So You Think You're Funny? Grand Final

So You Think You're Funny? Grand Final

This year marks the 30th anniversary of the Gilded Balloon’s annual comedy competition, So You Think You’re Funny. With David O’Doherty, Tommy Tiernan and Dylan Moran among the previous winners, and dozens more notable comics among its previous finalists, the grand final is a great place to see up-and-coming comics take their first steps towards a career in comedy... 

All We Ever Wanted Was A Bobby - Hull's Middle Child is a Winner

All We Ever Wanted Was A Bobby - Hull's Middle Child is a Winner

The second Bobby of EdFringe 2017 has been scooped by Middle Child for All We Ever Wanted Was Everything. Broadway Baby's Editor, Bennett Bonci surprised the company after their show yesterday to present the trophy. 

To Hell in a Handbag

To Hell in a Handbag

To Hell in a Handbag shares a most important quality with its inspiration: the infectious nature of the prose. One can hardly resist, upon a leaving a performance of The Importance of Being Earnest, trading verbose quips in the manner of Mr... 

Tiff Stevenson: Bombshell

Tiff Stevenson: Bombshell

Tiff Stevenson starts out with the ‘menstrual stuff’, and immediately challenges a male punter’s appreciation thereof. Female comics are still a minority, which affords them an opportunity that Stevenson seizes in this progressive, angry and hilarious new hour... 

War of the Sperms

War of the Sperms

For a play about personified jizz, War of the Sperms is surprisingly unsexy. The romantic subplot is mostly expressed through hand holding, and the most prevalent mode of comedy is the pun... 

Church Blitz

Church Blitz

There are lights in the sky. Strange storms rattle the windows of a church in which six strangers huddle for safety. The door knocks. Aliens?This apocalyptic set-up is the groundwork for a delightfully bizarre character comedy from Naughty Corner Productions... 

The Divide - Part 2

The Divide - Part 2

In The Divide Pt 2, Alan Ayckbourn answers my primary issues with Pt 1: the lack of a driving narrative force, and an associated lack of meaningful emotional resonance. The plot comes into focus in Pt 2 quickly as a forbidden romance becomes a political statement... 

Doctor Faustus

Doctor Faustus

Doctor Faustus is a new musical based on the Christopher Marlowe play/ancient story archetype. In this modernised telling, Emma Faustus is a pharmaceutical scientist who joins a shady company (HEL) to continue researching a cure for the disease that killed her girlfriend... 

The Divide - Part 1

The Divide - Part 1

Man, I love theatres. It is easy, during the Edinburgh Festival(s) to have a perfectly entertaining month without ever stepping foot in a real theatre. While the Edinburgh Fringe has somewhat eclipsed the International Festival with quantity, by putting shows in hotel rooms, basements and an inflated purple cow, Alan Ayckbourn shoots back with a show that provides ample opportunity to impress with the kind of stagecraft unique to a big theatre... 

Fox and Hound Presents 1 in 2 Chance

Fox and Hound Presents 1 in 2 Chance

As her lead character, Helen Fox explains that one out of every two people in the UK born after 1960 will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime. 1 in 2 Chance is a new play by Fox exploring what that diagnosis means, not just to the sick person, but to those around her... 

Shit I'm in Love With You Again

Shit I'm in Love With You Again

In Shit, I’m in Love with you Again, Canadian comic Rachelle Elie relates her life story through the mediums of story, stand-up and song.Elie is a charming performer, with a veteran’s stage presence... 

Dominic Holland is Spider-man’s Dad

Dominic Holland is Spider-man’s Dad

By any account, Dominic Holland has had a successful career. As a stand-up comic, he’s won a best newcomer award at the Edinburgh Fringe, hosted a Radio 4 series, appeared on a number of television shows including Have I Got News For You, published four books and worked as a stand-up comic for 25 years... 

Comedian Kae Kurd on Growing Up Kurdish and the Responsibility of Representation

Comedian Kae Kurd on Growing Up Kurdish and the Responsibility of Representation

Kae Kurd isn’t intimidated by the prospect of debuting his first hour-long stand-up show, Kurd Your Enthusiasm, in a full run at the Edinburgh Fringe. Partially, that’s because it’s not his first time to the rodeo: he’s been doing stand up for five years, and performed in Edinburgh last year as part of The Pleasance Comedy Reserve showcase... 

Nuclear War

Nuclear War

Nuclear War is Simon Stephens’ experimental foray into contemporary movement and dance. Stephens, the playwright behind Pornography, Punk Rock and the Olivier award-winning adaptation of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time, has partnered with the Royal Court’s choreographer Imogen Knight to create this short, intense piece on modern loss and love... 

Shit-faced Shakespeare: Much Ado About Nothing

Shit-faced Shakespeare: Much Ado About Nothing

Shit-faced Shakespeare is the Fringe favourite combination of high theatre and falling-down drunkenness. Six actors play a reduced version of a Shakespeare play (in this case, romantic comedy Much Ado About Nothing)... 

Sea Fret

Sea Fret

The division in our post-Brexit, post-truth Britain stems from the difference between people who can accept dramatic change, and those who cannot. I remember the words of one otherwise liberal leave voter: “Everything is just so different... 

Orbits

Orbits

90 minutes later, I had to question what Orbits, playing at the Drayton Arms until 11 March, was and what it ought to be. It might simply be a study of the relationship between two seminal artistic figures: German political playwright Bertolt Brecht and English Hollywood star Charles Laughton, who collaborated on a translation of the former’s Life of Galileo... 

Sorrows of Satan

Sorrows of Satan

The Sorrows of Satan is like an Oscar Wilde Doctor Faustus by way of meta-theatrical musical [Title of Show]. Like the latter, it’s a four-person musical comedy about the creation of a musical comedy... 

The Shoreditch Improv Festival Saturday Afternoon Giggles

The Shoreditch Improv Festival Saturday Afternoon Giggles

The Water Poet was easy to spot on Saturday afternoon. It was, after all, the only pub surrounded by improv comedy groups warming up. I weaved between tight circles of people passing energy back and forth or engaging in ritualistic dances, then navigated through the football-centric ground floor of the pub, and finally descended the stairs into the Shoreditch Improv Festival... 

Necessity

Necessity

To damn with future praise: Necessity, written and directed by Paul Macauley, has a great deal of potential. Suburban couple Patrick and Mish receive a letter from a jilted ex-girlfriend intended for their married neighbor... 

Gazing At A Distant Star

Gazing At A Distant Star

Gazing at a Distant Star is a melancholy reminiscence on missing people, told by those left behind. Three intertwining monologues from a mother, a sister and a friend, draw its audience through the intricacies of loss... 

Genesis

Genesis

Genesis is a play about the issue of breast cancer – an issue play. Rachel (Helen Bradbury) works at a lab that uses gene mutations to predict breast cancer risk. But when she is labeled high-risk herself, her reaction endangers her relationships with her friends and family... 

Birth of a Nation

Birth of a Nation

This is not the Birth of a Nation that revolutionised filmmaking by mythologising the Ku Klux Klan over the most gruelling three hours every film student will have to spend... 

Handbagged

Handbagged

Handbagged has more in common with the work of Bertolt Brecht than it does The Audience. Though it shares its setting with the latter, namely the weekly audience between the Queen and Prime Minister, the self awareness and aggressively political themes are undoubtedly Brechtian... 

The Handmaidens of Death – WWI Theatre of Its Time

The Handmaidens of Death – WWI Theatre of Its Time

Even plays were buried by the bombs of World War I. The Handmaidens of Death, though written in 1918, had not been performed until recently, likely because it failed to pass by the censors that read and approved every British play performed until 1968... 

My Dog's Got No Nose

My Dog's Got No Nose

Stand-up comedy can be a very demanding form of performance. It’s solo, placing the entire burden of success or failure on the individual, and it’s instantly gratifying (in the form of laughter), which is rewarding, as long as they laugh... 

Keep it Real

Keep it Real

Ah, the classic buddy comedy: overdone by definition and yet extremely resilient. Keep it Real is one of those plays that can be best described via what TVTropes calls a Wunza Plot, as in: ‘One’s a middle-class, white rapper, one’s a total Steve Urkel... 

Hunchback

Hunchback

Hunchback is an English language adaptation of the French novel, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, with a stark contrast between strong and weak elements. The impulse to fall back on a Tale of Two Cities comparison is immense... 

Collateral Damage

Collateral Damage

The programme for Collateral Damage states that, while the play was written in 1999 in response to contemporary issues, it “has many resonances for us today”. Yet this production fails to resonate... 

Nancy's Philosopher

Nancy's Philosopher

“Reason is, and ought only to be, the slave of the passions.” Reason and passion were driving forces in the life of Scottish empiricist philosopher David Hume. His reason got him labeled a genius, while his passion manifested as a stubbornness that had him labeled an atheist... 

Spoonface Steinberg

Spoonface Steinberg

Spoonface Steinberg, written by Lee Hall, premiered as a radio play which was broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in 1997. Though originally part of a series, its stand-alone popularity was such that the playwright adapted it for the stage in a version that premiered in 2000... 

John Knox

John Knox

If you want to see a show that constructs John Knox as a talking point for oversimplified political views, may I suggest Mary Queen of Scots got her Head Chopped Off? It’s not on at this year’s Fringe, but is commonly done in Scottish secondary schools and universities, where you can see similar production values and performances in a script that doesn’t use one of Scotland’s most controversial historical figures as a tool for the American political right... 

Casting Call Woe

Casting Call Woe

Next on the list of unusual inspirations: Casting Call Woe is a Fringe show based on a blog. The blog uses casting calls (the notices films and TV shows put up to request an actor for a role) to show the incredible way women are treated in show business, while simultaneously amusing through the pure ridiculousness... 

The Fox and the Hound

The Fox and the Hound

A long time ago, I learned that cute animals are a direct conduit to a human heart. Somehow, the connection between a person and an animal can bring tears to the eyes of an audience in ways that interpersonal relationships cannot... 

The Invisible Man

The Invisible Man

It’s always disappointing to see an interesting concept marred by poor execution. The Invisible Man takes the central concept from the HG Wells novel, but transports it to a noir-style Chicago, filled with trench coats and jazz music... 

Missed Connections

Missed Connections

There’s an unspoken rule on the tube: never try to start a conversation. Missed Connections is about three pairs of people who break that rule. Though it occasionally amuses, surprises and impresses, it moves slowly and inefficiently, in unflattering contrast with the play’s set... 

Zero Down

Zero Down

If you’ve been living a safe, healthy lifestyle under a rock, then you might not know that the NHS has been doing less than fantastic as of late. Underfunded and overcrowded, it’s a serious topic for political conversation and, apparently, plays... 

Jerry Finnegan’s Sister

Jerry Finnegan’s Sister

Written in the 90s, Jerry Finnegan’s Sister presents the iconic ‘girl next door’ story without being self-conscious and with a great deal of laughter. The love of Brian Dowd’s life, who happens to be his best friend and next door neighbour’s sister, is getting married and Brian needs to speak his mind or regret it forever... 

Making Monsters

Making Monsters

Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein is one of the most well known stories in the English canon. Even those who have never read the book or seen one of the several movies based on the story know of it... 

The Auld Alliance

The Auld Alliance

To make The Auld Alliance, start with a nice big helping of Jane Austen. Make sure you don’t just get the middle-class setting and the multiple beautiful though somehow unmarried daughters; you need to get the witty dialogue and complicated love affairs as well... 

Grannies With Guns

Grannies With Guns

Oddly enough, Grannies with Guns is kind of an anti-Matilda. A group of feisty, charming old people are opposed by a care worker who hates the elderly, played by a man portraying a woman... 

One Man Star Wars™ Trilogy

One Man Star Wars™ Trilogy

Between Episode IV and V of Charles Ross’s One Man Star Wars Trilogy, the writer/performer spent some time polling the audience. During that, one man admitted to having never seen a single Star Wars film... 

The Chicken Trial

The Chicken Trial

Was it animal cruelty to bring 6 chickens to a rowdy nightclub, and is that the wrong question? The Chicken Trial is a “documentary fantasy” recounting the trial of Makode Linde, an art student who brought chickens to an animal-themed club night... 

The Country Wife

The Country Wife

The Cambridge University Amateur Dramatic Club’s adaptation of the restoration era comedy The Country Wife moves the action to modern American suburbia, but keeps the period’s signature blend of complicated character relationships and bawdy humour, along with the era’s sensibilities... 

Madwomen in the Attic

Madwomen in the Attic

The Madwoman in the Attic is a famous piece of feminist literary criticism that dissects the feminine ideal and its opposite, as exemplified by the relationship between Jane Eyre’s heroine and Bertha Rochester, the wife of Jane’s love, locked in the attic of their home... 

Follow/Unfollow

Follow/Unfollow

‘Internet celebrity’ used to sound contradictory. Now, more and more people are rising to household-name status on the back of their social media profile. That trend is reflected on Fringe stages, with multiple shows addressing new media, including Follow/Unfollow... 

Punk Rock by Simon Stephens

Punk Rock by Simon Stephens

Pressure. Unbearable pressure. It’s the force that turns coal into diamonds and children into monsters. It’s the force behind plays that raise the heart into the throat and causes hands to form fists... 

Academy of Risk

Academy of Risk

Academy of Risk explores the tremendous pressure placed on students through their own eyes. This ensemble piece - performed by a young, talented cast of fifteen - looks at the most high-pressure academic scenarios and how they are dealt with... 

The Last Laugh

The Last Laugh

Stand-up comedy and theatre rarely interact in meaningful ways. They are, of course, completely separate genres, with their own conventions and accepted formats. But what if there was a play about a stand up comic’s rise and fall? Doing that justice would mean incorporating elements of both, and infusing them into one story... 

Buckle Up

Buckle Up

Buckle Up is a trip on board the world’s worst airline, as technical difficulties, drunken pilots and a terrorist plot threaten to cause major delays. Unfortunately, only the airline attendants can stop this madness and everyone is equally incompetent – though in radically different ways... 

Romanovs

Romanovs

The Romanovs is not about royalty. It’s about madness. The story takes place after the death of the Romanov family in 1918 when fake Romanovs sprang up around the country. The plot imagines that these pretenders were brought together and locked up in the very place where the originals met their end... 

Much Ado About Nothing

Much Ado About Nothing

“O God, that I were a man,” Beatrice laments in Much Ado About Nothing’s fourth act. Well, in Arkle Theatre’s production of Shakespeare’s comedy, she is. And her Benedick is a man... 

Confessional by Tennessee Williams

Confessional by Tennessee Williams

When the sun is shining on a windowed room, it can be hard to tell if the lights are on inside. It may even seem like those lights are broken, their glow insignificant in comparison to the daylight... 

Gagarin Way

Gagarin Way

Scotland has a bit of a communist history. Lumphinnans was once referred to as “Little Moscow”. It even has a street named after the famous Russian Cosmonaut, Gagarin Way. From the playwright behind Black Watch, Gregory Burke’s first play returns to the Fringe, where it premiered 14 years ago... 

Austensibility

Austensibility

I shouldn’t have liked Austensibility. It’s a rehearsed reading, far from memorized, from a local amateur group, performing a show that is half history lesson, half reenactment... 

Edith in the Dark

Edith in the Dark

Edith Nesbit, author of scary stories for children, jumps from the page to the stage in Edith in the Dark, a story fitting of her preferred genre. With strong performances, technical proficiency and solid writing, all that’s missing is a satisfying conclusion... 

The River

The River

Playwright Jez Butterworth is best known for his Royal Court/West End triumph, Jerusalem, a quasi-supernatural piece swamped in mystery - for his latest play, The River, Butterworth takes that sense of the unknown and makes it a central focus of this intricately designed and elegantly presented drama... 

Double Bill

Double Bill

Your Fringe guide might describe Double Bill differently than it actually is. Mine certainly does. The fact is that Tennessee Williams’ Something Unspoken is joined, not by Edward Albee as listed, but by Chekhov’s Smoking is Bad For You... 

Ursula Invents Old Woman

Ursula Invents Old Woman

Ursula K Le Guin, noted author of A Wizard of Earthsea, is visited by an alien adopting her form. The extraterrestrial wants the answer to the question: “What is old woman?” This, eventually, is the plot of Ursula Invents Old Woman... 

Richard Parker

Richard Parker

What I remember most strongly from Richard Parker, a 2011 dark comedy from playwright Owen Thomas, was the heat. The venue was a sauna, burning from the mass of people trapped inside... 

Cross the Shifting Sands

Cross the Shifting Sands

L. Frank Baum is the creator of one the most well-known fantasy worlds in literature, though his name is perhaps less famous. Maybe because his Oz books are best known via the musical adaptation, or maybe because he is much older than Tolkien, Rowling or Lewis... 

BLAM!

BLAM!

Go see BLAM! With your eyes. Buy a ticket. Now.Okay. That wasn’t the most well-reasoned argument. I’m a bit flustered. BLAM! is a flustering play. That’s a good thing. Most plays are draining, mentally and emotionally... 

Big Shot

Big Shot

Big Shot is subtitled, “This is not The Godfather”. That’s about right. What it is, is The Godfather without the Godfather.The play uses Mario Puzzo’s famous novel (and even more famous movie adaptation) to explore the Corleone family dynamics, the relationship between actor and character, the romanticised image of the gangster, and the Italian American identity... 

Around the World in 80 Days

Around the World in 80 Days

Around the World in 80 Days is one of Jules Verne’s famous adventure novels. Reclusive gentleman Phileas Fogg gets sucked into an argument with a number of gentlemen over the possibility of traveling the world in 80 days... 

Phantasmagoria

Phantasmagoria

Phantasmagoria is Hookhitch theatre’s adaptation of the Lewis Carroll poem. No, not like the Jabberwocky: rather than invent a lot of nonsense words, the poem analyses the rules and regulations guiding ghosts and the haunted... 

The Dock Brief

The Dock Brief

The legal stage is not unlike the theatrical one. Rehearsed witnesses answer questions from practiced lawyers, in front of the critical eye of the judge. The various forces interacting in a courtroom create a kind of play, put on for the benefit of the jury/audience... 

Clickbait

Clickbait

Those headlines are everywhere these days: “You won’t believe what happens next,” “#8 will blow your mind,” “This video is everything”. The marketing tactics employed by websites like Buzzfeed and its many doppelgangers don’t just invite you to read their content - they beg you, they bait you...