Reviews & features: Brian Donaldson

708 reviews

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The Colour Ham

12 Aug 20143 stars

Comedy magic act played mainly for laughs at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe

With any comedy show where three people are vying for stage time, there’s a real need for the audience to be able to distinguish between the various personae. The Colour Ham have certainly got this aspect nailed. So, Colin McLeod is the semi-serious…

Danny Ward: Infra Dig

12 Aug 20143 stars

So-so comedy show hampered by the host's own politeness at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe

Danny Ward had a lot to contend with on this showing of his Infra Dig hour. On the front row to his left, a trio of girls giggling at their own jokes; on the front row to his right, Todd from Corrie accompanied by a small boy wearing headphones. Ever…

Jason Cook: Broken

12 Aug 20143 stars

Plenty of laughs & decent stories but this Edinburgh Fringe stand-up show lacks higher significance

At the top of Jason Cook’s solo Fringe career, he wowed audiences and critics with My Confessions and Joy, deeply personal, incredibly moving yet hugely funny shows about his family. Since then, he’s become a father and written Hebburn, a BBC sitcom…

Luke McQueen: Now That's What I Luke McQueen

12 Aug 20143 stars

Ballsy comedian delivers genuine edge of the seat show at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe

There’s one thing you can’t accuse Luke McQueen of and that’s not being totally committed to his craft. The mask barely drops for a second as he plays a man not so much on the brink, but one who’s gone past the precipice and is hanging on by his badly…

Nick Helm's Two Night Stand in The Grand

12 Aug 20143 stars

Flesh, self-abuse and lewdness abound in bombastic show

‘Don’t fuck this up’ is one of Nick Helm’s rallying cries for this ‘two-night stand at the Grand’. The character he portrays on stage (bombastic, spiteful, lewd and very, very loud) appears to be on a solo mission to achieve exactly that. ‘This is…

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Adam of the Riches

11 Aug 20144 stars

Hysterically silly Edinburgh Fringe show of generous and off-the-cuff brilliance

For anyone with a track record of being in the audience or (heaven help your scarred psyche) up on stage with Adam Riches, entering his Pleasance Dome venue might seem like sleepwalking back into your worst nightmare. Sinister music is playing as three…

Dane Baptiste: Citizen Dane

10 Aug 20143 stars

Comedian delivers moments of ingenuity in show with more potential than impact

Alongside Craig David, Dane Baptiste is one of the few successful things to have its roots in Grenada. But the comedian will hear nothing negative about the man who will be forever entrenched in the UK psyche as the chief target of ridicule in Bo…

Laurence Clark: Moments of Instant Regret

10 Aug 20143 stars

Much to enjoy in humourous show with clever twist

We all have regrets in life. But Laurence Clark has so much of his own share that he can get a full hour out of his Moments of Instant Regret. Among the swathe of cringeworthy incidents that presumably have him waking up in the night in a cold sweat are…

Ria Lina: School of Riason

10 Aug 20143 stars

Thoughtful and likeable show exploring modern education makes the grade

For a wide variety of reasons (some of which sound truthful, others are purely for the purposes of a gag), Ria Lina decided to home-school her three kids. This is the story of how and why she took that major task on board. After a shaky start featuring…

Robin and Partridge: Robin Dies at the End of the Show

10 Aug 20143 stars

Rabid enthusiasm teeters in edge of awfulness on too many occasions undermining excitable energy

As obviously unlikely as it would be in the real world, subtlety is the middle name of neither Robin Clyfan nor Charlie Partridge. Theirs was a double-act show with a vague story running through it which teetered on the edge of awfulness on far too many…

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Celia Pacquola: Let Me Know How It All Works Out

7 Aug 20144 stars

Hilarious, psychic-skirting Edinburgh Festival Fringe comedy show

No one is ever likely to accuse Celia Pacquola of being the Derren Brown of Australian stand-up, yet the finale of Let Me Know How it All Works Out will have plenty in her crowds across the month exhaling a bit of a gasp. But perhaps the biggest intake…

John-Luke Roberts: Stnad-Up

7 Aug 20144 stars

A wonderfully demented Edinburgh Festival Fringe performance that isn't a break-up show

Last Fringe, Mike Wozniak delivered a show in which he insisted to the point of doth protesting far too much that he wouldn’t be ‘banging on’ about being miserable living at home with his new wife and her parents. In Stnad-Up, John-Luke Roberts goes to…

Andrew Lawrence: Reasons to Kill Yourself

5 Aug 20143 stars

Vitriolic Edinburgh Fringe comedy show fully of nasty yet clever jokes

For two-thirds of Reasons to Kill Yourself, Andrew Lawrence was firing up a Fringe storm. Having wandered on once the strains of ‘Psycho Killer’ (but, of course) had faded, the stand-up scene’s foremost misanthrope spent 40 minutes riffing long, hard…

Felicity Ward: The Iceberg

5 Aug 20144 stars

Entertaining Edinburgh Fringe show on being blind-sided by life when you least need or expect it

Despite the presence of a near month-long chest infection, Australian comic Felicity ‘Flick’ Ward is soldiering on with what will surely prove to be one of the most entertaining stand-up shows on the Fringe this August. Though ‘stand-up’ doesn’t quite…

Gein's Family Giftshop: Volume 1

5 Aug 20143 stars

2014 Edinburgh Fringe show from sketch group where the sick meets the subtle

The cult of young sketch groups going for the jugular marked ‘really offensive’ might not have started with the Late Night Gimp Fight boys. But they certainly lowered the bar for future contenders to hop over it and test how the depths could be further…

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Lazy Susan

5 Aug 20144 stars

Superb sketches featuring subtle performances and excellent writing at 2014 Edinburgh Fringe

Last year, Celeste Dring and Freya Parker helped cause a Free Fringe stir down the Jekyll & Hyde as part of ‘dark’ sketch group, Lebensmüde. Now, they are back as the Lazy Susan duo with an exploration of Extreme Humans. But don’t worry, there are far…

Lucie Pohl: Hi Hitler

5 Aug 20143 stars

Impressive rather than inspiring Edinburgh Fringe debut with unneccesarily provocative show title

There’s no denying Lucie Pohl’s ability as an actress, and the portrayals of various members of her eccentric family are endlessly entertaining and beautifully nuanced. The only real problem is that there’s nothing much left over after you scratch away…

The Pin

5 Aug 20145 stars

Reinventing sketch comedy before our very eyes at 2014 Edinburgh Fringe

There some sketch acts who try so hard to do something innovative with the form that they forget to put in the laughs while others write perfectly amusing but conventional routines which make themselves instantly forgettable. The Pin have come up with…

Richard Herring: Lord of the Dance Settee

5 Aug 20143 stars

Set from Edinburgh Fringe maestro is familiar but still funny

Anyone familiar with Richard Herring’s Fringe output knows that playfulness is a key element to his work. Often this will manifest itself in him being like a kid in the back of the car demanding to know (over and over and over again) whether their final…

Thünderbards: Seconds

5 Aug 20143 stars

Duo's ingenuity and chemistry intact, but falls short of 2013's acclaimed Edinburgh Fringe debut

There’s nothing quite like that difficult second album syndrome to separate out the men from the boys and the women from the girls. And while Thünderbards’ Seconds (pretty clever, eh?), the follow-up to last year’s acclaimed debut, is far from a…

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Tom Shillue: Impossible

5 Aug 20143 stars

Gentle musings from genuine guy that paints some truly delightful pictures at 2014 Edinburgh Fringe

When you’re an aspiring stand-up, having your comedy stamped with the word ‘approval’ by a big name can matter a great deal. Eddie Izzard has been a pioneer for comics coming to the Fringe from overseas (Trevor Noah being the most notable success) and…

Liam Williams: Capitalism

4 Aug 20144 stars

Sheeps member goes solo with confrontational and cutting stand-up at Edinburgh Festival Fringe

In his current show, Richard Herring curiously states that he decided stand-up was the job for him because ‘comedians are honest’. Given the bizarre fabrications and wilful dismantling of the actual for their own ends, this seemed an unlikely claim. Of…

Matt Forde: 24 Hour Political Party People

1 Aug 20144 stars

Edinburgh Festival Fringe performance featuring political comedy and excellent impressions

A groan from the crowd at the beginning suggests that some punters are not quite ready for a solid hour of British politics with impressions. The title, 24 Hour Political Party People, was surely something of a giveaway but in these curiously…

Carl Donnelly: Now That's What I Carl Donnelly Vol. 6

31 Jul 20144 stars

Consistent Edinburgh Festival Fringe hour with moments of pure hilarity

Carl Donnelly was as surprised as anyone when his solid yet unspectacular stand-up act gained a spot on the Edinburgh Comedy Awards shortlist last Fringe. Little did observers know that the London comic was harbouring much pain with his marriage having…

New show Potted Sherlock runs at 2014 Edinburgh Festival Fringe

30 Jul 2014

The complete works of Sherlock Holmes condensed into 70 minutes for an entralling show

With news that Benedict Cumberbatch is returning as the supersleuth of Baker Street, while Ian McKellen is set to play a ninetysomething Holmes obsessed with cracking one final case, it seems that we just can’t get enough of Arthur Conan Doyle’s clever…