Reviews & features: Niki Boyle

155 reviews

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A Killer Story

29 Aug 20132 stars

Great noir script let down by poor acting

Here’s the scoop: a private eye is on the case of a missing scientist; he’s presumed murdered, with his dame and his former business partner both in the frame for pulling the trigger. A saxophone purrs like a prostitute in the night as all three step up…

The Horne Section

27 Aug 20132 stars

Disappointing off night for the usually on-form Horne and his comedy-music hybrid

At one point early in tonight’s show, special guest James Walmsley (formerly of muso-comedy group Dead Cat Bounce) declares that ‘this hasn’t been rehearsed’. Unfortunately, this is more than obvious. Although there’s a certain sense of tightness…

The Secret Agent

22 Aug 20132 stars

Disappointing adaptation of Joseph Conrad classic

There’s a large emphasis on presentation in theatre O’s adaptation of Joseph Conrad’s 1907 novel. The tale of anarchy, terrorism, disability, exploitation and betrayal – set in the waning years of Queen Victoria’s reign – is introduced via a showman’s…

Joke Thieves

20 Aug 20133 stars

A decent mixed line-up of performers nicking each other’s sets

The practise of joke-stealing is so frowned upon in modern comedy circles, it’s bewildering to think that it’s become the central concept in a show – and a successful one at that. On the evening of this sold-out performance (many audience members had to…

Brendon Burns & Colt Cabana

20 Aug 20133 stars

Enjoyable hour of wrestling-themed entertainment

Brendon Burns and Colt Cabana Sit in a Fifty-Seater Around Midnight and Provide the Commentary to Bad Wrestling Matches is, as Burns quickly points out, not a misleading title. Aussie comedian Burns is right at home with his audience of Lycra-loving…

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Essential Tom Stade: 12 Nights Only!

20 Aug 20133 stars

Likeable re-run of old ideas

Remember Tom Stade’s early bit on Chinese casinos? How about the incendiary ‘Meat Van Guy’ sketch that broke him on McIntyre’s Road Show? If you loved these skits first time round and want to relive them, you’re in luck: Tom Stade is playing his…

The Bravery Test

20 Aug 20134 stars

Touching spoken-word comedy show about sibling worship

Angus Dunican is not your average stand-up. Not for him are casual observations about electrical appliances or the difference between the sexes. Instead, he litters his deeply personal story about growing up aspiring to be his brother with such astute…

Seann Walsh

16 Aug 20133 stars

Some truly inspired moments amidst material very much by the numbers

There are a few moments in Seann Walsh’s set – which, predictably, is about how difficult blokes find it to grow up – where he seems to want more from his audience. He gestures to a guy in the front row who ‘hasn’t laughed since the wanking bit’; when…

Jerry & Tom

16 Aug 20133 stars

Tarantino-esque hitman dramedy

There’s a shiver that runs down every critic’s spine when s/he hears the name ‘Tarantino’ in reference to a stage production. This word is invariably not used to describe something the Hollywood director has actually written; rather, it is shorthand for…

Twonkey’s Blue Cadabra

14 Aug 20133 stars

More bizarre absurdity in Twonkey's latest journey to some very strange places

You have to be fully committed when you sign up for a Twonkey show. Through his frequent flights of bizarre absurdity, the man only occasionally known as Paul Vickers (of The Leg and John Peel favourites Dawn of the Replicants) will take you on a…

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Edinburgh Festival Fringe shows The Dark Room and Knightmare Live! revisit entertainment of the past

13 Aug 2013

How to get ahead in the retromania game at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival

It was only going to be so long before retromania – the habit of repackaging the past to entertain us in the present – outgrew the traditional spheres of film and music and ventured beyond. Two Fringe productions succeed in applying this trend to a…

Dave Callan

13 Aug 20132 stars

Study of comedy from Irish-Australian comic that wanders from core subject

In his 1913 book The Psychology of Laughter, academic Boris Sidis delved into the psyche to analyse why we find things funny. In his show of the same name, Irish-Australian comic Dave Callan aims to bring to light Siris’ findings. While he succeeds in…

Lee Kern: Bitter Twitter

13 Aug 20132 stars

Wannabe blue-badged Twitter elite

Like many social networkers among us, Lee Kern is a man who both embraces technology and resents it. He wants to be one of the blue-badged Twitter elite: a genuine, verifiable celebrity who swaps jokes with his A-list cronies and can generate 400…


13 Aug 20133 stars

Self-referential Hollywood satire

Sergio is a method actor, successful in mainstream filmmaking but dissatisfied with his type-casting as a one-dimensional villain. Self-centred himbo Joe, a former classmate of Sergio’s, has disregarded his classical training in favour of becoming an…

Captain Amazing

11 Aug 20133 stars

Struggles a super hero's civilian life

Captain Amazing is one of the superest of superheroes: he can fly safely into the surface of the sun, save helpless innocents strapped to world-ending bombs and conduct a war of words with a villain in a burning house. It’s the everyday stuff he has a…

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Brendon Burns Hasn't Heard of You Either

8 Aug 20133 stars

Warm but scattershot hour of candid comedy

Despite what you may have heard – about the loudness, the swearing, the inappropriate comments regarding disability – it’s hard not to warm to this older, perhaps slightly softened version of Brendon Burns. No longer the bullet-headed bull of old, he…

How Doug Segal made me a mentalist

7 Aug 2013

The mind-manipulating Fringe performer pulls prediction stunt with The List

There are two sealed envelopes in front of me, both signed and dated as shown above. Mentalist Doug Segal brought Envelope One to List HQ last week – it contains a prediction of something that's going to appear on page 18 of the next issue of The List…

Fringe 2013 Bribe of the Week - I Believe in Unicorns

7 Aug 2013

Wizard Theatre's custom creativity just tops The Dead Secret's vintage treasure

Week two of our 2013 Fringe Bribe project brought with it a challenge: do we reward people who craft us personally-relevant pieces of creativity, or those who send us the coolest-looking stuff? In the end, we went with the latter: week two's Bribe of…

First person: what it's like inside the helmet in Knightmare Live

6 Aug 2013

Our reviewer dons the Helmet of Justice and takes part in the Edinburgh Festival Fringe show

It’s 1992, and I, a seven-year-old boy, am watching a group of slightly older, slightly more middle class, rather more English children guide one of their number round a virtual reality dungeon. The Dungeoneer – the title given to the maze-wanderer, who…

The Dark Room

6 Aug 20134 stars

Hilarious YouTube skit made flesh by John Robertson

’You awake to find yourself in a dark room.’ Fans of John Robertson will be familiar with the refrain that plagues his fiendishly difficult – some say impossible-to-complete – tribute to the text-based adventure games of early 1980s computer gaming…

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Knightmare Live!

5 Aug 20133 stars

Patchy but enjoyable nostalgic throwback

Full disclosure: I was an avid watcher of Knightmare in my youth; am a follower of the official Facebook group; bought Fringe tickets as soon as a stage adaptation was announced; and contributed to the production’s Kickstarter funding campaign, earning…

Banksy: The Room in the Elephant

5 Aug 20135 stars

Volcanic performance from Eastenders’ Gary Beadle

‘I guess y’all wanna hear about Banksy,’ says Titus Covington (Eastenders’ Gary Beadle). It’s a reasonable assumption – the artist’s name is, after all, in the show’s title, and anything he touches is guaranteed to generate fervent interest from his…

The Bloody Ballad

5 Aug 20133 stars

Foot-stompin’ gig with dramatic interludes

A redneck, rockabilly gig-cum-musical, The Bloody Ballad tells the story of Mary (Lucy Rivers), a Southern gal whose upbringing has left her with scars both physical and emotional. Salvation seems to present itself in the arrival of Connor, a swaggering…

One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest

4 Aug 20132 stars

Ambitious, almost all-female staging of Ken Kesey’s novel

Fourth Monkey’s adaptation of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest occupies new territory, at a remove from both Ken Kesey’s novel and Milos Foreman's film. The most striking change is the almost complete gender reversal of the cast: all but a few ancillary…

Day planner for the Edinburgh Free Fringe 2013

31 Jul 2013

An hour-by-hour guide to the most interesting free comedy, theatre and music shows on offer

You've got a couple of hours between shows and want something free to occupy your time. Consult our daily Free Fringe planner for an hour-by-hour guide to some of the more interesting Fringe shows that won't cost you a penny