The  Spirit of Frances Wright (Love is an Action Verb)

The Spirit of Frances Wright (Love is an Action Verb)

It is good to be reminded of the fact that history is full of eccentrics, radicals, and pioneers who never appear in the history books - especially when they turn out to be women, so usually sidelined, who were many steps ahead of the game... 

Now.Here

Now.Here

The Free Fringe is a generous proposal at the worst of times, but when it offers up shows like this, ones that feel like they've been dreamed up out of pure love and shared free of charge out of sheer benevolence, you really start to wonder why you bother paying for any tickets at all... 

Dream On

Dream On

Dream On is a modern-day adaptation of Shakespeare's Midsummer Night's Dream, and is performed here with great energy and humour by Side by Side Theatre. In this version, our fairies live on a waste reclamation site, Oberon (Mark Slater) sports a multicoloured punk Mohican haircut and Puck spends time between scenes executing impressive breakdancing moves... 

Photographing the Dead

Photographing the Dead

Jennifer Lusk’s new piece of writing is a one-woman show recalling a time in the Second World War when a young nurse had a photograph taken of her in an underground station by a stranger... 

Spaghetti Junction

Spaghetti Junction

The concept of the ‘Manic Pixie Dream Girl’ is a character trope describing a grown woman totally in touch with her inner child, free spirited, kooky and playful, the sort who will teach us what’s really important in life through her carefree ways (Zooey Deschanel in most of her movies)... 

Justine and Tony

Justine and Tony

The Fringe throws up some odd but good things, some odd but bad things, and quite a few thuddingly normal and bad things. Justine and Tony doesn't seem to exist for any reason at all... 

Nothing Is Really Difficult

Nothing Is Really Difficult

Here's a real Fringe gem – a slapstick extravaganza that is literally barnstorming, performed as it is in a temporary wooden box built specially for the show. Our three Dutch hosts sit outside this great shed, carving out individual flyers from pieces of wood to give to the queuing audience as keepsakes... 

The Letters of Jane Austen

The Letters of Jane Austen

It is a truth universally acknowledged that the personal letters of a notable literary figure can be an illuminating insight into their thoughts and give us a vivid image of their character... 

Ted & Co The Dinner Show

Ted & Co The Dinner Show

The idea of the comedy ‘dining experience’ is done most famously at the Fringe by the Fawlty Towers Dining Experience, the concept being that a tribute act to a famous sitcom do a variety act with nods to the TV show itself while you are served lunch... 

Romeo and Juliet

Romeo and Juliet

Working Girls, the theatre company of Bristol's Redland High School for Girls, has given us a perfectly acceptable school Shakespeare, set rather conveniently in a school. The premise in this version of the star cross'd lovers' tale is that Montague and Capulet are different houses at a boarding school (see what they did there?)... 

Mitch Benn: Reduced Circumstances

Mitch Benn: Reduced Circumstances

Mitch Benn, a comedian much loved for his fantastically catchy musical contributions to Radio 4's “The Now Show”, returns to Edinburgh with a new show supposedly based around his sudden impressive weight loss... 

Monkey Toast: The Improvised Chat Show

Monkey Toast: The Improvised Chat Show

Monkey Toast's chat show is the Pleasance's late-night forum for comics to plug their shows and there's nothing wrong with that – in fact, publicity has rarely been so much fun. The format is an intriguing if at times awkward mash-up: every night amiable Canadian host David Shore briefly interviews Pleasance comics, in this case Gareth Morinan, Thomas Nelstrop, Suki Webster and Mike McShane about their current escapades... 

Dirty Great Love Story

Dirty Great Love Story

The witty and charming pair Richard Marsh and Katie Bonna give us a beat poetry rom-com ballad that, while not groundbreaking, at least treads old ground with the comfort and warmth of a battered old shoe... 

Oddlie

Oddlie

Oddlie is, true to its name, a pleasantly strange mixture. It is a one-woman fairy-tale told in performance poetry about a waif living in an American trash heap and learning herself to become a poet by writing words in the dust... 

Medieval Miracle, The Fall Of Man

Medieval Miracle, The Fall Of Man

Medieval dramas are an odd beast and very difficult to put on. The language is difficult, the drama staid, the scenes incredibly familiar to us all: the fall of Lucifer; the eating of the apple; the casting out from the Garden of Eden... 

Picnic Apocalyptic

Picnic Apocalyptic

I have seen The End and it's quite, quite brilliant. Babolin Theatre have given us a devised show that is funny, frightening, and almost embarrassingly creative, a brash mixture of grotesque costume, comic accents, eschatological theorising and slick physical theatre... 

Belt Up Theatre's The Boy James

Belt Up Theatre's The Boy James

Fringe favourites Belt Up return with their highly acclaimed The Boy James, now transferred to the entirely new venue of C Nova, where up several flights of stairs the audience is led into what feels like a cosy Victorian attic study... 

Le Nozze di Figaro

Le Nozze di Figaro

Opera is hard to do. The vast casts and sets, the massive demands on the singers, the addition of a full orchestra into the mix – no wonder it has been forced into the bracket of “elitist entertainment” - you have to be pretty bloody elite to attempt it... 

Alan Hudson's Not So Secret World of Magic

Alan Hudson's Not So Secret World of Magic

Alan Hudson tries something a little different with this magic show, choosing to weave his tricks around a story of how he came to be at the Fringe in the first place. It makes for an engaging enough hour, though the tricks failed to induce a child-like awe for stage magic and the gags were never more than endearingly funny... 

Comedy Brass - Free

Comedy Brass - Free

None of the material in Scott Adams and Anthea Neagle's show is original enough to recommend it above the large number of other free back-room shows. They classed this showing as a tech run, however, - “we really don't know what's going to happen”, says Neagle - so perhaps the show will mutate over time... 

Control Alt Delete - The Funny Side of Computers

Control Alt Delete - The Funny Side of Computers

I am about as right-brained and artsy as they come, but my favourite Free Fringe show of last year was Robin Ince's Carl Sagan is my God, a show about science. The best thing about the Free Fringe is that it allows experts to make a whole show out of talking about their chosen field – without the commercial pressure to cater to the general audience and fire off as many gags as fast as possible, comics can afford to be be enthusiastic about niche, geeky subjects, delivering what is essentially a fascinating seminar with a few jokes thrown in... 

Hi-Kick

Hi-Kick

As a reviewer I try to keep an objective distance from the show to which I'm assigned, but in the case of this enthusiastic showcase of soccer skills from Korea, I found myself very unprofessionally becoming a performer myself, picked from the audience to participate in a game of soccer volleyball in front of 200 people...