darker, sleazier energy that is likely…

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RIVERRUN

8 Aug 20144 stars

Spectacular Joycean monologue by Irish theatre-maker Olwen Fouéré, staged at the Edinburgh Fringe

Whatever one makes of RIVERRUN, Olwen Fouéré ’s adaptation of parts of James Joyce’s Finnegan’s Wake, one must applaud the attempt. Fouéré, one of Ireland’s leading theatre-makers, has brought to the theatre a text that some consider impossible to read…

Kraken

8 Aug 20144 stars

Creator of cult hit Squidboy returns with gripping mime performance to transfix the audience

Who needs actions when you’ve got words? Or in the case of Kraken, who needs words when you’ve got actions, specifically the transfixing mime of New Zealand’s Trygve Wakenshaw? Also the creator of cult hit Squidboy, and, like the mythical…

A Slight Ache

8 Aug 20144 stars

Twinges of Pinter in impeccably performed play exploring suburban paranoia

Nobody did suburban paranoia as well as Harold Pinter, and this is a fine example: on the longest day of the year, Edward and his wife Flora (comedy actors Thom Tuck and Catriona Knox, respectively) bicker. They initially seem well-matched; Edward is a…

Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind

8 Aug 20144 stars

Audacious project of 30 plays in one hour is superbly executed at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe

American collective The Neo-Futurists could be the ultimate contradiction: high-minded slackers with rockets up their asses. An audacious project, where a cast perform thirty 'plays' in an hour, this has the vibe of a happening, where the…

Juvenalia

8 Aug 20143 stars

Ancient antagonist brought into 21st century by Simon Callow at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe

When Simon Callow first performed Juvenal's Satires, he was a young man: returning to the words of the Roman poet as an older man, and part of the theatrical establishment, he shares a respectable status and seniority with the writer. Although he never…