Reviews & features: Claire Sawers

178 reviews

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Tig Notaro

27 Aug 20134 stars

The American comedian, famous for publicly discussing her breast cancer, proves she has more to say

Tig Notaro is a grand master of the wind-up. The drawn-out set-ups, the laboured pauses, the controlled nonchalance – it’s all part of her finely honed delivery, a masterclass in pacing and calm. Her soothing, diazepam-dose of a voice is the Fringe…

Interview: Composer Nico Muhly on his role in artistic collective LA Dance

22 Aug 2013

Collective perform at Edinburgh International Festival 2013

‘New York City is kind of like the Edinburgh Festival in August,’ composer Nico Muhly is explaining. ‘Except it doesn’t quit. There’s so much going on, great stuff – but it can get overwhelming at times.’ Muhly is familiar with that nagging F.O.M.O.

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…

Profile: Bang on a Can All-Stars perform Steve Reich work at EIF 2013

21 Aug 2013

The contemporary music collective count Steve Reich and Ryuichi Sakamoto among their collaborators

Who are they? Bang on a Can are a music collective based in Brooklyn. It was set up 26 years ago by three composers who were, and still are, dedicated to championing experimental classical music. Their vision was to create an international community of…

Rob Carter: Murder (and other hobbies)

16 Aug 20132 stars

Musical comedy from Mr. Nice guy trying to act tough

Rob Carter is ‘a real bad arse’, he announces in clipped West Sussex vowels. Swathed in John Lewis cashmere, fresh from a ten grand drama school course, he is all too aware that his anecdotes about an ‘anarchic’ childhood (running away from his…

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Mixed Doubles

16 Aug 20132 stars

Young foursome present pop culture sketches with mixed results

’Aaand, that’s why kittens love twine’, simpers one particularly dreary Scottish folk musician, coming to the end of another whimsical, truly insipid ballad, as an imaginary guest on Later... With Jools Holland. Game of Thrones, Benny Hill and The…

Theatre and music hybrid Whatever Gets You Through the Night set for 2013 Edinburgh Festival Fringe

13 Aug 2013

Award-winning show combining theatre, music and film returns

The collaborative minds behind Whatever Gets You Through The Night reveal their own nocturnal leanings, as the theatre/live music event hits the Fringe

Interview: William Bennett aka Cut Hands

6 Aug 2013

You just came back from playing Berlin Atonal – how did it go? It was an unforgettable experience, the Kraftwerk venue is the disused heat power station in the East of the city and they’ve converted it into an enormous, incredible brutalist…


6 Aug 20133 stars

Singing into a hairbrush goes Gallic-galactic, French lip-sync sextet go wild in Edinburgh

Imagine Woody Woodpecker, Samantha Fox and Celine Dion are thrown in a dressing-up trunk of glitter, then doused in vodka that’s been pinched from a backstage tour rider. Bill and Ted, Eminem and Britney Spears are chucked in there too, and the lid is…

Iain Stirling: At Home

5 Aug 20133 stars

Local boy back in town with the same wit, charm and... glasses

Twenty-five-year-old Iain Stirling is having a mini identity crisis; he’s from Edinburgh originally, but has lived in London for years. So he drops in lots of ‘wicked’, ‘my man’ and ‘su’hin’, but also gets big laughs from localisms like ‘barry’ (from…

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Luisa Omielan

5 Aug 20134 stars

Former Free Fringe diva done good

On paper, this should be horrific: girl laments failed relationship, inability to stop eating sandwiches, roundness of own bottom; seeks comfort in wisdom of Beyoncé. And yet Luisa Omielan has so much solid talent and unborrowed style (plus excellent…

Russ Powell: Powell to the People

5 Aug 20132 stars

The Brighton native comedian performs with confident and pally style but lacks quality material

An important distinction: Russ Powell is blokey, but not laddy. So he orders his crowd to ‘strap in’, ‘do it’, and ‘get on it’ a few times in the show. He refers to his ‘missus’ and ask things like, ‘am I right lads?’. But please, he points out, that…

How Do I Get Up There?

5 Aug 20134 stars

Trio of goons are irresistible lords of the douche

A certain Mr C Shore sells sale signs down by the sea shore, in one sketch from this trio. Elsewhere, a police officer can only communicate with the accused through the medium of Les Mis-style histrionics. Both premises should give a rough idea where…


4 Aug 20134 stars

Avant-garde juggling upsets the apple cart

The opening minutes of Smashed seem, at first, to set the tone for what’s about to follow: a very polished, über-sophisticated display of debonair juggling – in a string of complicated, gracefully choreographed configurations. The Gandini Juggling…

Strong food theme at 2013 North Berwick festival Fringe by the Sea

16 Jul 2013

Chef Neil Forbes, Moroccan cuisine and Belhaven Brewery set for town's harbour

The ice-cream cones on the front cover of Fringe By The Sea’s programme are the first hint at this year’s strong food theme. Besides the always-tempting option of braving the gallus seagulls of East Lothian, going al fresco and taking fish and chips…

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Whatever Gets You Through the Night set for 2013 Edinburgh Festival Fringe

15 Jul 2013

Award-winning theatre show from Cora Bissett features some of Scotland's most distinctive artists

What’s on your mind between midnight and 4am? Sleeping? Soul searching? Eating? Night walking? This award-winning show from artistic powerhouse The Arches asked the question and got back a batch of different answers from 20 writers, musicians and…

Foul-mouthed, female musical comedy acts are set to tear it up at the Edinburgh Fringe 2013

8 Jul 2013

Vikki Stone, Katie Goodman, Carly Smallman and EastEnd Cabaret discuss filth, fun and feminism

Prudes be warned. A deluge of filthy comedians is about to flood Edinburgh, armed with cuss words, smutty singalongs and a healthy disregard for good taste. They care not a jot for decorum or politeness, they unashamedly perform bawdy songs as part of…

Daniel Kitson: As of 1.52 GMT on Friday April 27th 2012 , This Show Has No Title

22 Aug 20124 stars

Stand-up playwright returns with meta-play monologue

A week after this new play from Daniel Kitson opened, The Telegraph ran a two-star review, describing it as ‘a sorry waste of his undoubted talent – and our time’. Kitson knew someone would do that though. At one point in his one-man play – a…

Carl Einar-Hackner: Handluggage

21 Aug 20123 stars

Swede stand-up magic ‘just like that’

Like some sort of bumbling, long-haired, clown-cross between Tommy Cooper and Justin Hawkins from The Darkness, Carl-Einar Häckner wants to wow you with magic. Poured into his white, bejewelled jumpsuit, he’s not quite nailed the tricks yet; so he’d…

La Clique Royale - The Queen’s Selection

19 Aug 20124 stars

A night out with the bawdy and the beautiful

Meet the cast of freaks and uniques who gather nightly inside the wooden walls of the Spiegeltent, bathed in red lamplight, for a cabaret show with a couple of dark twists. There’s Agent Lynch – doing a sort of ‘Heidi does Carry On’ turn involving tiny…

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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…