Reviews & features: Claire Sawers

183 reviews

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Stewart Lee: Carpet Remnant World

11 Aug 20123 stars

Fringe veteran can still hurt stomachs

Stewart Lee’s 2012 Fringe kicked off in typically provocative vein, when his Guardian article (headlined ‘The Slow Death of the Edinburgh Fringe’) delivered an industry-savvy knee to the groin of corporate comedy promoters. While PRs dealt with the…

How to experience the Edinburgh International Fashion Festival 2012

7 Aug 2012

A few hints and tips about the events on offer at Summerhall

LOOK ... at catwalk shows Over the four nights of the festival, there will be a nightly catwalk show, followed by an after-party. Local legwear and bodysuit designers, Bebaroque, aka Mhairi McNicol and Chloe Patience present a runway show on the first…

All That is Wrong

7 Aug 20124 stars

Restrained, compelling piece from provocative Belgian company

There’s power in simplicity this year, for the Belgian theatre company, Ontroerend Goed. Often tagged as ‘provocative’ or ‘controversial’ because of their knowing messing around with conventions – see their previous, excellent Fringe offerings, The…

Nick Helm: This Means War!

6 Aug 20124 stars

Charming manchild bellows orders at his audience army

Nick Helm was the comedian who won last year’s best joke of the Fringe, for his gag, ‘I needed a password eight characters long, so I picked Snow White and the Seven Dwarves.’ If you saw his show, you’ll also remember he likes to shout a lot, sweat a…

Marcus Brigstocke: The Brig Society

6 Aug 20123 stars

A jolly Big Society satire from the TV panel show regular

At one point in The Brig Society, TV talking-head comedy panelist Marcus Brigstocke hands a man in the front row his mic. ‘Tell us a joke!’, he beams enthusiastically. When the man can’t, Brigstocke acts surprised. ‘But... I’m empowering the…

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Justine Picardie presents her book at the Edinburgh Book Festival 2012

2 Aug 2012

Justine Picardie tells The List how Coco Chanel has shaped her own world

‘I wouldn’t say I have an interest in Chanel; it’s more an obsession,’ says Justine Picardie. The former Vogue features editor and journalist wrote 'Coco Chanel, The Legend and the Life' after almost ten years of rigorous research. As she tried to learn…

Detour's Ally McCrae on late-night Festival music series Circa

29 Jul 2012

The gigs will feature performances and DJ sets from Twilight Sad, Lady North, Churches and more

There are many locals who could see the Edinburgh Festival far enough, and don’t need another unicycle with ukelele cabaret act. But many do like the fact that August brings with it extended opening hours. Gigs can go on til 5am if they like, a detail…

Summerhall to host second Scottish Independent Music Fair

29 Jul 2012

The event brings together Scotland's finest independent labels and artists

Local, lovingly reared, carefully selected, packaged with care. Nope, it won’t be organic food being laid out across the stalls in Summerhall’s Dissection Hall. Just quality produce of the musical kind. Stuart Thomas from the Scottish Music Industry…

Jim Jefferies talks offensiveness and sobriety ahead of 2012 Fringe show Fully Functional

27 Jul 2012

Aussie comedian on bad reviews, Fully Functional and US sitcom Legit

Jim Jefferies used to do a joke about getting a lift from a ‘tiny, hot, young girl’. He couldn’t believe his luck when she offered him a ride back into Los Angeles after they’d just spent the day working on a film-set. Before driving off in her…

Interview: NVA's Speed of Light at Edinburgh International Festival 2012

11 Jul 2012

Sport and art combine to cover Arthur’s Seat with light and colour

Arthur’s Seat will be a dramatic spectacle of light and colour thanks to NVA. Claire Sawers talks to Angus Farquhar and some of his runners ahead of this ambitious meeting of sport and art

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Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2012: Music highlights

11 Jul 2012

Steamy samba, sleazy-noir synths and goth-pop to feature at Fringe

Brazil! Brazil! Presents Favela Funk Party. The 2010 success of Brazil! Brazil! brought the steamy sounds and sights of samba to the festival and the same people behind that glory deliver an explosion of favela funk and samba reggae. Among the acts…

The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle

24 Aug 20114 stars

Haruki Marukami's novel is given multimedia stage adaptation by Stephen Earnhart

Toru Okada is 29 and shares an apartment with his wife, Kumiko and their cat. When both the wife and cat vanish and don’t come back for several days, Toru tries to work out what’s happened to them, with the help of a spiritualist who doubles as a…

Profile: Best Coast

24 Aug 2011

Californian surf-pop duo set for Edinburgh date

That name rings a bell... Refresh my memory? Gladly. It’s a boy/girl duo of Bethany Cosentino and Bobb Bruno, with Ali Koehler on drums. What does their music sound like? A sad look back at a really incredible, life-changing, but ultimately…

The Phoenix: A Failure on a Mision

23 Aug 20112 stars

Natural performer let down by unchallenging material

If Tania Edwards read the phone book aloud, it would probably be a sarcastic and over-animated thing of wonder. She seems born to perform, but would probably thrive on more envelope-pushing material (as opposed to failed loves, lager drinking and her…

Interview: Chad VanGaalen

18 Aug 2011

Illustrator, musician and Sub Pop labelmate of J Mascis

Illustrator and musician Chad VanGaalen’s no frills lo fi approach is winning him fans, including his own grunge idol J.Mascis, finds Claire Sawers ‘Ever since I was about five, I was really into comic books. For years I’d been going to this comic…

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Sarah Millican

17 Aug 20113 stars

Has the Geordie jester lost her bite?

After TV stints on Mock the Week, Michael McIntyre’s Comedy Roadshow and Loose Women, Geordie chatterbox Sarah Millican is a household name to many now, just three short years after her Fringe debut. The steep upswing in her career means she’s relocated…

The Phoenix: A Failure on a Mission

16 Aug 20112 stars

Daft sense of humour requires more envelope-pushing material

If Tania Edwards read the phone book aloud, it would probably be a very sarcastic, absurd and over-animated thing of wonder. The 30-year-old seems born to perform, but would probably thrive on more envelope-pushing material (as opposed to everyday…

Matt Kirshen

16 Aug 20112 stars

Embarrassing moments humour slightly wooden

A geeky schoolboy turned awkward adult, Kirshen mixes tales about embarrassing moments (like that time he dictated an ‘I love you’ note to the Interflora man), with observations on politics. Kirshen tries to incorporate a fixed grin into his schtick…

Henry Paker

15 Aug 20113 stars

Original, whimsical stand-up

Imagining we’re stuck up Kilimanjaro, waiting to be rescued, with enthusiastic thespy type, Paker (he likes exclaiming things like ‘extraordinary!’) keeping morale up with his arsenal of dinner party skills. These include impressions of emoticons…

McNeil and Pamphilon

15 Aug 20113 stars

Enjoyable sketch comedy from two chaps who should know better

Steve and Sam open with a knowingly sheepish confession: they are ‘two middle-aged, white thirtysomethings who won’t give up the dream’. Thankfully they bring something fresh to that already over-cluttered table. A seductive Wham dance, McNeil’s ability…

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Armageddapocalypse

14 Aug 20113 stars

Loving pastiche of action movies from Footlights crew

One for action movie fans, this Cambridge-based theatre group gleefully ransacks the genre, and all its drug-dealing, wire-wearing, daughter-kidnapping clichés. Written by Footlights veterans, the hammy nonsense is enhanced with parkour shadow puppets…

Daniel Sloss - The Joker

12 Aug 20114 stars

Ridiculously talented young comedy buck

Daniel Sloss – a charming, elongated Macaulay Culkin doppelganger, and protégé of Frankie Boyle – begins by listing the reasons why people might not like his show. ‘I smile, I swear, I’m happy and I can jump. The ones who won’t like me, they’re the old…

Interview - Washed Out aka Ernest Greene

8 Aug 2011

American synth-pop creator expands band line-up for UK dates

The List catches up with Ernest Greene the night after a gig in Berlin. It was someone in the band’s birthday apparently, so a bit of partying had to be done afterwards. Now he’s in the awkward post-coffee, but pre-breakfast part of his hangover, and in…

Margaret Cho

8 Aug 20113 stars

San Franciscan in town to have lots of sex, please

There’s an audible audience cringe when Margaret Cho explains – with all the detail of an autopsy report – what she thinks might have put off the man about to have sex with her. ‘I’d like to apologise to all the people who didn’t know what to expect…

Roisin Conaty

8 Aug 20112 stars

‘Dickhead’ on a mission to achieve zen

This 32-year-old from Camden Market is on a mission ‘to get zenned out, and be more functioning’. With four and a half years of singledom playing on her mind, plus an appalling sense of direction (not good when trying to storm off after an argument, she…