Reviews & features: David Kettle

41 reviews

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Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2014 interview: Colette Garrigan on Sleeping Beauty

30 Jul 2014

The Ken Loach-inspired reinterpretation deals with gritty issues of drugs, abuse and delinquency

‘I ended up putting myself at the centre of my own fairy story. What comes across in this show is me as a teenager, growing up in a broken home in Liverpool, and all these years later living and working as a puppeteer in France. How did that happen?…

Interview: Chris Goode on bringing his urban hymn Men in the Cities to 2014 Edinburgh Festival Fringe

15 Jul 2014

The writer, director and actor on the volatile writing process behind his new show

‘I’m in the kind of mood where I’m lobbing a brick through the window and running off, and I’m interested in what people do with the mess I’ve left behind.’ It’s hardly the kind of wanton act of violence we might expect from writer, director and actor…

Jazz, Juliette Binoche and a calendar change on cards for Edinburgh International Festival 2015

8 May 2014

Incoming director designate Fergus Linehan outlines his plans for change at the EIF

Fifteen months before the start of his first event, Edinburgh International Festival director designate Fergus Linehan has taken the unusual step of revealing some of his thinking behind the 2015 programme – as well as sharing details of a few of its…

War and peace announced as themes for Edinburgh International Festival 2014

18 Mar 2014

Programme highlights includes works involving The Kronos Quartet and Handspring Puppet Company

War and peace, conflict and conciliation are the grand themes being tackled in Jonathan Mills’ final year as director of the Edinburgh International Festival. The 2014 programme, announced today, explores music, dance, theatre and other arts not just…

Eh Joe

5 Sep 20134 stars

Atom Egoyan is a master at work as he brings Beckett from the screen to the stage

Atom Egoyan’s masterful staging of Beckett’s brief 1965 TV play Eh Joe, the first in a trio of the dramatist’s works from Dublin’s Gate Theatre at this year’s International Festival, is a thing of simple, ruthless beauty. Michael Gambon is the sole…

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Last One Out

23 Aug 20134 stars

A non-traditional opera featuring text from Johnny McKnight and music from Gareth Williams

Last One Out is hardly an opera in the traditional sense – it’s more of a poignant, highly evocative mystery tale that happens to be sung. In any case, much of its music comes from an onstage radio – in the form of composer Gareth Williams’ masterful…

Thomas Bloch set for glass harmonica concert at 2013 Edinburgh International Festival

21 Aug 2013

Rare instruments specialist teams up with Scotland's Hebrides Ensemble

‘It looks like a horizontal kebab. But instead of meat, you have crystal glass bowls.’ It’s an odd description for a musical instrument, and what Thomas Bloch is describing is admittedly one of the world’s strangest: the glass harmonica. If a…


16 Aug 20133 stars

An insight into murderers' minds

Bathed in harsh white spotlights, three of Britain’s most notorious killers – Dennis Nilsen, Ian Brady and Peter Sutcliffe – sit in front of the audience, reading letters they’ve written to admirers from their prisons or secure hospitals. But if you’re…

Shakespeare’s Cymbeline

11 Aug 2013

An outing for one of the Bard’s less celebrated scripts

Full marks to FreeRange Productions for bringing one of the bard’s least performed works to the festival, and in an admirably clear and concise stripping-back that focuses with precision on the play’s central themes of jealously and the loss of…

Cherry on Top

11 Aug 20133 stars

The interweaving live of two women revealed

Some shows manage to give a pretty misleading impression in their own publicity blurbs. Cherry on Top from South Africa’s Mustard Seed Productions is a case in point. The publicity hints at a bitchy, catty squabble between a wife and a mistress over…

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Children of Mine

7 Aug 20133 stars

Dark tragedy retold at screaming pitch

Aberfan, South Wales, 1966: 116 children die when a heap of colliery debris slides downhill and buries Pantglas Junior School. Mark Jermin’s angry theatre piece charts the traumatic 24 hours when tragedy struck, with exceptionally polished performances…

Economy of Thought

7 Aug 20133 stars

The banking crisis meets a thoughtful critique

Grinning bankers bet on who in a crowd of protesters will scramble for a banknote as it flutters towards them. A young journalist exploits family connections to get her first big scoop. An ambitious economist sees a move into green energy as a way of…

High Plains (A Western Myth)

6 Aug 20134 stars

Drifting through the secrets of the past in Brian Watkins's solo play

He’s had a few drinks, young drifter Jake explains to us at the start of Brian Watkins’s quietly gripping solo play – but he needs them to recount what he’s about to tell. What begins as bar room recollections about growing up in the prairies of…

Space-age spin on Beethoven’s Fidelio set for 2013 Edinburgh International Festival

1 Aug 2013

Media artist Gary Hill's version of Fidelio for Opéra de Lyon visits Edinburgh

Beethoven has been sent to outer space. This version of his Fidelio sees singers on Segways, wearing gleaming metallic spacesuits, while intricate 3D animations swirl across the stage. Could this be the future of opera? American media artist Gary Hill…

Monkey Bars

20 Aug 20125 stars

Kids say the profoundest things

‘Sometimes adults don’t really listen to children,’ suggests the actor playing dialogue artist Karl James at the start of Chris Goode’s masterful new verbatim play. And that’s exactly what this astonishing piece seems to be telling us – that there’s so…

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20 Aug 20122 stars

Ambitious production fails to spring to life

Our unnamed protagonist, obsessed by order and routine, returns home from work to discover a stranger in his house. So he makes him a cup of tea. But that’s the least of his worries: the talking wallpaper seems to have opinions on everything, and his…

Othello – The Remix

17 Aug 20124 stars

Energetic reimagining of the Moor of Venice

The third of Chicago Shakespeare Theater’s highly successful adaptations of the bard – following The Bomb-itty of Errors and Funk It Up About Nothing in recent years – Othello: the Remix reimagines the Moor of Venice as an American rap god, recently…

Good Grief

17 Aug 20123 stars

Meandering musical hour of delightful schadenfreude

Gone Rogue’s likeable, funeral-set musical might start off in a subdued atmosphere of deep sorrow, but by the end of the show most of the mourners have ended up half naked, high on hash cookies or reeling from shocking family revelations. Using a family…

Strong Arm

16 Aug 20123 stars

Thought-provoking look at transformation and self-betterment

At the age of 13, Roland Poland weighs 20 stone. In his early 20s, he’s a muscle god, pumped up on four-hour gym sessions, hourly protein shakes and arcane shark’s fin supplements. But in breaking himself so that he can grow even stronger, has he lost…

Gagaku, the ancient music of Japan, comes to the Edinburgh International Festival

11 Aug 2012

One-off performance to showcase the world's oldest orchestra tradition

If you think Western classical music is ancient – and let’s face it, even Bach dates back over 300 years – it’s a mere youngster compared with gagaku. The music of the Japanese imperial court, which gets a very rare British outing as part of the…

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Night of the Big Wind

9 Aug 20123 stars

Touching show set in an Irish fishing village, ambitiously told

Following last year’s hugely enjoyable Street Dreams, Canterbury-based Little Cauliflower Theatre Company return with more puppetry, physical theatre and clowning in this whimsical and sometimes dewy-eyed show set in an Irish fishing village. But here…

Teach Me

9 Aug 20123 stars

Touching comedy from Edinburgh-based young company

Simon is a naïve 18-year-old, keen as mustard to get his first taste of naughtiness but clueless about how it all works. Emma is ten years older, in a ‘complicated’ relationship with a married man, and now unexpectedly alone with Simon in a bedroom at a…


8 Aug 20123 stars

Underwhelming take on the 2010 BP oil spill

Theatre company Look Left Look Right scored two hits last year with innovative interactive pieces – You Once Said Yes and You Wouldn’t Know Him, He Lives In Texas – and their offering this year is a verbatim documentary piece about the 2010 BP oil…

After the Rainfall

8 Aug 20124 stars

Ambitious multi-layered show that bears repeat viewing

A young British diplomat makes a desperate bid to get home from Suez in the 1950s. Thirty years later, a Cumbrian art student creates a memorial to a trapped miner. An Egyptian backpacker struggles across Europe, and an ant expert releases an explosive…

The Blind

7 Aug 20124 stars

Stunningly powerful outdoors multimedia spectacle

Krakow-based KTO Theatre pulls off a rare feat in combining stunning visual effects with a potent emotional impact in its gripping, wordless show The Blind. Whether through pounding music, imagery that’s by turns shocking and poignantly beautiful, or…