Reviews & features: Claire Sawers

217 reviews

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Jim Holland: Shoegazing

20 Aug 20142 stars

Entertainingly awkward shuffle around comedian's quirks at 2014 Edinburgh Festival Fringe

‘Anything an extrovert can do, an introvert can do more awkwardly.’ That’s the mantra of Jim Holland, Portsmouth-born shy guy. He also believes that real integrity is persevering with a thing you love, even if no one else will like it. He drops in this…

Peter Ross on his new book Daunderlust ahead of 2014 Edinburgh International Book Festival

17 Aug 2014

Scottish journalist talks about his storytelling style and hidden spots in Scotland

Five words to describe your storytelling style. Rather than high-five myself, I'll quote the reviews of my book: ‘Funny’; ‘Beautiful’; ‘Full of heart’. None of those were written by my mum, the landlord of my local, or anyone else who has cause to be…

Edinburgh Art Festival 2014 interview: Yann Seznec on his fan-based work, Currents

15 Aug 2014

'I had to call it the Yann Seznec Fan Club, because I’m basically a giant dork’

‘At its most basic, sound – whether it’s someone making music, or the act of speaking – is basically the physical movement of air. What we hear, is the motion of air molecules.’ To explain his latest project, Currents, Edinburgh-based sound artist…

Edinburgh International Festival 2014: exploring death camps through music

15 Aug 2014

Holocaust survivor Samuel Pisar and the Pavel Haas Quartet among contributors to EIF's music strand

Bernstein’s Kaddish Symphony The man who wrote West Side Story also wrote this sweeping, tense work for a narrator, choir and orchestra, his tribute to Kaddish – a hymn traditionally sung in the synagogue at times of mourning. Holocaust survivor Samuel…

Edinburgh International Festival 2014 interview: Jonathan Mills on his Sandakan Threnody

15 Aug 2014

The outgoing artistic director of the festival discusses his WWII memorial piece

Back in March, Jonathan Mills announced the theme for this year’s Edinburgh International Festival. He wanted the programme to look at the relationship between conflict and culture – how war and political unrest leave their mark on art. It probably…

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Edinburgh International Book Festival 2014 interview: Natalie Haynes on her debut novel

14 Aug 2014

The comedian turned author promises The Amber Fury is 'not funny. I wouldn’t want to mislead anyone'

‘It had to be set in Edinburgh,’ says stand-up comedian turned author, Natalie Haynes, about her debut novel, The Amber Fury, a story of grief, interwoven with the Greek tragedies, published earlier this year. ‘It sets the right tone for a thriller.

Kirsty Logan: author of ‘quirky, vivid, lush, wild and magical' fairytales

14 Aug 2014

The Scottish author is set to appear at the Edinburgh International Book Festival 2014

What a difference a year makes. Last year, Kirsty Logan was living in Glasgow, publishing the occasional short story and poem online and in literary magazines, and she’d just been appointed books editor at The List. Fast forward 12 months and a bit, and…

Take Five interview: Glasgow author Kirsty Logan

14 Aug 2014

The fairytale creator is due to appear at the Edinburgh International Book Festival 2014

Five words to describe your storytelling style Quirky, vivid, lush, wild, magical. Four authors who we should really know about, but probably don't (yet) Emily Mackie. Elaine di Rollo. Dawn West. Caroline Bird. Three themes you find yourself…

Dead Ghost Star

12 Aug 20143 stars

Alternative child-friendly comedy is space oddity lost in a vacuum at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe

This hour of nonsense clowning in space is a bit like Spike Milligan on MDMA, or Edward Lear doing a guest appearance at the Hacienda. Cheekykita and Mr Dinner bring their odd space odyssey to a hidden room in the flyer-covered maze of Cowgatehead…

Interview: Irma Kurtz set for appearance at 2014 Edinburgh Book Festival

12 Aug 2014

Cosmopolitan magazine’s agony aunt shares wisdom in her memoir, My Life in Agony

Irma Kurtz has been dispensing advice to readers of Cosmopolitan’s problem page for 40 years now, counselling successive generations through the changing playing fields of sex, work and relationships. She’s pulled together some of the things she’s…

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Rhys James: Begins

10 Aug 20142 stars

Underwhelming début lacks humour and fails to find niche

Rhys James wants badly to make it as a comedian. He plays a video at the start of his show, about choosing the right title with help from his agent, and agreeing on buzzwords to put in the press release about it. (He settles on ‘ Begins ’ for a title…

An Evening With Patti DuPont

10 Aug 20144 stars

Parody of the fawning biopic and celebrity documentary from member of The Boom Jennies

Anna Emerson’s debut solo show is the bottled essence of the Fringe. Not in the smug-bongo-drummers-tackling-racism-through-mime sense. In the best sense. Her show happens up a stairway, in a makeshift theatre during a restaurant mid-renovation. The…


10 Aug 20144 stars

The Neutrinos present a part gig, part promenade sound installation at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe

KlangHaus, the House of Sound, smells of antiseptic, is dimly lit, and echoes with the sounds of dark lounge music and clattering snare drums. Part gig, part promenade sound installation, KlangHaus is presented by The Neutrinos, ‘a female fronted…

Luisa Omielan

9 Aug 20143 stars

Party girl’s hybrid of winner v loser spills over at Edinburgh Fringe

Last year, we fell in love with Luisa Omielan, and this year she’s gone off us, because we’re not paying to see her (free) show. Like a restaurant owner slopping down plates grudgingly in front of Groupon customers, Omielan seems to resent her crowd…

The Marijana Method

9 Aug 20143 stars

Sweet and sharply improvised hour from 'health and happiness guru to the stars'

As the crowd trickles in, Marijana looks up from her meditation, looking serene in a peach silk kaftan, dousing the crowd with splashes of some kind of healing water. The soundtrack to an 80s daytime talk show warbles naffly in the background. A quick…

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I am, I am

8 Aug 20143 stars

Slighty patchy musical comedy but never too long to wait for next laugh

Apt that this one’s happening in a late night corner of the Student Union, as what’s happening in this show is exactly what you’d expect to be going on after midnight in a bar normally for students. Two twentysomethings are spilling pints down…

Lizzie Bates: Reprobates

7 Aug 20143 stars

An expertly assembled coven of characters populate the comedian's Edinburgh Festival Fringe show

The audience become Lizzie Bates’ co-stars, foils and props in this solo sketch show, from one third of London comedy trio, The Boom Jennies. Bates has expertly assembled a small coven of hellish women to bring to Edinburgh – mostly utter nightmares…

Phil Wang: Mellow Yellow

7 Aug 20142 stars

Weirdo, anti-lad potential undone by an overreliance on race material at Edinburgh Fringe

Phil Wang might be your favourite new Chinese comedian. He might also be the only Chinese comedian you can think of. Which, as the self-titled Mellow Yellow man points out, is fairly surprising, considering there are 1.4 billion Chinese. And a country…

Interview: Deyan Sudjic on why design matters ahead of 2014 Edinburgh International Book Festival appearance

6 Aug 2014

Director of Design Museum in London talks accents and identity

‘Design isn’t an artform. It’s not about looks; it’s about meaning, it’s a way of understanding the world around us.’ Deyan Sudjic should know. Director of the Design Museum in London, he published B is for Bauhaus earlier this year, his personal A-Z of…

Interview: Erasure's Andy Bell on attending the Edinburgh Festival Fringe

6 Aug 2014

The vocalist stars in 'raving, sexy' song cycle Torsten the Bareback Saint

Can you sum up your show in five words? Raving, sexy, bloody good yarn! For anyone still on the fence, what’s a surefire selling point? I wear black sequinned hot pants and heelless black crystal stilettos. What part of the Edinburgh festival do…

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David Trent: Live at Pleasance Courtyard

4 Aug 20144 stars

Deft takedown of pop culture and current politics’ daftest muppets at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe

One man, one Powerpoint slide show, and so many vacuous or sinister numpties in the world, giving David Trent ample inspiration to vent his spleen. The ex-primary school teacher brings his most polished set yet, sweetening some of his angry bile this…

Jo Caulfield: Cancel My Subscription

4 Aug 20143 stars

Comedian channels Joan Rivers at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe

Jo Caulfield is a professional snide, an acid-tongued, quick-witted moaner. Haughtiness and faux-disdain, or what used to just be called ‘bad manners’, are her stock-in-trade. She’s unabashedly obnoxious, with a stash of good punchlines and stories to…

Romesh Ranganathan: Rom Wasn't Built in a Day

4 Aug 20144 stars

Comedy good guy in winning full-on rant mode at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe

Thank goodness for Romesh Ranganathan. A bad dad, fake feminist, selfish husband, boring man, he’s simply a wholly inadequate human. Or that’s what he’s peddling anyway. A bit like Doug Stanhope ’s misanthropy, or Louis CK ’s claims that ‘his daughter…

Susan Calman - Lady Like

3 Aug 20143 stars

The likeable lass on self-deprecation

TV game-show host, radio pundit and failed ballerina, Susan Calman was voted Britain’s fourth funniest lesbian comedian recently, she grimaces. Fourth! Sandi Toksvig, Sue Perkins and Rhona Cameron nudged her off the winner’s podium. That’s how Calman…

This is Brasil - The Show

3 Aug 20144 stars

Hot music and dance fresh from the favelas

When the security staff have to stop small boys in the front row from dancing on the stage, it’s a good indicator you’ve got a hit on your hands. This gloriously technicolour, tourists-eye-view of Brazil’s best bits lets you gawk, escape and admire to…