All of our Edinburgh Fringe Reviews – UPDATED 1st September 2014
To Do List spent most of August gallivanting around Edinburgh, seeking out the finest fringe frolics to recommend to you, our dear readers….
Here are ALL THE REVIEWS!
A tour-de-force of cabaret performance – what this woman can’t (or won’t) do, isn’t worth doing!
Amy G doesn’t just do cabaret, she IS cabaret, in all it’s sexy, sassy, smart, shocking, life-affirming glory. This is a one woman show, but Amy G is many women – a roller skating chicken, a kazoo-tooting patriot and a tarred and feathered seductress, to name just a few.
Every time Simon Cowell criticises someone as being “too cabaret”, this is exactly what he doesn’t mean – imaginative, offbeat, inspired, original, daring and exhilarating. This show deserves to be packed to the rafters for the whole run! SW
Character comedy at it’s very best – brave, committed, brilliantly performed and – most importantly – completely hilarious!
Katie O’Brien shape-shifts before your very eyes, transforming from one intricately detailed and perfectly pitched character to another. All are intense, in your face, challenging and engaging. These characters want to talk to you – and they want you to talk back. The humour is sometimes broad, but more often subtle (although subtle might not be the right word for SuZanna GonZo).
If you like your comedy easy, go elsewhere. Otherwise, this is another five-star free Fringe show not to be missed! SW
This show is absolutely wonderful!
Clever, humorous and involving, this is a show we could see again and again. Geoff Sobelle’s performance is both delicate and accurate, and his timing impeccable. I’m pretty sure I speak for the whole audience when I say that we were all in awe and totally riveted from beginning to end. A smile on our faces for the whole show, and it comes back even now when thinking about it! Book this up. It is a must. LE
Words can barely describe this surreal yet definitely wonderful experience. For here is Tina T’urner, as you know her, and also as you most definitely don’t!
Imagine, if you will, that Tina Turner has left behind the glitzy world of superstardom, and has dedicated herself to a life of tea service, tabard and all. If you can imagine that, you’re half-way to understanding the premise of this hilarious, offbeat show. If you can’t imagine it – well, you might just enjoy the show even more! Hilarious re-workings of some of Tina’s greatest songs intersperse diary readings, declarations of love, a conga and some astonishing costume changes. You heard it here first – Tina T’urner Tea Lady is a perfect brew! SW
Vocal Point Theatre present this thoughtful and well written piece with power and style.
The performers first introduce themselves and the premise of the show, establishing the context for the two narratives which follow. The text has been written from stories relayed to Abraham Parker and Robert Scobie in the soup kitchen in which they volunteered. It is clear that the subject and characters are close to their hearts, and the two men both perform well, the personal touch giving an added dimension to show. The inclusion of atmospheric sound and visuals was a nice touch, although the visuals were sadly a little lost at the side of the space. Moving storytelling from a company to watch out for. LE
★★★★½ David O’Doherty Has Checked Everything | Assembly George Square | Until August 25th, 7:15pm | £14-£15
David O’Doherty’s defeatist comedy is always a winner in our book.
The main strand to this show is a search for happiness and the inevitable difficulty of this task. O’Doherty is loveable and hilarious, and his typical song-strewn format is charming. He veers on and off the path, and his off-the-cuff remarks are well timed. He has checked everything, we’re told, and we had no desire to check anything during this show – we were too busy laughing! LE
Thinking back on this performance experience, it feels like it was a dream.
It was beautiful to be surrounded by sound and to be able to get lost in it. This show is not just about a hug. It spoke to us about social boundaries and group dynamic, and also addressed the physicality of sound. It was an odd and enlightening experience to feel somebody breathing – living and then singing. Being blindfolded had the odd effect of holding something back from memory. We loved this – it was ephemeral and yet dynamic. Go to be in the moment. LE
This show, although addressing quite a serious subject, is a lot of fun.
It’s silly, it’s nostalgic (mostly for The X-Files), it’s sarcastic, it’s funny, there are great songs, great PowerPoint moments (really? Ed.), and… you get a gift – ticking all the boxes here! Louise Mothersole and Rebecca Biscuit have great presence, and the rapport they have with each other seems to carry the show. This is a refreshing mix of casual, clever and comical, which has brightened up our Fringe. LE
This is one of those shows that you need time to process, and we will probably be thinking about it for a while.
The show is ‘about’ the suicide of four women who starved themselves to death fourteen years ago. But it isn’t really about that, it’s about speculation, theories, translations, stories and words. It’s about absence and presence and expectation. It’s about many things. The production values and stagecraft in the show are fantastic. The atmosphere is creepy and delicate, and the way the show begins is unexpected and brilliant. The ending was a little tricky to keep focus on, and was perhaps not quite as strong as the rest of the piece, but this is definitely a show worth seeing. LE
Really strong writing from Alice Birch, whose lyrical, rhythmic language is beautiful but tough, perfectly reflecting the characters who utter it.
The structure plays with time, flitting between the past and present. The reiteration of key phrases gives emphasis and has none of the tediom that repetition sometimes brings. Sandra Reid and Estella Daniels are convincing and touching, and create a great atmosphere. A picture is gradually painted using nothing but the performers and their words. A powerful production, whose 40 minute length is just right. A fantastic nugget of theatre. LE
★★★★½ Margaret Thatcher Queen of Soho | Assembly George Square | Until August 24th, 9:10pm | £10-£13
A riot of counterfactual story-telling, as Maggie takes centre-stage in a kaleidoscope of witty one-liners, merciless caricature and a good few song-and-dance routines… It’s what she would have wanted!
Matt Tedford IS Margaret Thatcher. The look, the voice, the way she treats her men. Everything is spot on! And so it is for this whole show, a barnstorming romp through an alternative history where Maggie realises the error of her ways regarding Section 28, and comes to understand the joys to be had in the gay clubs of Soho. Maggie was never so popular as in the Bosco tent, packed to the rafters with an audience fighting for breath between the laughs. Cleverly written, expertly performed, and absolutely deserving of night after night of rousing standing ovations. SW
A fantastic show – well performed, with a great chemistry between the 3 performers who all give a real sense of what it is to be young and somewhat lost.
Jack Bence is especially strong as Jack, a complex young man trying to work out who he is – but by no means does Bence outshine his female co-stars who are also compelling. The writing is strong and the dialogue convincing. It’s a moving and involving piece which is well worth an hour of your time, but don’t expect a show full of laughs. A five-star review this early in the fringe seems just a bit premature so we’re going for 4 and a half. Go see it. LE
Adam Riches is…. all manner of people…!
This is a guy who knows how to do character comedy. His characters come complete with costumes and props and the transitions are slick, aided by his two minions and a right hand man. His characters are well put together and he manages to be committed to each one, even when telling us he is unsure of how successful one is…! The shows relies quite heavily on audience participation (don’t sit in the front row unless you’re up for a spot of limelight), but even with some really rather difficult audience members, Riches pulled this off well. He also rather impressively managed to (just about) not lose his temper with the particularly irritating ‘blogger’ who we all ended up wishing had never gone out that evening! Well done Mr Riches, your composure is admirable. LE
★★★★ Alfie Brown: Divorced from Reality (and My Wife) | Pleasance Courtyard | Until August 24th, 11:00pm | £7.50-£10
Often performers who reference their success or failure in their shows are tiresome, but this didn’t feel that way somehow.
It was surprisingly to learn that Brown has had people call him arrogant as we found him humble. There were plenty of nervous pauses, and would we have liked it more or less without them? Hard to say. Interestingly, he talked about the nature of the way we were spending time with him (paying for company is inferred, as opposed to paying for jokes), as this gig did feel much like a guy having a chat with us (but not small talk, definitely not small talk, as he was very keen to point out…). There were funny moments, yes, but not everything was a punchline. A lot of it was frank opinion, and even concern. Despite the title of his show, this was a very real type of comedy, and was unlike a lot of the silliness and/or bravado which has seemed to dominate the male comedians we have seen recently. This was a good change, and required a bit of brainpower too, which was ever so slightly challenging for this time-slot in this the second half of the fringe, but was greatly welcome. There was some pretty hard-hitting stuff in there, but it was sandwiched in between the laughs, making for a bit of a rollercoaster. This is audience splitting stuff most probably, and not easy laughs, but the more we think back on it, the more we liked it. LE
The sheer power of these dancers is undeniable.
The Samoan influence makes this company stand out from a lot of other contemporary dance work. This programme consists of 7 different pieces (2 are excerpts from longer pieces) which gives some nice contrast. The pieces are introduced by the artistic director Neil Ieremia, giving a bit of background, which is great, and he also seems like an all round lovely guy! This would be a good place to start for newcomers to contemporary dance, and those with short attention spans will appreciate the variety! The dancers performed with skill and energy and left us feeling exhausted just watching! LE
★★★★ Christeene: The Christeene Machine | Underbelly, Cowgate | Until August 23rd, 10:10pm | £10-£12
Not for the faint-hearted!
This show is part underground cabaret, part club act, part soft porn and part motivational speech. With innovative costumes. Will you ever see anything else like it? Probably not. Should you check it out? Yes. But be prepared to be a bit freaked out, especially at the beginning before you’ve got into the swing of things. Also, don’t even think about going if you’re in any way unhappy by the thought of gay sex (What’s to be unhappy about? Ed.) – we think there were a few people who left because it was too much for them (They don’t know what they’re missing. Ed.), but those who stayed really loved it. Pretty inspiring too underneath the layer of f**king freaky. Would be at home in an underground club in Berlin or New York. Have a few drinks and let yourself go! LE
Two guys. One room. Many, many laughs. And Jeremy Clarkson.
Rob can’t find somebody to love, so he want’s to turn straight. Gabe’s new religious cult, Clarkstianity, should sort him out! Following the Jeremy Clarkson model of heterosexuality, Gabe tries to help Rob, but only succeeds in exposing his own inner demons… and Tom Cruise.
Guilt & Shame have hit their stride – an occasionally dark, sometimes touching, and always hilarious exploration of masculinity, sexuality, and the effects of electro-shock treatment. SW
Aesthetically impressive and physically wonderful: stylish and slick, complex but not oppressively so.
The text was slightly perturbing at first, and we were initially unsure if the written part of the show was living up to the physical. As time went on however, we realised that the word play, role play and gender play that the text dances around were really quite interesting. It’s thought provoking if you want it to be; it’s a really well put together piece of visually rich physical theatre if you want it to be. The performers were really quite absorbing, and had lots of energy, executed with grace and delicacy. LE
A delightfully silly werewolf mystery, with plenty of belly-laughs…
The aptly named Kill The Beast arrive on the Fringe with a fantastic comedic romp through back-alley abortions, small-town gossip, broken families, procedural crime drama and, of course, those hairy hands.
Imaginatively staged and brilliantly performed – the four actors play multiple roles – this is a farcical, subversive, irreverent and downright laugh-tastic hour of Fringe comedy theatre. SW
A complex show which combines performance, spoken word and visual and physical theatre.
Both 1984 and A Brave New World are big influences, and the subject matter makes for a powerful show which Human Zoo handle well, and with some interesting touches. Most notable are some beautiful moments of physical theatre involving picture frames, particularly striking when the frames are lit. There were times when the narrative felt slightly confused, mostly early on in the performance, but things were clear by the end and performances were solid from all cast members. LE
★★★★ How to Achieve Redemption as a Scot Through the Medium of Braveheart | Underbelly, Cowgate | Until August 24th, 4:10pm | £10-£11
Rachael Clerke’s show, mapping her journey to redemption, manages to be both sweetly funny and also, in a strange way, quite informative.
We learn about Clerke herself, but also about Scotland, performance art and the well-known people who serve as Clerke’s ‘big men of Scotland’. Her quest is serious in aim, but playful in execution, providing a contrast which makes the whole thing easy to relate to, and makes Clerke easy to root for. The performance lecture format is slightly different to most shows up here and the change is refreshing. Clerke delivers well, with a manner both clear and gentle. LE
Klip is described as a ‘strange, tightly choreographed world assembled from randomly generated material’.
It’s an interesting way to create a show and the results are most definitely quite random. However, the way that it is put together gives an interesting structure which, in revisiting ideas and repeating and adding to text, is clever and well constructed. There are times when things are a little hard to follow but there are also some absolutely wonderful moments. LE
We had absolutely no idea what to expect from this show, and that was probably a good way to go into it…
The unexpected hour of randomness was very enjoyable. This is crazy, silly, funny mime-comedy, from a man on his own onstage, being a bit of a ‘fanny’ in true Scottish fashion. It’s also actually pretty clever too, if you’re looking for it. Lots of laughs and a little bit of audience participation. Oh, and some nudity! LE
★★★★ Sam Simmons: Death of a Sails-Man | Underbelly, Bristo Square | Until August 24th | 8:50pm | £11-£13
Sam Simmons is a likeable guy – despite being a bit of a tit!
His show and his delivery make him personable and made us want him to succeed, even despite his impending ‘death’. It was the bits that didn’t work that we liked the most, both the ones we felt were purposeful, and the ones we thought perhaps weren’t! Luke, Simmons’ right hand man, was an important part of the show and was great, and perfectly complimented Simmons. It’s a bit weird this type of comedy, which mostly consists of banter between Simmons and, well, Simmons; but weird in a good way. LE
Rhys Nicholson is somehow dirty whilst still being spankingly clean (gfaw gfaw); both nasty and nice.
His jokes range from fisting to llamas, which is a pretty interesting mix and kept us on our toes. He’s a likeable chap and has won awards…! The only criticism we would make is of that tendency, prevalent in stand up, to self-depricate and refer to how well the show is/isn’t going. Don’t worry Rhys, it went well. And we’re kicking ourselves for not buying a post show llama broach! LE
It’s hard to know what to say about this show, except to expect the unexpected…!
We don’t want to spoil it for you. What we would say, is do a tiny a bit of research into Paul McCarthy before you see the show, if you don’t know anything about him – as it will help. The show can be seen as three sections, each really quite different from the last, but they compliment each other well and the journey from one to the next is a bumpy but intriguing one. Each part is humourous, each is clever, but in very different ways. Totally unashamed performance for those with open minds and a penchant for the different, the boundary-pushing, the weird and wonderful, and/or performance art. LE
A the perfect blend of classical and contemporary music.
Sleep Sound features two of our favourite instruments, the harp and the double bass… So we were off to a good start! Fiona Rutherford’s music beautifully evokes the feeling of sleep, and at 10:30pm, it’s the perfect time. It was just a shame we were such a long walk away from home as we would have loved to just crawl into bed straight after, lulled by these calming melodies! LE
Something a little bit different!
There are multiple time slots between 12pm and 6pm everyday, and the show is just for one person at a time. A one-on-one show might sound intimidating, but Claire Gaydon does everything possible to make you feel comfortable, and has a calming presence. The show is quite laid back and conversational, and yet does make you think about your personal relationships (without being too hard going!). A nice experience to have, and you might even get a little treat to enjoy during the performance… LE
‘Theatre meets live gig and stand-up’ – is this the new format for the modern-day musical?!
There’s a lot going on in this show which is formed of three short stories, relayed to us by a group of four performers. They swap between roles and, amazingly, between all of the instruments on stage. It is undeniable that this is a talented bunch of people and there is a good amount of energy for a 5pm show. We did feel that it would be nice to have slightly more contrast between the three stories, but the stories themselves are short but well written. LE
Everyone should be aware, from the name of the show, and/or by the disclaimers, that this show is not going to be nice.
You should not go to be entertained. You will be confronted with violence and disturbed by humanity. This is where the stress and the difficulty of this show lies, but this is also it’s point. Greg Wohead was brave to choose this as the starting point for a show and his delivery is acute but also poignant. It’s hard to say what we took away from this experience, as we most definitely didn’t ‘like’ it. It shook us up and made us grimace – a couple of people had to leave. It has the power to shock but does not shock for the sake of it – it’s pretty nasty, but a valuable piece. LE
If you like your comedy to start dark, and then get darker, with a bit of twisted thrown in for good measure, this one is for you!
Lizzie isn’t feeling so well, recovering from a car crash and with much of her memory lost. Her sister, Sarah, is looking after her and teaching her lessons about how life works.
In between these ‘lessons’ – fantastically surreal sketches, including a snort-inducing take on Antonin Artaud’s Theatre of Cruelty – we slowly learn more about how Lizzie’s accident happened… And all is not as it at first seemed.
Two fantastic comedy performers at the top of their game – perfectly poised on the edge of insanity. SW
This musical version of The Addams Family is funny, compelling, and gutsily performed – perfect for a family trip to the Fringe!
Downsized from the largesse of Broadway, you might expect this Royal Conservatoire of Scotland production to fall a little flat, but committed performances from a talented young cast combine with imaginative staging to bring this underrated musical to life (or should that be death?).
Many of the songs may be forgettable, but the jokes are funny and the ensemble set-pieces engrossing. At a full running time of two and a half hours, this is definitely great value for money, and a perfect show for all the family. SW
An intimate performance for six people in a caravan; Barbara and Yogashwara’s ‘Safe Space’ looks anything but safe!
We were pretty scared waiting for the show to start, unsure what we had let ourselves into, and to be honest we remained pretty scared throughout. The dynamic of the show’s mother daughter relationship is painfully hard to watch and we all felt the awkwardness that was intended for us. But we also laughed a lot at the slightly Little Britain-esque scenes we were treated to and the ridiculous nature of the ‘rituals’ we were witness to. We’re glad we didn’t chicken out! (Disclaimer – wear socks.) LE
We hadn’t realised that Kate, by Lost Watch, would have so much Icelandic language in it. .. But don’t be put off!
The meaning is always pretty clear. The language, including some songs sung in Icelandic, is a really lovely touch to this show, which was generally performed with loads of energy and consideration. Rianna Dearden in the title role was expressive and sweetly funny – the most compelling performance, however, was by Alex Dowding in his dual role of Rob and Bill, two completely different soldiers between whom he switched seamlessly. The large, loud, leaf blower, portraying the ‘gale force winds’, was a funny touch the first time it was used, but soon became repetitive and didn’t add anything further to the show. Sound-wise however, the inclusion of acapella singing was lovely and really gave a nice sense of time and place. LE
This is friggin’ odd…!
At best it is Boosh-inspired, Red Dwarf and Futurama influenced multi-disciplinary performance, at worst it is a bunch of young guys pratting about on stage. This show definitely has the marmite effect – we loved one minute and hated the next. Some of the jokes and the presentation of the show seemed a little immature at times, but this didn’t seem to phase what was a predominantly young audience. Some great absurd moments make this probably worth a watch if you’re willing to be a bit baffled! LE
If you’re going to explore the financial crisis which exploded into being in 2008… why not do it through intensely physical theatre?
New York’s JV Squad tirelessly fill the stage, telling the story of Jeff, who in 2008 took acid for the first time, squatted in the penthouse of the Plaza Hotel and tried to save the world with his degree in Russian Literature and a bottle or ten of Bud Light Lime.
Intense, energetic, insightful and scary stuff, told in a fresh, engaging way. It’s sweaty work, but don’t worry, there are sweatbands a-plenty. SW
A young company full of energy and enthusiasm.
We loved their lack of technology – who needs a projector when you can create beautiful hand drawn gobo effect screens to shine a torch through! This is also very apt for the subject of the show, which is the (looming…?!) decline of the arts and its prohibition in the future setting of the show. In fact one of the great things about this show, is that it all fits together so well. There is live music on stage, and whilst this seems to be the new in-thing in theatre right now, in this show it’s actually part of the story and almost necessary to it. Nicely done. LE
Pioneer is set in the future and revolves around a space mission to Mars.
The story is an interesting one and a lot of effort has gone into this production, which was on the whole well executed. There was a lot of AV and a lot of set changing, which was at times very effective, but at other times felt unnecessary. The story itself held our interest, but lacked a clear protagonist to root for – not necessarily a deal breaker, but this did make it slightly hard to get really involved. We felt perhaps that more energy could have been directed towards the guts of the show instead of the projections and set changes, and then maybe a deeper kind of piece could have emerged. LE
Decade comprises several short plays, all concerning the 9/11 terrorist attack on the Twin Towers.
Some give direct accounts, some are linked more tenuously. We felt ever so slightly mislead by the idea of ten plays as there were only five, learning after the show finished that we could watch the other five the next day. To be fair, ten in one hour did sound slightly ambitious! There are some nice performances from a young cast. The subject matter is interesting, giving some weighty material. The production possibly could have done with a touch more energy, but is on the whole a good selection of writing performed earnestly. LE
The idea of a 360 degree live gig is a great one. However, KlangHaus’s execution of this was a little clunky.
We saw a preview, so there may be things to iron out still, but the performance was a little affected and felt a bit forced at times. The installation areas at the beginning were great and it was a shame that there was not a bit more freedom for the audience to explore in their own time. There were some nice sonic moments and the ending was good, but overall a tad disappointing. 4-stars for concept, but sadly it didn’t live up to our expectations. LE
Some lovely shadow work and some nice visual moments.
Probably slightly more aimed at children then we were led to believe from the blurb, so maybe a little tricky to give a well rounded view, as we didn’t have a child to take along…! LE