Reviews & features: Edinburgh Festival Fringe

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Kevin Day: Standy Uppy

20 Aug 20144 stars

Delicious line of black comedy runs through show at 2014 Edinburgh Festival Fringe

It’s been seen many times before that a comic returning to the Fringe after a decade or more’s absence proves to be less than match-fit for a gruelling August. A steward’s enquiry won’t be necessary after Kevin Day’s run of Standy Uppy is over; he’s…

Lysistrata

20 Aug 20142 stars

Greek comedy becomes a tragedy with constant mood shifts destroying narrative journey

The script, freely adapted from Aristophanes' fifth century comedy about women going on sex strike to stop a war, has massive ambitions. Sometimes using passages from the source - including an argument between old men and women and an ill-judged…

Natasia Demetriou: You'll Never Have All of Me

20 Aug 20143 stars

Fun hour of comedy with help from comic Mae Martin at Edinburgh Festival Fringe

It's hard to imagine that Natasia Demetriou has much of a clue as to where this show is going, and she has the air of someone flying by the seat of her one-piece tuxedo. It's pretty joyous knockabout stuff though, despite, or perhaps because of its…

Rachel Parris: Live in Vegas

20 Aug 20143 stars

Charismatic musical comedy show at 2014 Edinburgh Festival Fringe lacks hilarity

It can be hard to strike the right note in musical comedy, but Rachel Parris is definitely in key as she returns to the Fringe with Live in Vegas. The premise of the show is a night of entertainment in a seedy hotel, with Parris playing an array of…

The Sma Room Seance

20 Aug 20143 stars

Hybrid music-theatre in search of poet William Soutar's spirit

Here is the setup. We, the audience, are a group of poetry-hungry gullibles, attending a session with a medium of unidentified origin and heavy makeup, name of Madame Lozatska. On stage there is a jazz-folk band playing the poems of Perth-born poet…

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SPIN

20 Aug 20142 stars

Contemporary dance/hip hop meets indoor parkour in unexciting quartet

Presented as part of the Welsh Dance Strand, Sandra Harnisch-Lacey’s quartet combines elements of contemporary dance and hip hop with an indoor version of parkour. The latter element is thanks to two wheeled ramps that the dancers (three men and one…

WitTank: Old School Secrets

20 Aug 20143 stars

Smart, psychotic and very funny twisted world presented by comedy trio

The moments of insanity scattered throughout WitTank’s new show make Old School Secrets a must-see. There is no reason why a boisterous Shania Twain should be visiting a boarding school to perform at their New Year’s Eve party but Naz Osmanoglu pulls it…

The Addams Family: The Musical

19 Aug 20143 stars

Song and dance with a touch of gallows humour at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe

The company have gone as big as they dare for this musical take on the ghoulish television show with an orchestra, chorus line and a two hour running time. The set changes and choreography are slick, which is no mean feat on a reduced stage space, and…

Alistair Green: Nobody's Twisting Your Arm

19 Aug 20142 stars

Thin material from self-confessed loser at Edinburgh Festival Fringe

It’s ironic that comedians often become rich, overpraised successes by playing the hapless, dateless, penniless non-starter. Alistair Green peddles the line of self-confessed loser and outsider who ‘used to have hope’, and he certainly lays out a varied…

Bonenkai

19 Aug 20143 stars

Dynamic musical theatre based on Japanese drinking celebration at Edinburgh Festival Fringe

Named for the Japanese drinking celebration – essentially an end of year blow-out designed for blocking out the past year's woes, Bonenkai is an energetic display with a cast that doubles as a vigorous live band. With little plot, or character…

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Conor O’Toole's Manhood

19 Aug 20143 stars

Clever and witty writing let down by clumsiness at Edinburgh Festival Fringe

‘It’s quite difficult to fill a show at noon,’ says Conor O’Toole, ‘when apparently a lie-in is the best free show on the Fringe'. Luckily for him, the pillow troupe and duvet ensemble appeared to have been let out early, with the fundamentally likeable…

Jonny & the Baptists: The Satiric Verses

19 Aug 20143 stars

Catchy, political songs from musical comedy double act at Edinburgh Festival Fringe

Musical comedy double act Jonny & The Baptists (aka Jonny Donahoe and Paddy Gervers) got an unlikely publicity boost earlier this year. After setting out on their 'Stop UKIP' tour and releasing a video on YouTube, the party sat up and took notice…

Mark Watson: Flaws

19 Aug 20144 stars

Superb show at Edinburgh Festival Fringe ensures a decade on comedian remains at the top of his game

The Thomas the Tank Engine theme song is playing on repeat, the audience are blowing whistles and popping balloons at random and Mark Watson is stumbling around the room followed by a man demanding that he tweet about this experience. It’s both an…

Simon Thacker’s Ritmata

19 Aug 20143 stars

Tight-knit ensemble pulsing with internationally inspired energy at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe

Hardly surprising for a group bearing an Italian name that means rhythm, Simon Thacker’s Ritmata is a tight-knit ensemble characterised by an internationally inspired pulsating energy. For their Made in Scotland show in Summerhall’s Café, their…

Song Noir: The Director’s Cut

19 Aug 20143 stars

Pumajaw successfully conjure late night glamour of film noir at Edinburgh Festival Fringe

Song Noir's theatrical trappings – moody lighting, video, a series of pre-recorded spoken word interludes – are neglible, adding little depth to the already moody and profound songs. Through a mixture of classic covers, with cinematic associations, and…

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The Twins Macabre: Small Mediums at Large

19 Aug 20144 stars

A series of grisly black comedy vignettes at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe

Ivy and Morris are The Twins Macabre, two psychic siblings that come across like creepy Victorian children trapped in the modern world. Equally influenced by Hammer Horror and the Addams Family, they brilliantly inhabit their characters: Ivy is the…

Brush

18 Aug 20144 stars

Live illustration and song make for accomplished Korean tale at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe

Charming in its simplicity, Korean company Haddangse has found a universal language in which to tell its very home-grown story of young boy Daesung who wants a baby brother. The story is strongly embedded with Korean cultural references, as the boy…

Back Door

18 Aug 20143 stars

A gender-bending twist on Alfred Hitchock’s Rear Window at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe

Offering a gender-bending twist on Alfred Hitchock’s Rear Window, Off-Off-Off-Broadway’s Back Door joins truculent war reporter Tabitha Montgomery (Laura Louise Baker) in 1920s Paris as she recovers from a broken leg. Attended to by wittering fop John…

Dead Letters

18 Aug 20144 stars

PropUp Theatre's charming Edinburgh Festival Fringe production explores the secret life of mail

In this charming anti-Bartleby, newly appointed post office worker George crouches down to a pile of undelivered messages in the dead letter office. As paper rains on his head, he is overwhelmed by the potential heartbreak and sorrow the stranded post…

Echolalia

18 Aug 20143 stars

Echoes of vaudeville in one-woman performance at Edinburgh Festival Fringe

Kiwi performer Jen McArthur's character Echo is a woman on the autistic spectrum, who needs numbers and endless routine to make it through the day. Her seemingly endless struggle to leave the house is an amusing spin on retro vaudeville, right down to…

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Icarus Falling

18 Aug 20144 stars

Physical theatre meets performance poetry in strong solo from Australian performance poet

’I am all words and nothing more,’ or so declares the aptly-named Australian performance poet Scott Wings at the start of this strong, concentrated solo show. He’s speaking in character as Icarus, the lad from Greek mythology whose manufactured…

In The Surface Of A Bubble

18 Aug 20143 stars

Ambitious allegorical study into human motivation and creativity at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe

Edward Day's play is nothing if not ambitious- an allegorical study into human motivation and creativity. In The Surface Of A Bubble weaves together Lecoq trained physical theatre, live music and puppetry with a dark, fragmentary structure. Michelle…

Klip

18 Aug 20143 stars

Fun musical absurdism in pieces by Livingstones Kabinet at Edinburgh Festival Fringe

A disclaimer is displayed at the start of this show warns audience members not to attach any great depth or meaning to this performance. With that in mind, Denmark-based absurdists Livingstones Kabinet set the scene for a provocative hour of sound and…

Lloyd Langford: Old Fashioned

18 Aug 20143 stars

Solid, dependable and reliably funny stand-up at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe

Welsh comic Lloyd Langford has been bubbling under for a while now as Rhod Gilbert's regular sparring partner (and former flatmate) on radio and TV alongside guests appearances on QI and Russell Howard’s Good News. His show, Old Fashioned, fits the…

Once Upon a Nightmare

18 Aug 20143 stars

Dynamic adventure play in need of streamlining at Edinburgh Festival Free Fringe

Although there is much to enjoy in this fantasy adventure from Box Step Productions, including some fine performances, there is one over-riding problem with Once Upon a Nightmare – it wants to be a film. It came as no surprise to discover, after…