Reviews & features: Theatre

2,062 reviews

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City of the Blind

5 Aug 20144 stars

A deeply unsettling, unforgettable experience

Theatrical iconoclast David Leddy’s online thriller is an astonishing achievement, in technical and dramatic terms. It delves into some of the rawest, most distressing areas of human activity and forces you to confront them in detail and at…

Cuckooed

5 Aug 20144 stars

A personal tale of spying from comedian Mark Thomas, performed at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe

A Perrier Award nominee in 1992 – the year that Steve Coogan won it – Mark Thomas’ comedy has always been inseparable from his activism. And since his multiple award-winning Bravo Figaro – an emotional show about his father’s love of opera, and his…

Dracula

5 Aug 20142 stars

Action to the Word's gothic musical Edinburgh Festival Fringe production is like Twilight meets Glee

Before we start laying into Action To The Word’s gothic musical adaptation, let it be known: there were just as many audience members offering standing ovations as there were sneaking out mid-show. To find out which side of the dividing line you’re on…

Factor 9

5 Aug 20144 stars

A shocking true story about contaminated NHS blood, performed at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe

Prepare to be physically shaken by Factor 9. The show from Inverness' Dogstar Theatre – which has already toured to rave reviews – alternately elicits tears, nausea and trembling rage that this true story could ever have been allowed to happen. It tells…

The Flood

5 Aug 20144 stars

An unflinching, immersive WWI drama, staged at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe

Deep in the bowels of Summerhall, we are in the trenches of the First World War. A nurse chops raw liver while a soldier obsessively counts the lice in his uniform. The tiny space smells harsh and metallic, of old bricks and blood. The audience of ten…

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Hayani

5 Aug 20142 stars

Two-handed exploration of post-apartheid South Africa at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe

Hayani means 'home' in one of the languages sprinkled throughout this sprawling journey through the post-apartheid years in South Africa. And while performers Atandwa Kani and Nat Ramabulana have an abundance of energy and talent, their show could…

Janis Joplin: Full Tilt

5 Aug 20144 stars

Cora Bissett, Peter Arnott and Angela Darcy bring the music icon to life at the Edinburgh Fringe

Following its success at Oran Mor's A Play, a Pie and a Pint season last year, Janis Joplin: Full Tilt arrives at the Fringe as one of this year's most anticipated shows – and it lives up to the hype. It’s staged in the style of a gig, with the…

Kate

5 Aug 20143 stars

A smoothly and effectively delivered WW2 Icelandic drama at Edinburgh Festival Fringe

When Britain invaded Iceland in 1940, to prevent Germany securing the strategic stronghold, the UK troops were generally greeted warmly – with some young Icelandic women, as Agnes Þorkelsdóttir Wild’s play remembers, seeing either a romantic escape…

My Obsession

5 Aug 20143 stars

Short and sweet half-hour Edinburgh Fringe play starring Suki Webster and Paul Merton

It feels rather apt to be watching My Obsession in Edinburgh during the Fringe. This half hour show, about an obsessed fan who breaks into a stand-up’s hotel room in the middle of the night, muses on comedians’ relationship to fame and their fans. We…

Party in the USA!

5 Aug 20144 stars

A rocking take on physical theatre, the economic collapse and drugs at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe

A rocking take on physical theatre, the economic collapse and the mind-expanding qualities of psychedelic drugs, Party in the USA! is a dynamic satire that manages to maintain a coherent narrative while jumping around between times and places. Following…

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The Pitiless Storm

5 Aug 20144 stars

David Hayman on blistering form in in Chris Dolan's political play, staged at the Edinburgh Fringe

Anyone who’s watched David Hayman perform will know his skill for mastering the characters he plays. And he doesn’t disappoint here. Hayman is on blistering form in this one-man show that, while making clear its political intent, is ultimately a…

SmallWar

5 Aug 20144 stars

Powerful verbatim WWI work at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe

Flemish actor and writer Valentijn Dhaenens’ follow-up to 2012’s Bigmouth looks at the little people caught up in conflicts enacted by his previous production’s world-leading figures. But don’t expect a tear-drenched memorial for the fallen, nor a…

Threnody for the Sky Children

5 Aug 20144 stars

A zombie apocalypse romantic comedy epic poem at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe

Although Jack Dean’s epic poem covers zombie apocalypse, the anguish of failed love and the ravings of ‘philosophical pervert’ Slavoj Zizek, his attention to metaphorical detail and intimate performance make Threnody a touching, and emotive hour.

The Generation of Z: Edinburgh

5 Aug 20144 stars

Entertaining interative zombie show at 2014 Edinburgh Fringe

'That’s like every movie I absolutely love,’ grins one punter as he emerges, breathless and ecstatic, from immersive action-horror production The Generation of Z. He’s not wrong – all the familiar tropes from modern zombie flicks are present and…

Light

5 Aug 20144 stars

Theatre Ad Infinitum's spectacular Edinburgh Fringe show is inspired by surveillance scandals

This is one of Theatre Ad Infinitum's best shows yet. Their most recent Fringe hits, the multi-award winning Translunar Paradise (2011) and Ballad of the Burning Star (2013), were slickly choreographed but in Light, the group achieve with mime and…

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Ryan Van Winkle and Dan Gorman: ViewMaster

5 Aug 20144 stars

Intimate and charming poetry and music journey away from the bustle of the Fringe

Upstairs in an attic-like room, hidden away in a forgotten corner of Summerhall, poet Ryan Van Winkle and musician Dan Gorman have made a den. At the start each audience member (this is a show for one person at a time) is given a short questionnaire…

The House of Bernarda Alba

5 Aug 20143 stars

Lorca’s powerful all-female drama

Federico Garcia Lorca's intense hothouse melodrama is transferred reverentially to the stage by the Fourth Monkey Theatre Company; with a youthful, all-female cast crammed into a tiny venue, you can practically smell the hormones as the classic study of…

Electra: An American Gothic

5 Aug 20143 stars

Ancient Greek myth transferred to 1880s US by Slippery Rock Theatre for Edinburgh Festival Fringe

Pennsylvania’s Slippery Rock Theatre has been bringing nastily effective little tales of horror to the Fringe for several years now, and although this year’s offering tones things down a bit, there’s still the trademark fevered intensity that’s made…

Thief

5 Aug 20143 stars

Jean Genet-inspired monologue at 2014 Edinburgh Fringe

Winston Churchill famously described the British Royal Navy as having been sustained by three things, namely, "rum, sodomy and the lash." It is to just such a sexually dissolute and violent maritime society that we are taken by Liam Rudden's Thief.  A…

Big Fat Fringe Bribe blog 2014: Goodbye Gunther

5 Aug 2014

A visit from the Grim Reaper results in free publicity for Frank Wurzinger

We thought that Big Fat Fringe Bribe season had peaked with the delivery of a real live human being, but we clearly weren't thinking metaphysically enough. The Grim Reaper himself appeared in the List offices to hand out the next bribe (incongruously, a…

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The Comedy of Errors

4 Aug 20143 stars

Bristol Old Vic Theatre School present take on Shakespeare with broad appeal

Finding new and exciting ways to deliver Shakespeare to children is a challenging, but by no means impossible, task. Bristol Old Vic Theatre School is making a speciality of it, after last year’s superb Romeo & Juliet, and now that farcical tale of…

Dan Jones: New Kid

4 Aug 20142 stars

A comedic play with great potential that just doesn't come together at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe

Eager compere Dan Jones welcomes us his show 'Live at the Lolaceum', a – very probably – London-based comedy night. He introduces us to his acts; all of whom are suspiciously like Jones and all equally unhinged. From somewhere in the north of England is…

Beans on Toast

4 Aug 20143 stars

Playful and lightly enchanting vignettes from Patch of Blue at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe

Patch of Blue ’s Beans on Toast conjures a world of bunting, fairy lights, soft furnishings and brightly illuminated vignettes of youthful love. Between them, the six strong ensemble present the star-crossed lovers: Jen and Scott. Passing the roles…

Birdwatchers’ Wives

4 Aug 20143 stars

Despite much to like about the show, Caroline Smith’s avian alter-ego fails to take full flight

‘Welcome! Willkommen! Bienvenue!’ warbles Rita Grebe. Grebe is seven-foot tall, preening delicately and resplendent in a sumptuous costume of extravagant plumage (designed by David Curtis-Ring). This solo show from performance artist Caroline Smith…

A Series of Increasingly Impossible Acts

3 Aug 20142 stars

Improvised knockabout show

It’s a tricky, if not impossible business to firmly review a devised show; the essence of the performance is comes from having an unstable quality, a changing bill of fare from night to night. The opening of this show from the Lyric Hammersmith’s Secret…