Reviews & features: Edinburgh Festivals

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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…

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…

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…

Ute Lemper with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra

19 Aug 20144 stars

Stellar interpretations of Weill and Brecht at the Edinburgh International Festival

What a treat. Ute Lemper is the peerless interpreter of the Weimar songbook, making her cabaret competitors look like greasy lightweights. And the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, conducted by American Lawrence Foster, have the most fun with these lush…

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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…

Clown Slut

18 Aug 20144 stars

Feminism redefined through clowning, dancing and kebabs at Edinburgh Festival Free Fringe

Joanna Griffin's semi-autobiographical one woman show Clown Slut initially seems like a jolly romp through the indignities of university life, but slowly reveals itself as something much sharper. She plays a gauche protagonist, desperate to dance and…

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…

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…

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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…

Robert Newman's New Theory of Evolution

18 Aug 20143 stars

Comedy veteran puts on engaging show but lacks spark at Edinburgh Festival Fringe

Richard Dawkins comes in for a kicking in this show by veteran comedian Robert Newman – and it's a pretty funny one too. In 1993, alongside his erstwhile comedy partner David Baddiel, Newman was once the first comedian to sell out Wembley Stadium. This…

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Sam Brady: Kindness

18 Aug 20143 stars

Departure from typical cynicism in hour of endearing comedy at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe

It’s not always easy to stand out as a stand-up in an overflowing Fringe, and in this respect, Sam Brady was dealt an unfortunate hand. The well-seasoned comedian plays just a few exposed bricks away from another act, whose habitually loud audience…

Bal Moderne: Escaping War

18 Aug 20143 stars

Interactive workshop emphasising the importance of dance during wartime

Having run for over twenty years, company Bal Moderne – based first in Paris, now in Brussels – has built a successful reputation for getting people up and dancing. Escaping War, a collaboration with the International Festival, eases us in slowly. On…

Beats North

18 Aug 20143 stars

A touching theatre double-bill that reminds of the power of music at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe

In this double-bill of plays by Ishy Din and Luke Barnes, Al and Jack are two young northern men trying to find their way into adulthood. Jack prefers Bonnie Tyler and Meatloaf to football, and needs to make sure his ragdoll – a hand-me-down toy from…

The Big Bite-Size Plays Factory Goes Down the Toilet

18 Aug 20143 stars

Toilet-obsessed public information kids' show at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe

Parents of kids who've hit potty training age will be aware there's unlimited capacity in their wee brains for repeating the word 'poo'. The Big Bite-Size Plays Factory has turned this compulsion into a gold-mine with their short set of variations on a…

Billie Was Tap Dancing for the Seagulls

18 Aug 20143 stars

Intrinsically odd and captivating one-woman show at Edinburgh Festival Fringe

With such an esoteric title, it's hard to know what to expect from Billie Was Tap Dancing for the Seagulls. Yet, even after seeing Katie Bridget O'Brien's one-woman show, it's still hard to know exactly what to make of its intrinsic oddness. She comes…

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Cal Wilson: It Could Have Been Me

18 Aug 20144 stars

Loveably mad performance from New Zealand comedian with fantastic use of props

Cal Wilson is a thoroughly loveable performer and is also a bit mad. She takes us on a journey through her many and disparate alternative selves, pondering what she might have been had she not ended up a married mother-of-one performing a one-woman show…

Edinburgh Art Festival group show Garage is a way of ‘getting people together and having some fun’

18 Aug 2014

Artist Emma Bowen discusses the show, which also features work from Denis Uster and David MacDiarmid

Each weekend during the Edinburgh Art Festival, Garage, a mini art festival located inside and outside of 51a Northumberland Street, will open to the public. The project has ben organised by artist Emma Bowen, who has invited guest curators and sundry…

I AM

18 Aug 20144 stars

Lemi Ponifasio's exploration of war is a raw, brutal howl at Edinburgh International Festival

New-Zealand based MAU’s response to the 100-year anniversary of the start of World War I contains some of the most raw and ungodly images you are likely to see this festival. Combining dance, theatre, song and poetry it treads a landscape backed by…

Interview: artist Alessandro Massimo on new show I’ll Be Your Mirror

18 Aug 2014

Artworks exploring the ideas of borders, boundaries and citizenship at the Edinburgh Art Festival

Alessandro Massimo’s interest in geographical borders started when he was researching the Biala river in Poland: ‘observing how the history and geographical configuration of some regions of Poland have changed around this river began my interest in how…

Jacqueline Donachie: Mary and Elizabeth

18 Aug 20143 stars

Subtle installation across Princes Street Gardens commissioned for the Edinburgh Art Festival

For those visiting Edinburgh during the Festival, Jacqueline Donachie’s red chalk lines, running from Cockenzie to the city centre, could easily be lost among the ubiquitous red of the Fringe stands. Seeking it out and starting at Elizabeth instead of…