Reviews & features: Suzanne Black

214 reviews

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Tom Goodliffe

16 Aug 20112 stars

Lightweight autobiographical material, but with lovely rapport

Goodliffe rails, good-naturedly, against middle-class problems like not liking your job, not having a girlfriend and the annoying questions people ask him because of his name. Taking in his love of maths (with an insistent musical riff on the subject)…

Mark Nelson

16 Aug 20113 stars

Straight talker whose profanity is utterly charming

With no narrative arc or gimmicks, Nelson presents himself as a straight talker, not scared of eliciting shocked gasps with his more provocative material. He deals in the controversial with a cheeky grin, as if the words magically appeared in his mouth.

King Lear

14 Aug 20113 stars

Engaging spectacle gives Shakespeare a Jingju interpretation at 2011 EIF

Two artforms, alike in their lengthy traditions and explorations of familial and martial subjects but divergent in their aesthetic, are brought together by their areas of commonality. Wu Hsing-kuo (Contemporary Legend Theatre) adapts aspects of…

Are You Happy Now?

14 Aug 20112 stars

Pessimistic two-hander about dysfunctional relationships

First-time Fringe writer and director Sam Wright brings us a pessimistic two-hander about dysfunctional relationships. Mark Booth and Mark Jeary flit between the stories of two gay couples on the outs. The cast make an admirable attempt to convey the…

Free Time Radical

14 Aug 20112 stars

Wryly humorous evocation of mid-life crisis falls short of expectations

After a massive flood wipes out London Jensen (Tom Frankland) seeks refuge in the flat of his rescuer Ali (Sébastian Lawson). Amidst a creatively interactive set the duo muses on surfing, relationships and their place in the world in an often physical…

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Imran Yusuf

14 Aug 20113 stars

Religious perspectives on universal issues

This year Imran Yusuf seeks to Bring the Thunder, playing on the fact that one of the Western media’s biggest bogeymen is Muslims seeking to effect change through conflict. In a shiny suit and oozing charisma, he nudges up against political and…

Lee Camp Is: Yet Another American Mistake

12 Aug 20114 stars

Rabble-rousing American gets mad at current affairs

Lee Camp aims his freewheeling cannon at all the aspects of American (and Western) culture that are easy to criticise: childhood obesity, people who believe in aliens, sweatshops, war as big business, the moon landings, the death penalty, multinational…

Christmas for Two: Friends With You

12 Aug 20113 stars

Variable sketch show of audacious surrealism

This sketch duo’s Friends with You starts with a rape joke. The way they treat the topic that has become a shibboleth of contemporary comedy is a statement of purpose, signalling their intent to sidle up against the profane, nudge things into the…

Anton's Uncles

11 Aug 20114 stars

Chekhov remixed as a highly entertaining divertissement

Four dapperly dressed men cavort with the stage dressings, dance with each other and utter one-liners with a Wildean frivolity. The members of LA’s Theatre Movement Bazaar are so diverting with their antics that this play’s relation to Anton Chekhov’s…

Blood and Roses

11 Aug 20113 stars

Multi-sensory journey with history’s courageous women

Edinburgh’s tendency towards the wet would seem an admonishment against a promenade performance. The northeast’s Poorboy, whose raison d’être is the site specific, doesn’t shy away from the less sunny sides of life. Listening via individual headsets…

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9 Aug 20113 stars

Powerful physical evocation of the relationship between women and alcohol

In a bathroom, on a hen night, two boozed-up young women dance, shriek and hector the audience, the epitome of Booze Britain. In one of the three toilet cubicles Shane Durrant sits astride the porcelain throne surrounded by music-making accoutrements.

Brett Goldstein Grew Up in a Strip Club

8 Aug 20112 stars

Endearing personality wins over crowd despite lacklustre material

Stand-up Goldstein puts on his raconteur cap to narrate a tender coming-of-age tale. Set in a strip club. Softly spoken and exuding a quiet confidence he articulately and admirably wins over a small crowd. The material, though a little lacklustre, is…

Joel Dommett: Neon Hero

8 Aug 20113 stars

Celebrity crush tale an from assured and skilled performer

Dining out on the retelling of one week spent in the company of a unnamed celebrity crush, Dommett weaves a charming and self-effacing love story. Behind the trendy haircut and gleeful grin is an assured performer with the skills to back up his…

The Life Doctor

8 Aug 20112 stars

Channelling of the most irksome of TV lifestyle gurus disappoints

Written by Adam Lawrence and Phil Wang, Lawrence channels the most irksome of TV lifestyle gurus. The premise quickly falls flat as jokes fail to land or are utterly baffling. A stand-out turn by George Potts and some surprisingly witty pre-recorded…

Nobody’s Home: A Modern Odyssey

8 Aug 20113 stars

Powerful portrayal of mental illness

Confined to his bathroom (and his own mind), returning soldier Grant battles war-born demons, which parallel the perils faced by Ulysses, tussling with wife Penny (who doubles as Homer’s monsters) for firm mental ground. Excellently devised and…

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8 Aug 20112 stars

Freakshow-themed one-man show lacks pay-off

Surrounded by the paraphernalia of the freakshow, Robert Ingham (Lewis Davidson) reminisces on his life as an oddity and the world behind the velvet curtain. Switching between biography and sideshow acts, Davidson’s one-man show plays out like the pitch…

Terezin: Children of the Holocaust

8 Aug 20111 star

Fictionalised account of a concert fails to convey emotional weight

Writer Anna Smulowitz, who lost relatives in the Holocaust, presents a fictionalised account of a concert performed at the Czech concentration camp Terezin. Using a revolving cast of youngsters to portray the daily suffering of camp internees the piece…

Totally Tom

8 Aug 20113 stars

Impressive range of comedic prowess and accents

Straight out the trap, Toms Palmer and Stourton launch into a run of standalone sketches. With great versatility they eschew running gags and call-backs; each sketch is a snapshot of a fully realised world which displays their impressive range of…

Barry and Stuart

8 Aug 20114 stars

Showing and telling their magical mysteries

Be-suited Aberdonian purveyors of macabre magical comedy, Barry Jones and Stuart MacLeod have struck upon one hell of a gimmick. First comes The Show, filled with their favoured brand of slightly gory trickery and presented by the twosome with their…

The Infant

8 Aug 20113 stars

Absurdist comedy with a Gothic feel

Maestros of the dark and twisted fairytale, Les Enfants Terribles (who brought us Ernest and the Pale Moon and The Terrible Infants), bring back to Edinburgh a play they debuted here in 2006. In a cell in an unnamed location a man is subjected to an…

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Kieran and The Joes: Teampowered

5 Aug 20113 stars

Teambuilding seminar with more laughs than cringes

Taking a cue from Office-style humour, which seeks to entertain with the toe-curlingly cringeworthy, Joe Markham, Joe Parham and Kieran Hodgson’s show takes the form of a teambuilding seminar. From the inspirational music and matching pink ties to pleas…

Zinnie Harris returns to Edinburgh 2011 with The Wheel

27 Jul 2011

Vicky Featherstone directs play exploring change, place and conflict

‘I had this idea of a woman that walks right round the world and comes back to the beginning and then gets the opportunity to play her life again. That was my opening premise. If we were able to go back to the moment where you have a fork in the path…

Liberace: Live From Heaven

27 Jul 2011

Edinburgh Festival show features piano man playing at the Pearly Gates

In cabaret, what turns a concert into theatre is the hook that hangs the tunes together. Hanging squirming from this particular hook is Liberace (reincarnated in Bobby Crush) as he plays for his immortal soul. We join the sequined piano man after his…

Josie Long - The Future is Another Place

26 Jul 2011

Little miss sunshine gets political

JosieWorld is a place built on home-spun whimsy and Ms Long presides over it with a refreshing optimism, pointing out all the little things that make us smile or inspire or deserve kudos. In her fourth Fringe show it is being impinged upon by a newfound…

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…