Reviews & features: Claire Sawers

183 reviews

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Fiona O'Loughlin: Spirited (Tales from an Angel in a Bottle)

8 Aug 20114 stars

Bloody funny, just don’t show her the Bloody Marys

An Irish-Australian who loves to get drunk? Now there’s a novel idea. Don’t be fooled though, Fiona O’Loughlin strides comfortably through what should be a cliché minefield, and finds comedy gold in the true story of her struggle with alcoholism. Her…

Two Bloody Queens

25 Aug 20101 star

A noble, but shambolic attempt

It takes a brave man to sum up the lives of two dead monarchs – especially in drag, in a noisy pub basement, in an hour. Robert Inston’s portrayal of Elizabeth Tudor and Mary Queen of Scots is a noble, but shambolic attempt to show the real women behind…

Interview: Oneohtrix Point Never

2 Aug 2011

Psychedelic synths and drones from experimental electronica-lord, Daniel Lopatin

Name Daniel Lopatin Job title Musician, label owner Where are you just now? Brooklyn, NY. What are you doing/ going to do today? Finish the track arrangement for the upcoming OPN record. Do you enjoy touring? I do, I didn't always. It…

Margaret Cho interview - Cho Dependent

6 Jul 2011

US comedian brings revered taboo-busting material to Edinburgh Fringe

Whether or not Edinburgh crowds will recognise Margaret Cho probably depends on their TV viewing habits. British followers of Sex and the City may remember Cho as the terrifying, black-uniformed fashion producer who orders Carrie to model on the…

Lip Service

25 Aug 20103 stars

Matter of fact and moving study of human emotions

Bravery, authenticity, vulnerability. It seems these are three things that Becki Gerrard wants to prove during her autobiographical solo show. Her theatrical device – being totally naked throughout, and making it very clear just quite how comfortable…

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Teenage Riot

23 Aug 2010

What’s going through the mind of a teenager? Lovebites? Career prospects? Facebook? Dieting? All of the above, apparently. ‘My shrink doesn’t understand me!’ whines one teenager, in a comedy section where we get an emo blast of adolescent moans. ‘I am…

Carl Barron

20 Aug 20104 stars

Restrained idiocy from Aussie manchild

Carl Barron is not big (rude people point it out to him all the time, apparently). He’s not clever (or so he’d have us believe with his slow-schoolboy schtick). Luckily for him, then, that’s he’s very funny. The jolly, just-a-touch dopey Australian…

Vidal Sassoon

17 Aug 2010

The style icon talks to Claire Sawers about his life and book

At the height of his celebrity, in the peak of his playboy yachts-and-champagne years, Vidal Sassoon was aboard a boat in Capri, where he was spending the summer. Bobbing in the bay, surrounded by friends, Sassoon looked over at an English boy who was a…

Louise Welsh's Naming the Bones

17 Aug 2010

The author's newest novel meanders between boozers and burial grounds

Louise Welsh’s latest novel was inspired during a trip to Germany, but set in her beloved Scotland, though it’s not the reverie of an expat looking through tartan-tinted glasses. Naming the Bones meanders between Edinburgh boozers and Highland burial…

The Nelson Twins

17 Aug 20101 star

More groans than laughs

God love them, but these ‘garden gnome’ resembling identical twins from New South Wales really struggle to spin the gimmick out long enough for an entire show. It’s only 45 minutes long, and it has its own warm-up act – the expressionless stoner, Luke…

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The Wau Wau Sisters

16 Aug 20103 stars

Chaotic, messy, Benny Hill-style slap and tickle comedy

This is chaotic, messy, Benny Hill-style slap and tickle comedy, from those dirty tramps, The Wau Wau Sisters. Acrobatic striptease, red wine showers and Catholic schoolgirl burlesque skits keep the tone strictly low-brow, with song and dance numbers…

Broderick Chow

16 Aug 20101 star

Covers too much ground

Broderick Chow is a Canada-born Chinese-Filipino, living in London, but it’s his show that has identity issues. Reading aloud from Marxist economy textbooks one minute, then rapping in Korean (a language he doesn’t understand a word of, he points out)…

Jon Richardson

16 Aug 20103 stars

Fewer laughs per hour than previous years

Richardson’s trademark affable angst spills over into common or garden griping and moaning here (small talk, optimists and sex addicts all incur his wrath), with fewer laughs per hour than previous years. Perhaps the grumpy card has been played to…

The Leftovers

16 Aug 20102 stars

Promising if underbaked sketch show

A promising if underbaked sketch show that gains some of its biggest laughs from the wonky, withering facial expressions being contorted from the London trio. Tintin, Venn diagrams and their proud sponsors, Chatham Historic Dockyard (absurd corporate…

Greg Davies

16 Aug 20104 stars

Well-developed and magnetic set

The mischievous 42-year-old - a gangling 6ft 8in cross between Rik Mayall and a ‘warped Mr Tickle’ – hits his stride with this debut solo show. Deliberately homing in on anecdotes ‘devoid of meaning’, the ex-high school drama teacher tears through a…

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Mark Lanegan solo show at Edge Festival

14 Aug 2010

Prolific collaborator plays Edinburgh

His third album with Isobel Campbell, the excellent Hawk, came out last week, proving the beauty and the beast coupling of grunge grump and indie lovely was one with plenty mileage in it. This is a solo show from the Queens of the Stone Age/ Gutter…

Beautifully heavy guitars of Sleepy Sun hit Edinburgh

14 Aug 2010

Spaced out Californian folk-rockers set for Edge Festival show

Beautifully heavy guitars from California. The band’s name does a fairly good job of describing the langour and Laurel Canyon-inspired sound of their big, spaced out folk-rock. Supported by Frankie & The Heartstrings and Sky Larkin. Capital, 08444…

Bear in Heaven bring psychedelic rock to Edge Festival

14 Aug 2010

Brooklyn's finest take Beast Rest Forth Mouth on the road

Putting a psychedelic spin on their brand of stoner rock, Brooklyn’s Bear in Heaven, who were responsible for this spring’s Beast Rest Forth Mouth serenade the Fringe with their proggy, poppy sound. HMV Picture House, 08444 999 990, Thu 26 Aug…

Dizzee Rascal plays Edinburgh show

14 Aug 2010

East London rapper set for Edge Festival show

Fix up, look sharp. The East London rapper that Jeremy Paxman once called ‘Mr Rascal’ (he was a slightly ill-advised guest commentator on Newsnight’s Obama special), is coming to town. Corn Exchange, 08444 999 990, Thu 26 Aug, 7.30pm, £20. Part of…

Mike Keat

13 Aug 20104 stars

A massively talented and very entertaining tool

You may know Edinburgh boy Mike Keat as one third of the creosote-tanned Cuban Brothers, and here he delivers a homecoming hero act in this first solo show. Actually, it’s hard to describe him as a hero really, watching him lunge and prance around in…

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Amy Sackville

12 Aug 2010

Retreating into imagined worlds of the past

Amy Sackville’s debut novel, The Still Point, is an Arctic love story which has already drawn comparisons with Virginia Woolf. Set in modern England, Julia is the great-grand-niece of an explorer whose story fascinates her and she often dreams about the…

David Mitchell

12 Aug 2010

Dreaming up the non-existent

David Mitchell isn’t known for his simple approach to storytelling. His most recognisable work, the Booker-shortlisted Cloud Atlas, was described as having a ‘Rubik’s cube structure’. Ambitious and unconventional, it melted genres of airport…

Roaring Boys

11 Aug 20103 stars

Enjoyable, surreal character comedians

Armed with a synthesiser, a clutch of angry power ballads, and a hidden weapon (their French song about racist and homophobic grandparents gets the biggest laughs), Danny and Jonny are determined to blow up the studios of The One Show. Ludicrous, slick…

Soap! The Show

10 Aug 20104 stars

Water-logged circus show leaves the crowd open-mouthed

This bathtub-themed circus show comes to Edinburgh after a two-year run in Berlin. The German production team, Circle of Eleven, has assembled a very bendy cast of performers – Masha Terentieva contorts herself seductively around a trapeze, Nata Galkina…

Withered Hand set for Edge Festival show

10 Aug 2010

Key player in Edinburgh alt.folk scene hits the Fringe

This likeable oddball is a key player in Edinburgh’s alt.folk scene. Singer Dan Willson is a regular performer at Fence Record nights (and also pops up at this week’s Haarfest festival, see page 129) and counts Neil Pennycook (of Meursault) Bart Owl…