The Cat's Mother

The Cat's Mother

One of the most valuable functions of theatre is to offer us a way to explore difficult issues without fear of blame without fear of censure. By creating a fictitious character and charting their path through a tricky situation, we offer a way to gather reactions and opinions without making it personal... 

Phill Jupitus: Sassy Knack

Phill Jupitus: Sassy Knack

As a huge number of the entries in the Fringe programme could tell you, the life of a stand-up is a tough one – hours and hours of unpaid work just to get a decent set together and followed by a life of travel, constantly having to single-handedly win over a new audience every night... 

Nigel Slater’s Toast

Nigel Slater’s Toast

One of the hardest calls for a reviewer to make is where to draw the line between production and play. Can a problematic text be completely redeemed if the production is good or, for new pieces where the audience may not know what to expect, do we have a duty to comment on the work, script and all, so everyone goes in with their eyes open?It’s a quandary I find myself in after stepping out of Nigel Slater’s Toast at the Traverse theatre... 

Famous Puppet Death Scenes

Famous Puppet Death Scenes

An enigmatic title is the hallmark of many Fringe shows – I’m sure no one knows quite what to expect from Duckpond: An Element of Mystery in Umpteen Samples or Lights Over Tesco Car Park... 

Jess Robinson: No Filter

Jess Robinson: No Filter

Though now a household name thanks to a semi-final place in last year’s Britain’s Got Talent, singing impressionist Jess Robinson is a familiar face of the Fringe. Since her 2014 show Mighty Voice, she’s been a regular fixture of the Pleasance but this year the act has a new home in the Spiegeltents of the Assembly Garden... 

In for a Penny

In for a Penny

In For A Penny is Libby McArthur’s true-life tale of the unforeseen consequences of an unpaid parking ticket - how one person can fall foul of a system that sees only the facts and not the context and how one oversight can spiral to far more serious consequences... 

A Broad Abroad

A Broad Abroad

If there’s one thing the majority of people at the Fringe can empathise with, it’s how hard the life of a jobbing actor can be. Unsuccessful auditions, lazy agents, missed opportunities and lack of creative fulfilment... 

Blackthorn by Charley Miles

Blackthorn by Charley Miles

Home is a powerful concept. It rejuvenates you but it can also demand; it gives you a solid base from which to move forward as well as the chains that hold you back. So what do you do if your home isn't just a place but also a person?In the village of Blackthorn, two children are born two years apart; Her - precocious, bright and curious - and Him - clumsy and bashful but brave and strong... 

Unsung

Unsung

With the advent of the internet, smartphones and social media, today’s politics happens under an unprecedented level of scrutiny. Our leaders live their lives out in the open, permanently exposed, public figures made more public than ever... 

Sticks and Stones

Sticks and Stones

Free speech is a right fiercely protected in today’s society. To deny someone a voice is to deny them a fundamental part of their existence. Yet this inalienable right to speak is balanced by the need to take care what you say, especially when one word out of turn can dog you forever... 

The Gruffalo's Child

The Gruffalo's Child

Much as it is a pleasure to discover a hidden gem amongst the mass of shows in Edinburgh, there’s also something very reassuring about having a list of reliable prospects. Whether it’s a venue, a regular show, a stalwart performer or a company, it’s nice to have these tentpoles around which to build your Fringe schedule... 

Siblings

Siblings

The art of the comedic double act is a difficult one and its success largely based on chemistry between the two performers. So what happens when these two performers share not just chemistry but also genetics?Such is the case with Maddy and Marina Bye, the real-life sisters who make up Siblings... 

Leaf by Niggle

Leaf by Niggle

With Hollywood’s recent adaptation of his works, the name JRR Tolkien has come to be associated with huge spectacle and epic scope. So much so that it’s easy to forget that the man himself was a shy, quiet sort of chap – temperamentally closer to the pastoral idyll of The Shire than the clamour of a battlefield... 

A Common Man: The Bridge That Tom Built

A Common Man: The Bridge That Tom Built

Victor Hugo once said “You can resist an invading army; you cannot resist an idea whose time has come.” It’s a line quoted in A Common Man… but I include it here because it neatly summarises what I found most irresistible about this show – its incredible timeliness... 

Britney in: John

Britney in: John

In 2011, Charly Clive and Ellen Robertson were women without a mission. Just out of school with no definite plans for university and holding down a couple of dead-end (and in one case, truly bizarre) gap year jobs, they needed focus for their creative energies... 

Siri

Siri

A two-woman show starring only one woman – not a typo but the conceit at the centre of the latest show by Canadian actress and interactive artist Laurence Dauphinais. The secret, as you’ve probably guessed from the title, is that the second voice comes not from another performer but from Siri, the virtual assistant on Dauphinais’ phone... 

Séance

Séance

Theatre today increasingly falls into one of two broad camps. On the one side is the traditional fourth wall performance – you sit here, we stand here, we tell a story and you listen... 

Brendon Burns and Colt Cabana Do Comedy and Commentary to Bad Wrestling Matches!

Brendon Burns and Colt Cabana Do Comedy and Commentary to Bad Wrestling Matches!

I’m sure we’re all used to growing the Fringe brochure and seeing shows with enigmatic titles which tell you nothing about the eventual content. If only there was a show that told you exactly what to expect before you even step in the room... 

Tatterdermalion

Tatterdermalion

Puppet pioneers Flabbergast Theatre have made an interesting move this year, establishing their own dedicated performance space, The Omnitorium, within the confines of Assembly George Square... 

Lunch

Lunch

Lunch. It’s a rather impenetrable title. Doesn’t give much away about the content of this show. Neither does the poster, as it happens. Which is exactly as it should be because Luke Courtier has assembled an hour of assorted comedy moments which is best experienced as a stream of consciousness - unsure of what’s coming next but happy to go with the flow... 

Rory O'Hanlon – You Are Where You Need to Be

Rory O'Hanlon – You Are Where You Need to Be

The show’s stated theme is a philosophical discussion of how we end up where we end up, In actual fact this thread isn’t really followed up. What’s actually on offer is a grab bag of observational comedy, targeted at the international audience of the Fringe and centred around O’ Hanlon’s travels... 

The Master and Margarita

The Master and Margarita

There’s a certain size and scale that one gets used to at the Fringe. True, there are a few notable exceptions - the Assembly Hall, the EICC, the Pleasance Grand - but, more often than not, you can expect to be sat with maybe ten other people in a thrown-together space that smells a little of damp and is probably usually used to store the very chairs you’re sat on... 

Ros & Guil R Dead

Ros & Guil R Dead

When deciding on a show to bring to the Fringe, you have two main choices: one, a piece of new writing - exciting and impactful but harder to market - or two, a take on a classic - easier to get an audience but potentially harder to put your own voice into... 

Not the Horse

Not the Horse

Almost twenty years ago, Guy Ritchie changed the landscape of British cinema with his love letter to the charismatic psychopaths of the East End underbelly Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels... 

The Life and Times of Lionel

The Life and Times of Lionel

New work is at the heart of the Fringe experience; new work by new companies all the more so. However, much of this new writing can be deeply soul-searching and far too earnest - admirable but a little wearing if done too straight... 

WWE Hall of Famer Hacksaw Jim Duggan’s 2x4 Tour One-Man Comedy Show

WWE Hall of Famer Hacksaw Jim Duggan’s 2x4 Tour One-Man Comedy Show

Just one glance at this year’s stuffed-to-bursting wedge of a programme is enough to see that there are bewildering array of performance disciplines represented at this year’s Fringe... 

Greater Belfast

Greater Belfast

The gamut of performers at Fringe brings with it a spectrum of experience; from shiny new student companies, powering forward on naive enthusiasm and off-brand energy drinks, to veteran performers, showcasing an elegance and economy of style granted by years of experience... 

Boris & Sergey: Preposterous Improvisation Experiment

Boris & Sergey: Preposterous Improvisation Experiment

Improv comedy is a tricky beast - when it’s good, it’s very, very good; when it’s bad, it’s pointless. There’s also a massive overabundance of improv acts around this year - 81 at last count - so it’s strange to see an established act, with a proven history of strong writing, willingly enter this maelstrom... 

What I Learned From Johnny Bevan

What I Learned From Johnny Bevan

It’s easy to get lulled by the constant flow of shows at the Fringe, to give in the mid-afternoon slump and the heavy-eyed semi-slumber. At times like this, what is needed is a play that shocks you upright; that makes your heart beat faster, that punches you right in the chest... 

The Secret Life of Suitcases

The Secret Life of Suitcases

There are some shows that you just get a good feeling about from the moment you step into the theatre. With its quirky pipes-and-cases semi-industrial set, The Secret Life of Suitcases is one of those shows... 

Fairly Tales

Fairly Tales

This play tells the story of Benji and Alf, next-door neighbours becoming best friends, bonded by their love of the titular ‘Fairly Tales’. These feature a rambling mashup of familiar fairytale characters such as the troll from The Billy Goats Gruff or the Big Bad Wolf... 

Dean Martin and Friends (Christmas Special)

Dean Martin and Friends (Christmas Special)

The Fringe is a place for new discoveries – the freshest, young talent rubbing shoulders with the world’s best at their craft. This is what make Fringe shows some of the most exciting and challenging in the world... 

The Glorious Damnation of Eddie Small

The Glorious Damnation of Eddie Small

The legend of Faustus, the man who sold his soul for knowledge, wealth and power is one which has been in the public consciousness for over 500 years. While Christopher Marlowe may have penned the definitive version of the tale back in the 16th Century, for many, the one which resonates strongest now is that of blues musician Robert Johnson, making a midnight bargain with a dark stranger for the talent to make a guitar sing to his tune... 

Bat-Fan

Bat-Fan

When boredom threatens at the Fringe, a hero will rise. Operating from his not-so-secret portakabin base, that hero is James Wilson-Taylor, on a quest to prove his status as the one true choice to take on the legacy of the Caped Crusader; to show that he is… Bat-Fan!Cards on the table, this is exactly my kind of subject... 

The Star Rover

The Star Rover

Despite being one of Jack London’s more obscure works, his 1915 novel The Star Rover or The Jacket is one that feels oddly contemporary. Already the inspiration behind a 2005 film, its story of one man’s torture and abuse by the state resonates with a post-Guantanamo Bay public consciousness and protagonist Darrell Standing’s journeys into his own psyche echo a very modern approach to the mind... 

The Comedy Cow: Prime Cut

The Comedy Cow: Prime Cut

Free Fringe comedy can be a risky prospect but it can be a risk worth taking in service of finding a night worth seeing. Comedy Cow: Prime Cut is one of those nights; quality standup at a bargain price... 

Potted Sherlock

Potted Sherlock

Edinburgh stalwarts Dan and Jeff are back for another energetic hour and, following Potted Potter, Potted Pirates and Potted Panto, it’s the turn of Baker Street’s own Sherlock Holmes... 

A Journey Round My Skull

A Journey Round My Skull

Science-theatre is in vogue at the moment. With the emergence of science icons like Professor Brian Cox and Dr Ben Goldacre, the average person is now far more engaged with the workings of the world around them... 

The Worm - An Underground Adventure

The Worm - An Underground Adventure

As anyone who’s ever dealt with a three-year-old can tell you, keeping their attention can be a Herculean task. It’s therefore a pleasure to see a piece like The Worm: An Underground Adventure which manages to keep its audience of tinies enthralled simply through some excellent storytelling... 

Mark Grist & MC Mixy: Dead Poets' Death Match

Mark Grist & MC Mixy: Dead Poets' Death Match

Standing centre stage in a dress and a dodgy blonde wig, Mark Grist jokes that this is what two guys with Arts Council funding really look like. It’s doubtless meant self-deprecatingly but, in my opinion, it’s a good use of the money... 

David O'Doherty Has Checked Everything

David O'Doherty Has Checked Everything

David O'Doherty is one of those rare stand-ups who is a familiar face without being plastered everywhere, who is successful without being packaged. He’s also one of those comedians who seems entirely at his ease and spontaneous while performing what is doubtless a carefully prepared routine... 

Kraken

Kraken

Billed as ‘Comedy (mime, physical theatre)’ I was a little unsure about what to expect from Kraken, but whatever it was that I had been expected was soon proven to be way out. This is superbly entertaining stuff and something that must be seen to be truly appreciated... 

Bloody Trams

Bloody Trams

I’ve often wondered how Edinburgh locals truly feel about the Fringe - is it a huge party or just a massive disruption? Given the wealth of subjects from around the world being dealt with, just how much do they feel their festival truly belongs to them? This is why it’s nice to see a show like Bloody Trams which has Edinburgh people talking about Edinburgh issues... 

National Loaf

National Loaf

There’s a sort of delicious irony to queuing for a show about rationing whilst watching one of the cast frantically stuffing their face with crisps. Sadly for National Loaf, this was as amused as I ever got... 

Newton's Cauldron

Newton's Cauldron

Newton’s Cauldron is an unexpected gem, a brisk little piece which mixes storybook, history book and textbook deftly and amusingly. The story is that of Wendy Wiz, a failed witch whose one piece of successful magic is to prophesy the birth of Isaac Newton, a birth which also signals the death of magic and the dawn of the age of science... 

Rachel Parris: Live in Vegas

Rachel Parris: Live in Vegas

It’s heartening to see a deserving standup successfully transfer from the Free Fringe to the larger potential audience of the mega-venues. This year marks the first Pleasance show for Rachel Parris, my absolute pick of last year’s Counting House programme with her show The Commission, and so I was understandably eager to check it out... 

Laika: A Space Dogyssey

Laika: A Space Dogyssey

One of the best things about the Fringe is the energy and ingenuity of the young companies performing here and these are both words that apply perfectly to Double Edge Drama, creators of Laika - A Space Dogyssey... 

BEASTS: Solo

BEASTS: Solo

In themselves the Beasts’ sketch personas are fairly standard; the nutcase, the buffoon and the straight man. What sets the trio apart is the level of manic energy that they throw into these roles... 

Richard Herring: Lord of the Dance Settee

Richard Herring: Lord of the Dance Settee

Lord of the Dance Settee marks Richard Herring’s 23rd Fringe show, an accumulated Edinburgh residency of just under two years; enough, as he himself points out, to make him more Scots than the average Lothian toddler... 

The Twins Macabre: Small Mediums at Large

The Twins Macabre: Small Mediums at Large

As Ethel Merman famously sang in Gypsy, ‘you gotta get a gimmick if you want to get ahead’. This is especially true of the Fringe where almost every performer needs an easily-recognisable persona to sell themselves effectively and really stand out... 

Danny Bhoy: 12 Nights, 12 Charities

Danny Bhoy: 12 Nights, 12 Charities

There’s a particular pleasure in seeing someone do their job incredibly well. Edinburgh is certainly a place to pick up fledgling talent but sometimes it’s nice to watch someone who’s already been through it, learned the important lessons and is just damn good... 

A Series of Increasingly Impossible Acts

A Series of Increasingly Impossible Acts

My first clue should have been the warmup. Many pieces of physical theatre ask a lot from their audience, but few begin with an aerobics-style stretching session. But then, there are few where both the cast and the audience must be so genuinely prepared for anything... 

BABY/LON

BABY/LON

'BABY/LON', the second work by Hackney-based theatre company The Big House, is a big story; one of homelessness, violence, motherhood on the lowest rungs of society and the struggle when what's right for a child can feel almost entirely wrong for the mother... 

Phoenix

Phoenix

As a rule, I’m not always the biggest fan of ‘issue’ theatre. Drama can be an excellent tool with which to explore and explain complex issues, but often the importance of the message can undermine the theatrical enjoyment of a piece, leaving it flat and preachy... 

Murder, She Didn't Write

Murder, She Didn't Write

There are two rules to improvised comedy: One, you’re only as strong as your weakest member and two, never, ever say no. Murder She Didn’t Write falls victim to both of these rules, making for a distinctly underwhelming performance... 

Who Runs the World?

Who Runs the World?

For me, female acapella is really difficult to get right. Higher voices sound beautiful with backing but take away the instruments and it can feel a little thin and unsatisfying, the sweet without the substance, like icing without a cake... 

Slap and Giggle: Recharged

Slap and Giggle: Recharged

Double act comedy is very difficult. Unlike a solo stand-up each performer must take account of the other’s needs but, unlike sketch comedy, there’s no room for one performer to have a bad day... 

Slaves of the Kingdom

Slaves of the Kingdom

Slaves of the Kingdom is a new musical based around the Bible story of Moses and the Exodus and it’s one hell of an ambitious undertaking. A full band, a cast of 17 and a full theatrical soundtrack to be fit into the space of 80 minutes... 

Danny the Champion of the World - Plays for Children

Danny the Champion of the World - Plays for Children

When you’re looking for a kids’ show at the Fringe, there are a few names which ought to be a safe bet and, of these, none more so than Roald Dahl. After all, what child doesn’t love the gruesome ghoulish humour which so often characterises his books?I say ‘ought’ because there are some exceptions to the rule and, sadly, Danny the Champion of the World is one of these exceptions... 

Gavin Crawford - A Bummer Abroad

Gavin Crawford - A Bummer Abroad

I have to admit, I was not convinced by Gavin Crawford to begin with. This show does not start well – Crawford opens on his weakest character, a parody of a fringe first-timer which feels done to death... 

Superhero Snail Boy

Superhero Snail Boy

I’m not a morning person at the best of times. So it takes something really special to get me excited at 10.30 in the morning. Thankfully, Superhero Snail Boy is just that thing. I loved this show unreservedly... 

Ivo Graham: Binoculars

Ivo Graham: Binoculars

Ivo Graham is posh. He sounds posh, looks posh and when he suffers the unfortunate setback of picking on an affluent-looking member of the audience only to find out he’s a friend of his father’s, the impression is confirmed... 

Dick Lee's Swingtet featuring Ali Affleck

Dick Lee's Swingtet featuring Ali Affleck

Picture, if you will, your idea of a swing band leader. Immaculate suit, slicked-down hair, trimmed moustache. The smooth, practised air of a master raconteur.Wandering amiably onto stage in an un-tucked black shirt, socks and sandals, Dick Lee does not look like this bandleader... 

In the Pink - Fabulous Female a Cappella!

In the Pink - Fabulous Female a Cappella!

Kourtney Kardashian. Solange Knowles. Casey Affleck. What do these three figures have in common with In The Pink?The answer is that they’re all struggling, perhaps unfairly, to get out from under the shadow of a much-more-famous sibling... 

Jay Foreman: No More Colours

Jay Foreman: No More Colours

Ensconced in an inflatable dome, in the children’s area of the Pleasance, bravely struggling through a voice ravaged by cold and flyering, Jay Foreman does not have an easy job of it... 

Micheline Sings Brel

Micheline Sings Brel

It’s likely that, when you think of France at its coolest, there are certain figures who spring to mind –Francois Truffaut, Jean-Paul Satre, Brigitte Bardot. However, providing the soundtrack to all of these figures was one man, Jacques Brel, a man whose influence is still felt today in the works of artists from Bowie to Beirut... 

Christian Reilly: Songs of Praise

Christian Reilly: Songs of Praise

Christian Reilly is on a mission to save the world through music. That’s the premise of this excellent stand-up show and, while it’s a pretty loose thread to hang his material upon, Reilly’s material is so strong that it barely matters... 

Rik n Mix

Rik n Mix

Rik n Mix is actually a showcase of three comedians combining their short sets to make an hour long show compered by Rik Carranza. Consequently the show varies greatly in quality depending on who’s on stage, leading to a rather hit-and-miss experience... 

The Islanders

The Islanders

The Islanders tells the simple tale of a young Dorset couple, Amy and Eddie; the beginnings of their love, the slow disaster of their living together and the titanic struggle of organising their first-and-only holiday to the Isle of Wight... 

Chris Dugdale - Magic and Mischief!

Chris Dugdale - Magic and Mischief!

The Fringe isn’t always the best place for magic. Large tricks are, by-and-large, impractical for venues where you’ve little prop-space and, while you can usually find venues small enough for close-up magic, it seriously limits the size of your audience... 

Rich Hall's Hoedown

Rich Hall's Hoedown

We see a lot of Rich Hall on panel shows these days: QI, Have I Got News For You?, Eight out of Ten Cats, Never Mind The Buzzcocks. His acerbic wit is always a welcome addition to these shows but the format does reduce his ability to showcase his work as a musician... 

BrainSex

BrainSex

It’s official – science is now sexy. Thanks to media-friendly academics like Professor Brian Cox or Dr Alice Roberts it’s now cool to understand why the world around you does the things that it does... 

Pajama Men - Just the Two of Each of Us

Pajama Men - Just the Two of Each of Us

Mime and physical theatre can be risky aspects of a comedy show. Taken too seriously, they can easily tip over into the ridiculous and the resulting hour can become a slow death by awkwardness... 

Katie Goodman: I Didn't F*ck It Up

Katie Goodman: I Didn't F*ck It Up

Katie Goodman absolutely delivers – a gutsy comedian with a satirical side and a fairly foul mouth. Leaping onto the stage, she launches immediately into the show’s title track, a rousing Occupy anthem centred around how we may not be the ones who got the world into a mess but we’re the ones who need to fix it... 

Sotho Sounds: Junk Funk

Sotho Sounds: Junk Funk

Sotho Sounds in the band’s current form is four men: cheerful front-man Khuti, guitarist Tankiso, string-player Josepha and frowning powerhouse percussionist Paseka. Growing up as herd-boys in the remote highlands of Lesotho, they decided that they wanted to create music and so crafted instruments from anything they had lying around – discarded cans, wire, oil drums and scrap wood... 

Esio Trot

Esio Trot

Often high marks are awarded to those companies who create a new world in the theatre through their use of advanced set, puppetry, props or movement so it is good to sometimes be reminded that bells and whistles are not necessarily the only things that make for a truly special show... 

Sam Rose in the Shadows

Sam Rose in the Shadows

In the right hands, theatre is an immensely powerful tool for taking large issues and bringing them down to a manageable level. What can, on one level, simply be entertainment can, on another level, be therapy... 

The Tom Show: The Grand Tour

The Tom Show: The Grand Tour

The story of the Fringe is a story of the periphery. First there was the International Festival with a few pieces of avant-garde theatre clinging to its coat-tails. Then the theatrical outsiders began to thrive and with their ascendancy came the student companies... 

Adam Buxton: Kernel Panic

Adam Buxton: Kernel Panic

To a certain generation of British people, Adam Buxton is a bit of a legend. His partnership with comedy-brother Joe Cornish spawned not only one of the funniest TV shows of the nineties but also a 6Music show with one of the most loyal cult followings in recent memory... 

Oh My Darling

Oh My Darling

Folk is a big deal at the moment, with bands such as Mumford and Sons bringing English traditional music to the stadium stage, while American artists such as Alison Krauss enjoy a resurgence in popularity... 

Ellis & Rose: Big in Denmark

Ellis & Rose: Big in Denmark

Watching Ellis and Rose in the dank damp of the Bunker gives a moment of odd synchronicity. The duo, dressed in matching tweeds, cut an oddly Beckett-esque silhouette, as if they were forced to seek shelter during a grouse shoot and have been locked down there together ever since, growing slowly more and more deranged... 

Will Seaward: Socialist Fairytales!

Will Seaward: Socialist Fairytales!

Are you sitting comfortably? Then I’ll begin. Picture the scene, if you will. It’s a little after 11.30 at night, you’re frankly exhausted and sitting in a small room atop the tallest tower of the Gilded Balloon... 

Knightmare Live

Knightmare Live

I’m sure any fringe veteran worth their salt has had the experience of seeing a famous face from their childhood appearing out of an Edinburgh side-street to bring back a flood of nostalgia... 

Andrew and the Pony

Andrew and the Pony

‘Andrew and the Pony’ is, oddly enough, the story of how performer Andrew Bridges has always, since early childhood, desperately wanted a pony and of all the bizarre situations this desperate burning desire has led him into... 

My Brother the Robot

My Brother the Robot

I often revisit companies and venues at the Fringe, simply because I know that their work works for me. For excellent children’s entertainment, Tall Stories is usually my first port of call... 

Phill Jupitus and Deborah Frances-White: Voices in Your Head - The Phill Jupitus Experiment

Phill Jupitus and Deborah Frances-White: Voices in Your Head - The Phill Jupitus Experiment

The Phill Jupitus Experiment. Sounds avant-garde, doesn’t it? Well, first-off, don’t be fooled. This is improv, plain and simple; it’s possibly less experimental than normal improv as all the parameters are controlled, not by the random suggestions of the audience, but by the titular ‘Voice’ in his head, Deborah Frances-White... 

Jamie MacDowell and Tom Thum

Jamie MacDowell and Tom Thum

My favourite thing about the Edinburgh Fringe is the sheer concentration of talent in creates in the city, an array of people with skills that I can only dream of having. And occasionally people with an array of skills that I can’t even believe... 

Superbard: The Flood

Superbard: The Flood

Music, video, comedy and theatre? A physical performance and an eBook? Attempting to tackle the subject of the apocalypse? From reading the show description of ‘The Flood’, you might be led to conclude that Superbard has bitten off a little more than he can chew... 

Too Cool To Care

Too Cool To Care

There are many things that make for a successful comedian. For some it’s an original take on the world. For others, a way with words, a rhythm that simply triggers a smile. Some performers, though, engage you purely with their personality... 

An Edam Odyssey

An Edam Odyssey

Sketch comedy is, by its nature, a slightly hit-and-miss affair. It’s situational and a situation that one person finds hilarious could fly right past another. It’s a difficulty that Goes Well With Cheese have cleverly tried to avoid with a quick-fire show which throws in gags at a relentless pace,Good strategy but it’s a bit hit-and-miss... 

A Christmas Carol

A Christmas Carol

There’s a reason Charles Dickens’ stories endures in popularity. Some may point to his vivid characterisation, his ear for dialogue or his particularly satirical British sense of humour... 

The Shakespeare Conspiracy

The Shakespeare Conspiracy

We live in the age of the cultural mash-up, of old names reimagined into new forms. Here Snow White can become a sword-wielding warrior, Dr Jekyll can be an Incredible Hulk-like superhero and Angel Islington the home of a real-life fallen angel... 

Much Ado About Nothing

Much Ado About Nothing

Sat atop a hill in Highgate town, beneath the clouds but throned over London's starry spread sits a gem of Fringe theatre and a pleasure unrestrained.I'm speaking, somewhat over-grandly, of Helen Crosse and Shooting Star Theatre's 'Much Ado About Nothing', an open-air production that I really can't fault in any way... 

Full Stage Splash: A Comic Look at the Comic Book

Full Stage Splash: A Comic Look at the Comic Book

This summer's clutch of blockbuster popcorn-bait has been dominated by the four colour heroes of the comic book. The Avengers, Spiderman, Batman, Judge Dredd - these figures loom large in our 'cultural' landscape... 

It's A Puppet Life

It's A Puppet Life

On its face, 'It's a Puppet Life' seems like a fairly straightforward concept. People like Avenue Q, people like sketch shows; what happens if we smoosh the two together? Actually, what happens is more than the sum of these parts... 

Nick Hodder: Insert Comedy Here!

Nick Hodder: Insert Comedy Here!

The Camden Fringe is home to many different types of performer; opera singers, musicians, burlesque dancers and poets. I have to admit though that I never expected to see a piece of performance art like this... 

Matt Tiller's Musical Messaround

Matt Tiller's Musical Messaround

Few talents serve a stand-up better than audience rapport and I’m happy to say that Matt Tiller has it in spades. Perhaps it was a benefit of the limited audience but by the end of the gig I think we all felt like we were his friends... 

Take Desire Away by Mansel David

Take Desire Away by Mansel David

A one-man show about a spare British poet - a challenging prospect for a sweaty Sunday in a tiny black box theatre. And, indeed, a challenging prospect for Mansel David. Usually, the subject of this type of show will be one of two things; a well-known popular personage, interesting by virtue of their fame, or a complex character, drawing you in as you attempt to understand them... 

Bowlympics

Bowlympics

God, I love talented people. And I don't just mean oh-she's-quite-a-good-singer or oh-he's-quite-funny talented. I mean properly accomplished.And this is exactly how I'd describe Bowjangles, the hyperactive string quartet behind 'Bowlympics'... 

Will You Hold My Hand?

Will You Hold My Hand?

There’s something about the marriage of the arcane and the amusing, the faux Victoriana of shows like ‘Bleak Expectations’, that I always find enjoyable. So it was with high hopes that I went to see We Are Goose’s ‘Will You Hold My Hand?’... 

Pretty When I'm Drunk

Pretty When I'm Drunk

Structuring a review is basically fairly straightforward. Say what you liked, what you didn’t like then sum up with your overall impression. Done. This approach will see you right for 99% of theatrical productions but there are some which resist such simplistic analysis... 

Palimpsest One

Palimpsest One

Palimpsest One is a bit of an odd beast. An 'exploration of the one-act play', it feels more like an experimental theatre night or a student showcase than a single production. And, with no single thread (apart from their length) to connect the four plays, an overall impression is difficult to form... 

Scales of the Unexpected

Scales of the Unexpected

Too often, fringe theatre can be overly serious and overly worthy. Sometimes you just need something that’ll make you grin from ear-to-ear. And sometimes that’s exactly what you get… Big Ian, Little Ian and (Br)Ian – collectively known as Scales of the Unexpected – are the closest thing to Heat magazine in musical form that I’ve ever encountered... 

The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby Part II

The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby Part II

Taking up the action with Kate’s harassment by the rakish Sir Mulberry Hawk and Nicholas and Smike’s return to London, this second half of Space Productions’ revival of the RSC Nicholas Nickleby seems more focused than the first – possibly because all the many characters are gathered into one location... 

Brotherly Love - Free

Brotherly Love - Free

Barry and Ian are two estranged brothers in their late middle-age. Despite roughly the same upbringing, they couldn’t be more different. Ian is a successful barrister, Barry is wild and crazy... 

King of Scotland

King of Scotland

One-man fringe shows tend towards extremes. They can be horrendously depressing or incredibly uplifting. What makes The King of Scotland interesting is that it breaks this rule, being a one-hander which is neither exceptionally good nor exceptionally bad; it simply is... 

Squirrel Party

Squirrel Party

It’s a funny thing - children’s TV has changed a lot recently. Japanimated cartoons flood the schedules, entire channels devoted to them. But amongst the Ben 10s and Transformers, a very British genre still survives - activities shows, populated with perky presenters and things to make and do... 

Tim FitzHigham: Gambler

Tim FitzHigham: Gambler

Tim FitzHigham is a true eccentric and a sucker for a challenge. Among his previous exploits he’s sailed the Channel in a copper bath, navigated the Thames in a paper boat and Morris danced his way from London to Norwich, so it’s hardly surprising that, taking a step back this year, he started to measure himself against history’s other doers of deeds – professional gamblers... 

The  Alchemystorium

The Alchemystorium

I feel a little drained after seeing this show but in the best possible way. Because it’s very rare for a show to have you howling with laughter and then in tears within the space of five minutes... 

One Man and His Masks - Boudicca: Britain's Dreaming

One Man and His Masks - Boudicca: Britain's Dreaming

British folklore is packed with some of the most iconic figures anywhere in the world. King Arthur and his knights, Robin Hood, George and the dragon. Ours is a land of fighters and characters, in history as well as in story, but there are few as famous as Boudicca, warrior queen of the Iceni... 

Wee Andy

Wee Andy

There’s a certain type of show that prompts a degree of fatigue in me. Issues-based shows are a staple fare of the Fringe, but if they’re not done well they quickly become tiresome... 

Joe Bor: In Search of the Six Pack

Joe Bor: In Search of the Six Pack

Joe Bor stands out by sheer force of personality. As a set-up-and-pay-off comedian of the old school, the style of his show is fairly standard but he has a natural charm which draws an audience in and immediately gets them onside... 

Mr Benn: The Extraordinary Adventures of an Ordinary Man

Mr Benn: The Extraordinary Adventures of an Ordinary Man

The things we love as children stay with us forever. It’s the reason kids’ theatre is so important – one good performance at the right age and it’s a passion for life. And as we get older, we naturally want to pass on these things to our children so they can enjoy them too... 

Pistol & Jack – Smash.Glam.Sex.Music.

Pistol & Jack – Smash.Glam.Sex.Music.

Character comedy is one of the most difficult types to do well. It’s easy to come up with a one-tic character, but to create a living, breathing personality that can respond to whatever the audience throws at them is much, much harder... 

The Phoenix: A Failure On a Mission

The Phoenix: A Failure On a Mission

Tania Edwards is a strange sort of stand-up for the Fringe. She seems to have a show planned but it isn’t quite clear when it starts. The audience sits down, she starts chatting to a few of them - engaging, amusing, but seemingly just random, chat... 

Steve Pretty's Perfect Mixtape

Steve Pretty's Perfect Mixtape

Bad things shouldn’t happen to nice people. But they do. Many Fringe shows have a greater ambition than their reach and seeing someone try and not quite succeed, despite good intentions and talent, is quite painful... 

Cu*ts

Cu*ts

Few would argue that the Fringe isn’t all about showcasing up-and-coming talent. Many actors and dramatists have had their first break here when comparatively green and inexperienced... 

Peter Pan - Learn to Fly

Peter Pan - Learn to Fly

I’m upside down, the blood’s rushing to my head and I’m swinging madly like some sort of unwieldy pendulum. And it’s amazing.Cut to one hour earlier and, queueing to go into this new production of J... 

Red Riding Hood and the Wolves

Red Riding Hood and the Wolves

There’s been a bit of a pattern to Fringe children’s theatre over the past few years. Step one: take a well known story, preferably a Grimm fairytale. Step two: re-examine the story and add a dark twist... 

Time for the Good Looking Boy

Time for the Good Looking Boy

Five stars only go to a show that is to all intents perfect, that wakens something inside you and keeps you utterly captivated for an entire hour. As far as I’m concerned, Time for the Good Looking Boy is one of those shows... 

Humphrey Ker is Dymock Watson: Nazi Smasher!

Humphrey Ker is Dymock Watson: Nazi Smasher!

Right, listen here. I’ve a damn fine show to tell you about. Feller called Humphrey Ker – old hand at the Fringe, used to be an Improvert or some such, also one of those Penny Dreadful blighters plying their Victoriana over at Assembly George Square... 

The Cagebirds

The Cagebirds

We all live our lives within walls. Some trap and ensnare us: the job that saps our confidence or the friend who’s always bad news. Others protect us and give us a place to call home: the lover who makes us strive to be the best we can be or the family who support us and care for us... 

Confessions of a Mormon Boy

Confessions of a Mormon Boy

I’ve a confession of my own to make; when I chose to review this show I thought it was something entirely different. I was expecting a humorous look at the world of Mormons from one of their own... 

Revolting Rhymes

Revolting Rhymes

There’s basically no-one who doesn’t like Roald Dahl – he’s been a cornerstone of kids’ literature for 50 years and with good reason. I love his books, my parents love his books and, if I have any say in it, my kids will love them too... 

Brilliant Books for Kids

Brilliant Books for Kids

Everyone remembers storytime – that happy time at the end of the day when the hard work of colouring in and sticking bits of paper to other bits of paper could be safely put behind you... 

Haverfordwest

Haverfordwest

Schooldays. Best days of your life. Yeah, right. There are a happy few for whom that may well be true; for whom this is their peak. When you’re standing on the precipice of a new life at university, away from home for the first time, the fear of the new is terrifying... 

Circus of the Orient

Circus of the Orient

I haven’t been to the circus for a while and there’s a reason for that. The gaudiness and tinsel doesn’t really appeal and the merchandising always seems a bit too cynical.Which is why I wasn’t expecting too much from Circus of the Orient, especially after someone tried to force a stick of candyfloss on me on the way in... 

Pete Firman: Jiggery Pokery

Pete Firman: Jiggery Pokery

In a Fringe increasingly dominated by comedy it can be difficult for stand-ups to stand out. Everybody needs a gimmick; ‘he’s the one with the puppet’, ‘he’s the one who used to be on Blue Peter’, etc...