Reviews & features: Issue 611

182 reviews

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Matthew Bourne's Dorian Gray

21 Aug 2008

Thoroughly modern Oscar

Although no one would bat an eyelid today, Oscar Wilde’s gothic novel, The Picture of Dorian Gray caused shock and outrage when it was published in 1890. The tale of an impressionable young man who becomes obsessed with his own image, had a little too…

5 Questions - Irvine Welsh

21 Aug 2008

Give us five words to describe Crime? Crime is an existential thriller. Which authors should be more famous than they are now? I used to say Ron Butlin, but I think that’s changing now. I think Doug Johnstone will soon be very famous. If I have…

Bryan Talbot

21 Aug 2008

Graphic detail in the finest strips

Bryan Talbot is a bit of a legend in the UK comics industry. He’s provided art for the likes of 2000AD, Sandman and Batman but you can still see the influence of underground comix artists such as Robert Crumb and Gilbert Shelton even in his most…

Dan Le Sac Vs Scroobius Pip

21 Aug 2008

Electrifying collaboration brought together by MySpace

Opposites attract, right? That certainly seems true for Dan Le Sac vs Scroobius Pip, the former being a short, stocky, shy beatmaster while the latter is a tall, skinny hyperactive wordsmith. ‘We both bring the best out of each other,’ says Pip, aka…

Janey Godley

21 Aug 20083 stars

Family tale from straight-talking Glaswegian

The title of this show, Domestic Godley, doesn’t refer to the cooking, cleaning, dinner parties ‘domestic goddess’ stereotype. Janey Godley’s candid stand-up is specific to her east end of Glasgow upbringing and subsequently eventful life. With a…

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Koko the Crocodile

21 Aug 20084 stars

A little touch of Africa

Mara Menzies is fairly new to the storytelling game, but has taken to it like a duck to water. Or rather, like a crocodile to a riverbank – much like the wriggling, paw-waving one that appears in her charming new show. Based on Menzies’ recently…

Kristen Schaal & Kurt Braunohler

21 Aug 20084 stars

Schaal and pal delve into surreal corners

A warning is gently dispatched: Double Down Hearts will break our minds. Co-written in reverse chronological order by Kristen Schaal, of Flight of the Conchords fame, and Kurt Braunohler, her ‘gift’ of a comedy partner, the play pastiches the melodrama…

Michael McIntyre

21 Aug 20082 stars

The accent is on over-familiarity

Last year, Michael McIntyre apparently harangued two judges on the if.comedy panel for doing this nation the great disservice of not handing him the award on a plate. Still, he could at least reassure himself of his genius with all those flattering star…

Miniprofile: Jay Brannan

21 Aug 2008

Sound sugar-coated acoustica with crystal clear swooping vocals and an edge of stark sexuality.

Was it terrifying releasing your first album Goddamned yourself? It seems like the natural order of things to me because I’m such a weird person with very specific ideas and opinions and beliefs. It’s a lot of work, for sure. I’m like, ‘do I get to…

Scott Capurro

21 Aug 20083 stars

A mix of the inspired and the obnoxious

It’s been said that the older people get, the less worried they are about causing offence. Scott Capurro, veteran of some 15 Fringe summers, has clearly decided to go for broke this year, trampling all over every sacred cow and totem of political…

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Scottish Dance Theatre

21 Aug 20084 stars

Two very different displays of talent

It’s not bombastic patriotism to suggest that some of the most accomplished and satisfying contemporary dance on the Fringe is homegrown. These two works performed by Scottish Dance Theatre are an excellent showcase for the jaw-dropping versatility of…

Simon Armitage

21 Aug 2008

Pop poet turns wordy rock star

Simon Armitage is a very modern poet, as happy to ruminate over Arctic Monkeys’ lyrics as he is to translate 14th century romantic poetry. During the 15 years since he handed in his notice as a probation officer to concentrate fully on his writing, he’s…

Treasure Hunt

21 Aug 2008

Rosalie Doubal leads a team around the city on a scavenger hunt in the name of art

9am City Art Centre Equipped with a bike, a laptop, a compass, eight sandwiches and some anoraks, my team – a dyspraxic researcher, a father-of-one, a diehard Buckfast drinker and a token ginger – joins a long queue of eager scavengers. Neither the…

365 - One Night to Learn a Lifetime

21 Aug 2008

Shock tactics

With 365, a series of fragmented narratives about children leaving care, Vicky Featherstone’s National Theatre of Scotland cements its commitment to telling stories of the people. Kirstin Innes meets the cast, writer and director. Lunchtime, and…

5 Questions: Dance

21 Aug 2008

David WW Johnstone, artistic director of Edinburgh-based experimental arts unit talks about his new show, Aurora Borealis, and why you should be heading to Dance Base to see it What 5 things/people inspire you most in your work? Japanese…

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5 Questions - John Wheeler

21 Aug 2008

What five words best describe your stand-up show? Only the truth is funny. Which comics should be more famous than they are now? Just Jamie Kilstein. Here is a man that is not only funny but also likes ale. Can you tell me one strange thing…

66a Church Road

21 Aug 20083 stars

Sitting amid an array of suitcases as if he has been thrown out onto the street, Daniel Kitson creates a tragicomic riff on his old flat. At first the imaginative conceit successfully taps into the sentimentality people invest in their homes, but the…

7 Sins

21 Aug 20083 stars

Limelight-loving, fabulous and about as butch as Dorothy's dog Toto, San Francisco comedian James Judd's fate was inevitable from the day his mum paid him to act out soaps she'd missed. In a breathless hour, with quick Martini stops, he acts out…

About Benson & Hill

21 Aug 20083 stars

This likeable double act play tag, so you get Geordie comic Luke Benson's audience-based improvisations and clever wordplay followed by his Leicestershire counterpart Martin Hill's observations about everyday life laced with surreal…

Achtung Pal

21 Aug 20081 star

Twelve hopeful students chew, gag and gurn their way through a barrage of German and 'Schottish' accents in this dreary 1943-Nazi-occupied-Dundee-set comedy. Sparky performances from the stinky Scottish gypsy prostitute and an officer's secretary are…

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Aeneas Faversham Forever

21 Aug 20085 stars

Dreadfuls give us a daring, playful and epic tale

A trio of Victorian gentlemen humourists, the Penny Dreadfuls bring you the visually resplendent, aurally pleasurable Aeneas Faversham Forever, one of this year’s most scrumptious and comically edifying Fringe treats. Something shadily undefined yet…

Ahir Shah & Alex Maple

21 Aug 20083 stars

Raw talents in unfettered mayhem

A few years back, a show entitled It’s a Shambles won the Perrier Best Newcomer award. If that moniker hadn’t already been snapped up, it could so easily have applied to this ramshackle affair. And yet, rather than making this an hour of difficult…

Air Alba

21 Aug 20083 stars

A celebration of Scotland’s contribution to world cuisine through song, story and music

As the small audience shuffled in out of the early evening drizzle, raconteur Nancy Nicholson and guitarist Tony Mitchell happily greeted the audience, spinning yarns before most had even taken their seats. This friendly welcome set the tone for an hour…

Alexander Heim: Doves

21 Aug 20083 stars

Harnessing pigeon power

Lyrical and sophisticated, young German artist Alexander Heim’s first solo UK show exhibits a fascinating lightness of touch. Doves pivots around a video of pigeons at a London Costa Coffee branch. Exquisitely-composed photographs of fragments of…

Ali Cook

21 Aug 20084 stars

A pleasing mix of cheesy and sinister

He chews razor blades, crushes doves and gets journalists up on stage to help him perform tricks: Ali Cook simply has no fear. With a pleasing mix of cheesy/sinister, there is happily little that is A Touch of Vegas as he demolishes mobile phones…