The Art of Self-Improvement

The Art of Self-Improvement

Ragweed, a ‘scuzzy rock trio’ from Brighton, appreciate the importance of being immersed in live music. Their show is based upon this very concept: they have an audience don blindfolds and spend its duration sightless... 

Utter! Presents... Identity Mix-Up

Utter! Presents... Identity Mix-Up

I don’t think I’ve felt as privileged to be in a performer’s company at a Fringe show as I felt when watching Keith Jarrett. He is astute, he is witty, he is charming, and I would have bought him a pint if only I’d had the chance... 

Liam Mullone: Game Over

Liam Mullone: Game Over

I’m going to start simply: Liam Mullone is funny – much more so than his association with Russell Howard’s Good News would suggest. He is acerbic, he is well-informed and he quickly supersedes the expectations set by his dire promotional photo... 

Dean Friedman - Words and Music

Dean Friedman - Words and Music

Dean Friedman is a personable guy. He came running out onto the stage, beamed at his audience and dropped into his first song. Then he chatted to us as though we had just popped down to the pub together... 

War of the Waleses

War of the Waleses

It’s the old romcom cliché: boy meets girl, boy falls in love with girl, girl marries into the suffocating institution to which boy belongs, girl divorces boy. Yes, it’s the rise, fall and aftermath of the marriage of Charles and Diana... 

Concrete Duvet

Concrete Duvet

It’s a well-worn formula: Man-child isn’t ready to completely give himself over to his relationships, ensnared as he is in a mentality of self-interest and a fear of commitment and it takes the stern voice of a new perspective to change this... 

Adam Page

Adam Page

Pressing the right pedal records, pressing the left pedal replays. This is the basic mechanism on which Adam Page’s show hinges and it’s remarkable what he can do with something ostensibly so simple... 

Barnardo’s Big Comedy Benefit

Barnardo’s Big Comedy Benefit

I just want to first make sure that we’re on level ground here: I think Barnardo’s is super. Give five stars to any charity, I say. They’re great – even those ones that fund counselling sessions for mules dissatisfied with the tedium into which their once lofty ambitions have descended... 

Roddy Hart & The Lonesome Fire

Roddy Hart & The Lonesome Fire

Roddy Hart and his band, the Lonesome Fire, appear on the stage dressed as dapper as anything. It’s a look which suits a sound as clean-cut and noir as theirs. This is a band owing a debt to the gothic tradition, tapping as they do into a certain melodrama, an unnerving atmosphere and a deep romanticism... 

Thrice

Thrice

Try it at least thrice and you’re bound to get a laugh: so goes the philosophy of sketch duo Toby – consisting of siblings Sarah and Lizzy Daykin – and Nathan Dean Williams. These are skits that aren’t supposed to have punchlines... 

Times Square Tourist

Times Square Tourist

In a spoken word account – I would assume non-fictional, though this is never made clear – Laurel Lockhart tells us of her time in New York as she tries to hit it big in the grand world of theatre... 

Bizarre Guitar and Terse Verse

Bizarre Guitar and Terse Verse

I’ve got a lot of time for people who don’t perform at the Fringe for any reason other than to exhibit a hobby. It’s nice to see them indulging in something that they clearly love doing, and doing it with someone else who shares their love of the hobby in question... 

Jekyll & Hyde

Jekyll & Hyde

Robert Louis Stevenson’s novel, charting the dual-natured existence of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, is well-trodden turf, having seen adaptations aplenty on television, radio, film and, of course, stage... 

Rachel Sermanni

Rachel Sermanni

Rachel Sermanni comes onto the stage and blithely announces that she has made a new instrument – out of spoons that she bought in a charity shop. It is the first bizarre tangent of many in the set and reveals an irreverent sense of humour about Sermanni, a desire not to take things too seriously... 

BLAM!

BLAM!

I’ve little doubt that I’d have a lot of fun with a pony who knows one-trick but it’s safe to say that it would eventually get tiresome. I might shake things up a bit by having it do its trick in a top hat but then I would remove the top hat and realise that, all along, it was just a pony that was doing the same trick but this time in a top hat... 

Kaffa!

Kaffa!

A series of vignettes dedicated to ‘modern-day café culture and the problems that come with it’ doesn’t scream mirth, so I think the success of Kaffa! pays hearty testament to the abilities of the Porcelain Cat Theatre Company... 

John McNamara Acoustic Soul and Blues

John McNamara Acoustic Soul and Blues

You wouldn’t guess that John McNamara had only decisively started his Blues career last year at this very festival. Within this short space of time he seems to have developed a deft and professional touch for the genre, a close understanding of how best to do it justice, with a canny insight into how to write music within the parameters laid out by his precursors, while imbuing it with his own personality... 

Doogie Paul Memorial Concert

Doogie Paul Memorial Concert

Doogie Paul may not be the most familiar name in music, but amongst those who know him, both directly and indirectly, he is spoken of with a great deal of admiration. He was widely known as bassist and backing vocalist in James Yorkston’s group The Athletes, but his influence – as proven by the many acts who agreed to play without charge and by the many people who paid to sit in the audience – was far-reaching... 

PussyFooting

PussyFooting

The absurdist mantle is an invaluable crutch for this play. It occurs to me that any criticism I should level against it will meet with outcry: ‘You just didn’t get it. The dialogue isn’t banal; absurdism is about trying to find meaning where there is none of be found... 

Spoken Word Showcases and Competitions

Spoken Word Showcases and Competitions

The nature of the Spoken Word Showcase is such that each night is an entirely different affair, as Fay Roberts proudly announces at the beginning of the show. This, though somewhat troublesome for a reviewer, makes for a bitesize show filled with a diverse range of acts from all over the Fringe... 

For the Love of Folk!

For the Love of Folk!

To spend one’s afternoon in the company of Raymond Considine is a relaxed and amusing affair. He sang with a fine Irish lilt and we all gathered around to hear him draw from a pool of unfamiliar folk songs, giving us an insight into a history of which he is evidently proud... 

Phildel

Phildel

Phildel’s story is poignant and it is one to which she subtly but frankly alludes with explanations as to how each song came to be written. Whilst she sings with closed eyes, the audience are permitted entry into her traumatic past – into the nervous breakdown she suffered; into the betrayals that have been inflicted upon her; into her subdual in the years of her youth... 

Evie and the Perfect Cupcake / PBH's Free Fringe

Evie and the Perfect Cupcake / PBH's Free Fringe

Welcome to the Calorie Galaxy, in which Tina Sederholm’s protagonist Evie struggles under a regime of browbeating and humiliation, all in the pursuit of a narrow waist. Evie and the Perfect Cupcake delivers an impressively long poetic recitation (not quite Paradise Lost but still a feat of memory, attention and assembly) that serves as an excursion into the dystopia that is skinny culture... 

Panto-monium: An Adult Pantomime for Gentlemen and Gentleladies

Panto-monium: An Adult Pantomime for Gentlemen and Gentleladies

The onstage rapport of the three actors of Panto-Monium is nothing to be sniffed at. They hit the show at one hundred percent and maintain this high level throughout, interacting with one another in a manner endearing to watch... 

Song Noir

Song Noir

John Wills, guitarist of Pumajaw, the musical pairing behind Song Noir, entered the room and crossed the stage, barely acknowledging the audience as he picked up his electric guitar and pressed a button on his laptop... 

Drum Struck

Drum Struck

Despite the many celebrations for Drum Struck that have been quoted on its posters, I went in ready to be critical: I’m not impressed so easily, thought I. But this review cannot quite circumvent what is quickly becoming cliché: there really isn’t a bad word to say about this show... 

Monkey Poet

Monkey Poet

Matt Panesh is Monkey Poet: A poet who runs out of poems after half an hour. Admittedly it was his first show and he apologised for it having been somewhat ad hoc, so I’ll ignore the fact that the show is advertised as ‘Stand-up poetry from a multi-award winning simian’... 

Richard Herring - We're All Going to Die!

Richard Herring - We're All Going to Die!

At a time when high-profile comedy seems frequently to constitute pointing out things that people do, Richard Herring’s satirical wit and eye for originality – not to mention his love of an art-form that only ten consecutive stand-up shows can demonstrate – elevates him head and shoulders above the rest... 

Ukulele Lunch Date With Tricity Vogue - Free

Ukulele Lunch Date With Tricity Vogue - Free

Of all the ukulele workshops I’ve ever been to, this was by far the best, and let me tell you, I’ve uked a fair bit in my time. [Disclaimer: I haven’t, but I played trumpet until I was fifteen, and it’s all much of muchness, really... 

Dick Whittington

Dick Whittington

To give these enthusiastic students credit, it is not easy to pull off a pantomime. Because everything must be played at levels of one hundred per cent, any gusto lacking on the part of a single cast member will stand out like a sore thumb... 

Damn Danes

Damn Danes

I forget where comic duo Damn Danes are from, but their comedy is in any case a welcome presence at this year’s Fringe. Dry, sardonic and self-deprecating, it is the kind of humour that appeals the world over... 

Head Hand Head

Head Hand Head

“You can leave, if you want to,” Laura Jane Dean tells her audience – a simple statement of fact about the freedom afforded to an individual untouched by obsessive-compulsive tendencies...