Reviews & features: Suzanne Black

182 reviews

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Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2014: comedian Jason Cook examines life’s relentless onslaught

25 Jul 2014

'I’m looking at how all the wonderful things happening to me also have a negative effect'

Between building a reputation on the live circuit and writing the BBC Two sitcom Hebburn, Jason Cook has become known for Fringe shows that not only deliver the laughs, but also a dose of heart. In previous years he has tackled such tragic topics as his…

Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2014 interview: comedian Lucy Beaumont

22 Jul 2014

'Johnny Vegas bigged me up and you need someone like that. There are not enough mentors in the arts'

On the cusp of her debut Fringe show, Lucy Beaumont is not one to follow traditional paths. Two years ago, struggling to find acting work, she ended up as a cleaner at the same university where she’d studied drama. The ability of her co-workers to tell…

Gravity Boots

23 Aug 20133 stars

Australian duo manages to create a state of incantatory unexpectedness

With a show directed by bizarre-haircutted, Noel Fielding cohort Paul Foot, Gravity Boots put paid to all those shows that market themselves as 'surreal' when they are anything but. Hailing from down under, James Lloyd-Smith and Michael Cleggett display…

Tony Law: Nonsense Overdrive

22 Aug 20134 stars

Nonsense overdrive from Canadian wag

For years, Tony Law has peddled his own unique brand of hardcore whimsy at the Fringe, to varying degrees of enthusiasm and indifference. Staying power (and probably a few more high-profile TV appearances) have ensured that he has finally captured…

Lebensmüde – A Comedy Show

22 Aug 20133 stars

Pitch perfect sketches fear the dark

After running comedy and performance evenings in that London, Lebensmüde (which consists of Celeste Dring, Edward Kiely and Freya Parker) make their Edinburgh debut. This trio is jostling for space among all the other sketch groups in the Fringe…

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Robin (A One-Man Comedy)

20 Aug 20133 stars

Adam Drake gives fully committed performance of sheer absurdity

For the last few years Adam Drake has been playing around with a revolving cast of various characters and scenarios and innovative structuring that brings them all together for maximum impact. This year, his show takes place in a provincial tv studio…

Jonny Donahoe: Class Whore

20 Aug 20132 stars

Anecdotes about trangressing class bounderies for comedian's first solo show

Jonny Donahoe structures his first solo hour around the issues of class and how irrelevant it should be in contemporary society. He mixes in anecdotal evidence from his childhood during which he transgressed class boundaries. An unusual start, in…

Ian Smith - Anything

20 Aug 20132 stars

Smith tantalisingly gets it right in places only to misjudge it in others

Rather than the nebulous 'anything', 'repetition' seems to be the theme of Ian Smith's solo hour. Sometimes it works, others not so much. Ostensibly a series of recollections of his life, Smith covers the everyday ephemera of horsing around with…

Silky: It Was This Show or Have Kids

20 Aug 20133 stars

Honest, heartfelt, slickly-delivered, irresistible and, yes, occasionally disturbing stand-up

Silky has made a reputation for himself by singing gently disturbing songs and this is the lure for his 2013 show. It's a trap. What Silky is really peddling is honest, heartfelt, slickly-delivered, irresistible and, yes, occasionally disturbing…

Adam Strauss: The Mushroom Cure

20 Aug 20133 stars

Erudite and affecting script with a note-perfect rendition

Adam Strauss offers up a confessional monologue about his struggles with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and his attempts to overcome it with therapy, medication and, naturally, psychotropic drugs. With a note-perfect rendition of an erudite and affecting…

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Jessica Fostekew: Moving

20 Aug 20133 stars

Assured and bubbly performance on the travails of setting down and domesticity

Domesticity and the travails of settling down are the topics of Jessica Fostekew's show. She takes us through meeting and moving in with her boyfriend, who happens to be a hoarder (operating at a television reality show level, she tells us), and their…

Damian Clark in G'Damo!

20 Aug 20132 stars

Boundlessly enthusiastic Autralian comedian can't help being likeable

On paper it doesn't look like stand-up Damian Clark talks about much. This hour features birds and how annoying they are, cats and how inscrutable they are, buses and how uncivilised they are and the difficulties of finding affordable, desirable flats…

Esio Trot

16 Aug 20134 stars

Delightful Roald Dahl adaptation by Cambridge students

Roald Dahl’s tale of two lonely people brought together by a tortoise was adapted for the stage by Cambridge University’s Ryan Ammar and brought to Edinburgh by the Uni’s ADC Theatre. The script bolsters the slight story by amping up the villainy and…

Simon Evans: Leashed

16 Aug 20133 stars

Successful material about everyday things

Simon Evans has a mightily long list of television appearances and writing credits to his name and, as a result, draws a large crowd. His familiarity with the limelight and comfort with chatting with an audience leads to him eating up a large chunk of…

Phil Ellis: Unplanned Orphan

16 Aug 20134 stars

Unlikely tale told by a comedian who knows his business

Anything we tell you about this show will spoil it. Seriously. Stop reading now and just buy a ticket. And don't go reading anything by less scrupulous reviewers either. You're still reading? OK. We'll do our best. At the age of 30 Phil Ellis found…

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Short & Curly: A Ripe Pear

16 Aug 20133 stars

Sketch comedy duo don't let any opportunity for a laugh escape

A sketch comedy duo who, like the name suggests, are identifiable by their stature and hair type, respectively. The first sketch, set aboard the RMS Titanic, could have easily drifted into the treacherous waters of French and Saunders' famous parody…

Panda Suit, Pythagoras and Plenty of Puns

16 Aug 20132 stars

New York comic's routine and puns lack structural integrity

Although he doesn't say so outright, Nikhil Tilwalli is obviously a fan of Saussurean linguistics, in which there is always a gap between a word and what it represents leading to problems in communication. After drawing in the audience with a title that…

Ben Champion: Human

16 Aug 20132 stars

Musical comedy that could be watched at home

Musical comedian Ben Champion faces the difficult task of transforming a series of three-minute ditties into a fully-fledged hour. Choosing the theme of 'being human', he certainly gives himself a lot of scope to work within. Skipping between…

Rhys Mathewson - The Best £10 You'll Ever Spend

16 Aug 20133 stars

Value for money applied to comedy by the New Zealander comic

Hailing from New Zealand and looking like a cross between the country's two national species (sheep and hobbits), stand-up Rhys Mathewson is very concerned about money, or the lack of it. In a conglomeration of titbits about his life, loves, homeland…

Marlon Davis: Crackin' Up

16 Aug 20133 stars

Likeable and charismatic, this comedian is difficult to resist

Being nice can get you far in life and Marlon Davis' charm is his greatest asset. After a few anecdotes in which he establishes himself as a nice guy, a bit of a try-hard, an inoffensive fellow, he starts in with a few standard gripes about his…

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Tanyalee Davis – Big Trouble in Little 'Gina

16 Aug 20133 stars

Turning gynaecological misadventures into an enjoyable hour of positivity

The Canadian comic offers up a frank discussion of her downstairs lady area and the medical problems it has created for her over the last year. Her gynaecological misadventures took her to three continents and Davis takes us right along with her…

Manos Kanellos: Greekonomics

14 Aug 20132 stars

A Greek comic to introduce us to Greece's recent financial decline

Who better to take a comedic look at the Greek economy's woes than a Greek comic? Manos Kanellos combines his knowledge of Greek culture, contemporary and ancient, and European politics with the aim of gently educating folks about the situation and…

Wardens

14 Aug 20132 stars

A sluggish script not elevated by the performances

In this new play by Darren Richman and Garrett Millerick, five people take shelter from a mob rioting over an unspecified cause. As the threat from outside builds, tensions rise within the group and revelations drop like bombs. Three of the…

Adam Kay: How to Be a Bogus Doctor

13 Aug 20133 stars

Fun hour of medical satire that plays on public's assumptions

Adam Kay steps away from musical parody group Amateur Transplants for a solo show. The conceit is that Kay is giving a lecture in how to defraud sick people by setting yourself up as a doctor, minus the irritating difficulty of going to medical school.

Laura Levites: Selfhelpless

13 Aug 20132 stars

Autobiographical self-evisceration from the New-York City comedian

Appearing both fragile and abrasive, Laura Levites lays bare her mental health and flogs it for all its comic potential. She recounts her depressive symptoms and the ways she tried to alleviate them. Shopping factors highly in both, and Levites spends…