Reviews & features: Claire Sawers

217 reviews

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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…

Smashed

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…

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…

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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…

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…

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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…

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…

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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

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…

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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…

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…