Reviews & features: Suzanne Black

214 reviews

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Deborah Frances White: Half a Can of Worms

26 Aug 20143 stars

Moving and rewarding encounter from skilled writer and performer at Edinburgh Festival Fringe

Deborah Frances-White offers a very tightly scripted autobiographical narrative about the search for her biological mother. Using such a prescriptive method of storytelling when dealing with the emotional subject of her experiences can be difficult.

Dizney Rascal

21 Aug 20143 stars

Wavering taste levels let down Rebecca Humphries' musical comedy

Sing-a-long versions of Disney songs are played on a big screen as the audience files in. It’s a nice touch to set the mood and introduce Rebecca Humphries’ musical comedy. The show starts strongly with a number taking us through the history of Disney…

Josie Long: Cara Josephine

17 Aug 20144 stars

A flawless hour, unequivocally delightful

Josie Long’s handcrafted blend of upbeat whimsy, curiosities and earnestness has attracted a lot of ardent fans and netted her the Best Newcomer award in 2006. Detractors dismissed her as too fluffy and then, when she started to take on more political…

Ellie White: Humans

15 Aug 20142 stars

Good moments and stand-out characters but not enough original material at this Edinburgh Fringe show

Character comedian Ellie White’s venue is a curse and a blessing. In the basement of a Mexican restaurant, the taco-stand aesthetic is super-cute, and recurrent references to her surroundings manage to ground her roster of characters and give the show…

Kerry Godliman: Face Time

15 Aug 20143 stars

Warm character, well-executed and unoriginal observations at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe

Judgement (or ‘being judgey’, as she irritatingly puts it), is the banner topic for this show in which Kerry Godliman sets her sights on a panoply of modern-day inconveniences. BT call centres, washing machines, reality television and the tyranny of…

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Spencer Brown

14 Aug 20142 stars

Repetitive sex obsessed show becomes tiresome at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe

Spencer Brown reads as a sex-obsessed thirty-something offering a whole load of gags about doing the deed laced with an exposé of contemporary society. Naturally, all this is framed with observational anecdotes about his wife, young daughter and dinner…

Sophie Willan: Novice Detective

14 Aug 20142 stars

A mish-mash of theatrical narrative and comedy skits at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe

Sophie Willan presents a theatrical hour about the search for her estranged father. The detective genre is her theme, and the opening set-piece is a campy nod to the genre from Inspector Clouseau to the board-game Cluedo. After a promising opening…

Dan Schreiber: C*ckblocked from Outer Space

13 Aug 20143 stars

Lively and engaging hour of geek comedy at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe

The term ‘geek’ has enjoyed singular meanings in the past, such as a sideshow act involving biting the heads off chickens, which draw on its etymology as meaning ‘fool’. This flipped in the latter half of the 20th century, becoming a pejorative term for…

Abandoman: Hot Desk

11 Aug 20144 stars

Thoroughly entertaining and impressive hip hop improv show at Edinburgh Fringe

It seems that P Diddy has so little to do with his time that he has captured hip hop improvisers Rob Broderick and his band and set them the task of writing him a new album brimming with hits. Whether Diddy knows about this plan is beside the point.

Adian Goately: Films With My Dad

11 Aug 20142 stars

Affable and likeable raconteur of autobioigraphical tales and observational material

Aidan Goatley lives in Brighton, managed a pet shop, worked at a gay club and studied scriptwriting. The premise for this show is how, with all that in mind, he navigates a relationship with his traditionally masculine, navy engineer father. Hint: the…

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What Does The Title Matter Anyway?

10 Aug 20143 stars

A sentimental journey into improv from team behind 90s TV show at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe

Last year, a new series of the 1990s comedy fixture Whose Line is it Anyway? was commissioned. This year, either the cast have reunited to recreate the magic or several aging comedians are throwing themselves about (fragile hips be-damned) to emulate a…

Marlon Davis: Once Upon A Grime

10 Aug 20142 stars

Energetic personality barely covers cracks in foundations of a wobbly and familiar set

Opening with the claim that he doesn’t like the title of his show nor does it have any bearing on the content, Marlon Davis’ megawatt smile, infection enthusiasm and dynamic delivery seem auspicious. Then comes the tired old excuse that his manager made…

Ellie Taylor: Elliementary

10 Aug 20143 stars

Debut littered with comic gems that hops back and forth across the feminist line

Word of mouth has spread so quickly about Ellie Taylor’s debut Fringe show that the tiny venue is standing room only. This reviewer was lucky enough to get a seat literally at her feet, with an excellent view of her footwear and in the splash zone for…

Neel Kolhatkar in GENeration comedY

10 Aug 20142 stars

Disappointing Fringe debut of observational comedy from 20-year-old

On the back of modest Youtube success with observational videos about his life in contemporary Australia, Neel Kolhatkar makes a disappointing Fringe debut. Drawing on similar content to that of his videos, he offers a mix of personal anecdotes and…

Harvey, Garvey and The Kane

10 Aug 20144 stars

Exquisitely executed antics delivered with energy and commitment

Three comedians all lacking in dignity / In a darkened room where we lay our scene / From ancient comedy format breaks new sketches / Where new Shakespearean laughs are gleaned. In a rapid-fire onslaught of superlative sketch comedy Stephen Harvey…

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Imran Yusuf: Roar of the Underdog

10 Aug 20143 stars

Satirical rant that’s both mature and non-preachy

Since he was last at the Fringe in 2011 tackling the image of Muslims in the West, Imran Yusuf has shed the shiny suits, moved to a more intimate venue and upped the ante on political and social issues. Born in Africa to Indian parents, Yusuf was raised…

Frank Skinner: Man In A Suit

10 Aug 20143 stars

Safe shocks from a well-dressed man

Man in a Suit, the title of Frank Skinner’s show, reveals Ronseal-like levels of hidden meaning. He’s a man. He usually wears a suit. This minimal effort and come-as-you-are philosophy informs his entire set. OK, there’s a short bit about selling his…

Bec Hill in... Ellipsis

10 Aug 20144 stars

The pint-sized Australian dynamo deserves an award for this Edinburgh Festival Fringe comedy show

Bec Hill bounds on stage and executes a delightful mime that is almost as adorable as The Boy with Tape on his Face at his most charming. Bec Hill delivers painstakingly constructed puns that will have you eagerly committing them to memory to test out…

Will Adamsdale: Borders

9 Aug 20144 stars

A thematically cohesive, cleverly scripted and all-round charming Edinburgh Festival Fringe show

The Fringe programme is littered with self-indulgent, whiney, middle-class, white-boy comedians explaining, self-deprecatingly, their ineptitude. Will Adamsdale happily cops to this label and on the surface he offers a similar product: a shambling…

I Am Not Malala

9 Aug 20143 stars

Short but sweet set about identity from British Asian Muslim at Edinburgh Free Fringe

In 2012, Pakistani schoolgirl Malala Yousafzai was shot after protesting the Taliban ban on girls attending school. Since then her visibility to the world has increased with TV appearances and a slew of international awards. Sadia Azmat takes a look at…

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Tom Allen: Life / Style

7 Aug 20142 stars

Frustratingly mediocre Edinburgh Festival Fringe show with hints of refreshing sincerity

Tom Allen has built a persona for himself over successive years at the Fringe. He’s camp and catty, smooth one minute and scathing the next as he delivers personal tales with a knowingly arched eyebrow and a deliberately cocked hip. This year he takes a…

Cupcakes with Colebrook and Khoshsokhan

4 Aug 20142 stars

A two-hander combining in-your-face clowning, subtle discomforts and cakes at the Free Fringe

Joining forces and halving the risk of putting on a Fringe show, George Colebrook and Amir Khoshsokhan each contribute a very different 20-minute set. Colebrook short-circuits the expected set-up / joke structure and replaces it with an unsettling…

Robert White: The Curious Incident of the Gag and the Gun-crime... Plus More Stuff!

4 Aug 20142 stars

Uneven Free Fringe comedy show taking in puns, Asperger's and homosexuality

Robert White strikes an odd note from the off as he enters the stage dressed in a bin bag and playing the trumpet. Once the show proper starts, it is still difficult to get a handle on what he’s trying to pull off. White has Asperger’s and uses his…

Sam Simmons: Death of a Sails-Man

3 Aug 20144 stars

High-functioning surreality from the Edinburgh Festival Fringe mainstay

Amidst a stage strewn with Lego, cardboard sharks and coconuts (Death of a Sails-Man is set in the ocean), Sam Simmons stands be-wetsuited and repeatedly thrusting his pelvis. He introduces himself as Phil, a muesli salesman who was lost at sea while…

Joel Dommett: Finding Emo

3 Aug 20143 stars

An anecdotal confessional Free Fringe comedy show that steers clear of 'sad comedy' pitfalls

After two fairly successful Fringe shows in 2011 and 2012 at one of the major venues, Joel Dommett has packed up shop and moved to the free side of the Fringe. Trading the financial risk of major venue show for the relatively low buy-in at the Free…