Reviews & features: Issue 663

88 reviews

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Courtyard Readings

12 Aug 2010

Read and listen to poetry at these outdoor readings

One of the loveliest annual events of the Festival season, these outdoor readings (don’t worry, they go indoors if/when it rains) hosted by the School of Poets are open to all poetry lovers. Come and read your own work, or a personal favourite poem, in…

Allan Brown will discuss Inside the Wickerman

12 Aug 2010

His batty book analyses the cult classic

Inside the Wicker Man is a cinema lover’s dream. The book is packed with fascinating trivia from the horror classic it explores, along with in-depth analysis and humour; and it’s a pleasure to find its author Allan Brown just as funny in everyday…

Step inside a payphone booth for a spot of storytelling

12 Aug 2010

The Invisible Dot provides audiences with a new form of entertainment

What with the Fringe being the Fringe, it’s only right and proper that some of this year’s shows should crop up in the most unlikely of places. And so it is that The Invisible Dot have brought four old British Telecom payphone booths to this year’s…

Greek Myths For Kids by the new Backhand Theatre

12 Aug 20103 stars

A bit too few tales of Kings, Heroes and Monsters

This is the debut show from the newly-formed Backhand Theatre company, and to a certain extent, it shows. There’s nothing new or overly exciting here, and the performances are solid rather than outstanding. That said, the company shows promise, and…

Lee Kern opens with Filthy Raucous Soul Bitch

12 Aug 20103 stars

Promising debut from cheeky Londoner

Inviting critics to the very first performance of his Fringe debut run, as opposed to giving himself time to ease in, could have gone either way for Lee Kern. On the one hand, he’s got a better chance of receiving a write-up, which becomes more…

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Wau Wau Sisters' Last Supper bribe The List

12 Aug 2010

With a magnet, thong, tea towel, fridge magnet and hip flask

We received this bribe bounty at the very last minute, so unfortunately didn’t have time to track down a spokesperson from the show, but we think the bribe speaks for itself. The Wau Wau Sisters sent us a bundle including: a pair of pants, a thong, a…

John Harris at the Book Festival

12 Aug 2010

Hail Hail Rock'N'Roll: expect full audio-visual support

‘I will talk about rock moustaches, Elvis’ jumpsuits and James Blunt’s lyrics,’ proclaims John Harris, author of Hail Hail Rock’N’Roll, his vintage rock, pop and counter-cultural almanac. ‘The aim is to navigate through 50-odd years of rock history…

Atsuo Okomoto: Faraway Mountain

12 Aug 2010

Japanese stone sculptor presents 12 pieces sculpted from same block

The first UK solo exhibition by Japanese stone sculptor Okomoto showcases the technique of ‘war modoshi’, or splitting and returning, and features 12 pieces sculpted from the same block which can then be pushed together to reform the original piece. The…

Moira's five ways to ensure you survive the festival

10 Aug 2010

'Falkirk's hardest woman' hands out tips on surviving the Fringe

Being on tour can be a stressful business, what with staying away from home, forgetting your lines onstage and, erm, setting off the fire alarm in the venue. Scotland’s newest stage superstar, Moira, shares her tips on how to survive a fortnight at the…

Jonno Katz - Cactus: The Seduction

8 Aug 20103 stars

A manic one-man love story

After an unnecessarily lengthy preamble that includes a lesson in cultural and linguistic differences and enforced sexual fantasising for the audience, Australian Jonno Katz weaves a love story of a man, another version of himself, an enigma wrapped in…

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Alberto Manguel will discuss All Men Are Liars

6 Aug 2010

And why we should step back from the over-reliable narrator

Alberto Manguel’s latest book, All Men Are Liars, is ‘a tribute to falsehood’ in which no one is a reliable source; not the enigmatic figure whose death is being investigated, not those who knew him, nor Manguel himself. It’s a concept that challenges…

Andrew Lawrence gets a few things off his chest

6 Aug 20104 stars

The end result is some high-pitched and hilarious rantings

Andrew Lawrence claims he doesn’t have a grand theme or gimmick to his show: he just wants to get a few things off his chest. Boy, does he want to get a few things off his chest. With most comedians you start to sweat for them after half an hour…

Candia McWilliam will discuss her memoir at the EIBF

6 Aug 2010

The festival veteran considers her own difficult story

‘I have loved the Edinburgh International Book Festival all its 22 years,’ says Charlotte Square Gardens veteran Candia McWilliam. ‘It makes an annual conversation about books and about thinking, about what it is to share in the examined life. It is…

Charlie and Lola's Best Bestest Play

6 Aug 20104 stars

TV siblings take the the stage: utterly charming and engaging

When you’re taking a product as insanely successful as Lauren Child’s Charlie and Lola series and attempting to do something new, it can be a risky business. Both the books and the TV programmes have garnered millions of fans, some of whom sat…

David Strassman: Ventriloquism taken to a whole new level

6 Aug 20105 stars

Duality brilliantly wrong-foots audience and may blow minds

American entertainer David Strassman continues to single-handedly revive and redefine the ancient art of ventriloquism for the 21st century with this hilarious mind-bending psychodrama which might have been written by Charlie Being John Malkovich…

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Emily Woof at the Writer's Retreat

6 Aug 2010

The ex-actress conducts a deep involvement with language

Emily Woof first graced Edinburgh nude and on a trapeze for a trilogy of one-woman Fringe plays, under the Sex umbrella. And throughout The Whole Wide Beauty (the debut novel by The Full Monty and Wondrous Oblivion star), the loss of physical expression…

The Emperor's Quest: Chinese folk tale with modern flavour

6 Aug 20104 stars

A balance of catchy songs, snappy dialogue and a satisfying moral

The ageing Emperor is searching for a successor, and to help him decide he gives each child in his realm a seed to nurture. We follow green-fingered Ling and her pals, streetwise Soo and fretful Bobo, in their quest to grow the winning flower. Based on…

Flesh and Blood and Fish and Fowl

6 Aug 20103 stars

Look busy, it’s the end of the world

When the human race has all but died out, when the Earth has erased almost all evidence of our existence, the last redoubt of our once great civilisation will be … the back office of a microwave meal manufacturer. As a premise, it sounds half-baked…

Garth Nix kicks off this year's Book Festival

6 Aug 2010

What he has in store and why fantasy is making a comeback

Garth Nix, the bestselling Australian author of young people’s fantasy fiction, is both honoured and alarmed that he’ll be kicking off this year’s Book Festival with its very first session. ‘I’m not entirely sure what I’ll be talking about yet!’ Nix…

Gary Younge visits the Edinburgh Book Festival

6 Aug 2010

Exploring issues of identity across this mad world

Returning to Edinburgh holds bittersweet memories for Gary Younge. He was in the city as a student in the late 80s, studying Russian and French at Heriot-Watt and was awestruck by the geography of his new surroundings. ‘Having grown up in Stevenage…

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Hip hop parodist Doc Brown

6 Aug 20103 stars

Sometimes laboured, but poignant, moving, and convincing

There are three things you should know about London’s hip hop parodist Doc Brown. One: he’s superstar author Zadie Smith’s little brother. Two: he’s had several brushes with pop success, having toured with De La Soul and Mark Ronson. Three: more than…

Lars Husum and his novel My Friend Jesus Christ

6 Aug 2010

A wild and bizarre slapstick farce

Given that My Friend Jesus Christ reads like a Dogme movie, you can’t help but feel Lars Husum’s time working as a dramaturge at Lars von Trier’s Copenhagen film production company Zentropa fed into his debut novel. ‘It’s not conscious, but I see your…

Laura Barton talks about Twenty-One Locks

6 Aug 2010

The author describes why and how she wanted to write her novel

Born and raised in Lancashire, Laura Barton migrated south a decade ago, and found gainful employment with The Guardian. ‘I started writing a music column [Hail, Hail, Rock ‘n’ Roll] in a style that was quite different to most journalism at the time,…

LuckyMe decamps to Cabaret Voltaire for the Festival

6 Aug 2010

David Pollock talks to the Glasgow-based record label/art collective

This has been the most important year yet in the evolution of Scottish electronic label LuckyMe, and this third annual Edinburgh Festival event featuring their friends, collaborators and signees should be the perfect showcase for local supporters and…

Martin Bell discusses lack of faith in politicians in Edinburgh visit

6 Aug 2010

Festival of Politics and Book Festival appearances scheduled

The man in the white suit is in town for an event at the Festival of Politics but he’s also kindly dropping by to charm the punters in Charlotte Square. Here, he will be discussing the lack of faith we now have in our elected representatives, mainly due…