Reviews & features: Issue 665

330 reviews

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Vive Le Cabaret

27 Aug 20104 stars

Fascinating Aida, Meow Meow and The Penny Dreadfuls head up quality cabaret package

The explosion of cabaret on this year’s Festival circuit has meant that there are plenty of shows whose attitude to quality control is suspect. Thankfully Vive Le Cabaret is a wonderful exception to this. Fronted by the inimitable Des O'Connor – a…

Anthony Burgess: A Clockwork Orange

27 Aug 20104 stars

Timeless novel given female makeover

Anthony Burgess’ timeless novel is given an unconventional makeover with an influx of girls and an examination of the rise of the female gang. With the delightfully eccentric Amy Brangwyn playing the violent protagonist Alex, and taking full advantage…

Following Wendy

27 Aug 20103 stars

Unconventional take on the Peter Pan story

When a young girl Wendy disappears from a house party she has thrown in the absence of her parents, (through an upstairs window and accompanied by a boy with no shadow apparently!?) her friend Sebastian is arrested in connection. Following an argument…

Twelfth Night

27 Aug 20103 stars

By my troth, an afternoon delight (if you’ve got the energy)

The small cast composing this year’s C Theatre production are really enjoying themselves. They transport Twelfth Night’s faraway kingdom of Illyria to a sexy 1930s London scene, and complete the look with boater hats, black lace, cigarette holders, and…

Edinburgh Comedy Awards shortlist a strong gathering led by Bo Burnham and Josie Long

26 Aug 2010

2010 awards puts two women on shortlist for first time

According to Nica Burns, producer of the Foster’s Edinburgh Comedy Awards, 2010 is ‘a vintage year for comedy,’ and the shortlist for the main award ‘reflects the enormous changes in the comedy landscape’. Of course, this might just be the kind of…

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A Midsummer Night's Dream

25 Aug 20101 star

More hood than wood (but still not good)

This year at the Fringe, the young and award-winning Shed Theatre Company give our favourite Shakespearean rom-com a contemporary twist. Poetic couplets become edgy rap rhythms and an urban dub-step dance-off is choreographed into the fairies’s scene.

Burns: The Video Diary

25 Aug 20104 stars

Rabbie gets down and dirty in Auld Reekie

Donald Smith’s multimedia dramatisation of Robert Burns’ Edinburgh days is a slick, atmospheric affair. Video sequences and fragments of live delivery combine to provide a shifting, restless picture of the Bard as he arrives in the capital of…

Edinburgh Comedy Awards shortlist announced

25 Aug 2010

Bo Burnham, Greg Davies and Sarah Millican head up 2010 shortlist

The shortlist for the 2010 Foster's Edinburgh Comedy Awards has been announced. The acts nominated are: Bo Burnham, Greg Davies, Josie Long, Russell Kane and Sarah Millican

Frisky and Mannish - The College Years

25 Aug 20105 stars

Not only hilariously funny, they’re also both brilliant musicians

Jumping straight into Frisky and Mannish’s College Years, having missing out on their 2009 School of Pop, I was a little uncertain as to whether I would be able to keep up with the pace. Fortunately the talented duo are prepared for this, introducing…

The Gentleman of Leisure

25 Aug 20103 stars

Engaging and sharp

Tom Neenan and Nish Kumar are The Gentlemen of Leisure, bringing you an energetic and enlightening hour of satire and silliness. Although a little more on-stage chemistry between the pair wouldn’t go amiss, the duo are engaging and sharp, and pull off…

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Getting Over Milk Wood

25 Aug 20101 star

Things go from the sub-standard to the ridiculous

This modern reinvention of Dylan Thomas’ Under Milk Wood is trying so hard to be ever so clever that it ends up making little sense at all. The attempts at modernisation and characterisation are heavy handed, cast members frequently fluff their lines…

Grimm Tales of the Unexpected

25 Aug 20102 stars

Crudely draws out the latent dark content of the Grimms’ fairytales

Offering precisely what it says on the tin (minus an ‘m’), this piece from Manchester’s Broken Productions crudely draws out the latent dark content of the Grimms’ fairytales, with scenes of incestuous rape, three murders and a suicide cropping up. It…

Henry Rollins

25 Aug 20103 stars

Fast-paced spoken word from the punk-rock raconteur

Henry Rollins hates inactivity. His opening salvo – and this is surely the only term to use, as his stream-of-consciousness rants hit home like artillery-fire – concerns his need to exercise earlier in the day, despite it being his scheduled day off…

The Horne Section

25 Aug 20104 stars

Late night jazz comedy shambles – in a fun way

‘We’re combining music and comedy – we’re pretty sure this is the first time it’s ever been done!’ announces Alex Horne, taking on compère duties this evening at the head of a live jazz band. There’s a bit of audience participation, some snappy music…

I’m Still Here . . .

25 Aug 20102 stars

Ably flitting between genres

The West End pro takes a saunter through hits from Sondheim to Mika and Queen to ‘Moon River’ with a connecting thread of drama. His voice holds up well, ably flitting between genres, but a worrying ironic tone starts to creep in until during ‘MacArthur…

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25 Aug 20102 stars

Student-y question and answer improv

The strangely-accented lady in the ringmaster’s costume gathers material from the audience: an unanswered question (‘Why did the chicken cross the road?’), some names (‘Jemima! Theodore!’), and a location (‘the zoo!’). These answers are all duly noted…

The Night Heron

25 Aug 20103 stars

An interesting watch, but is a bit too broad

A devout young man suffers in a freezing shack, while his geezer-ish roommate plans their escape. It’s a basic plot outline, at which almost everything you’d expect to see at the Fringe is thrown: poetry, religion, comedic touches, earnest drama…

Now is the Winter

25 Aug 20102 stars

Confusion abounds

Unless you’re seriously intimate with Shakespeare’s original give this a miss. This one-woman reinterpretation of Richard III retells the story from his ascendancy to the battle of Bosworth through the eyes of a faithful servant. A challenging notion…

Sammy J

25 Aug 20103 stars

Transgressive flights of fancy

Exceedingly likeable and not above telling traditional jokes and singing conventional songs, this gangly Melbourne comic’s true talent lies in his transgressive flights of fancy. J’s opening routine concerning a ‘double cock con’ he was part of at a…

Seymour Mace

25 Aug 20104 stars

Odd, witty and unexpected gags galore

Since Mace has been accused of not putting enough of himself into his performance, he has thrown his whole lazy self into this year’s show. You’ll get a whole different kettle of joke to that of the mainstream Festival here with odd, witty and…

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Tales From a Cabaret

25 Aug 20103 stars

A series of increasingly sinister jokes and songs

In the underground vault of Fingers Piano Bar two actors in white face, bowler hats and shabby suits first give us a history of cabaret culture. They go on to a series of increasingly sinister jokes and songs, reminding us that the history of…

Tim Vine: Joke-a-motive

25 Aug 20103 stars

Quickfire pun-slinging and silly songs

You know what to you expect going into a Tim Vine show: the man has built a reputation on the rapid-fire delivery of one-liners, even going so far as to secure a Guinness World Record for the most jokes told in an hour (although we should mention that…

Too Middle Class for Chlamydia

25 Aug 20102 stars

Fairly pedestrian – not to mention misogynist

Curiously, this one-man show in which a young middle class lad recalls the variously difficult girls he’s been romantically involved with is delivered as a comic monologue, though the material is probably better suited to a stand-up routine. A few…

Two Bloody Queens

25 Aug 20101 star

A noble, but shambolic attempt

It takes a brave man to sum up the lives of two dead monarchs – especially in drag, in a noisy pub basement, in an hour. Robert Inston’s portrayal of Elizabeth Tudor and Mary Queen of Scots is a noble, but shambolic attempt to show the real women behind…

The Unexpected Items

25 Aug 20104 stars

A spirited rabble of punning linguists

The Unexpected Items is a spirited rabble of punning linguists who embellish their clever, feel-good sketches with satirical pop songs and spontaneous dance moves. The Oxford troupe’s tributes to Alan Rickman and Carol Ann Duffy are ebullient, while…