Reviews & features: Steve Cramer

152 reviews

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3rd Ring Out: the Emergency

23 Aug 20114 stars

An intelligent audience-led thriller

If it’s not perfect in execution, this piece is both intriguing and thought-provoking. The audience is ushered into a container functioning as an emergency response room and required to make life-and-death decisions about an ecological catastrophe in…

The World According to Bertie

23 Aug 20113 stars

A well performed, interestingly staged production

Alexander McCall Smith’s prose is brought pretty niftily to the stage as part twee New Town soap opera, part mild satire. An 11-strong cast bring to vivid life the various dramas amidst the chinking tea cups of Edinburgh’s bourgeoisie, centring on the…

Llwyth (Tribe)

22 Aug 20111 star

Overlong play with little to say about contemporary life

Dafydd James’s text deals with issues of home and relationships, of both blood and fraternity, as well as the responsibilities these bring. Thirty-something Welshman living in London returns home to Cardiff and hooks up with his old friends from the gay…

Federer Vs Murray

17 Aug 20114 stars

Geopolitics, war and tennis

Any illusion that the tennis match of the title will be at the centre of Gerda Stevenson’s production of her own text is quickly dispelled in this transfer from Oran Mor’s admirable Play, Pie & Pint lunchtime theatre strand. Yet the game plays a…


16 Aug 20112 stars

Touching humour in suburban comedy, but no new ground broken

A middle-aged housewife, lonely spinster and posh man-eater find they are romantically involved with the first woman’s husband via a dating site. Rosalind Adler gives a lively performance as all three from her own text, with some touching humour in this…

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I, The Dictator

14 Aug 20113 stars

Enjoyable one-man performance on encounter between Charlie Chaplin and Hitler

One can’t help but reflect that Romuald Wicza-Pokojski’s production which speaks of Charlie Chaplin’s (Krystian Wieczynski) encounter with Hitler’s henchmen while he struggled for money to complete The Great Dictator, loses a little in translation from…

Snails and Ketchup

11 Aug 20113 stars

Dynamic one-man Calvino adaptation

This version of Italo Calvino’s story The Baron in the Trees dispenses with the verbal action and substitutes physical theatre, multimedia and acrobatics to tell its story. Ramesh Meyyappan gives a dynamic performance, transforming into several…

The Oh Fuck Moment

8 Aug 20114 stars

Uneasily entertaining afternoon of reflection on human frailty

We’re ushered into a boardroom where two performers join us in discussing horrifying human errors, from the embarrassingly rude, through the sexually ill-fated, and on to the physically terminal. This is an uneasily entertaining afternoon of reflection…

A Celebration of Harold Pinter

8 Aug 20113 stars

Pinter wonderland manages not to sink beneath the hype

The danger that accompanies any theatre event accompanied by movie star hype is that the piece itself becomes lost under the brouhaha surrounding its presenters. With John Malkovich directing Julian Sands for this piece, that was always the danger, but…

A Slow Air

8 Aug 20114 stars

Nationhood explored and deplored

In David Harrower’s new play a struggling middle-aged builder (Lewis Howden), haunted by an entirely inadvertent contribution to the Glasgow Airport bombing, is provoked into reflections about his estranged sister (the performer’s real-life sister…

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8 Aug 20114 stars

Razor-sharp agit prop satire

If you live in the UK, you’d never know it, but agit prop is alive, well, and indeed thriving in the world of theatre. An impressive exemplar exists in the shape of this sharp-as-a-tack satire, which incorporates clowning, physical theatre and…

What Remains

8 Aug 20113 stars

Plenty of creep, not enough deep

There is something in all of us that relishes a scary story, and Ben Harrison’s production for Grid Iron certainly doesn’t stint in this regard. Set at the medical school of Edinburgh University, this piece alludes ceaselessly through music and visuals…

Ten Plagues - Mark Ravenhill musical inspired by London Plague of 1665

27 Jul 2011

Marc Almond stars in anticipated 2011 Edinburgh Festival Fringe show

There’s something about apocalypse that has run through the human psyche, and a great deal of art, for over a century. Be it HG Wells’ Martian invasions or Ballard’s Great Droughts, these scenarios are often about moments where everyday life and our…

Roadkill, The Author and 30 Days to Space worthy 2010 festival winners

7 Sep 2010

Steve Cramer's Festival blog

I know it’s not quite over, but with respect to the last couple of shows of the International Festival, now might be the time for the Festival’s final report card. This year’s Festival, if it has shown some good work, still creates the uneasy feeling of…

Myth of the far-left agenda in Alastair Beaton's Caledonia

1 Sep 2010

Steve Cramer's Festival blog

In my last blog, I accused many of the companies engaging in the Fringe of lacking courage, and I’m sticking by it. You can always tell when there’s a political elephant in the room at a fringe, since invariably the more pusillanimous companies visiting…

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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…


23 Aug 20104 stars

History repeating itself

There is a moment in Alistair Beaton’s new play that creates a collective audible intake of breath from its audience. It is the point where Paul Higgins’ deluded huckster of a banker announces that his private corporation is now bigger than the state…

Italia ’n’ Caledonia

23 Aug 20103 stars

Unpretentious tales of the family history behind Valvona and Crolla

Two amiable old boys (Mike Maran and Philip Contini) sing and gag their way through the history of the families that formed Edinburgh culinary institution Valvona and Crolla. Along the way we hear of their struggling starts as entrepreneurial emigrants…

Pornography takes centre stage at Fringe 2010

23 Aug 2010

Steve Cramer's Festival blog

There are three steps down into the auditorium at the Traverse St Stephens. It’s not entirely at random that I warn you. As I entered said space I failed to spot this natty architectural folly, and launched myself, instead of into Apples, into thin air.

Why The Sun Also Rises is the least successful transatlantic crossing since Titanic

19 Aug 2010

Steve Cramer's Festival blog

I suppose the one compensation of sitting through the unforgivable The Sun Also Rises at the Lyceum was that it provided a little relief from the endless prurient sex obsessions of the Traverse next door, where one leaves every other show with the…

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Pas Perdus

19 Aug 20104 stars

Delightful family-friendly clowning

The booming voiceover that introduces this charming piece of physical theatre is that of a hypnotist inducing the calm of sleep on its audience. What then transpires is the appearance of a dream world, though the night visions we experience are far from…

The Author

19 Aug 20105 stars

Outstanding show exploring voyeurism in art

In a festival with a good deal of verbatim theatre, Tim Crouch’s new play deals in a timely fashion with the difference between pure reality and authenticity. The tale told is self evidently untrue, yet its truth feels increasingly more believable than…

The Sun Also Rises

15 Aug 20102 stars

Overlong and unsympathetic Hemingway adaptation

This bloated, gargantually overlong production from US company Elevator Repair Service should, at over three and a half hours, really provide its audience with a shower and a change of clothes as part of the ticket. An adaptation of Hemingway’s classic…


15 Aug 20103 stars

Some interesting observations about violence

In a grimy Manchester basement, we discover a young woman tied to a bed, and a man bound equally firmly to the floor next to her. They’re victims of a released felon, who wants them to re-enact a sex crime from their shared past. Ian Winterton’s play…


14 Aug 20104 stars

Disturbing examination of ritual and primality

This three-hour theatre experience begins with a gorgeously shot, if largely inaudible, film which alludes to sexual repression in a menacing manner. A coach trip ensues, during which a soundtrack is played which intercuts classic love songs with a…