7 Ways to Escape the Fringe

7 Ways to Escape the Fringe

With the second and most exhausting weekend of the Fringe nearly in the rearview mirror, it’s time to have a rest day. It’s tempting to curl up in bed and succumb to the hangover that’s been building for a fortnight, but there are other options to get a few hours respite from the crowds and the flyers for less than the cost of a show... 

In Our Hands

In Our Hands

In one delightful scene of In Our Hands, miniature boats on sticks floating on a sea of netting are used to show us the ship-to-ship gossip of trawlermen, Cornish vowels lilting over a fuzzy shipping forecast and Jo Walker’s original score... 

Jo Burke: iScream

Jo Burke: iScream

By turns sparkly and scatalogical, Jo Burke brings a jack-of-all-trades approach to her show. Her style ranges from the ridiculous to the inspirational, and the material wanders similarly... 

zazU: A Fête Worse Than Death

zazU: A Fête Worse Than Death

zazU, a town (or possibly country) with fairly odd inhabitants, is gearing up to hold its fête. It’s all a bit Jam and Jerusalem, until the kitten clubbing begins. The inhabitants, from the Spittlecheeks family, who are convinced their daughter is a boy, to Detective Bastard and his long suffering fellow police officers, are all peculiar, but even stranger is the plot, as a group of subversives attempt to disrupt the festival with song... 

1 Given Head

1 Given Head

Tim Dingle is an extraordinarily clever man. He’ll tell you this himself, of course, but it does also shine through in his set, which is also on as Giving Head in the evenings. An IQ in the 170s puts him comfortably in genius territory, while his scientific patter proves the booksmarts haven’t faded despite the several years since he was headmaster of a prestigious school... 

Scott Bennett: About a Roy (Stories About Me Dad)

Scott Bennett: About a Roy (Stories About Me Dad)

Scott Bennett’s patter feels designed for a larger audience. He opens with a set of ‘Anyone from X?’ questions that, understandably, don’t work well with a small crowd who are not from X, nor Y, nor Z... 

Rhys James: Remains

Rhys James: Remains

Rhys James does not make it easy for his audience to get a handle on him. His cynical insouciance is shot through with the self-awareness of a twenty-something; his bared-teeth anger is broken up with short giggles and smiles that show exactly how much fun he’s having on stage; his refusal to resort to ‘message comedy’ comes a cropper when he delivers a strikingly political poem... 

Calypso Nights: Juan, Two?

Calypso Nights: Juan, Two?

Barnie Duncan’s alter-ego Juan Vesuvius has returned to Edinburgh with a DJing set unlike any other. There’s nothing normal about this Venezuelan disc jockey – not least the fact that Duncan is actually Kiwi – but though at first his music might seem a thin thread to hold together absurd set pieces about Jacques Cousteau and bananas, everything in the end comes back to the songs... 

James Veitch: Genius Bar

James Veitch: Genius Bar

James Veitch appears, at first, a bit like a protagonist in a young adult novel (probably one by John Green), in the way he combines a bildungsroman with popular culture, or sees metaphors for life in a vintage video game... 

The Letter: To be or to MBE

The Letter: To be or to MBE

There’s an enlightening moment in Jonzi D’s dance-based piece where a disembodied voice interrogates him as he ponders whether or not to accept a New Year’s honour. The voice wants to know, whether or not he takes the gong, will he tell people about it? Jonzi freezes... 

Strawberries in January

Strawberries in January

Four people with a few more mutual friends than they might expect trip round one another in Strawberries in January, a play that mixes and matches the tropes of romantic comedies with a knowing wink... 

The HandleBards: A Midsummer Night's Dream

The HandleBards: A Midsummer Night's Dream

From the Royal Botanic Gardens you can see (when it isn’t raining) almost all of central Edinburgh, the Athens of the north. Where better then to see A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Shakespeare’s rom com about four Athenian lovers? This particular play is something of a Fringe staple, and playing it outdoors is also fairly common, albeit a little riskier in Edinburgh, but the Handlebards bring much more innovation to one of the most popular comedies... 

Theatre Uncut

Theatre Uncut

Theatre Uncut commissions playwrights to respond to current events, then make the resulting plays available online so that anyone can perform them. The result is a vast number of international performances, and the production at Summerhall brings six of the most successful together... 

Katie Mulgrew: Happily Ever After

Katie Mulgrew: Happily Ever After

Katie Mulgrew’s show about Disney Princesses is exceedingly well suited to her venue, The Turret at Gilded Balloon. She’s even decorated the space with shimmery pink drapery to create what I and every other five-year-old would call a ‘princess bed’... 

GhostCop

GhostCop

Last year Vampire Hospital Waiting Room became a stealth hit of the Fringe, a caped cult classic that captured hearts and minds. GhostCop is the follow-up which, though a good send up of buddy cop movies and the Eighties in general, can’t match up to its campy-vampy predecessor... 

Dead Fresh

Dead Fresh

The promotional blurb for Dead Fresh warns you that missing the secret of this dark comedy (or perhaps missing the comedy itself – there’s some pronoun confusion in there) ‘could be fatal’... 

Pint Size

Pint Size

This taster session of theatre portrays a trio of dark, comic plays presented with malevolent glee by actors Lexy Howe, Ffion Jones and May Phillips. In barely the time it takes to nurse a titular pint, the three take us from 1950s romance to scout expeditions and then on to a rural village with a mysterious local legend... 

The Room

The Room

The Room is the worst film ever made. You already know if you want to see it.Tommy Wiseau wrote, directed, produced and starred in this 2003 film about Johnny, a bank executive inexplicably engaged to the personification of all evil, Lisa... 

The Bunker Trilogy: Morgana

The Bunker Trilogy: Morgana

The Morgana of legend: sometimes kind, sometimes violent, always bewitching. This show, part of the reprise of last year’s phenomenal Bunker Trilogy, is just like its namesake.Inside the hauntingly realistic set of the bunker, the audience follows a year in the lives of three soldiers on the Western Front, the last remnants of a pals’ battalion from a Cornish public school, Tintagel: Arthur, Lance and Gawain... 

Lucy Beaumont: We Can Twerk It Out

Lucy Beaumont: We Can Twerk It Out

A sign for the Walton Street Working Men’s Club hangs on one wall, on the other a set of gold and pink lametta streamers. Between them, literally and metaphorically, stands Lucy Beaumont, a comedian from seemingly the most unlikely of places: Hull... 

Austentatious: An Improvised Jane Austen Novel

Austentatious: An Improvised Jane Austen Novel

It is a truth universally acknowledged that starting a review of Austentatious with ‘it is a truth universally acknowledged’ is so cliché that the author should be beaten. Thus this review actually starts in the next sentence... 

The Seven Deadly Sins

The Seven Deadly Sins

This production of The Seven Deadly Sins, a collaboration between A Compay Chordelia and Scottish Opera, adds further levels of distancing meta-theatricality to Kurt Weill’s satire of Great Depression-era America... 

¡Bocón!

¡Bocón!

In a village in Central America, Miguel’s big mouth only gets him into trouble with his parents and aunt Cecilia but when soldiers come to enforce the regime and take his parents, Miguel’s voice gets scared and flees... 

Forever

Forever

Forever, a new play by Clare Sheppard and Kenny Boyle who also star in the piece, is clearly a labour of love. However, given the short shrift love itself gets in the site-specific drama, one wonders why they’ve bothered brought this to Fringe... 

Adam Hills: Happyism

Adam Hills: Happyism

Adam Hills jogged onto stage and brought an immediate, exuberant atmosphere to Assembly Hall. Within moments he had an audience member up on stage with him for a chat and had appointed another gentleman sitting in the front row to be his time keeper, since he didn’t have a watch with him... 

A Womb With a View

A Womb With a View

This new comedy represents the first step on Pinkanoe Theatre’s mission to bring more ladies into comedy and they’ve certainly gone for that with gusto in bringing the story of four women connected by friendship and family to the stage... 

Black Rubix Theatre Presents: Freddie Starr Ate My Hamster

Black Rubix Theatre Presents: Freddie Starr Ate My Hamster

In the style of Noises Off, the fictional Black Rubix Theatre (actually some of the students in the Queen Mary Theatre Company) attempts to put on what they think is a biting satire on the modern media, though really it’s a load of weak and stereotyped noir-ish nonsense... 

Amused Moose Laugh Off Final

Amused Moose Laugh Off Final

The Amused Moose Laugh Off Final, as one might expect, was a one-off chance to see some of the comedians of tomorrow battle it out for the prestigious prize of £1500 and a moose statuette... 

Titus Andronicus: An All-female Production

Titus Andronicus: An All-female Production

Smooth Faced Gentlemen have put together a production of Titus Andronicus that rather beautifully captures the double-edged nature of George Peele and William Shakespeare’s play – it is both side-spitting and stomach churning... 

Champ

Champ

The style conventions of Broadway Baby specify that we are a family publication and that profanity should be used in reviews only where strictly necessary. However, it would be a goshdarn travesty not to swear in a review of Champ, a play where every third word is cocksucker, arse-juice, or something about your mother... 

Mary Bourke: Muffragette

Mary Bourke: Muffragette

A muffragette is, according to Mary Bourke, a feminist, just without the toxic baggage of that word. That idea alone might be controversial if the show were intended for a crowd of feminists, but Bourke deliberately isn’t preaching to the choir – she aims to convert... 

The Only Way Is Downton

The Only Way Is Downton

Luke Kempner’s one man mockery of Downton Abbey, TOWIE and a host of other Friday night telly fare sees him adopt 32 different characters in pursuit of the ultimate Downton parody... 

Ian Fox - Shutter Monkey - Free

Ian Fox - Shutter Monkey - Free

Ian Fox has come up with a fairly novel twist on observational comedy: his show centres on a series of photographs shown on television screens around the room so that the audience can see what he saw... 

Croft & Pearce

Croft & Pearce

Croft and Pearce call themselves two very similar friends who also ‘look very similar’, but you could have fooled me after I watched their show. The two take on such a wide variety of characters it becomes difficult to see them as they are – two slight, brunette women with a gift for comedy... 

Nadia Kamil in: Wide Open Beavers!

Nadia Kamil in: Wide Open Beavers!

Nadia Kamil’s show Wide Open Beavers is unashamedly and unapologetically feminist and deserves a feminist review. Consequently, in the next four hundred words or so, you will find no warnings about ‘impenetrable’ or ‘academic’ language, no posturing about the relevance of intersectionality and certainly no expression of surprise at the existence of a funny woman... 

Lights! Camera! Improvise!

Lights! Camera! Improvise!

The conceit of Lights! Camera! Improvise! is deceptively simple: Oscar, owner of the only infinite film collection in the world, invites the audience to choose a movie to watch with him... 

Making News

Making News

‘He has my fullest support’ is the death knell that echoes around BBC Broadcasting House in the wake of the departure of the Acting Head of News. Promoted to Acting Acting Head of News, Rachel Clarke (Suki Webster) finds herself facing the news story of the year - corruption within the Corporation itself siphoning off funds to a cult - on her very first day... 

NewsRevue 2013

NewsRevue 2013

NewsRevue always set themselves a difficult task- that is, summing up a year’s worth of news and satire without re-treading the well-plowed mulch of Mock the Week, Have I Got News for You and seemingly every program broadcast by Radio 4... 

Fanfiction Comedy

Fanfiction Comedy

In Fanfiction Comedy, a group of Kiwis have taken it upon themselves to take the biggest guilty pleasure of geekdom, fanfiction, and offer it up onstage for your delight. As anyone who has read My Immortal knows, fanfic (as it’s called by those of us in the biz) can provide a rich seam of comedy that’s as yet untapped and it’s an intriguing prospect to see it brought to the stage... 

Dirty Thirties

Dirty Thirties

The ladies behind Dirty Thirties are called Lady Melville and Roxie Rebel, though unfortunately the evening I attended the latter had absconded. Neither of these monikers appear to be character names though – Lady Melville quickly admitted she was called Erin, presumably to segue into a painfully unfunny Kiwi impersonation... 

More Light

More Light

In Ancient China the Emperor places his hand upon death’s door. He is taken to his tomb accompanied by his ladies, the engineers who designed it, and the convicts who carved it out of the ground... 

Live At The Electric: Live At The Fringe

Live At The Electric: Live At The Fringe

Live at The Electric promised some of the best sketch comedy of the Fringe hosted by the extremely likable and endearing Russell Kane. It’s a shame that such a promising show ended up being executed so poorly... 

BBC: Radio 1's Fun and Filth Cabaret - Night 3

BBC: Radio 1's Fun and Filth Cabaret - Night 3

To get through the third night of BBC Radio 1’s Fun and Filth Cabaret you needed a strong stomach or a repressed gag reflex as the show went truly dirty in pursuit of the utterly hilarious... 

Basic Training
BOBBY WINNER

Basic Training

Basic Training is a one man show, but you’d be forgiven if when it comes to the curtain call you expect bows from a cast of the full 23 different personalities. The show is an imaginative and quick-witted retelling of Ashanti’s family life and his experiences in the US Airforce... 

Spank!

Spank!

Spank! is a show that fully deserves its exclamation point. Everyone involved in the show is incredibly enthused for the whole three hours, from the comperes and acts to the guy on the sound desk and the bartender... 

Laurence Clark: Inspired

Laurence Clark: Inspired

Laurence Clark is keen to point out that neither he, nor his show, are inspiring. It would be an easy twist of words to suggest it is inspired instead - indeed some of Clark’s experiments are pure genius - but the proper adjective for this show is hilarious... 

Daniel Sloss - Extra Shows!

Daniel Sloss - Extra Shows!

Daniel Sloss delivers a supposedly darker, meaner show in his later slot but most of his material is relatively clean, geared towards an audience who can laugh at him as well as with him... 

The Hand-Me-Down People

The Hand-Me-Down People

The story of toys coming to life and conducting their own lives in the absence of children may sound familiar but The Hand-Me-Down People takes a far bleaker look at these discarded trinkets of childhood... 

Phil Nichol Rants!

Phil Nichol Rants!

Phil Nichol seems unsure what he wants from his audience. After starting his set of rapid rants with a complaint about the previous night’s audience, he proceeded to ask why we weren’t the Jim Jefferies crowd whenever a punchline failed to make an impact... 

Helen Keen: Robot Woman of Tomorrow

Helen Keen: Robot Woman of Tomorrow

Helen Keen is an endearing comic; her relationship with her audience is something like that between a kooky favourite teacher and an indulged sixth form group. Complete with power-points and informative biographies, the whole show feels a bit like an illicit General Studies lesson on science fiction... 

Normal

Normal

Normal begins as it means to go on by alienating everyone sitting beyond the first two rows. A young actor lies belly down at the front of the stage, completely out of sight for most of the audience, mumbling his lines upstage... 

Lie. Cheat. Steal. Confessions of a Real Hustler

Lie. Cheat. Steal. Confessions of a Real Hustler

Paul Wilson presents possibly the most low-key magic show at the Fringe this year, but his successes on BBC3’s The Real Hustle practically guarantee him an audience of fans. There’s a reason the TV show is namedropped in the title - it’s the allure of potentially hearing about scams and crime that gives the show an edge... 

The Good, the Bad and the Extraterrestrials

The Good, the Bad and the Extraterrestrials

There are no tickets for The Good, The Bad and The Extra-terrestrials but every audience member is presented with a cowboy hat and a toy revolver to get into the spirit of things. The setting is the Wild West, near the Mexican border - yes, there are some awkward stereotypes - and aliens have just kidnapped the sweetest darn lady you ever did see... 

Tea is an Evening Meal

Tea is an Evening Meal

It is perhaps a mistake for Faye Draper to have a clock mounted on the wall during her one woman show Tea is an Evening Meal. Slow moments are frequent and watching the seconds drag by only stretches them further... 

Platero Y Yo

Platero Y Yo

Platero y Yo is an adaptation of Nobel Prize-winning poet Juan Ramon Jimenez’s book of the same name, performed entirely in Spanish by students from the University of Puerto Rico... 

Strong Arm

Strong Arm

The set of Strong Arm clearly demonstrates that the production has been thought through, all flabby excess stripped away to leave a lean, hard show. The lighting and sound are well crafted but not intrusive, while changes in the setting are indicated by moving the single chair onstage... 

The Bloody Chamber

The Bloody Chamber

A young girl marries the richest man in France, despite not loving him, but soon finds that the extent of his cruelty is far greater than her wildest expectations. This production of The Bloody Chamber covers all the major plot points of Angela Carter’s short story but frequently fails to capture the tone... 

A  Good Catholic Boy

A Good Catholic Boy

As a recent ex-Catholic, I know there’s a lot of material to be got from the Catholic Church, whether you’re a member or not. Unfortunately, despite the title of his show, this did not seem to have dawned on Massimo... 

Phill Jupitus is Porky the Poet in 27 Years On

Phill Jupitus is Porky the Poet in 27 Years On

Phill Jupitus in association with Free Fringe is a coup. At the start of the show Jupitus explains how he started in performance poetry before moving into stand-up, a progression eased by the fact that most of his poems were funny anyway and stand-up freed him from verse and meter... 

Just the Tonic Comedy Club's Midnight Show

Just the Tonic Comedy Club's Midnight Show

Just the Tonic clearly understand the demands of their audience: the only way into the Midnight Show venue is through a bar and past the toilets. Unfortunately the profits of the bar are prioritised over enjoyment of the show and heckling proved inevitable, prolonging and ultimately souring the whole experience... 

Darkness Rising

Darkness Rising

The inspiration Darkness Rising owes to Hot Fuzz is clear from the first scene, as policemen of varying levels of incompetency gather round a corpse found in a pentagram. Pretty soon it becomes obvious that Inspector Thomspon must leave London for deepest countryside to investigate potentially homicidal villagers, some of whom he finds ooh-arr-ing down the pub... 

Funny's Funny: Fantastic Fringe Finale - Free

Funny's Funny: Fantastic Fringe Finale - Free

‘Funny’s funny, except when it’s not’ seems to be the general message of this compilation show. Supposedly a showcase for the best up-and-coming female comedians nationwide, several of the short stand-up routines fell flat... 

Lucy Porter - People Person

Lucy Porter - People Person

Despite announcing that she wanted to kill a journalist who referred to her as a ‘mumedian’ in a pre-Fringe interview, Lucy Porter puts on a decidedly maternal show. There were still jokes aplenty to be found on gigs, drinking and abortion clinics, but the big sister vibe was gone, and in its place motherhood reigned... 

The Fastest Train to Anywhere

The Fastest Train to Anywhere

The Fastest Train to Anywhere by Alexander Wright demonstrates perfectly why great fantasy writing has captured the childhood imagination of the nation, and why those novels are few and far between...