Reviews & features: Emma Lennox

49 reviews

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Phil Kay: London Aye!

24 Aug 20095 stars

The crowd are in hysterics from the start

In many ways, Phil Kay is the spirit of the Fringe. He’s a manic, funny, shambolic, Scottish, hairy hobgoblin of an exhibitionist, and embodies any adjective you care to ascribe to the festival. Witnessing his performance at midnight in amidst the revel…

Tiani Ghosh

24 Aug 20091 star

Deeply irritating sketch show

All the humour in this deeply irritating sketch show is constructed in the 'I didn't mean that, I meant this' word play. If Tiani Ghosh and Raph Shirley raise any laughs from the audience, it's because these jokes are so tortured and forced that they…

Marigold

24 Aug 20091 star

An audible dearth of jokes

The three young members of sketch group Marigold have an unenviable task; entertaining a very small audience in a hot C venue studio at midnight, and they face it with high energy enthusiasm. Yet with their questionable writing skills, and a show full…

Kevin Tomlinson

24 Aug 20093 stars

Laughs and poignant moments

'I'm not sure if this will be comedy or drama,' says Tomlinson as he conjures up another character for his 'seven ages of man' improvisation. As it happens there are both laughs and poignant moments in this theatrical display, although audience…

Seymour Mace and Peter Slater: Sundayland

23 Aug 20094 stars

Fake news, wacky characters and biscuits

Running from an Edinburgh downpour into the warmth of Sundayland is a magical moment. For one hour the baby grand is transformed into a welcoming place of ramshackle characters, physical comedy and biscuits for all. With its hosts Seymour Mace and Peter…

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Shappi Khorsandi

21 Aug 20094 stars

Making stand-up look a little bit too easy

The title of Distracted Activist sums up Shappi Khorsandi’s predicament. As one of the few female comedians to get airtime, and an Iranian at that, she should be well versed on all debates that this inevitably enables. Khorsandi is certainly a…

Tobias Hill

20 Aug 2009

Exposing demons through vigorous research

There’s a fascination with secrets in the works of Tobias Hill. His 1999 début novel, Underground, depicts the unseen world beneath the streets of London, and The Cryptographer, from 2003, features a code breaker caught in a futuristic web of lies and…

Helen Keen

20 Aug 20092 stars

Underwhelming guide to Arctic survival

It’s not often that a bibliography of research material is handed out to a comedy audience, but this is all part of Helen Keen’s thoughtful show. Keen wants to verify the historic aspects of her Arctic routine, but she has been a little too…

Lloyd Langford

18 Aug 20094 stars

Obvious natural talent

Langford could talk about anything and make it sound quirky and funny. In a nervy style, he rattles through topics such as stag dos, Blackpool nightclubs and his musical tastes with a fluid joke-rate and an intuition on how to work the audience. His…

The Aspidistras

18 Aug 20092 stars

Spreads the laughs a little too thinly

The unusually named Aspidistras are a musical duo who are all about the performance. Maria Hodson is particularly entertaining as the freakish Tim Burton or strutting around as Dan Brown, but overall the show has no cohesion. Too many separate…

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Lady Garden

18 Aug 20093 stars

Acutely observed characters

With as many as six performers, it’s the sketches that feature all of the talent that makes this performance something special. There are some acutely observed characters and a highlight is Britain’s Next Top Monarch starring five of Henry VIII’s wives.

Jason Cook: Fear

14 Aug 20093 stars

The Geordie’s honest approach falls short with Fear

Anyone familiar with Jason Cook’s routines knows that he likes to produce heart-warming comedy with an emotional kick. Since 2007’s My Confessions and last year’s Joy, the brutally honest approach has been a refreshing departure in the scene, especially…

Tiffany Stevenson

12 Aug 20093 stars

Promising stand-up debut from the one-time wannabe actress

Stevenson has gone from modelling work to small-time acting but right now her role is as new stand-up hopeful. The London-born comic exudes confidence and has plenty of stories from her more celeb obsessed and ‘vacuous’ days. More impressive is the high…

Yianni Agisilaou: MP3some

12 Aug 20092 stars

Nick Hornby influenced trawl through the soundtrack of romance

Setting the story of past romances to music, Agisilaou is the centre of his own high fidelity. Yet with a one-way conversation about his likes and dislikes, hobbies, friends and family, Mp3some comes across as an idle description of his myspace page.

All That Gomez

10 Aug 20094 stars

Brash bravado and thoughtful theatrics

Marga Gomez is wearing a gold lamé tracksuit top with boots to match, a pair of black-framed glasses and a headscarf. This ensemble is loud, brash and ridiculous but like her comedy, it’s hard not to like. At first Gomez seems hesitant; ‘can I talk…

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Mark Thomas

8 Aug 20095 stars

A spontaneous manifesto crafted with perfection

If there is a serious side to comedy, then Mark Thomas is standing at its edge. Over the years, he has used his persona of cheeky scamp to write, rally and demonstrate against global injustices, balancing the sincere imperatives with the bonhomie of his…

Alex and Helen's Radio Nowhere

24 Jul 2009

Footlights duo with Facebook-inspired character tale

Alex and Helen are naive. Their plan to find stardom by broadcasting a radio show to a hamlet of only ten people forms the basis for Alex and Helen’s Radio Nowhere, which, as the writers/performers explain, is off the map in more ways than one. ‘They’re…

Festival Books - Mark Watson

21 Aug 2008

Eco-friendly, my dear Watson

According to Mark Watson, saving the planet would, at the very least, ‘look pretty smart on all our CVs’. With an already sterling comedy résumé, Watson takes on environmentalism in his latest book, Crap at the Environment, which through the author’s…

Nude

21 Aug 20084 stars

Non-gratuitous meanderings for art’s sake

Don’t worry, there is no gratuitous nudity in Nude, just two actors flexing and posing their naked bodies in close proximity to the front row. But it’s all done in the name of art, and the context of a life drawing class, in which the reluctant audience…

Hils Barker

21 Aug 20082 stars

Fanciful but flaccid exhibitionism

Sinister social network sites are under precision attack in Hils Barker’s character exposé Exhibitionist! which links four lonely souls to ‘Profile Me’, an invention more Orwellian than Facebook. Barker attempts to draw parallels between billionaire…

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Learn to Play the Ukulele in Under an Hour

21 Aug 20083 stars

'The ukulele is the cure for depression', claim Sam and Donal, your specialist historians and ukulele instructors for the day. With a Dave Gorman-style slideshow of whimsical adventure, it's the audience members that create the soundtrack with provided…

The Worst Zoo in Britain

21 Aug 20081 star

This suffers the quandary of being an interesting tale, told by an uninteresting storyteller. Welsh stand-up, Tudur Owen, describes in painfully slow detail how his family came to be the first and last zoo keepers on the island of Anglesey. Owen has…

Jason John Whitehead

21 Aug 20083 stars

The laid-back Whitehead, defined by his rock apparel and sleepy eyes claims to have worked hard over this year's show: 'it's got a theme; it's about being a comedian.' This is typical of the Canadian's easy-going style and enjoyable performance, but…

Why We Ate Cliff Richard

21 Aug 20082 stars

A two-hander disaster story, this is a frantic set which at best resembles the shouty, anarchic energy of The Young Ones, but ultimately fails because of poor writing and uninventive plotting. Hank Marvin's flashy riffs hold things together and a…

Will & Greg

14 Aug 20084 stars

A lesson in chemistry from ex-Ugly Kids

As the audience enters the sweaty room, Will and Greg are enthusiastically cycling on exercise bikes. It sets the pace for a fast and furious sketch show which is clever, bizarre and, like its title, deceptively simple. Will Andrews and Greg McHugh are…