Reviews & features: Brian Donaldson

616 reviews

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Andrew Doyle's Crash Course in Depravity

14 Aug 20113 stars

A full-on assault on the borders of taste

Russell Kane has made a habit out of turning negative comments by reviewers into the show title for his subsequent Fringe show. Easy Cliché and Tired Stereotype and Gaping Flaws were both borne from lines penned by critics. Andrew Doyle has not only…

Josh Widdicombe: If This Show Saves One Life

14 Aug 20113 stars

Steering away from the dangers of blanding out

After an impressive opening flurry of gags about trees, scissors and burglars, Josh Widdicombe is suddenly bumped off his stride. Not by hecklers per se, but by the woman on his front row who has, shall we say, a bit of a thing for him. Once the awkward…

Joe Fairbrother: Characters

14 Aug 20113 stars

Gentle audience-teasing character comedy

Whoever was doing the flyering for this show should be awarded some kind of Edinburgh Flyering Award. They absolutely nailed the target audience for the opening salvo of Joe Fairbrother’s fiendishly subtle character show. Welcomed in by a posh…

Chris Martin

14 Aug 20112 stars

Run of the mill show from the man who definitely isn't in Coldplay

Martin certainly has swagger, but his comedy feels not so much natural but ‘learned’ (with honours from the Whitehall/McIntyre College of Advanced Observational Stand-Up). The initial promise of a show about being alone in a hectic world is ditched for…

Andrew Maxwell

12 Aug 20114 stars

Blistering set from the mercurial Dubliner

Anyone who goes to see a barrel-load of comedy this August will no doubt witness stand-up after stand-up making a fleeting reference to the summer riots, if only to prove they have a handle on what’s going on in outside the Edinburgh bubble. Not Andrew…

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Gavin Webster: All Young People Are C**ts

12 Aug 20113 stars

Likeably profane and bitter hour

Accoding to Geordie comic Gavin Webster, ‘all young people are cunts’. He believes that so much that he’s been driven to name this year’s Fringe show with the phrase, concluding his amiable hour with a profanity-fuelled sing-along. Admitting to being…

Benny Boot: Set-Up, Punchline… Pause for Laughter

12 Aug 20112 stars

The secrets of comedy remain a mystery here

When you set yourself up as a stand-up who has nailed the very fundamentals of comedy structure, you really are setting yourself up for one mighty fall. And Benny Boot plummets without trace during this show. The crowd is welcomed in by his South…

Toby - Lucky

12 Aug 20113 stars

Divisive duo spark a riot of tutting and scowling

If this performance of Toby’s Lucky was set in front of a focus group, clear scientific findings would have been concluded. The semi-surreal double act are loved by student blokes in their early 20s and loathed by fortysomething women. At one point…

Interview: Ali Smith - There but for the

9 Aug 2011

Scottish writer appears at 2011 Edinburgh Book Festival

There can be few more anxious experiences for an author than turning to the literary section of a newspaper as the book they have slogged over for possibly years is taken apart by a faceless critic. One national paper gave Ali Smith the fright of her…

Interview: US comedian Todd Barry set for Edinburgh Fringe

9 Aug 2011

High hopes for American Hot show from 'third conchord'

When Todd Barry made his Fringe debut in 2004, the experience didn’t seem to be to anyone’s liking. Stuck in a cavernous hall with a near-midnight start time, people failed to show up in their droves and those who did couldn’t quite get to grips with…

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Five Edinburgh Book Festival guests you'll know from TV

9 Aug 2011

Lucy Worsley, Bettany Hughes, Alexei Sayle, Kirsty Wark and Peter Taylor

Lucy Worsley Delving into the intimate history of old homes and buildings is Worsley’s prime passion and her BBC Four series and book If Walls Could Talk pretty much sums it up. During her years of research, she has uncovered the fact that bedrooms…

Richard T Kelly set for Edinburgh Book Festival appearance

9 Aug 2011

Author of The Possessions of Doctor Forrest

In his second novel, Richard T Kelly conjures up a thrilling romp about three Scottish medics. Here he offers his prognosis on our sickly Q&A Give us five words to describe The Possessions of Doctor Forrest The ones I’d borrow from reviews would be…

Kevin MacNeil - Revamping a classic RLS tale

9 Aug 2011

Book Festival appearance by author of A Method Actor's Guide to Jekyll and Hyde

A sense of place is very important to Kevin MacNeil. You can see it in his 2005 novel, The Stornoway Way, and it’s there with the evocative Edinburgh setting he’s conjured up for A Method Actor’s Guide to Jekyll and Hyde. ‘I like the place where a novel…

Joanne Limburg - The Woman Who Thought Too Much

9 Aug 2011

Author of OCD-themed novel appears at Edinburgh Book Festival

We all have stuff we worry about. Job security; an awful accident happening to our loved ones; what tune we should have played at our funeral? That kind of thing. But when it comes to full-on fretting, most of us are rank amateurs next to poet Joanne…

Luke Wright's Cynical Ballads

8 Aug 20115 stars

Wonderful slices of fractured Britain

As part of ‘poetry boyband’ Aisle 16, Luke Wright helped to bring spoken verse to a new generation. In his previous solo shows, he has had a dig at Andrew Motion for having the temerity to be Poet Laureate when clearly Luke was the right man for the job…

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Matthew Crosby: AdventureParty

8 Aug 20114 stars

A safe and hilarious haven for geeks and nerds

Any fears that Matthew Crosby would be exposed under the Fringe glare without the back-up of his showbiz buddies have been put resolutely to bed with this debut solo effort, the distinctly Pappy’s-esque entitled AdventureParty. Let’s get one thing…

Tom Green

8 Aug 20112 stars

Porn and meat-fuelled non-event

On the most relentlessly wet Fringe day since the sodden floods of 2008, it’s perhaps understandable that a late show might start half an hour late. That our bone-dry Hollywood host made no mention whatsoever of the endurance test his devoted fans (and…

Diane Spencer: All-Pervading Madness

8 Aug 20113 stars

Don’t judge a comic by their gentle demeanour

One of the first thoughts that might enter your head when popping along to a Diane Spencer gig is whether or not she will play on the fact that her name is but a single letter away from one of the most famous women of the 20th century. Actually, playing…

Comedy Club 4 Kids

8 Aug 20113 stars

Heckle-happy crowd nearly stump the pros

It’s perceived wisdom that kids are a tough crowd. No matter how naturally witty you are, getting a child to laugh is often a triumph of hard-nosed perseverance. But who knew that nippers could deliver the most savage of heckles, here displaying the…

Catie Wilkins: A Chip Off the Odd Block

8 Aug 20113 stars

Enthusiastic and wry story about parents

While children can be so cruel, parents are nothing less than a walking embarrassment to their offspring. Especially if they, like the blood-line guardians of Catie Wilkins, are an over-emotional firecracker (mum) and a cold, pedantic robot (dad).

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James Acaster: Amongst Other Things

8 Aug 20114 stars

Mixing up the comedy flavours

In the modern stand-up world, there seems to be a desperate need to fill every moment with high-octane verbiage, constant blather and, maybe, a spot of shouting while running, hoping to dear christ that your mic-cheek stays in position. You won’t find…

Who Are The Jocks?

8 Aug 20113 stars

A multi-faceted tale of love and loss

Having cultivated a persona for being a tough-hearted, callous shock-comic, it was something of a surprise to learn that Scott Capurro was turning to the death of his mother as the basis for his latest Fringe show. Dubbing her his ‘best friend and coke…

Ford and Akram: Humdinger

8 Aug 20114 stars

Yin and yang do silly and surreal

Many double acts rely on a natural chemistry to get them by. Others might be strong on material but just don’t have that onstage zing. So thank the blazes that Louise Ford and Yasmine Akram have got both elements down to a fine art for their Humdinger…

Katherine Ryan: Little Miss Conception

8 Aug 20113 stars

An edgy story of pageant culture

When Katherine Ryan is stopped in her tracks on hearing that someone in the audience has relatives in her very small Canadian home town of Sarnia, it marks a first for her Fringe debut show. There seems very little that will get in the way of this stage…

Joe Wilkinson: My Mum's Called Stella and My Dad's Called Brian

8 Aug 20112 stars

Underpowered affair from BBC Three’s Him & Her

Bounding on stage with arms aloft, the loveable Wilkinson plays around with his front row for a bit before settling into the kind of underpowered affair you’d rightly be expecting having seen his work on BBC Three’s Him & Her and onstage in Two Episodes…