Tom Neenan: It's Always Infinity

Tom Neenan: It's Always Infinity

Tom Neenan has been a regular Fringe attraction for several years now, bringing a succession of one-man pastiches - Edwardian ghost story, Vaudeville Horror tale, 1950s British Science Fiction, etc... 

Police Cops in Space

Police Cops in Space

It's obvious from the loud, excited audience in Assembly Studio 3 that London-based comedy theatre trio The Pretend Men – Nathan Parkinson, Zachary Hunt and Tom Rose – have returned to Edinburgh with something of a reputation, after previous critically acclaimed, sell-out performances of their high-tempo, cinematically-inspired Police Cops, and its unexpectedly 1980s "low-fi sci-fi" sequel Police Cops in Space... 

Rik Carranza: Still a Fan

Rik Carranza: Still a Fan

Rik Carranza is a Star Trek fan. Still. The title of this touching, heartfelt show rather gives that away, which is why it's initially a surprise when he tells us how at one point he boxed up all his Star Trek memorabilia and donated it to a charity shop... 

Marmite

Marmite

Marmite: it’s the breakfast spread that we apparently love or hate, and the word has – in that way the English language often does – subsequently evolved far wider metaphorical implications covering a whole host of things we’re unlikely to sit on the fence about... 

Magic 8 Ball (My Life With Asperger's)

Magic 8 Ball (My Life With Asperger's)

I'm sure that history will suggest otherwise but, after seeing George Steeves perform his one man show, I couldn't help but think that Stevie Wonder must have written his song "Lately" with him in mind... 

What Girls Are Made Of

What Girls Are Made Of

The Traverse One stage looks more ready for a gig than a piece of theatre, but while music undoubtedly runs through the heart of Cora Bissett's latest, most autobiographical work, this is equally a heartfelt examination of parent-child relationships, presented with passion, tenderness and the fuck-you attitude of rock 'n' roll at its best... 

The Flop

The Flop

It seems that Cardiff-based Hijinx Theatre Company are happy to take risks. Not when it comes to integrating professional actors with learning disabilities in their productions; that's been a successful, creatively fulfilling policy for years... 

When You Fall Down: The Buster Keaton Story

When You Fall Down: The Buster Keaton Story

If silent Hollywood star Buster Keaton is remembered for anything, it's his emotionless, mask-like expression; so the initial shock here is that this Buster speaks and smiles. "Yes, I have a voice... 

Tim Renkow Tries to Punch Down

Tim Renkow Tries to Punch Down

Tim Renkow insists he’s spent the last decade on the comedy circuit trying to find a social or racial group that he’s NOT able to insult, because that would mean – as a disabled redneck from the Southern States of the USA – he had finally found someone worse off than him... 

The Last Straw

The Last Straw

People Show have been producing work for more than 50 years which, given the self-indulgence of People Show 130 (or The Last Straw, to give its more Fringe-friendly title), is something of a surprise... 

A Joke

A Joke

It was irresistible, I suppose: part way through Dan Freeman’s absurdist play A Joke, the acclaimed Scottish actor John Bett turns to his co-stars to start a joke with: "Doctor, Doctor"... 

Space Doctor

Space Doctor

This November happens to mark the 55th anniversary of the BBC broadcasting the first ever episode of Doctor Who, so it's hardly surprising that several shows on this year's Fringe have again opted to grab hold of this now-iconic part of British culture; indeed, the people behind Space Doctor even touch on some of the aspects which distinguish Doctor Who from other popular British TV shows like EastEnders—its active fandom base, for example... 

David Mills: Focus People!

David Mills: Focus People!

David Mills is always well turned out: sharp-suited, finely tuned, sitting on his stool like some Easy Listening Singer from a bygone age. Indeed, there's something compulsively melodic about his laid-back delivery; his barely-pausing-for-breath monologue, with its near-poetic repetitions, deviations and call-backs to us, his "people"... 

Scott Capurro: The Trouble With Scott Capurro

Scott Capurro: The Trouble With Scott Capurro

So what exactly IS the Trouble with Scott Capurro? Is it that this left-leaning liberal American (yes, he's the one, apparently) seemingly talks without pausing for breath? ("Are you keeping up or is this too fast?") Is it because his alleged raison d'être is using the blackest humour to "make the unpalatable, palatable"? Is it his glee when audience members walk out—which he achieves within ten minutes, on the night of this review?... 

Paper Dolls

Paper Dolls

Paper Dolls is advertised as a one-man show, but the person standing in front of us for the next hour isn't the show’s performer, writer, director and producer Shaun Nolan; rather it's Billy, a young man who apparently decided to become a politician and sprouted his first pubic hair on the same day... 

My Left Nut

My Left Nut

"Bitter Sweet Symphony" by The Verve. "Fly Away" by Lenny Kravitz. Some song by the Spice Girls. My Left Nut's pre-show soundtrack alone does a great job of taking us back to 1998, although it's left to Michael Patrick to give us the geographic context of Belfast... 

Midsummer

Midsummer

What a difference a decade can make. When, back in 2008, Midsummer was first performed within the intimate space of Traverse 2, the "indie-rom-com musical" seemed a surprisingly inconsequential affair, especially given it was co-created and directed by David Greig, who the previous year had enjoyed huge acclaim for the double-whammy of Damascus (about Western intervention in the Middle East) and a new adaptation of Euripides' The Bacchae starring Alan Cumming... 

Mark Thompson's Spectacular Science Show

Mark Thompson's Spectacular Science Show

Mark Thompson is quite clear about what his (modestly) titled Spectacular Show isn't: "It's not a science lecture," he insists. "It's all about having a bit of fun with science... 

James Barr: Thirst Trap! – Free

James Barr: Thirst Trap! – Free

Wonderfully unexpected opportunities can occur at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe; even more so at the 'Free' variety. You can be queuing for Stephen Bailey: Our Kid only to discover that, as he's away 'doing some TV,' his slot in the room is filled by another young, gay standup called James Barr... 

Kaput

Kaput

For anyone who thinks they don't make physical comedians like Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton any more, here's a word from the wise—which, in this context, essentially means anyone who has just come out of Kaput... 

Providence

Providence

"Life is a hideous thing," we're told by the lean figure of Simon Maeder, dressed for dinner and sitting in a leather armchair like some classic teller of ghost stories... 

Statements

Statements

Until relatively recently in Western society, children with physical, sensory or learning disabilities, or a wide range of neural and behavioural challenges, were either institutionalised in "special" schools or abandoned to the back of the classroom... 

Free and Proud

Free and Proud

Perhaps it is because of the multi-show venue, or just the financial realities of bringing any production to the Edinburgh Fringe nowadays, but Peter Darney’s production of Charles Gershman’s Free & Proud is a stripped down affair... 

Erewhon

Erewhon

Erewhon: or, Over the Range is a fantasy novel by Samuel Butler which, first published anonymously in 1872, presented itself as the experiences of its narrator on discovering the mysterious country and near-utopian community of Erewhon – an anagram of "nowhere" – which had largely abandoned the controlling influence of technology... 

Birds of Paradise Theatre Company: 25 and still going strong!

Birds of Paradise Theatre Company: 25 and still going strong!

Glasgow-based, disability-led Birds of Paradise Theatre Company is celebrating its 25th birthday during 2018 but, as artistic director Robert Softly-Gale tells Paul F Cockburn, they are far from complacent about the future. 

Jo Bannon's latest work started with the title

Jo Bannon's latest work started with the title

We Are Fucked is a new performance work by artist Jo Bannon which explores desire, sexuality and neoliberalism. Its focus is on the modern feminist experience of personal, psychological and political penetration, as she tells Paul F Cockburn... 

Timely Production of Rhinoceros Tops 2018 CATS

Timely Production of Rhinoceros Tops 2018 CATS

The play is a powerful warning about the dangers of conformity, of a mass succumbing to a social miasma that robs us of our culture, our freedom and, ultimately, our humanity.  

Mbuzeni

Mbuzeni

Part of the inherent challenge for Noel Jordan and the Imaginate team when putting together their annual Edinburgh International Children's Festival is their very diverse potential audience: after all, the theatrical needs of toddlers and pre-school children can hardly be more different than those for young adults... 

Expedition Peter Pan

Expedition Peter Pan

"Grow up, mature, and come back when you have something to contribute!" It's not the most sympathetic way to address a young audience; nevertheless, it succinctly shows us the 'eat or be eaten' attitude of Eric (Lennart Monaster), who is one of five business-suited adults suddenly dropped into a strange world of bedside furniture and night-lights in this production of Expedition Peter Pan... 

Stick By Me

Stick By Me

Andy Manley is undoubtedly one of the treasures of Scotland’s current theatrical landscape, all the more so given his seemingly innate (but presumably hard-learned) skill in holding the attention of the youngest, most restless of audiences... 

Gretel and Hansel

Gretel and Hansel

Fairy tales survive because they can be constantly retold, uncovering new depths and relevancies to the world today. Thus Suzanne Lebeau's reimagining of Hänsel und Gretel – the story of two young children who, abandoned in the forest by impoverished parents, manage to outwit a cannibalistic witch living in a cottage made out of confectionary – finds fresh gold by shifting the narrative focus onto Gretel, and building up her sibling rivalry with The Little Brother... 

Eddie and the Slumber Sisters

Eddie and the Slumber Sisters

Sometimes, when it comes to suspending our disbelief, we just have to go with the flow. In Eddie & The Slumber Sisters, for example, it is never explained why the guardian forces monitoring the dreams of children appear to resemble the Andrews Sisters dressed to entertain the US Air Force during World War Two, nor why they have an unseen superior called Charles; how many of this show's intended audience will have even heard of Charlie’s Angels? Yet, to their credit, the much acclaimed director-and-writer team of Gill Robertson and Anita Vettesse run with this USAF-vibe in both staging and front-of-house staffing, and it works... 

Creditors

Creditors

August Strindberg apparently subtitled his play Creditors (in Swedish: Fordringsäxgare) a “tragicomedy” but, while David Greig’s 2008 adaptation does indeed contain a few decent one-liners to inspire laughter, this remains an all-too-easily depressing tale of individuals brought down by the forgotten or overlooked fracture-lines in their own personalities—not least their ability to easily forget how past actions always come with a price which has to be paid, sooner or later... 

Gut

Gut

“In my day, we trusted people. We knew there were some bad apples but we thought most people were good.” So says Morven, grandmother of unseen three-year-old Joshua, in genuine frustration to his mother Maddy who, during the course of Frances Poet’s Gut, becomes increasingly neurotic about even the merest possibility that he was sexually molested by some unknown male stranger that Morven unthinkingly allowed to take Joshua into the supermarket cafe toilets... 

Passing Places

Passing Places

A road movie, according to Wikipedia, is “a film genre in which the main characters leave home on a road trip,” during which “the hero changes, grows or improves over the course of the story”... 

Winter Solstice

Winter Solstice

If theatre is home to lies that impart truths, then this Actors Touring Company’s production of Roland Schimmelpfennig’s Winter Solstice (translated by David Tushingham) makes no attempt to suspend our disbelief; the cast of six are dressed casually and, for the most part, sit around a group of tables on an “undressed” stage, covered with the detritus of paper cups, bottles of water, nibbles and scrap paper typical of any theatrical or television read-through... 

Three Sisters

Three Sisters

“It’s sweat on your brow that gives life meaning,” says one of the supporting characters in Chekhov’s Three Sisters, and it’s fair to say that, on occasions, there’s a distracting sense of effort being made by some cast members, which is not always comfortable for the audience... 

H G Wells' The Time Machine

H G Wells' The Time Machine

While not even Herbert George Wells’s own first dalliance with the concept of time travel, his 1895 novella The Time Machine has nevertheless become pretty much the definitive text on the subject – one television Time Lord notwithstanding... 

Showtime from the Frontline

Showtime from the Frontline

Most stand-up comedy these days is based on the lives of the people standing behind the microphone, albeit reshaped to varying degrees to ensure their material matches the “rule of three” defining all the best jokes in the world – essentially a beginning, a middle and the wrong ending... 

The Last Bordello

The Last Bordello

Perhaps it was tempting fate, but David Leddy’s decision to call his latest work The Last Bordello now comes with a certain irony, given that it could well prove to be his final production under the “Fire Exit” banner – thanks to the company controversially losing its modest, yet vital, funding from Creative Scotland... 

The Belle's Stratagem

The Belle's Stratagem

Writer and director Tony Cownie has established a particular niche at Edinburgh’s Royal Lyceum Theatre, taking potentially overlooked 18th century comedies (like Carlo Goldoni's The Venetian Twins) or modern works inspired by them (Liz Lochhead’s Thon Man Moliere) and giving them a distinctly Scottish twist... 

The Match Box

The Match Box

The central metaphor running through Frank McGuinness’s 2012 monologue The Match Box is almost breath-taking in its simplicity; it’s that all of us, all of our lives, are ultimately as brief, and unknowable in their duration, as a struck match... 

Rita, Sue and Bob Too

Rita, Sue and Bob Too

It’s 36 years since Andrea Dunbar’s breakthrough play announced the all-too-brief flowering of a new writing talent – “a genius straight from the slums,” as the Mail on Sunday snobbishly described her... 

It's Behind You!

It's Behind You!

Alan McHugh has played in enough pantomimes down the years to ensure It’s Behind You! reeks of authenticity, albeit the heightened theatrics of the genre. Set in the cramped dressing room of some impoverished provincial theatre – the star on the door is cut out of yellow paper – this two-hander proves to be a more subtle character piece than you might first expect, given the opening clash of Shakespeare’s Macbeth and a rubber chicken... 

Knives in Hens

Knives in Hens

David Harrower’s debut play, Knives in Hens, made a big splash back in 1995, recognised as a modern classic which has since seen revivals by companies as diverse as the National Theatre of Scotland (in 2011) and, last year, Donmar Warehouse... 

The Lover

The Lover

When watching the stage adaptation of any book, especially one I’ve not read, there’s often a question lingering at the back of my mind; would I appreciate this more, would I understand this better, if I had? It’s a telling distraction, of course; arguably, any stage adaptation should stand or fall on its own metaphorical feet as a work of theatre; if you need to bring background information to make the experience work, it’s failed... 

The Tin Soldier

The Tin Soldier

It’s a real shame temporary roadworks make accessing this show’s venue ever-so-slightly off-putting; also, that the venue is still relatively new, especially when it comes to putting on festive fair, and is up against highly marketed venues such as the King’s... 

Tommy and the Snowbird

Tommy and the Snowbird

It’s said that actors should never work with children or animals, presumably because of their unpredictability and the extra work this requires. While usually focused on casting, this must also be extended to working with very young audiences, such as the advised “three to seven” year olds encouraged to see this Christmas offering from Scottish Youth Theatre... 

Shona Reppe’s Cinderella

Shona Reppe’s Cinderella

This revival of Shona Reppe’s acclaimed puppet retelling of the iconic fairytale is a fascinating jewel of a production, ideal for young children and families alike; subtle, succinct and aware of its narrative limits—unlike Cinderella, for example, we’re pointedly told that we’re NOT going to the Ball—while nevertheless confidently giving our imaginations enough room to play and become emotionally involved... 

How To Disappear

How To Disappear

As Scotland’s self-declared “new writing theatre”, Edinburgh’s Traverse does like to offer up an alternative to the pantomimes and decidedly family-focused fare on offer elsewhere around the city, while still utilising fake snow... 

Beauty and the Beast

Beauty and the Beast

There’s a deliberate cheapness to the temporary, painted proscenium arch erected in the Brunton’s theatre-space, indicative of this local panto’s rough ’n’ ready (and necessarily low-budget) approach that, when it works, nevertheless keeps its audience—on the night of this review, predominantly under the age of 10—genuinely entertained... 

The Arabian Nights

The Arabian Nights

Stories illuminate the truth, lies hide it; that’s just one of the lessons audiences of all ages can take from Suhayla El-Bushra’s energetic new adaptation of The Arabian Nights, brought to Edinburgh’s Royal Lyceum stage by director Joe Douglas; a suitably magical portmanteau of mythical stories within stories that offers a genuinely inventive, and refreshingly vibrant family entertainment for the festive season... 

Our Fathers

Our Fathers

It’s mildly amusing to see two grown men briefly falling into a childish bragging-match about their fathers—one a retired Church of Scotland minister, the other a former Bishop... 

The Maids

The Maids

“We’re beautiful, wild, free and full of joy,” say the titular Maids, Solange and Claire, towards the close of Jean Genet’s 1947 drama, courtesy of Martin Crimp’s 1999 translation... 

Thingummy Bob

Thingummy Bob

There’s a wonderful clarity to Linda McLean’s short play Thingummy Bob, a firm favourite with Scotland’s leading theatre company for people with learning disabilities, Lung Ha Theatre Company... 

Love Song to Lavender Menace

Love Song to Lavender Menace

“Lavender Menace”, according to Wikipedia, were “an informal group of lesbian radical feminists formed to protest the exclusion of lesbians and lesbian issues from the feminist movement at the Second Congress to Unite Women in New York City on May 1, 1970”... 

One Mississippi

One Mississippi

There’s little obvious theatrical artifice on show; just four actors, in casual clothes, sitting or lying on the plain black floor of an empty stage as the audience comes in. Mariem Omari’s script, we read in the programme, is based on verbatim interviews with a diverse range of men across Scotland, which she believes confirms the increasingly held belief that Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) are among the leading causes of substance abuse, depression and suicide... 

Cockpit

Cockpit

Site specific theatre is nothing new in Scotland; from the numerous innovative creations by the likes of Grid Iron Theatre Company to much of the work by the “without walls” National Theatre of Scotland, performances in non-theatrical settings can ensure an impact—when everything works—difficult to reproduce within the safe traditions of the proscenium arch... 

Man to Man

Man to Man

There were a lot of expectation around this new Wales Millennium Centre production of Manfred Karge’s one-woman play, Man to Man. Back in 1987, Karge himself had directed a young Tilda Swinton in a career-establishing performance at the Traverse, in it’s former Grassmarket home... 

Without a Hitch

Without a Hitch

There’s no doubting the raw energy and physicality of this show, a work of dance theatre that definitely prefers choreography to speech, and uses it—along with some pretty stark staging and a thumping score—to great effect... 

Damned Rebel Bitches

Damned Rebel Bitches

Historically speaking, the original “Damned Rebel Bitches” were—according to the “butcher” Duke of Cumberland—the Jacobite women who marched behind their men in order to prevent them retreating... 

The Coolidge Effect

The Coolidge Effect

During the early years of the British Broadcasting Corporation, its first Director-General Lord Reith established the BBC’s mission as being to “inform, educate and entertain”... 

Cilla – The Musical

Cilla – The Musical

Given that she’s such a much-loved public entertainer, an all-too-obvious challenge in creating a musical based on the early life of the late Cilla Black—born Priscilla Maria Veronica White—is that, while she certainly had some big hit singles—“Anyone Who Had a Heart”, “You’re My World”, and “Alfie”, to name just three—her back catalogue of really familiar hits arguably isn’t large enough to fill a two-hours-plus musical... 

There Were Two Brothers

There Were Two Brothers

Part confessional monologue, part lecture and part nostalgic trip back to the days of the BBC’s Jackanory, there’s no doubt that There Were Two Brothers is a funny, personal—yet surprisingly universal—exploration of fraternal relationships... 

Stand By

Stand By

There’s a real sense of excitement in the run-up to Stand By, not least thanks to the slightly-unusual venue—inside an Army Reserve Centre in the north of the New Town. Serving soldiers act as ushers, issuing us with the same single-earpiece headphones worn by police officers on duty... 

A Charlie Montague Mystery: The Game's a Foot, Try the Fish

A Charlie Montague Mystery: The Game's a Foot, Try the Fish

What would an unpublished Agatha Christie mystery be like if, by some strange quirk of fate, its editor had given it over to P G Wodehouse for a final literary polish? Well, thanks to Tom Taylor, we now have at least an idea; a bit like one-man-show The Game’s A Foot, Try the Fish—a hit during last year’s Fringe, back again along with brand new adventure The Man With The Twisted Hip... 

(More) Moira Monologues

(More) Moira Monologues

Time has not withered Moira Bell, Alan Bissett’s 2009 tribute to the hard-working, hard-playing, straight-talking working class women of Scotland, and Falkirk in particular. In 2017, she’s still arguing with her neighbours (mostly about their noisy sex lives), giving people who disrespect her a piece of her mind, and knocking down any middle class pretentiousness with a single blow... 

Bella Freak: Unwritten

Bella Freak: Unwritten

Unwritten, according to the flyer, is ‘a secret history of Scotland’; specifically, though, it uses the individual experiences of three disabled people to talk about Inclusive Education... 

Rhinoceros

Rhinoceros

Time and again during Zinnie Harris’s new adaptation of Eugène Ionesco’s famous farce, people tell each other not to be absurd. Obviously, it’s a not-so-subtle reference to Ionesco’s honoured place within the role-call of the post-War ‘Theatre of the Absurd’, but it’s also surely an apt description within this colourful, but somewhat slow production by Turkish director Murat Daltaban (of Istanbul’s DOT Theatre, co-producing with Edinburgh’s own Royal Lyceum Theatre)... 

Who, Me

Who, Me

It’s four years since Rob Lloyd first brought this autobiographical, Doctor Who-related show to Edinburgh. Back then in August 2013, fans of the iconic BBC series were contemplating the then-recently announced news that their favourite Time Lord was going to change into Peter Capaldi... 

Geoff Norcott: Right Leaning but Well Meaning

Geoff Norcott: Right Leaning but Well Meaning

There’s one point during Geoff Norcott’s latest show when it really flies, when you sense he really has most of the audience on his side — even though at least one or two of them must have seen him already use the material on his regular five minute slot on BBC Two’s The Mash Report... 

Meet Me At Dawn

Meet Me At Dawn

Zinnie Harris has five plays on in Edinburgh this August, including two within the Edinburgh International Festival’s theatre programme. While she may not yet be a household name, in the last couple of years alone her work has been recognised by the Critics Awards for Theatre in Scotland (CATS) as both much-in-demand writer and director... 

Mia: Daughters of Fortune

Mia: Daughters of Fortune

This startling, if indistinct production from Mind the Gap, England’s largest learning disability theatre company, gets straight to its point, with cast members slipping into ‘Dear Diary’ mode to talk about love, sex and… babies... 

Jamie MacDonald: Designated Driver

Jamie MacDonald: Designated Driver

Given that so much of the stand-up comedy you’ll find on the Fringe is blatantly autobiographical—at least to some extent—it’s not surprising that a lot of Jamie MacDonald’s material is grounded on him being ‘that funny blind guy’... 

Gordon Southern: That's a Fun Fact!

Gordon Southern: That's a Fun Fact!

Upbeat Gordon Southern may dress like the kind of supply teacher that the kids love to bully (his words) but, despite his repeated mantra of ‘Not Laughing, Learning’, his latest Edinburgh show is full-to-bursting with comedic gold, and undoubtedly perfect evidence (if we’re all being scientific) of why you should never underestimate the quality of what’s on offer from the city’s ‘Free’— to get in, if not to get out—Festivals... 

Blank Tiles

Blank Tiles

It might seem all-too-witty for a SCRABBLE World Champion, when asked by the media for “a few words” on his victory, to admit 'I don’t really know any'. Yet, as this unexpectedly charming one-man-show by Dylan Cole reveals, the answer is all-too bitter-sweet... 

Caravaggio: Between the Darkness

Caravaggio: Between the Darkness

“I need more light,” our protagonist Caravaggio says at one point, and it’s fair to say that the 16th century Italian’s use of light and darkness is one of his paintings’ signature features... 

Colin Hoult / Anna Mann in How We Stop the Fascists

Colin Hoult / Anna Mann in How We Stop the Fascists

Anna Mann is, according to herself, the greatest actress of her generation—a quote she can now legitimately edit for future Fringe posters with no fear of censor. Yet is this former star of “terribly polite” political play No More War, Please really the right person to show us how to stop the rise of right wing politics? After a glorious hour in her company, it’s clear to say that—wonder of wonders—she is... 

5 Guys Chillin'

5 Guys Chillin'

Many an article’s been written on how the gay scene appears dominated by drugs and sex. Once upon a time the dangers were alcoholism and being queer-bashed while cruising, but now some gay men prefer to attend ‘chillin’’ sessions in each others' homes where drugs and sex are always available, even if one often precludes the other... 

The Amorous Ambassador

The Amorous Ambassador

There’s nothing that says 'Edinburgh Festival Fringe' quite like the portrayal of sex on stage: that said, compared with many of the thousands of shows in Edinburgh this August, there’s an genuine old-school innocence about Michael Parker’s The Amorous Ambassador... 

Letters to Morrissey

Letters to Morrissey

Confession time: I’ve never been a fan of The Smiths or Morrissey. Oh, I recognise their importance in British popular culture, the innovative high quality of their work—but that doesn’t mean I have to like it... 

The Road That Wasn't There

The Road That Wasn't There

The truth about fairy tales, all too often forgotten by us grown-ups, is that the best ones are meant to be scary, albeit in an ultimately reassuring context. This is clearly something that Ralph McCubbin Howell understands well, in his eerie story of never-built roadways and lost towns, for New Zealand-based theatre company Trick of the Light... 

Performers

Performers

One figure doesn’t appear in Performers, Irvine Welsh and Dean Cavanagh’s new play inspired by some of the behind-the-scenes stories surrounding the making of 1970 cult film Performance—in which a London gangster (James Fox) hides out within the mansion of a former rock star (Mick Jagger), with all the cultural clashes you’d expect when different social worlds and ideas of masculinity run into each other towards the close of the “Swinging Sixties”... 

Knock Knock

Knock Knock

It’s 54 years since the last conscripted British citizens returned to civilian life after completing their National Service. If a generation is 25 years, then that’s at more than two generations who have never faced the prospect of having to—between the ages of 17 and 21—serve in the British Armed Forces for two years... 

Snowflake by Mark Thomson

Snowflake by Mark Thomson

Snowflake, a new play written and directed by the former Artistic Director of Edinburgh’s Royal Lyceum Theatre, Mark Thomson, feels a necessity to explain its title right from the start; essentially, that the “millennials” who became adults during the 2010s have—thanks to their upbringing—an inflated sense of their own uniqueness and, as a result are less resilient than previous generations... 

Scott Agnew: Spunk on Our Lady's Face

Scott Agnew: Spunk on Our Lady's Face

Burly Glaswegian stand-up Scott Agnew has for many years joked about “blow-job knee”—wear and tear arising from too much time on his knees providing oral sex. Following a somewhat frustrating experience while in Leeds—the details of which are best heard in his own gruff voice—it’s now happened for real... 

Matt Abbott: Two Little Ducks

Matt Abbott: Two Little Ducks

Wakefield’s poet son may have a self-confessed tendency for lewd social observation but Matt Abbott is also an unpretentious recorder of life in the raw, with a talent for coming up with a memorable turn of phrase, an innate understanding of the full comedic potential in a forced rhyme, yet a commitment to being serious... 

Lilith: The Jungle Girl

Lilith: The Jungle Girl

This acclaimed show from award-winning Australian theatre company Sisters Grimm clearly aims to put the “lion” back in George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion, through a startlingly amusing, messy and self-aware tale of a wild girl—raised, from the age of four, within a leonine pride in the heart of Borneo—who is captured by explorers and brought to 19th century Holland where one of the leading neuroscientists of the day attempts to “civilise” her... 

Andrew Doyle: Thought Crimes

Andrew Doyle: Thought Crimes

Andrew Doyle has, allegedly, lost quite a few friends this last year. Not because of some horrendous disaster, but thanks to his apparently unforgivable habit of speaking his mind in social situations and—in a world where anyone’s now a Nazi if they don’t agree with you—daring to express opinions that his now-former friends found personally insulting... 

Sarah, Sky and Seven Other Guys

Sarah, Sky and Seven Other Guys

“Ah yes. We loved Streisand.” It’s just one brief line in this new play from Liver and Lung Productions, but it’s fully representative of the script’s nuanced, aching understanding of human relationships of all orientations, in what (initially at least) appears very much to be a light-hearted stagger through the clichéd straight woman and her gay best friend scenario—you know, the one that will only end when one of them gets a boyfriend... 

Victorian Gothic

Victorian Gothic

Thanks to the numerous adventures of Sherlock Holmes, we arguably don’t have the best impression of the Victorian Police Detective—especially when it comes to either their intelligence or deductive skills... 

I Can Make You Tory

I Can Make You Tory

When you see Leo Kearse — and you should — there’s a very good chance it’ll be a four-star experience. Perhaps even five-stars, if he gets a good tailwind from an up-for-it audience and fewer distractions from passing venue staff, for whom having stand-up performed in the backroom appears to be an annoyance... 

The Lying Kind

The Lying Kind

“O, what a tangled web we weave,” Sir Walter Scott wrote in his epic poem Marmion, “when first we practise to deceive!” It’s a life lesson we can only hope unfortunate police officers Gobbel and Blunt—newly on the beat, it would seem— remember, given that the play’s Farcical succession of misunderstandings and physical injuries arise from their initial reluctance to quickly inform an elderly couple on Christmas Eve of the death of their daughter... 

The Waves on the Seas

The Waves on the Seas

A marriage isn’t just the joining of two people, or even two families—it marks the coming together of two communities. Or so we’re told, towards the end of Duncan Kidd’s latest play for the Leith-based Active Inquiry’s Flashback Drama group and Strange Town Young Company... 

Bounce!

Bounce!

It’s fair to say that Bounce!, created and performed by French company Arcosm, is a delightfully playful blend of music and dance, performed with real skill and alleged wild abandon... 

Falling Dreams

Falling Dreams

Recent years have seen a significant rise in the number of (usually) London theatre productions being transmitted live to cinemas and other venues across the UK. While clearly successful commercially, it’s a moot point whether an audience watching any stage performance on a big screen really are still enjoying “live theatre”, especially once those recording what’s happening on the stage begin to utilise the basic visual language—close ups, mid-shots, long-shots—of cinema... 

Glory on Earth

Glory on Earth

At one point during Glory on Earth, its two main characters—stage right, the young, romantic Mary, Queen of Scots; stage left, the firebrand Protestant preacher John Knox—are each writing letters to the English Queen, Elizabeth... 

Music Is Torture

Music Is Torture

“Keep going,” actor Andy Clark says repeatedly to the musicians behind the glass screen in the unsubtly-named Limbo Studio created on stage, ensuring that we find our seats accompanied by a regular single drum-beat... 

Daphne Oram's Wonderful World of Sound

Daphne Oram's Wonderful World of Sound

In 1983, the BBC published a retrospective about “the first 25 years” of the by-then globally famous BBC Radiophonic Workshop. Written by co-founder Desmond Briscoe, the book was celebratory yet unavoidably biased, not least in how relatively little space was given over in the early chapters to co-founder Daphne Oram... 

Joan Eardley: A Private View

Joan Eardley: A Private View

The London-born artist Joan Eardley, who settled in Scotland to study and whose artistic career was cut short when she died—aged 42—in 1963, is best known for two very different subjects of her painting: the extraordinarily candid—albeit, at times cartoonish—portraits of the “weans” (young children) in the long-since demolished Townhead area of Glasgow, and the landscapes and seascapes from the small fishing village of Catterline, just south of Aberdeen... 

The 306: Day

The 306: Day

The 306: Day is the second of a three play trilogy instigated by the National Theatre of Scotland, inspired by the stories of the 306 British soldiers that we know were executed by their own side for “military crimes” during the First World War... 

Travels With My Aunt

Travels With My Aunt

This is a homecoming, of sorts; the revival of a play, first performed at Glasgow's Citizens Theatre back in 1989, which subsequently enjoyed successful productions in the West End and off-Broadway... 

Shirley Valentine

Shirley Valentine

“I used to be Shirley Valentine,” explains the focus of Willy Russell’s 1986 one-woman play; a 42 year old Liverpudlian woman who, now that the children have flown the nest, is fed up with life as Shirley Bradshaw, and frightened of life beyond the kitchen wall with which she frequently engages in conversation... 

Charlie Sonata

Charlie Sonata

There’s much to admire, to even love, in Douglas Maxwell’s new play at Edinburgh’s Royal Lyceum; a script full of humour and subtle characterisation, if not always clarity and sense, which director Matthew Lenton—Artistic Director of much-acclaimed Vanishing Point—has given a luminous staging, every character clearly delineated by casting and costume... 

Monstrous Bodies

Monstrous Bodies

Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley’s debut novel has become so iconic in Western culture that the word “Frankenstein” is now used pejoratively to describe any scientific or technological advance which either brings unforeseen dangers in its wake or breaks long-established taboos... 

Confessional

Confessional

The comedic tone of David Weir's Confessional is clear from the start; as Schubert's beautiful Ave Marie fades into silence, "Good Catholic" Kevin—or, as he puts it, the "Oldest Alter Boy in Christendom"—is reluctantly about to confess his sins to Father Ignatius, who's also his uncle... 

Orlando

Orlando

If the usual writerly advice is to always “show, not tell”, then biography is arguably one of the few artistic forms where a certain amount of direct author-to-audience explanation is permissible—even in a fictional biography such as Virginia Woolf’s Orlando... 

The Edinburgh Easter Play

The Edinburgh Easter Play

The Biblical narrative that is the foundation of the Christian faith has been described, on numerous occasions, as “The Greatest Story Ever Told.” Even if you accept this to be the case, however, it does’t automatically follow that it’s also bound to be the greatest piece of theatre ever performed, especially when done so by a largely amateur cast in the middle of some public gardens in the invariably breezy centre of the Scottish Capital... 

One Man Shoe

One Man Shoe

Children’s entertainer Jango Starr is a total clown, but that’s certainly not meant as a criticism; sans white-face, he instead relies on a pair of trousers just sufficiently baggy to be noticeable, a Chaplin-styled rolling gait, and an emotive face which slips between happy and sad without ever entirely losing the echo of the other... 

Zombie Science: Worst Case Scenario

Zombie Science: Worst Case Scenario

Almost at the start, Gilchrist Muir—here inhabiting the tweed suit of our lecturer, Glasgow University-based Theoretical Zombiologist Dr Ken House—insists that Zombies are not real... 

A Stone’s Throw

A Stone’s Throw

A young girl, annoyed by being made fun of by her seven older brothers, joins in the family’s evening game of throwing stones and unintentionally shatters the sun from the sky, with obviously global consequences... 

Isaac’s Eye

Isaac’s Eye

From the start of his exploration of the scientific method, through the prism of the 17th century rivalry between Isaac Newton and the now little-remembered Robert Hooke, playwright Lucas Hnath gets his retaliation in first... 

A Number

A Number

In one sense, this Lyceum revival of Caryl Churchill’s 2002 play is exactly the “dynamic two-hander” described in the programme: the only actors on stage are Peter Forbes, as regret-filled father Salter, and Brian Ferguson as his son Bernard... 

Girl in the Machine

Girl in the Machine

The symbolism is hardly subtle; when we enter the Traverse Theatre’s principal performance space, we have to choose which side of a massive shipping container we sit next to. Impressively, this is then pulled to the side to reveal Neil Warmington’s minimalist set and the cast, Michael Dylan and Rosalind Sydney, frozen in an embrace as loving couple Owen and Polly... 

Dr Stirlingshire's Discovery

Dr Stirlingshire's Discovery

I’m not a fan of promenade performances, especially those involving the audience being led in a group from one set piece to another. Partly, this is about laziness and sore knees, but mostly it’s a genuine difficulty in maintaining a theatrical suspension of disbelief when the narrative momentum is fundamentally dictated by the walking speed of the group’s slowest members... 

Cosmonaut

Cosmonaut

There’s always a risk attempting to present previously “unknown” stories as theatre. Especially when it takes time—the best part of a decade, in this case—for a show to reach the stage, there’s a risk those tales will have already spread through other means: documentaries, perhaps, or books... 

The Nether

The Nether

Science Fiction isn't the most common genre you find on stage; ironic, really, since it was Karel Čapek’s 1920 play R.U.R. which gave us the word “robot”, for example. Is it because we expect our “sci-fi” to come with spectacular (or, alternatively, laughably cheap) special effects difficult to produce (even now) live, on a nightly basis? Or that, somehow, most people believe that scientific speculation simply isn’t “serious” enough for “proper” theatre?By choosing to perform The Nether, Edinburgh-based Theatre Paradok capably remind us that science fiction doesn’t require the OTT visuals, and is perfectly capable of working with some really big and disturbing ideas... 

Hay Fever

Hay Fever

Dominic Hill, artistic director of Glasgow’s Citizens Theatre, apparently doesn’t like to constrain any theatrical experience with the blunt instrument of a rising or falling curtain; he clearly prefers both audience and cast to enter the theatre space more or less simultaneously—with things apparently starting only once everyone has turned up... 

Girls Like That

Girls Like That

Evan Placey’s Girls Like That (first performed at London’s Unicorn Theatre three years ago) came to Edinburgh’s Traverse Theatre—courtesy of the neighbouring Lyceum Theatre’s Youth wing—with added meaning... 

The Play That Goes Wrong

The Play That Goes Wrong

The old showbiz adage that “the show must go on” is usually invoked—in the aftermath of some behind-the-scenes calamity—before curtain-up, but the point of The Play That Goes Wrong is that the cast of this “Cornley Polytechnic Drama Society” production literally keep going—increasingly frantically, though not without displaying physical and verbal dexterity—when things start going awry after the curtain goes up... 

The Beaches of St Valery

The Beaches of St Valery

Three-quarters of a century on, there are still stories of the Second World War that aren’t as well known as they should, but Stuart Hepburn’s new play—while promoted as telling the untold story of Churchill’s politically-expedient “sacrifice” of the 51st Highland Division, which he ordered to remain in France post-Dunkirk in order to keep France in the fight against Nazi Germany—is in actual fact a relatable “coming of age” story... 

La Cage Aux Folles

La Cage Aux Folles

There’s much to love about this new touring production of La Cage Aux Folles; gloriously Technicolor™ sets, gorgeous costumes, tight choreography, clearly enunciated singing, and a cast who inspire tears of both laughter and sadness... 

Allan Stewart’s Big Big Variety Show

Allan Stewart’s Big Big Variety Show

There’s one deliciously unique—sadly never repeatable—moment during the opening night of Allan Stewart’s Big Big Variety Show, when Stewart introduces the singer Susan Boyle as a surprise guest... 

Death of a Salesman

Death of a Salesman

The writer and historian James Truslow Adams once defined the “American Dream” as the potential for life to be “better and richer and fuller for everyone, with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement”... 

The House of Bernarda Alba

The House of Bernarda Alba

If politics is about people—specifically the ever-fluctuating power imbalances between people in different situations—then Federico García Lorca was right to focus his “political” work on the domestic: there are no “institutions” more prone to power-struggles and conflict than our own families... 

The Winter's Tale

The Winter's Tale

Shakespeare's The Winter’s Tale has all the characteristics of a Tragedy, as we speedily witness the horrendous consequences of King Leontes' groundless jealousy for pregnant wife Hermione and life-long friend Polixenes... 

69 Shades of Gay

69 Shades of Gay

“I’m so excited”—that iconic 1982 hit by the Pointer Sisters—is an apt intro to a show with a predominantly female audience that’s already wound up to have a good time... 

Cirque Berserk!

Cirque Berserk!

“Not a circus, it’s a Berserkus!” Cirque Berserk! boldly comes with two USPs. Firstly, in the name of “maximum thrills”, all-but-one of the acts perform without safety devices; and, yes, these days this may well raise some ethical concerns around people risking life and limb in the name of entertainment... 

Dusty Won't Play

Dusty Won't Play

18 years after her death, “blue-eyed soul singer” Dusty Springfield remains many things to many people—not least a gay icon, thanks to her emotional fragility and memorable OTT “look”—the panda-eyed make-up, the big-wigs and flowing dresses—which has inspired generations of drag queens... 

Thoroughly Modern Millie

Thoroughly Modern Millie

There is, ironically enough, a lot that’s incredibly old-fashioned about Thoroughly Modern Millie; it’s a feel-good, song and dance show about a young gold-digger who, while seeking the security that comes from bagging a wealthy husband, instead discovers (spoilers!) that love actually is all-important when it comes to marriage—and never mind what Vogue magazine says! It’s also, unfortunately, a world where single young women who won’t be missed are liable to be “Shanghaied” into a life of prostitution by a Chinese white slave gang led by the malicious Mrs Meers, who does crude yellow-face to avoid the police... 

Wonderland

Wonderland

Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland isn’t known for its plot; in fact, it’s essentially a succession of wonderfully fanciful sketches which happen to share some characters... 

We're Going On A Bear Hunt

We're Going On A Bear Hunt

You can always feel a particular kind of excitement in an auditorium, before “curtain up”, when a significant proportion of the audience are (a) less than five years old, and (b) waiting for quite possibly one of their favourite books to be recreated on stage... 

Picnic at Hanging Rock

Picnic at Hanging Rock

As titles go, Picnic at Hanging Rock is a fine conflation of the innocent and disturbing, although the cultural impact of Joan Lindsay’s novel is arguably more down to Peter Weir’s 1975 film adaptation than the book itself... 

Last Christmas

Last Christmas

“I can be pretty dim, sometimes,” says Sion Pritchard as Tom, an office-working film school graduate who doesn’t, initially, come across as particularly sympathetic. “I can really be a c*** sometimes,” he adds—just to emphasise the point—as he moans about work colleagues and the office Christmas Party... 

Hansel and Gretel

Hansel and Gretel

Scottish writer Stuart Paterson now has a back catalogue of sufficient scale to warrant a revival or two; his adaptation of Roald Dahl’s George’s Marvellous Medicine is currently doing good business at Dundee Rep while, here, Citizens Theatre artistic director Dominic Hill gives fresh life to Paterson’s stage adaptation of the old German fairytale, first performed at Edinburgh’s Royal Lyceum in 1998... 

Snow White and the Seven Wee Muppets

Snow White and the Seven Wee Muppets

Inside Out Theatre’s second pantomime for relatively news arts venue Websters (located in Glasgow’s Kelvinbridge area) is another self-consciously low-rent production which brilliantly manages to put a modern twist on a classic fairy tale while still delivering all the expected panto-thrills for its younger audience members—a combination of old and new that you arguably can only find on the panto “fringe” away from the city’s bigger, traditional venues... 

Cinderella

Cinderella

Pantomime, as we’re reminded by the Ambassador Theatre Group’s pre-show video (narrated by Brian Blessed), is a peculiarly British theatrical tradition, although it’s a shame that this somewhat generic introduction (unchanged since last year, and presumably shown across the UK) doesn’t recognise the particular Glaswegian accents of the long-established King’s Theatre pantomime... 

Mamma Mia!

Mamma Mia!

Reviewing Mamma Mia! almost feels like a lost cause; it’s an unstoppable global phenomenon and, if this touring production—setting up home in the Edinburgh Playhouse for Christmas and New Year—has any shortcomings, audiences love it none-the-less... 

Black Beauty

Black Beauty

It’s a brave show which starts with the words: “I don’t like it.” It’s requires even more courage for a production, advertised as being “inspired” by the best-selling equine novel Black Beauty, to not even mention the title until well into the first half... 

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

As a rule, the best children’s stories—be they novels, comics or TV shows—all inspire the same question: “What on Earth were they taking when they came up with that?” The granddaddy of this, of course, is Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland, a genuinely creepy children’s story in which author Lewis Carroll plays with the weirdest logics and ideas... 

Jack and the Beanstalk

Jack and the Beanstalk

There’s no doubting the energy in Edinburgh’s King’s Theatre before this show starts; many kids are already singing along to a soundtrack of current chart hits. And when the curtain rises, we’re into the first song and dance number with barely a pause for breath... 

George’s Marvellous Medicine

George’s Marvellous Medicine

“Small boys are not to be trusted,” says the titular George’s gleefully malevolent Grandma in this new production—by Dundee Rep’s Associate Artistic Director Joe Douglas—of Stuart Paterson’s Scottish-tinged adaptation of this Roald Dahl tale... 

Green Tea

Green Tea

The master of the English ghost story, M R James, once described Irish author Joseph Thomas Sheridan Le Fanu as “absolutely in the first rank” among supernatural storytellers... 

The Rivals

The Rivals

First performed in 1775, Sheridan’s The Rivals remains surprisingly relevant, not least thanks to its inter-generational conflict. Director Dominic Hill’s tonal approach is most clearly seen in Lydia Languish; she may be dressed up in the finery of 18th century high society, but she acts like a 21st century 17-year-old, full of exaggerated “O-M-G!” posturing and a total belief in her own entitlement... 

Grain in the Blood

Grain in the Blood

For at least some of its audience, it’s enough that Grain in the Blood reunites actors Blythe Duff and John Michie—long-time compatriots on STV’s Taggart. For the rest of us, this generally taut 90 minute tale by playwright Rob Drummond—previously responsible for experimental audience-participation works such as Fidelity and Bullet Catch, as well as the currently touring stage adaptation of iconic D C Thomson’s The Broons—is an engrossing drama successfully combining the deadpan humour of film noir with a whiff of rural folk mythology... 

Jumpy

Jumpy

You get a strong sense of what Jumpy is going to be like from Jean Chan’s impressive set—two jumbled piles of household goods, surrounded by an off-kilter frame of plain wall... 

Invisible Army

Invisible Army

It’s not every play that starts with a reaffirmation of one of the basic fundamentals of theatre: that things which aren’t true can be imagined, and that what can be imagined can also be true... 

Dr Johnson Goes to Scotland

Dr Johnson Goes to Scotland

A risk when putting any historical figure on stage—let alone a writer and thinker of the calibre of Dr Samuel Johnson—is that using their own words makes them appear less a dramatic character and more a walking, talking Wikiquote... 

Him

Him

“It’s quite comfortable being old,” 80 year old actor Tim Barlow tells us at the start of his latest one-man show, a work co-devised with the writer Sheila Hill. Apparently, our “senior” years can be a more peaceful period in our lives, although there’s always a downside—not least that memory and mind are no longer as sharp as they once were... 

Walking on Walls

Walking on Walls

There’s no hanging about with Morna Pearson’s Walking On Walls; when the lights come up, we see a bespectacled woman observing a man who’s bound on an office chair, tape across his mouth and traces of blood on his forehead... 

A Gambler’s Guide to Dying

A Gambler’s Guide to Dying

This one-man show, written and performed by Gary McNair, won lots of praise during its initial run as part of the 2015 Edinburgh Festival Fringe. This latest tour round Scotland and beyond has enabled many more people to enjoy a beautifully-written, deceptively simple work which—part coming-of-age tale, part reminiscence of family—so expertly examines our need to have heroes and to be at the centre of our own lives... 

Frost/Nixon

Frost/Nixon

It was the head-to-head that, even at the time, seemed almost unthinkable; a televised face-off between British chat-show host David Frost—certainly at the time not exactly known for delivering hard-hitting journalism—and the former US president Richard Nixon, who had been ultimately forced to resign from the White House thanks to his involvement in the Watergate scandal... 

Crude: An Exploration of Oil

Crude: An Exploration of Oil

Edinburgh-based Grid Iron Theatre Company has long specialised in creating immersive, site-specific theatre. On this occasion, Crude is housed in the corner of one of the vast Sheds in the Port of Dundee, to which the audience travels by coach, on the way passing within sight of three nearby-stationed oil platforms... 

The Shape of Things

The Shape of Things

Children are often said to be the most “difficult”—or, to put it another way, most honest—theatre audience performers are ever likely to face: they’re not “adult” enough to hide their boredom or loss of interest... 

Mischief

Mischief

We’re somewhere among the Western Isles, and at least a thousand years back in time. Ronnat and her daughter Brigid live a simple life on a small island, looking after the cows owned by the monastery across the water... 

The Suppliant Woman

The Suppliant Woman

In ancient Greece, it was the practice before any theatrical performance to name those citizens who had financed it, and for a respected citizen to give “the libation” to the Gods... 

[title of show]

[title of show]

If you’re a student theatre company with somewhat limited resources, but still want to try your hand at a reasonably successful Broadway musical, then [title of show] is arguably your ideal choice... 

Breaking The Ice

Breaking The Ice

It’s fitting, in the weeks running up to the latest Arctic Circle Assembly (running from 7-9 October in Reykjavik, Iceland) that the team behind A Play, a Pie and a Pint opted for a new work focused on human exploitation of the Arctic... 

The Course of True Love

The Course of True Love

Among the gifts bestowed on the world by the Edinburgh Festival Fringe is the one-hour slot, into which everything—stand-up, spoken word, circus, dance or drama—has become squeezed by market forces... 

Journey's End

Journey's End

R C Sherriff’s Journey’s End, inspired by his own experiences of life in the trenches during the First World War, stands as an authoritative exploration of men “in extremis”... 

Dame Nature – The Magnificent Bearded Lady

Dame Nature – The Magnificent Bearded Lady

Apparently, even circuses nowadays feel a need to satisfy the public’s desire to glimpse behind the scenes, to smell the greasepaint and discover how the magic happens. As an audience, we’re immediately addressed as the first lucky group to be invited – for a pre-curtain-up Q&A – into the private dressing room of Dame Nature, the Bearded Lady in Hannibal’s Travelling Palace... 

Laurence Clark: Independence

Laurence Clark: Independence

Some things never change; despite more than a decade performing stand-up, Laurence Clark still opens his set by drawing attention to his cerebral palsy: “This is just how I talk. I’m not pissed,” he explains, before the screen behind him reveals an image of him allegedly in an inebriated state... 

Alistair Williams: I've Started So I'm Finished

Alistair Williams: I've Started So I'm Finished

Alistair Williams is a bit of a lad. Among what appears to be a generation of young male stand-ups struggling to work out what it means to be a modern man in the 21st century, his pre-show music is the unashamed 1980s hokum of Guns ’n’ Roses and Welcome to the Jungle... 

Trash Test Dummies

Trash Test Dummies

There’s an anarchic edge to the Trash Test Dummies – as might be expected from a circus troupe who go on to perform a succession of tricks and humorous gymnastics using that most utilitarian of urban objects, the wheelie bin... 

Jonathan Pie: Live

Jonathan Pie: Live

Pretend news reporter Jonathan Pie – the creation of actor Tom Walker – has risen to public attention, during the last year, thanks to a succession of videos on YouTube which allegedly reveal what happens in-between the regular “in the field” reports to camera that have become the basic vocabulary of television news... 

Tom Neenan: Vaudeville

Tom Neenan: Vaudeville

Tom Neenan appears to be making his way through the genres with his one-man/many characters shows: Edwardian ghost story in 2014, and 1950s-styled British science fiction thriller last year... 

Expensive Shit

Expensive Shit

Theatre audiences are, for the most part, quite comfortable with their self-assigned role of secret voyeurs of the people on stage who go about their lives with no apparent knowledge that they’re being observed... 

Bricking It

Bricking It

Several years ago, a couple of wannabe stand-ups decided to do a Free Fringe show based around some of the odd things their respective fathers had said and done down the years. Joanna Griffin, on the other hand, decided to bring her dad – 73-year-old Irish builder Pat – to the Fringe... 

Arthur Conan Doyle – Man of Mystery

Arthur Conan Doyle – Man of Mystery

There's something wonderfully uncluttered and unpretentious about this particular wander down literary lane from the Mercators, one of Edinburgh’s oldest amateur drama clubs. Six performers, dressed up in an approximation of late Victorian/Edwardian dress, take it in turns to tell the biography of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, with some quotes from the man’s work to provide a little more ‘colour’... 

The Man Who Knows Everything

The Man Who Knows Everything

It’s pretty clear what kind of show we’re about to see when – as it becomes obvious that there isn’t actually a sufficient number of seats for all of the audience that’s turned up – an additional seat suddenly appears from behind the black curtain, with an expressive, otherwise disembodied hand pointing at it and giving a thumbs up... 

Aidan Goatley: Mr Blue Sky

Aidan Goatley: Mr Blue Sky

Aidan Goatley’s stand-up show isn’t, despite its title, about ELO; indeed, there’s no obvious guarantee that he will get round to telling us why he chose one of that band’s biggest hits as his title... 

Will Franken: Little Joe

Will Franken: Little Joe

There are two ways to reach the small room where UK-based American character comedian Will Franken is performing. The easiest route – albeit usually reserved for a quick exit – is to descend the stone steps from the pavement into the basement... 

Wayne Carter Teaches You to Be Fabulous

Wayne Carter Teaches You to Be Fabulous

The word “fabulous” is defined as being extraordinary and wonderful, and having no basis in reality. However, it’s a genuine stretch to describe Australian Wayne Carter as mythical – even if he’s a burly guy in a dress, ready to lip-sync and do some burlesque – given he’s performing in the basement of one of Edinburgh’s less notable bars... 

Jo Caulfield: Pretending to Care

Jo Caulfield: Pretending to Care

It’s clearly an uncomfortable time of life for Jo Caulfield; a succession of musical heroes have died, she’s moved from middle-class Morningside to somewhat more “cosmopolitan” Leith – a process which forced her to make a host of decisions about a new kitchen – and a majority of the British population voted for Brexit... 

Colin Hoult / Anna Mann: A Sketch Show for Depressives

Colin Hoult / Anna Mann: A Sketch Show for Depressives

There’s surely no better sign that mental health issues – and depression in particular – are becoming more openly discussed than for the likes of Colin Hoult to come along and start taking the piss... 

Poggle

Poggle

“Poggle’s not scared of climbing trees,” we’re told early on in this beautifully clear and uncluttered piece of vibrant dance theatre aimed at very young children. Set in a pine forest – the backdrop of which is made out of a wall of 19 big building blocks – we are first entranced by the lyrical music played by composer Daniel Padden, who’s sitting on the set like some wandering minstrel as we come in... 

David Mills: Shame!

David Mills: Shame!

The sharp-suited David Mills is already seated on stage when his audience comes in, chatting with us, riffing along to a Barry Manilow hit; while he later insists that the role in life he wants to play is that of a 1950s US TV sitcom husband, there’s also a sense of him being one of those cool easy-listening singers who survived into the early 1970s... 

Scott Agnew: I've Snapped My Banjo String, Let's Just Talk

Scott Agnew: I've Snapped My Banjo String, Let's Just Talk

Scott Agnew is looking good, these days; whether that’s down to him drinking less is unclear, though it’s clearly a bit of a culture shock on the night of this review as it’s his first experience of doing a late Sunday night show at least several drinks behind most of his audience... 

Geoff Norcott: Conswervative

Geoff Norcott: Conswervative

Geoff Norcott, as he points out quite early on in his set, has not been seen on television. On the face of it, this is a real shame; he's photogenic enough, and has the kind of sharp-witted jokes that would go down well on screen... 

John Gordillo: Love Capitalism

John Gordillo: Love Capitalism

Despite the commanding tone of his show’s title, John Gordillo doesn’t actually come across as a fan of Capitalism as an economic and social system. Especially given the post-industrial-stage which Capitalism appears to have now reached, during this first quarter of the 21st century... 

The Amazing Bubble Man

The Amazing Bubble Man

Underbelly’s largest venue is the huge tent – shaped like an purple cow tipped onto its back – that this year has been transplanted into the western half of George Square Gardens... 

Doug Segal: I Can Make You Feel Good

Doug Segal: I Can Make You Feel Good

It’s apt, if a little predictable, that the pre-show music Doug Segal selects for his latest Fringe show is the classic James Brown track I Feel Good. On the plus side, that’s really about the only thing you can easily anticipate, as Segal – a warm, gentle giant of a Man in Tweed, easily mistakable for the lost son of Brian Blessed (minus the bellowing) – uses a combination of suggestion, psychology, misdirection and good old-fashioned showmanship to entertain and bamboozle his audience into genuinely feeling better about themselves... 

Samantha Pressdee: Sextremist

Samantha Pressdee: Sextremist

"Every woman is a riot," is roughly painted on the wall behind the stage area of this hidden-away New Town bar’s seldom used attic space. What we’re actually shown on a large TV screen is a group of women on a march who, after being stopped by the police, decide instead to do some impromptu sunbathing on Edinburgh's High Street setts... 

Andrew Doyle: Future Tense

Andrew Doyle: Future Tense

Andrew Doyle has now brought five solo shows to Edinburgh, each noticeably different in style and tone; even Doyle’s on-stage persona has shifted somewhat from one year to the next – although you could never accuse him of sliding all the way along the attitude spectrum to reach dewy-eyed optimism... 

Fraxi Queen of the Forest

Fraxi Queen of the Forest

Some stupid adults, having forgotten what it’s actually like to be children, are often surprised, disturbed and horrified by the serious issues lurking in the heart of the most successful children’s stories... 

Last Dream (on Earth)

Last Dream (on Earth)

While categorised in the Fringe programme under theatre, this work – created and directed by Kai Fischer with contributions from its cast – is certainly not a play, at least in the conventional sense... 

Dani Girl

Dani Girl

Trust me, Fringe magic still happens. Just when you least expect it, you stumble upon a rough little diamond of a show, lurking within the depths of an old church, even early in the day... 

Larry Dean: Farcissist

Larry Dean: Farcissist

Male stand up comedians from certain parts of Glasgow often face a significant impediment; they can’t help but sound like Billy Connolly, and so inevitably find themselves compared with “the Big Yin” – especially when performing in old rival city Edinburgh... 

Joe Jacobs: Orthodox Joe

Joe Jacobs: Orthodox Joe

“Orthodox”, according to the Concise Oxford English Dictionary, is an adjective that suggests “following or conforming to the traditional or generally accepted rules or beliefs of a religion, philosophy, or practice”; when specifically applied to people, it implies they are “not independent-minded; conventional and unoriginal”, “of the ordinary or usual type; normal”... 

Mikey and Addie

Mikey and Addie

Mikey and Addie is a story about two pre-teen kids who couldn't be more different – Mikey’s life is all about imagination and play, while Addie’s is focused on enforcing rules and regulations with a determination to be “the best playground monitor... 

Johnny Cochrane: Appeal

Johnny Cochrane: Appeal

When life gives you lemons, those with an optimistic, can-do attitude invariably suggest you make lemonade. Bright-eyed, eager-to-please Johnny Cochrane certainly embodies this positive approach to life, not least by capitalising on how his name sounds the same as O J Simpson’s famous lawyer Jonnie Cochran... 

The Hairy Maclary & Friends Show

The Hairy Maclary & Friends Show

Making a musical out of poetic animal stories aimed at children is nothing new but, while Andrew Lloyd Webber opted to turn T S Eliot’s Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats into the somewhat plot-free, dance and song-dominated Cats, Matthew Brown has instead lifted the simple adventures of a scruffy long-haired dog and his pals into a brilliantly clear, constantly engaging show which, despite its hour-long running time, manages to incorporate the main plots of six of Lynley Dodd’s iconic children’s books... 

Tales From The Hanging Captain

Tales From The Hanging Captain

If theatre is all about holding a mirror up to ourselves, then Tales From the Hanging Captain certainly makes the grade – it's the first performance piece arising from the three-year Leith Moves project which, thanks to Heritage Lottery Fund support, aims to explore the history of the Port of Leith (officially part of Edinburgh since only 1920) and share it – through a mixture of theatrical and community arts projects – with the people who now live in the area... 

The Wee One

The Wee One

The Wee One starts with a scenario familiar enough from numerous television sitcoms – a couple well into middle-age who appear to be stuck with an adult child who has failed to fly the nest... 

What Now?

What Now?

There’s a definite shift in the second play in this double bill from Edinburgh-based theatre company Strange Town. This time round playwright Alan Gordon has worked with some of the company’s oldest, most experienced performers; surely this explains why the focus has moved on from the school days seen in What Next? to the heady delights of a pre-university/pre-adulthood gap year trip... 

What Next?

What Next?

Strange Town is an Edinburgh-based company which offers opportunities for young people between the ages of five and 25 to fulfil their creative potential though drama and performance... 

Fluff – A Story of Lost Toys

Fluff – A Story of Lost Toys

There’s a simple idea at the heart of Australian company cre8ion’s show Fluff; rescuing and giving a new home to lost and abandoned toys. It’s wrapped up in a brightly-coloured Play-School-esque world of animal-shaped lamps and toy boxes... 

The Great Illusionist

The Great Illusionist

Part of the attraction of seeing magic tricks performed well – beyond the sheer spectacle – is trying to work out how they’re done. So The Great Illusionist, from Dutch company Het Filial theatermakers, initially draws us in by allegedly showing us “behind the scenes” of a magic show, albeit it with the unexpected sight of a magician’s white rabbit sitting on a dressing room table, carefully completing its make-up... 

Broken Dreams

Broken Dreams

“The here and the now is wow!” we’re told at the start of Broken Dreams. Yet, while it’s often suggested (not least in child-friendly theatre) that there are genuine benefits in reclaiming a child-like joy of “living in the moment”, this somewhat bizarre, intentionally shambolic and ultimately thought-provoking show from Belgian companies Kopergietery and Mambocito Mio suggests that doing so while ignoring our own pasts is ultimately a recipe for unhappiness... 

Walden

Walden

On 4th July 1845 – Independence Day, suitably enough – the young Henry David Thoreau went into the woods at Walden Pond, near the town of Concord, Massachusetts, and lived there for two years, two months and two days... 

The Story of the Little Gentleman

The Story of the Little Gentleman

The physical core of the The Little Gentleman is a large wooden crate, addressed to the show’s venue, which is slowly revealed to include numerous small doors and openings from which unexpected balloons, dusters and a small cup of coffee initially appear... 

Traces

Traces

Traces is a theatre show with no obviously clear-cut beginning or end; if there’s a start at all, it might be when the two principal performers – Marko Werner and Michael Lurse of Berlin-based Helios Theater – walk among the waiting audience of children and adults outside the studio space, gaining our attention with the chime of a bell, then silently interacting with some of the younger children – making small patterns in sand on the table-tops, dropping a trail of small scraps of paper, or drawing chalk outlines round people’s feet on the floor... 

Constellations

Constellations

Sometimes words feel unworthy of the task when it comes to describing and reviewing a performance, especially a dance-piece as vibrant, colourful and joyous as this. Until direct mind-transfer is invented, however, we’re stuck with words… so here we go!Aracaladanza are a Spanish contemporary dance company which specialises in show for younger audiences and their families... 

Tales of a Grandson

Tales of a Grandson

There is much more to history than just learning dates and facts. Actually, that’s just learning dates and facts; history is about putting those dates and facts into some kind of story, albeit sprinkled with a good dose of “perhaps”, “maybe”, and “possibly” when trying to work out what may have happened thousands of years ago... 

Thon Man Molière

Thon Man Molière

Never, ever underestimate the stupidity of the rich and powerful; that’s certainly one of the obvious lessons you can get from Liz Lochhead’s brilliantly funny take on the scandalous life and times of 17th century French playwright Jean-Baptiste Poquelin de Molière... 

George Egg: Anarchist Cook

George Egg: Anarchist Cook

Touring stand-up George Egg has spent – and, presumably, continues to spend – a lot of his life in hotels the length and breadth of the UK. As a result he has quite understandably developed a genuine dislike of what he considers to be over-priced, under-whelming hotel food... 

Living Like a Moth

Living Like a Moth

There are some incredible strengths in this latest production from Edinburgh’s most inspiring new theatre company. The cast are really good: James Boal (Mr N Pattie) offers a layered portrayal of masculine vulnerability, well matched by the pleasing sweetness of Kate Foley-Scott’s red-cheeked Ms Runes; Rosie Milner is the personification of cool and dismissive arrogance as Ms C Rotum, while Lara Wauchope’s focused vitality ensures she’s the vital driving motor for the whole production... 

Role Shift

Role Shift

Glasgow-based Birds of Paradise Theatre Company continues to lead the way in producing theatre that’s fully accessible to people with physical and/or sensory impairments, both as creators and audiences... 

Dirty Dusting

Dirty Dusting

I must admit to feeling a tad confused after experiencing Dirty Dusting. Had I just watched a bold, empowering piece of feminist theatre, a searing indictment of ageism in the 21st century, or a comedy which felt like it had been written in the 1970s? Or, indeed, all three? Perhaps my confusion was partly down to the audience; predominantly made up of women aged between 35 and 60, there was a definite Hens’ Night “We’re here to enjoy ourselves, whatever happens” vibe, even before The Cure's “Friday I’m in Love” launched proceedings... 

Avenue Q

Avenue Q

All theatre requires some degree of “suspension of disbelief”. Avenue Q’s biggest “ask” of audiences isn’t just to accept that a majority of the show’s characters are puppets; it’s that these puppets’ operators are clearly visible beside them on stage... 

Gods Are Fallen And All Safety Gone

Gods Are Fallen And All Safety Gone

During the 2008 Spring Season of “A Play, A Pie and A Pint” at Glasgow’s Òran Mór, writer and director Selma Dimitrijevic presented audiences with a delicate, poignant exploration of the complex emotional dance between a mother and a daughter, not least the “panic desolation” which affects most of us when we realise that our parents “do not always have divine intelligence, that their judgements are not always wise, their thinking true” – what John Steinbeck described as the “fall of gods” in East of Eden, a line from which also provided Dimitrijevic with her title... 

Second Hand

Second Hand

It’s not immediately obvious where Second Hand is located; Jonathan Scott’s set for this latest production in the Spring 2016 season of “A Play, a Pie and a Pint”, at Glasgow’s Òran Mór, feels like a bedsit – cramped, dull and worn round the edges... 

This Restless House

This Restless House

Theatrical serendipity currently means that, after some masculine brutality set during the latter stages of the ancient siege of Troy (in the Royal Lyceum’s new adaptation of Homer’s Iliad), a determined audience member need travel just an hour or so west to the Citizens Theatre to find out what happened next to at least some of the victors when they returned home... 

The Iliad

The Iliad

It says something about us as a species that one of our oldest myths, crystallised in the form of Homer’s epic poem Iliad, is about war – specifically the bloody climax of the Greek’s 10 year siege of the city of Troy... 

Mary Barnes

Mary Barnes

As a playwright, David Edgar long ago sped past the number of plays written by Shakespeare, but it’s fair to say that – while often making a big impact at the time – not many of his works have since entered the national repertory... 

Right Now

Right Now

First lines are important; as attention grabbers, but also as indicators of what’s to come, tonally at least. In Chris Campbell’s translation of Catherine-Anne Toupin’s A Présent, we have the seemingly innocuous “Have you been up long?” asked of Ben (Sean Biggerstaff) by his wife Alice (Lyndsey Campbell)... 

Ring Road

Ring Road

Ring roads are not usually places you go to; they’re a means of avoiding congestion, of giving a wide berth to somewhere. Or something. All of which are apt metaphors for Anita Vettesse’s new play; a sharply written, energetically performed story of three relationships that collide in a nondescript hotel room, by the garage, just off the ring road... 

Neither God Nor Angel

Neither God Nor Angel

There’s are plenty of laughs in this imaginary conversation between King James VI of Scotland – preparing in March 1603 to make his stately progress south from the Palace of Holyroodhouse to Westminster and the English throne – and a gawky servant boy called William... 

Lost at Sea

Lost at Sea

On 10 January 1992, the container ship Ever Laurel, several days out from Hong Kong en route to Tacoma, Washington, hit a storm in the North Pacific Ocean. A dozen containers were washed overboard, one of which contained 28,800 “Friendly Floatee” children’s bath toys that came in the forms of red beavers, blue turtles, green frogs and yellow ducks... 

The Silent Treatment

The Silent Treatment

It has become traditional for Lung Ha Theatre Company – Scotland’s principal theatre group for people with learning disabilities – to present at least one large show every year that gives a role of some importance to every member of the ensemble... 

Uncanny Valley

Uncanny Valley

In the near-century since Czech writer Karel Capek first gave us the word “robot” (in his play R.U.R.) to describe a manufactured human being, robotics and artificial intelligence have stepped from the most cliched science fiction into the world around us... 

Little Red and the Wolf

Little Red and the Wolf

Most of us come to fairy tales – folk tales in general – courtesy of their so-called “traditional” retellings by Disney or the local panto. So praise be to Dundee Rep and Noisemaker for offering a positively contemporary and wonderfully life-affirming take on the story of Little Red Riding Hood... 

The Air That Carries The Weight

The Air That Carries The Weight

It is a tad ironic that, initially, the most overpowering element in this new show from Stellar Quines Theatre Company – established in 1993 to “celebrates the energy, experience and perspective of women” – is the work of the lone male listed in the show’s creative team... 

International Waters

International Waters

David Leddy’s apocalyptic fable International Waters certainly starts as it means to go on; loud and bold, with the memorable image of four gas-masked figures performing a tabletop fight to the death between Barbie dolls... 

An Evening with Phil Differ

An Evening with Phil Differ

Phil Differ is not someone you’d immediately recognise. Certainly Joan Collins didn’t, back in the day, assuming that – given he was standing next to Robbie Coltrane at some BAFTA ceremony in the 1980s – he just must be Billy Connolly... 

Rapid Departure

Rapid Departure

Most theatre audiences have an anonymous – some might even suggest voyeuristic – role, viewing the action on stage from the safety of a darkened auditorium. Not so with this latest touring production by Moray-based Right Lines Productions... 

For the Love of Cousins

For the Love of Cousins

In one sense this latest production from Edinburgh-based Blazing Hyena Theatre Company is nothing more than a theatrical game in which writer Jack Elliot creates a succession of clearly outlined characters and throws them one by one into the pressure cooker of a single room to see how they bounce off each other... 

Iphigenia In Splott

Iphigenia In Splott

In Greek mythology, princess Iphigenia is the eldest daughter of King Agamemnon, sacrificed to the goddess Artemis in order to allow her father’s warships to sail off to Troy. Admittedly, some versions include a last-minute rescue by Artemis herself, but Iphigenia symbolises a young woman sacrificed for the supposed greater good of her community... 

King Lear

King Lear

At the risk of sounding ageist, an immediate concern with any student theatre company taking on Shakespeare’s tragedy of tragedies, King Lear, is that it is in many respects a play about old age... 

The Destroyed Room

The Destroyed Room

With typical modesty (not), Glasgow-based Vanishing Point describe themselves as “Scotland’s foremost artist-led independent theatre company, internationally recognised and acclaimed for its distinctive, ground-breaking and visionary work”... 

Witness for the Prosecution

Witness for the Prosecution

Arguably, the most important part of any Agatha Christie play doesn’t happen on the stage at all; it takes place in the rest of the theatre during the interval, when there’s plenty of fun to be had eavesdropping on an audience’s theories about the murder... 

Purposeless Movements

Purposeless Movements

There’s a beautiful symmetry to this new production from Glasgow-based Birds of Paradise Theatre Company; the start and end deliberately remind us that the four disabled men on stage are professional actors... 

At the Mountains of Madness

At the Mountains of Madness

I’ve long been a fan of Howard Phillips Lovecraft’s At the Mountains of Madness, in which an Antarctica exhibition uncovers the still-living legacy of a previously unknown non-terrestrial civilisation... 

Village Pub Theatre LGBT Innovators 2

Village Pub Theatre LGBT Innovators 2

The Village Pub Theatre’s second evening of short new dramas at the Traverse, in celebration of LGBT History Month, came with a wonderfully louche vibe, thanks to the easy MC-ing style of Miss Annabel Sings (and, yes, she does) of Edinburgh-based Dive Cabaret... 

Village Pub Theatre LGBT Innovators 1

Village Pub Theatre LGBT Innovators 1

The playwrights, directors, and actors who constitute the loose confederation that is the Village Pub Theatre once again moved in to the more upmarket, city central Traverse Theatre café-bar for this first of two nights of new short dramas – performed scripts-in-hand – celebrating LGBT History Month... 

The Crucible

The Crucible

In the face of something terrible, we can either laugh or cry. For the audience watching John Dove’s new production of Arthur Miller’s The Crucible, the apparent choice is – more often than not – to laugh... 

My Name is Saoirse

My Name is Saoirse

Outside of the almost factory-like default setting of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe’s one hour time-slot (long-since exported around the world), it actually feels somewhat odd to leave an Edinburgh theatre space after slightly less than 60 minutes... 

Cock

Cock

In the run-up to Mike Bartlett’s play Cock opening at the Tron Theatre, a lot of people – myself included – clearly couldn’t help have some innocent adolescent fun with its potentially rude-sounding title... 

Blood Brothers

Blood Brothers

All theatre requires a certain suspension of disbelief, musical theatre even more so. Yet ironically, nearly 30 years on from its original production, the thing that continues to initially trip me up about Willy Russell's Blood Brothers is the apparently appalling state of post-natal health and social care in 1960s’ Liverpool... 

Endgame

Endgame

“Finished, it’s finished, nearly finished, it must be nearly finished.” Not, the words you generally expect to hear at the start of a play, but arguably the first proof of the dark, gallows humour which Samuel Beckett’s “a play in one act” provides – although it’s fair to say that on the occasion Chris Gascoyne, as the put-upon servant Clov, has already engendered quite a few laughs before he first speaks, thanks to his unbalanced, heavy-footed lumbering across the stage, and his gratuitously repetitive use of a stepladder to reach and pull back the curtains from the small windows above the action... 

A Murder is Announced

A Murder is Announced

Coming to a “classic” Agatha Christie whodunnit after a full day’s binging on the latest series of the BBC’s Silent Witness – oh, the life of a reviewer! – is, frankly, a culture shock... 

CauseWay

CauseWay

“A dastardly attempt was made in the early hours of yesterday morning by suffragists to fire and blow up Burns’s Cottage, Alloway, the birthplace of the national poet,” reported the Glasgow Herald on 9 July 1914... 

The Weir

The Weir

If there’s one moment in this new production of Conor McPherson’s The Weir that encapsulates the quality of its cast and director, it’s towards the close when a moment of genuine emotional tension is deliberately punctured by what, in other hands, could be nothing more than a crass joke... 

Snow White & The Seven Dwarfs

Snow White & The Seven Dwarfs

The Glasgow King’s Theatre panto, which last year marked its half century, is a much-loved institution in the city. Yet it’s at real risk of being overtaken by the numerous other shows currently flourishing on and around the Clyde... 

Aladdin

Aladdin

Strange Town is a theatre company based in Edinburgh which aims to “enable young people to fulfil their creative potential”, by providing five to 25 year olds with the opportunity to participate in the creation of new theatre... 

Tracks of the Winter Bear

Tracks of the Winter Bear

At a time of year when most theatres across the land are bursting with colour, raucous laughter and the panto spirit, it’s typical of Edinburgh’s Traverse Theatre, long-established as the Scottish capital’s home of new writing, to instead present a pair of one-act plays in which winter is a time to withdraw from the world and hibernate, a half-way-through-the-dark time best slept through... 

James Plays Playwright Rona Munro does Christmas at the Traverse

James Plays Playwright Rona Munro does Christmas at the Traverse

Rona Munro, writer of the three James Plays – critically acclaimed and popular with audiences at the 2014 Edinburgh International Festival – has a new collaboration with Stephen Greenhorn at the Traverse Theatre this December... 

Rapunzel

Rapunzel

Like most of Scotland’s producing theatres, the Citizens Theatre does not, as a matter of principle, “do” panto. Yet magic acorns, audience participation and a plot-significant singalong are still on the menu this Festive season thanks to this impressive and at-times genuinely unnerving presentation of the story of Rapunzel by playwright Annie Siddons, directed by Lu Kemp... 

A Belter of a Cinderella Story

A Belter of a Cinderella Story

When it comes to retelling Cinderella, two of the three most important roles in terms of plot and audience participation are Cinders’ best pal Buttons and her Fairy Godmother. Thankfully, this new show from Insideout Productions is blessed with a belter of a loveable Buttons, Dario Cacioppo, and a heart-of-gold Weegie “Fairy G Mother”, aka Jamie McKillop... 

Ali Bawbag and the Four Tealeafs

Ali Bawbag and the Four Tealeafs

Pantomime is arguably the most self-aware and self-mocking of theatrical forms, with the most successful shows seeing cast and audience mutually shattering any metaphorical fourth wall with what was once called gay abandon... 

Cinderella

Cinderella

“Smells like Seton Sands” is precisely the kind of line you expect in a pantomime at The Brunton theatre in Musselburgh; it’s hooked on local rivalries, and grounds the ubiquitous fairytale of Cinderella in a somewhat Technicolor™ version of the East Lothian town... 

To Breathe

To Breathe

To Breathe starts with its six performers standing in a circle, staring at the audience, just breathing. Physically, they’re all quite different – five young women of various ethnic backgrounds and physicalities, and the lone muscular maleness provided by Lewis McDonald... 

One, Two, Three, Yippee

One, Two, Three, Yippee

There is an intrinsic roughness to this latest production from Edinburgh-based Blazing Hyena productions: performed "in the round" in a student bar within city's Art College, the set is minimal while the only exit off stage is through the door from the building's vestibule... 

The Bruce in Ireland

The Bruce in Ireland

“A truce is a truce, but war is war,” we’re told early on in Ben Blow’s history play focusing on the all-too-forgotten consequences of Robert the Bruce’s victory over the English army at Bannockburn... 

Cagebirds

Cagebirds

Leicester-born David Campton, who died in in 2006, was a prolific British dramatist, especially adept at writing thought-provoking one act plays that make us laugh as much as we might shiver in fear... 

The Smallest Show on Earth

The Smallest Show on Earth

“Juke-box musicals”, which essentially use existing songs as their musical score, may strike you as a relatively modern theatrical phenomena – think Mamma Mia! or We Will Rock You, which premiered in 1999 and 2002 respectively – but the idea goes back much further... 

Hidden

Hidden

One of the strengths of the Royal Lyceum Theatre Company during the last half-century has been its ongoing commitment to providing quality drama education and performance opportunities for generations of children from Edinburgh and beyond... 

Panopticon

Panopticon

Panopticon, written and directed by second year University of Edinburgh student Liam Rees, is set in a women’s prison, into which well-meaning dramatist Julia comes to run a series of workshops involving six selected inmates... 

Loserville

Loserville

“One day every company will fear a geek in a garage,” we’re told early on in Elliot Davis and James Bourne’s Loserville. This show’s been described as “a Grease for the 21st century”, albeit with its typical US High School tale – of rich, beautiful and cool kids who humiliate the clever, nerdy uncool kids – shifted to 1971... 

Lord of the Flies

Lord of the Flies

The first thing that strikes you about this new stage adaptation of William Golding’s classic dystopian novel is Jon Bausor’s astounding set: the huge section of a passenger jet, shorn in half and dropped onto a jungle-edged beach that extends right to the front row of the audience... 

Lot and his God

Lot and his God

“I must learn to keep my mouth shut when there’s an angel in the room.” So says Lot in Howard Barker’s sexually-charged reimagining of the Old Testament tale of the last days of Sodom... 

Tribes

Tribes

The family at the heart of Nina Raine’s Tribes is liable, at least initially, to make you yearn for the exit. Parents Christopher and Beth are both writers; he a pedantic academic never short of a criticism, she working on her “marriage-breakdown detective novel... 

The MsFits: Fur Coat & Magic Knickers

The MsFits: Fur Coat & Magic Knickers

A criticism sometimes made about Edinburgh – especially by Glaswegians – is that, while the city appears sophisticated and morally upstanding, this is just a facade hiding a far more vulgar and immoral reality – that the Scottish capital is “all fur coat and nae knickers”... 

Waiting for Godot

Waiting for Godot

There are many good reasons for launching the celebratory 50th anniversary season of Edinburgh’s Royal Lyceum Theatre Company with a new production of Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot... 

The Cheviot, the Stag, and the Black, Black Oil

The Cheviot, the Stag, and the Black, Black Oil

Arguably the most significant work of new theatre from “north of the border” in recent years is the National Theatre of Scotland’s Black Watch, an excellent example of inventive docu-drama and fourth-wall-breaking storytelling which justifiably garnered acclaim and numerous awards around the world... 

The Fallen Angel Show

The Fallen Angel Show

Vesper Walk describe themselves as a “quirky five to eight piece band performing art-pop music in a gothic style.” Founders and core performers Catherine Cowan and Lisa-Marie Baker have brought their latest project to Edinburgh, a narrative sequence of their songs which tells the modern fairy tale of a young pianist called Sarah, who is taken from a world where “beauty is known as kindness” to an appearance-fixated Hollywood in which beauty is simply “something to be bought and sold”... 

Edmund the Learned Pig

Edmund the Learned Pig

Barry Bonaparte’s Travelling Circus is in trouble. Its last surviving animals – the magician’s doves – have ended up in a pie. The memory man is repeatedly forgetting how to find his way home... 

The Misfit Analysis

The Misfit Analysis

Theatre is, for the most part, about telling stories with the aids of actors, scenery and props; in contrast, stand-up comedy is usually about a single person sharing their perspective of the world – or at least giving us a heightened version of that perspective... 

Donald Does Dusty

Donald Does Dusty

Donald Torr was, apparently, the best big brother any little girl could have, especially growing up on the outskirts of 1960s’ Aberdeen. Unlike the other slightly older children on their street, Donald didn’t simply ignore and endure the young Diane Torr; conspiratorially, he relished her presence, sensing a kindred spirit... 

Tom Neenan: The Andromeda Paradox

Tom Neenan: The Andromeda Paradox

Following last year’s generally well-received comic homage to the Edwardian Ghost Story (The Haunting of Lopham House), writer and performer Tom Neenan shifts his genre gaze forwards to 1950s British drama and, in particular, the grandfather of television Science Fiction heroes – Professor Bernard Quatermass and his British Experimental Rocket Group... 

Dead Letter Office

Dead Letter Office

Where do letters and parcels go, when – because of an incomplete address, or lack of forwarding address – they can’t be delivered? According to Catherine Expósito and Marli Siu, at least some end up being stored in the titular Dead Letter Office located on a remote, difficult-to-reach Scottish island, where James (with a layered performance from Blair Kincaid) has come in search of a letter sent by his mother... 

Rhymes with Orange

Rhymes with Orange

Every successful show needs a Unique Selling Point – or, put simply, a gimmick. Regular London-based event Rhymes with Orange – “a monthly spoken word night ... a place for stuck creatives and seasoned professionals to get on stage and show their poetic skills in front of a noisy, energetic & supportive audience”, it says on their website – hands out small, used orange juice bottles containing some granules – Salt? Rice? It was too dark to see clearly – which audience members are encouraged to shake noisily to show their appreciation... 

Jean-Luc Picard and Me

Jean-Luc Picard and Me

Recent cinematic reboots notwithstanding, there’s arguably at least one generation of television viewers for whom Star Trek’s starship captain of choice is not James Tiberius Kirk, but rather the noble, philosophical Frenchman Jean-Luc Picard, played for seven seasons and four feature films by Sir Patrick Stewart... 

Wendy Hoose by Johnny McKnight

Wendy Hoose by Johnny McKnight

Glasgow-based Birds of Paradise Theatre Company is arguably Scotland’s most innovative and ground-breaking theatre company when it comes to exploring disability and producing fully-integrated performances... 

Matt Abbott is Skint and Demoralised

Matt Abbott is Skint and Demoralised

Matt Abbott admits that poetry is a hard sell on the Fringe, impossible to talk about without coming across as pretentious – which may well explain why one of his bespoke marketing strategies involves offering free meat pies to those who tweet positively about his show... 

Village Pub Theatre

Village Pub Theatre

For those of you not lucky enough to live in Edinburgh all year round, Village Pub Theatre (VPT) is a regular “let’s put the show on here” brand of new theatre based in the function room of the Village Pub on South Fort Street, Leith... 

George and Co (the Solo Tour)

George and Co (the Solo Tour)

At first it’s almost as if George Dimarelos has chosen to counter any preconceptions about loud Australians by opting for the least dramatic stage entrance possible; he’s already positioned by the mic stand as his audience find their seats, saying hello to anyone he recognises from that day’s flyer distribution... 

God's Waiting Room

God's Waiting Room

Many religions insist that humanity was created in God’s image; others argue that, throughout history, the process has been the other way round. It’s certainly the latter case with University of Hull-based Z Theatre Company’s God’s Waiting Room: writer Matt Kennedy didn’t just get to play God at the keyboard; he plays the part on stage too – a weary, slovenly, stressed-out God who smokes too much and has relationship problems with his eternal teenager son Jesus (a convincingly wearisome Molly Robinson)... 

CELL

CELL

There is something inherently heartbreaking about the small metal-framed chair standing centre-stage as the audience comes in, but no more so than when one of the show’s co-devisers, Matthew Lloyd, walks on stage carrying the bald, spectacle-wearing puppet that becomes the central focus of the show... 

Scaramouche Jones

Scaramouche Jones

‘God, what a day’ is the first thing said to us by Scaramouche Jones, the red-nosed, white-faced clown who – sensing the ghosts of an audience in his dressing room – decides to share the ‘epilogue of his life’... 

The Solid Life of Sugar Water

The Solid Life of Sugar Water

Graeae Theatre Company, according to the information sheet handed out before the start of the show, sees itself as ‘a force for change in world-class theatre – breaking down barriers, challenging preconceptions and boldly placing deaf and disabled artists centre stage’... 

Sweeney Todd

Sweeney Todd

Stephen Sondheim’s score for his self-described “black operetta” Sweeney Todd, The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, must rank among his most complex and challenging works, if only in terms of its musicality and orchestration... 

Block

Block

Block is a production that constantly surprises, though not always in ways that are comforting. Admittedly, it sets out its stall from the start, contrasting a villainous tough guy (Sam Sellicks-Chivers) with some gentle cabaret-style piano accompaniment... 

I Went To A Fabulous Party...

I Went To A Fabulous Party...

During the 2014 Edinburgh Fringe, What A Gay Play gained a certain amount of attention, given that its late-night scheduling and blatant use of the cast’s flesh on the flyers suggested some full-frontal male nudity... 

Trans Scripts

Trans Scripts

One of the challenges of reportage theatre – works in which the words and experiences of real people are edited and put into the words of actors – is to justify the process as the best means of communicating those experiences to a wider public... 

To Space

To Space

Dr Niamh Shaw is that relatively rare thing – a skilled and engaging stage performer who also happens to be a scientist and engineer, with both a degree and PhD to her name. Clearly, she’s keen on spreading a greater understanding of science and the wonderful universe around us, though always with what could be termed a dose of scientific realism: for example, pointing out that the more we study the universe, the more complicated it appears to become... 

Thief

Thief

Sailor – he had a real name once, but he believes “Sailor” suits him now – is a street hustler, thief and raconteur; the illegitimate son of a prostitute who has taken up his mother’s profession among the bars, dives and flop houses of the world... 

Pip Utton: Playing Maggie

Pip Utton: Playing Maggie

Margaret Thatcher was – still is, two years after her death – a divisive figure, loved and hated in equal measure. This aspect of her is a repeated theme in Pip Utton’s new show, in which he plays an actor who, in turn, is playing “the Iron Lady”... 

Thrill-Seeking Pianist WLTM Like-Minded Audience for NSA Fun and Good Times

Thrill-Seeking Pianist WLTM Like-Minded Audience for NSA Fun and Good Times

Some cabaret performers attempt to lull you into a false sense of security about what they do, but thankfully any audience finds out quickly enough what they’re going to get from that svelte and sophisticated gentleman about town, Mr Meredith... 

Tales from a Cabaret

Tales from a Cabaret

The Creative Martyrs, that white-faced Laurel and Hardy of existential cabaret terrorism, are not men to be trifled with, as some rather talkative front-row audience members discovered during this particular performance of Tales from a Cabaret... 

Doris, Dolly and the Dressing Room Divas

Doris, Dolly and the Dressing Room Divas

“Just go with the magic,” says one of the three singers on stage to a slightly reluctant compatriot. However, it’s as much an instruction to the audience, asking us to swap the chaotic delights of the Edinburgh Fringe for some gaudy Twilight Zone dressing room where echoes of Hollywood’s greatest female singers linger among the make-up and hair spray... 

Complex

Complex

A man is desperate for a job. Answering an online advert, he is surprised to discover that the interview will be carried out via video – now. This, despite him having no idea about what the job actually entails; the other person (who, because he’s wearing headphones, we never hear) repeatedly ignores the question or changes the subject... 

39 Steps by Patrick Barlow

39 Steps by Patrick Barlow

It’s fitting that, given how this is the centenary of its original publication by Edinburgh-based publisher Blackwood’s, that at least one version of John Buchan’s classic thriller The Thirty-Nine Steps has made it onto this year’s Fringe... 

May I Have the Bill Please? by Robin Mitchell

May I Have the Bill Please? by Robin Mitchell

Like every other animal on the planet, humans need to eat in order to survive, but arguably no other species has developed such complicated social etiquettes around the consumption of food... 

Choreographers Claire Cunningham and Ramesh Meyyappan talk Hieronymus Bosch and Madame Butterfly

Choreographers Claire Cunningham and Ramesh Meyyappan talk Hieronymus Bosch and Madame Butterfly

Acclaimed choreographers and performers Ramesh Meyyappan and Claire Cunningham bring two startling – and highly personal – shows to this year’s Edinburgh Festival Fringe. 

The Driver's Seat

The Driver's Seat

Described as “a metaphysical shocker” on its release in 1970, The Driver's Seat was apparently author Muriel Sparks’ favourite amongst her own stories, in part thanks to the clarity of its present-tense realisation... 

When The War Came Home

When The War Came Home

It’s not often that I’m asked back to see a show, let alone because those involved have openly taken on some of the points I made in my review!When the War Came Home is a joint project by Edinburgh’s Citadel Arts Group and the WEA Playwrights Workshop, looking at how the realities of the First World War eventually “came home” to the people of Edinburgh and Leith – through the deaths of fathers and sons, the return of physically and psychologically-wounded soldiers, and the bombs dropped on the city from a singular German Zeppelin... 

Spring Awakening

Spring Awakening

German dramatist Frank Wedekind’s play Frühlings Erwachen – written around 1891 but not performed until 1906 – deliberately kicked against sexually-oppressive fin de siècle Germany... 

Three Minute Interview: Dandy Darkly

Three Minute Interview: Dandy Darkly

New York City's "rapid-fire raconteur of sex and death" returns to Edinburgh with a brand new show, where it’s fair to say he’s decidedly Trigger Happy! 

Stand

Stand

“This is not just about me,” says one of the cast at the start and close of Chris Goode’s Stand. The six actors, sat on a line of stools, each on its own isolated platform, with their script on a stand in front, perform the words of six activists – or at least “people who act”... 

Yer Granny

Yer Granny

Having enjoyed a relatively carefree childhood and colourful teenage youth during the 1970s, I’m often still annoyed by the apparent cultural consensus which dismisses those years as “the decade that taste forgot”... 

Persevere

Persevere

Site-specific works can be accused of relying on their location to do the heavy-lifting, theatrically speaking. Certainly, there’s no doubt that much of the dramatic resonance of Persevere, a new promenade performance created by Active Inquiry’s Flashback Drama and the Strange Town Young Company, comes from the location in which it takes place... 

The Venetian Twins

The Venetian Twins

For some, he was “Italy’s Shakespeare”, “the Moliere of Venice”; yet it’s only relatively recently that British theatre audiences have warmed to work by 18th century Italian playwright Carlo Goldoni – specifically, his 1743 comedy The Servant of Two Masters, turned into West End gold as One Man, Two Guvnors, initially starring James Corden... 

No Nothing

No Nothing

Alan Spence is not the first to imagine a meeting between two famous people from different worlds, though there’s certainly a whiff of wishful thinking in this thoughtful, if a tad predictable bringing together of trade unionist Jimmy Reid – apparently the only “Communist” which moralistic commentator Malcolm Muggeridge would have trusted as Prime Minister – and the first Scottish National Poet, or Makar, of modern times, Edwin Morgan... 

Uisge-Beatha Gu Leòr / Whisky Galore

Uisge-Beatha Gu Leòr / Whisky Galore

On 5th February 1941, during heavy gales, the cargo ship SS Politician ran aground off the Island of Eriskay in the Outer Hebrides. All the crew were rescued by local whisky-starved islanders who, on hearing that the ship’s holdheld 28,000 cases of "the Water of Life", took it upon themselves to salvage as much whisky as possible before British Government officials arrived on the scene... 

Fools

Fools

Fools and their stories were the theme of this latest set of short plays, dramatic monologues and glorified sketches presented in rehearsed readings by the Village Pub Theatre team, under director Caitlin Skinner... 

The Woman in Black

The Woman in Black

Written very much in the tradition of the suspense-filled, atmospheric ghost stories by M R James, Susan Hill’s gothic novel, The Woman in Black, has been adapted numerous times since its publication in 1983 –the 2012 Hammer Films co-production, starring Daniel Radcliffe, even inspiring a somewhat maligned sequel... 

Boys

Boys

Even the greatest of parties end with the hangover of cleaning up afterwards. For the four “boys”living in this particular Edinburgh flat, however, the mess they face is as much emotional as physical... 

Broth

Broth

It’s fitting that, this Eastertide, a resurrection of sorts lies at the heart of this latest collaboration between Glasgow’s Òran Mór and Edinburgh’s Traverse theatre. Unlike the original, however, its consequences swing violently between the comic and the brutal, and seldom in a way that uses one to build on the other... 

Hedda Gabler

Hedda Gabler

Many of the world’s greatest Tragedies – Shakespeare’s in particular – are grounded on the character flaws of their titular characters: Hamlet, Othello, Macbeth, and so on... 

The Strange Case of Jekyll and Hyde

The Strange Case of Jekyll and Hyde

No less a figure than Inspector Rebus creator Ian Rankin once insisted that the only author to ever “nail” Edinburgh was Robert Louis Stevenson in his classic 1886 novella, Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde... 

The History Boys

The History Boys

The History Boys – at least according to the programme notes accompanying this latest tour – is “generally regarded as Alan Bennett’s masterpiece”. It certainly ranks among his most commercially successful works, with sold-out runs in the West End and on Broadway, an acclaimed film version (adapted by Bennett), numerous stage revivals around the world (including this latest UK tour, by Sell A Door Theatre Company), and apparent overwhelming public love, at least according to English Touring Theatre’s poll to find the “Nation’s Favourite Play”... 

Beating McEnroe

Beating McEnroe

Life was so much simpler, back in 1980. It was USA versus the USSR, BBC versus ITV, Odeon cinemas versus ABC. While, in the white-short world of professional tennis, there were just two ways of being a man... 

Edgar and Annabel

Edgar and Annabel

Only a clever or ignorant writer would deliberately choose to begin a play with that most egregious of sitcom clichés: “Hi Honey, I’m home.” So how to describe writer Sam Holcroft? Well, when the woman we see preparing food at the kitchen table turns to greet her apparent husband, the immediate puzzle is her surprise and horror... 

Chess - The Musical

Chess - The Musical

There’s one thing I hate about musical theatre, which is especially common with “amateur” productions – there’s seemingly no way of stopping audiences full of family and friends from concluding nigh on every scene, every song, with a burst of applause... 

Equus

Equus

There's something particularly appropriate about experiencing Peter Shaffer's Equus at the Bedlam Theatre. It is a play, after all, in which a psychologist attempts to treat a young man who has a pathological religious fascination with horses... 

The Judas Kiss

The Judas Kiss

At one point in the first act of The Judas Kiss, Oscar Wilde admits to always having had “a low opinion of what is called action. Action is something my mother brought me up to distrust... 

The Caucasian Chalk Circle

The Caucasian Chalk Circle

There’s rumbustious joy aplenty in this new adaptation of Bertolt Brecht’s infamous examination of legality and justice. Constantly entertaining and frequently enlightening, its only real downside is it being a two-hour-plus show which undoubtedly feels like a two-hour-plus show... 

Jekyll & Hyde

Jekyll & Hyde

Since its first publication in 1886, Robert Louis Stevenson’s Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde has been adapted for stage, cinema and television hundreds of times. Its popularity among adaptors is in part thanks to its innate flexibility; Stevenson ethically complex presentation of “dissociative identity disorder” has always left plenty of room for others to fill with their own social, political and cultural ideas... 

Fleabag

Fleabag

Unexpected pre-show choice of “Easy Listening” music notwithstanding, Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s Fleabag is an exciting theatrical ride, slipping from laugh-out-loud humour to the scary realities of modern living and of not being in control... 

Netting

Netting

They say that, while you can choose your friends, you can’t choose your family; even when you pick a partner, you have no say about the family that comes along with them.So, although the always-knitting Kitty has known Sylvia and Alison since they were young girls, she had no choice in them becoming “family” when they married her two sons... 

When The Rain Stops Falling

When The Rain Stops Falling

Those who don't know history, according to the Irish statesman Edmund Burke, are destined to repeat it, while the Bible insists more than once that the sins of the father will be passed on to his sons... 

Village Pub Theatre: Bill Murray Night

Village Pub Theatre: Bill Murray Night

American film actor and comedian Bill Murray allegedly fields offers of work via a voice mailbox which, according to Wikipedia, “he checks infrequently”. This endearingly bizarre approach provides both the start and close of the latest collection of short performance pieces presented by the Village Pub Theatre... 

The Real Inspector Hound

The Real Inspector Hound

When reviewing a play – especially one verging on farce – where two of the main characters are professional theatre critics, it’s hard not to become a tiny bit defensive of the reviewers lot... 

Butterfly

Butterfly

Men – especially working class men from the West of Scotland – are not known for expressing their emotions, instead hiding behind either brutish silence or dry humour. Davie is very much in the latter camp, even taking supposed insults as compliments... 

Filter's Macbeth

Filter's Macbeth

The “Scottish Play” is among Shakespeare’s shortest, but for critically acclaimed theatre company Filter to edit it down to barely more than 90 minutes, without missing any significant narrative points, is certainly impressive... 

Faith Healer

Faith Healer

Reality and performance lie at the heart of this solid production of Irish playwright Brian Friel’s Faith Healer. Certainly, they’re not the most comfortable of bedfellows, as evident in the four –sometimes supportive, more often conflicting – monologues which outline the 20-odd year career of titular faith healer Francis Hardy, his “mistress”(or wife, depending on whom you believe) Grace, and his manager and friend Teddy... 

When The War Came Home

When The War Came Home

The First World War is often described as the first “total war”, that is involving the entire population, at home as well as on the battlefield. This new, multi-writer work attempts to bring this aspect home, not least by specifically focusing on the experiences of Edinburgh’s inhabitants... 

Slope

Slope

There’s a moment in Pamela Carter’s play Slope when the 19th century French poet Paul Verlaine, ensconced in a seedy London flat with his young lover Arthur Rimbaud, fears that they’re being watched... 

Cardinal Sinne

Cardinal Sinne

There’s a strong whiff of Farce about Cardinal Sinne from the off; only that particular genre, after all, requires quite so many doors in a set—in this case three interior doors, one curtained-off recess and a pair of glass patio doors giving access to an unseen garden... 

Bondagers

Bondagers

“Nobody thought to save any of the roots,” says Sara towards the end of The Bondagers. She’s one of the six single women who we follow through a year’s hard graft on a 19th century Scottish farm, hired (or “bonded”) to labour in the fields of the great agricultural estates... 

The Gamblers

The Gamblers

Nikoli Gogol's The Gamblers (premiered in 1843) is relatively rarely-performed, at least in comparison with the writer's most famous work, The Government Inspector. Perhaps the latter is more popular because of its broad satirical brushstrokes, and the writer’s decision to ensure his audience is completely in on the deception at its heart... 

Glasgow: Arches LIVE festival to present self-help theme this October

Glasgow: Arches LIVE festival to present self-help theme this October

Arches LIVE, the annual festival of new performances and artwork by some of Scotland’s most exciting creative talent returns to Glasgow’s The Arches this October. 

Kill Johnny Glendenning

Kill Johnny Glendenning

Kill Johnny Glendenning is a play of two halves; each a brutally funny, finely-tuned treatise on the various overlapping hierarchies of power and violence that, while shaping our lives, can nevertheless be overturned unexpectedly... 

James III: The True Mirror

James III: The True Mirror

If we’re to believe Rona Munro, the third James Stewart to rule Scotland was the country’s answer to England’s Edward II; a monarch who, while undoubtedly a man of culture and learning, lacked any political sense and too often let his passions rule his head when it came to the men and women who received his grace, favour and loins... 

James II: Day of The Innocents

James II: Day of The Innocents

We don’t see one of the most important events in the life of James II, just its immediate consequences; a hurried, chaotic, almost dream-like explosion of fear and movement following the assassination of his father, James I, and his capture by the new regime... 

James I: The Key Will Keep The Lock

James I: The Key Will Keep The Lock

This trinity of new plays by Scottish playwright Rona Munro are a timely study of nationhood, identity and the consequences of political actions. They’re also surprisingly educational, even to most Scots who know little more about these first three Stewart monarchs than anyone else in the UK... 

1984

1984

When a work of fiction becomes so iconic a cultural “classic” that it’s known and understood by people who have never read it, it’s unsurprising that a few inaccuracies creep in... 

The Glass Menagerie

The Glass Menagerie

There are five characters in Tennessee William’s breakthrough “memory play” The Glass Menagerie. One is notable only by his absence; the husband and father who abandoned his wife and two children some 16 years earlier, a “telephone man who fell in love with long-distance”... 

3,000 Trees: The Death of Mr William MacRae

3,000 Trees: The Death of Mr William MacRae

Sometimes, we can miss what’s important. A few audience members in front of me were still sufficiently engrossed in their pre-show conversation to miss the muted sound of two gunshots that signals the start of the play... 

David Kay

David Kay

Successful stand-ups usually have a memorable on-stage persona; it may be manic, taciturn or just ‘nice’, but it’s what they’re remembered for. David Kay comes across as someone who’s fundamentally bashful; his hand nervously fingering the microphone stand, his gaze falling more often on the floor than at the audience in front of him... 

merry christmas, Ms Meadows

merry christmas, Ms Meadows

During the last few years, the Belarus Free Theatre company has built a strong reputation in issue-based theatre, utilising a wide range of performance techniques to frame and express their chosen subjects in a forceful, memorable manner... 

Kiss Me Honey, Honey!

Kiss Me Honey, Honey!

Kiss Me Honey Honey! appears to be attracting a decidedly local crowd of middle-aged women, at least if this performance is anything to go by. That’s hardly surprising; its two stars, Andy Gray and Grant Stott — both “men of a certain age” — have been solid fixtures of the King’s Theatre Edinburgh panto for what feels like generations... 

3,000 Trees by George Gunn

3,000 Trees by George Gunn

“When a man starts a war against the State, it’s a war he cannot win,” says our nominal hero Willie McKay at the point in this play when the writer presumes we will sympathise with him most... 

Factor 9

Factor 9

If this show was a stick of rock, it would have “Anger” written all the way through it in blood red: specifically anger at the medical, commercial and political establishments in both the US and UK which, during the 1980s, allowed thousands of haemophiliacs to be infected with Hepatitis C and/or HIV – with horrendous consequences for themselves, their partners, and their families... 

Gary Little: The Thing Is

Gary Little: The Thing Is

Gary Little isn’t. Little, that is. He’s big; tall, muscular, with not an unshaved hair on his scalp. Looking at him you have absolutely no doubt that he’s a man who can take care of himself, and that’s even before you hear the strong Glaswegian accent... 

The Pure, the Dead and the Brilliant

The Pure, the Dead and the Brilliant

The Fringe’s late-summer position in the calendar means that few of those who visit the Scottish capital ever experience one particular form of indigenous theatre — pantomime... 

The Pitiless Storm

The Pitiless Storm

For all its claims of being a one-man show, the stage can get pretty crowded during The Pitiless Storm.David Hayman plays Bob Cunningham, a life-long West of Scotland socialist, Union man and Unionist — “fighting a class war, not a nationalist one,” as he puts it — who, on the eve of being presented with the Order of the British Empire, faces an emotional crisis of belief and self-confidence which sees him ultimately complete what’s now referred to in pro-Scottish Independence circles as “the journey to Yes”... 

Zombie Science: Brain of the Dead

Zombie Science: Brain of the Dead

Growing up as a kid in the 1970s, my first experiences of academic lectures were either snatches of TV programmes aimed at those studying courses with the Open University (thankfully, all that now seems to be done by DVD or online) or the annual Christmas Lectures broadcast from the Royal Institution... 

Zombie Science: Worst Case Scenario

Zombie Science: Worst Case Scenario

“There has not been a single incidence of Zombieism anywhere in the world to date,” according to Doctor Austin of the Zombie Institute for Theoretical Studies, but “this doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be prepared – just in case... 

Tom Neenan: The Haunting at Lopham House

Tom Neenan: The Haunting at Lopham House

“What is it that frightens you?” Tom Neenan asks at the start of this one-man pastiche of an Edwardian ghost story. He introduces himself as a young widower by the name of Leopold Clark, who thinks of himself as a rational man and is ready (for both intellectual and financial reasons) to take on the challenge of investigating the apparently haunted Lopham House in Norfolk on behalf of its new owner, the ridiculously wealthy Lord Franklyn... 

Quentin Crisp: Naked Hope

Quentin Crisp: Naked Hope

This excellent one-man show from Mark Farrelly portrays the transformation of Denis Charles Pratt, born in suburbia, into Quentin Crisp. It aims to share his philosophy of finding happiness through living in the here and now... 

The Beta Males Sessions: Richard and The Storybeast

The Beta Males Sessions: Richard and The Storybeast

In addition to their main show at the Pleasance, the writer-performer foursome known as the Beta Males have split into pairs to do something a bit different in the afternoon. On this occasion, we’re talking the pairing of Richard “I’m a nice person” Soames with the ebullient creature of narrative peculiarities that is generally known as the Storybeast–but also, apparently answers to the name of John Henry Falle... 

Tim Renkow: At Least Hell Has Ramps

Tim Renkow: At Least Hell Has Ramps

Tim Renkow has cerebral palsy. Understandably, the condition forms a significant part of his comedy, not just in terms of how he appears and moves on stage, but also his attitude to life, and how he responds to the often patronising ways in which non-disabled people react to him... 

Stephen Bailey: Neon Heart

Stephen Bailey: Neon Heart

Stephen Bailey—all silver dickie bow tie, floral grey suit and camp demeanour—is clearly in love with love and romance. It’s why his show is called Neon Heart, for one thing; and why the occasional warm-up guy for Loose Women audiences is not quite so good when it comes to breaking up with and forgiving his ex-boyfriends... 

Des Clarke: The Trouble with Being Des

Des Clarke: The Trouble with Being Des

The Trouble with Being Des, according to Des Clarke, is that he has an inner demon man child inside him which makes him “weird”—not least within the context of growing up in a high-rise flat in Glasgow’s notorious Gorbals district—and liable to say the wrong thing... 

Four Screws Loose in The Big Screw Up

Four Screws Loose in The Big Screw Up

“Are you ready to party?!” blares the PA at the start of the show and the audience roars in the agreement. Yes, four man comedy team Four Screws Loose definitely have developed a Fringe following, as demonstrated by their sold-out performances... 

God's Own Country

God's Own Country

“Gossip,” we’re told, “travels fast in a valley.” There’s certainly plenty of gossip about lanky farmer’s son Sam Marsdyke, as he’s the first to admit to us. It’s only as his tale progresses that we, as an audience, begin to realise that some of that local chit-chat might well be justified... 

18b

18b

Regulation 18b of the Defence (General) Regulations 1939 is a now little-remembered piece of legislation which came into force just before the outbreak of the Second World War. It enabled the British Government to imprison, without trial, “any person to be of hostile origin or associations or to have been recently concerned in acts prejudicial to the public safety or the defence of the realm... 

Playdough Face

Playdough Face

Scheduling is an often overlooked aspect of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, not least by venues attempting to squeeze in as many popular shows as possible. However, unlike terrestrial television channels—where items must be nominally matched against the potential live audience—other factors clearly influence the decisions being made—such as fame, infamy or a promoter at the top of their game... 

Laurence Clark: Moments of Instant Regret

Laurence Clark: Moments of Instant Regret

We all have them, if we’re honest; those moments in our lives where we’ve reacted without thinking and “put our foot in it”, slipping from innocent victim to outright offender in the eyes of society (or at least all the people around us)... 

Andrew Doyle: Zero Tolerance

Andrew Doyle: Zero Tolerance

During the last few years, Andrew Doyle has made a name for himself as a frequently hilarious, sharply intelligent, and fearless comedian, ready to push his audiences’ tolerance of “bad taste” to the limit... 

Scott Capurro Islamohomophobia: Reloaded

Scott Capurro Islamohomophobia: Reloaded

Age hasn’t softened Scott Capurro; nor, it has to be said, has marriage. That said, you do get the sense that a part of him still can’t quite believe that, as an openly gay man, that bastion of civilisation is now a legal option for him—not just in the UK (well, technically England; Scotland’s legislation will not really kick in till early next year, fact fans) but in parts of the US too... 

Old Folks Telling Jokes

Old Folks Telling Jokes

As a card-carrying, paid-up member of the Grumpy Old Men squad, I occasionally look at all those fresh-faced stand-ups staring out from the posters plastered across the city like Seborrheic Eczema each August and wonder… What the hell can those kids possibly know about anything?Yes, it’s ageist; needing a fire extinguisher next to your birthday cake doesn’t automatically imply the wisdom and understanding on which all great stand-up is rooted... 

Casting the Runes

Casting the Runes

For several decades, it was the habit of the acclaimed medieval scholar Montague Rhodes James (who died in 1936) to entertain his Christmas guests with an especially composed tale of the supernatural... 

Jamie MacDonald: That Funny Blind Guy 2 - The Good, the Stag and the Ugly

Jamie MacDonald: That Funny Blind Guy 2 - The Good, the Stag and the Ugly

Being visually impaired, Glaswegian stand-up Jamie MacDonald definitely brings a new meaning to “observational humour”. If nothing else, this latest show from “that Funny Blind Guy” proves two things; that there’s definitely more than one way to see the world and that being blind doesn’t mean you can be any less than a ‘tool’ than anyone else... 

Dane Baptiste: Citizen Dane

Dane Baptiste: Citizen Dane

Dane Baptiste is a confident performer. Neither annoyingly cocky nor desperate to please, he has the easy knack of interacting with his audience, verbally bouncing off them to great comic effect... 

Aidan Killian: Jesus Versus Buddha

Aidan Killian: Jesus Versus Buddha

Irish comedian Aidan Killian certainly cuts a surprising figure with his new show; not so much for the long, simple robe he wears, but the fact that he’s shaved off half his beard and long hair to approximate, depending on the angle, the aesthetic simplicity of the Buddha and the singularly messianic follicles of Jesus—a weird theological spin, you might say, on Batman’s Two-Face... 

The Doctor Austin Three Minute Interview

The Doctor Austin Three Minute Interview

Doctor Austin of the renowned Zombie Institute for Theoretical Studies, based in the University of Glasgow, has come to educate the Edinburgh Fringe about the inevitable Zombie Apocalypse... 

The David Leddy Three Minute Interview

The David Leddy Three Minute Interview

Described as a “theatrical maverick” with “a propensity for fearless experiment” by the Financial Times, writer-director David Leddy returns to Edinburgh with two productions, one of which could be on a smartphone or tablet computer near you… 

The Liam Rudden Three Minute Interview

The Liam Rudden Three Minute Interview

Game-keeper turned poacher? Liam Rudden may be Entertainment Editor for the Edinburgh Evening News, but he also has decades’ experience as a writer and director for the stage–including the much-praised Killers on last year’s Fringe... 

Tragic Magic

Tragic Magic

Four times Scottish champion of close up magic Michael Neto is an assured and amiable stage magician, whose slight of hand is smooth, assured and doubtless the result of decades of practice... 

In My Father's Words

In My Father's Words

Louis is one of Canada's most respected teachers of classical literature. His particular area of expertise is Homer's The Odyssey, an epic poem he views as being about memory, the home and a son's long search for his father... 

Lifeline

Lifeline

Phil Roach isn't the first man to be dumped by his girlfriend and realise his life isn't quite working out as expected but, as Julian Wickham's "Lifeline" quickly shows, he's possibly the first–in what even he later admits to be an act of madness–to print up and distribute thousands of flyers around Edinburgh with his phone number and the simple message: “Are you Lonely? Call Phil, day or night, Here to talk... 

Pressure

Pressure

Us inhabitants of the British Isles can spend an inordinate amount of our time discussing the weather, yet it doesn’t automatically follow that our “four seasons in a day”climate is also a great subject for drama... 

The Libertine

The Libertine

“You will not like me,” insists John Wilmot, second Earl of Rochester, at the start of The Libertine; not so much presented an unreliable narrator, more the self-created bad boy of Restoration England, determined to be the centre of attention at all times and horrified when one of his companions in wit and hedonism, the playwright “Gentle” George Etherege, fictionalises him in his own play, The Man of Mode, and dares to make the self-declared rake and libertine “endearing”... 

Dear Scotland

Dear Scotland

As part of its contribution to the many debates in Scotland during 2014—sparked into life, of course, by this September’s independence referendum—new National Theatre of Scotland artistic director Laurie Sansom and his team invited 20 of Scotland’s leading novelists, playwrights and poets to pick a single portrait from the Scottish National Portrait Gallery’s dazzling choice of subjects and to give them a voice, through a monologue delivered by an actor... 

The Beautiful Cosmos of Ivor Cutler

The Beautiful Cosmos of Ivor Cutler

When the Glasgow-born poet, playwright, song-writer, musician, cartoonist, humorist and story-writer Ivor Cutler died in March 2006, the nation’s obituarists remembered an “unassuming master of offbeat humour”, and “one of the great British eccentrics”, the “unlikeliest of cult heroes” whose child-like “wonder at the world” attracted generations of admirers from Bertrand Russell and Paul McCartney to the DJ John Peel and discoverer of Oasis, Alan McGee... 

The Best of Village Pub Theatre

The Best of Village Pub Theatre

Edinburgh’s revered Traverse Theatre has, for many years, defined itself as “Scotland’s new writing theatre”, regularly giving over its stages to a variety of new voices and performers –including the theatrical equivalent of a comedy club’s “open mic spot”... 

The Pitchfork Disney

The Pitchfork Disney

There’s no doubting that Philip Ridley’s debut play, even now, feels like a strange beast; a modern fairytale of two infantalised and orphaned twins, Presley and Haley, somehow isolated from the world and spending their time sleeping or gorging on chocolate and horror stories... 

Union

Union

Big, bold and buxom; playwright Tim Barrow’s Union, directed for the Royal Lyceum Theatre’s artistic director Mark Thomson, starts as it means to go on, with blocks of “scenery”designed by video artist Andrzej Goulding bedecked with his faded, worn representation of the Union Flag... 

This Wide Night

This Wide Night

A common factor in the best sitcoms–and dramas, for that matter–are situations from which the characters can’t escape, most notably from each other: the binds of family (take your pick from Steptoe and Son to Only Fools and Horses and Our Family), the necessities of conflict (Dad’s Army) or perhaps because they’re physically locked up together in a prison cell (Porridge)... 

Red Shoes

Red Shoes

Glasgow’s Tramway has a reputation for cutting-edge visual and performing arts; so it’s something of a radical change for them to join Glasgow’s other theatrical venues with a festive show of any kind, not least one clearly aimed at providing younger audience members with something a bit different from the traditional pantomimes to be found in the city centre venues and at the SECC... 

Enough Already

Enough Already

Written and animated by the alleged French “polymath” François Sarhan, Enough Already incorporates live music, theatre and film in a frustratingly pretentious, paralysingly dull and dangerously tedious farrago that has the air of the Emperor’s New Clothes in both its form and intent... 

In Time o' Strife

In Time o' Strife

The Pathhead Halls on the corner of Commercial Street and Broad Wynd, Kirkcaldy, Fife were built in 1882, originally as a theatre and music hall although one room was later used for many years by a Spiritualist Church... 

Macbeth

Macbeth

Returning to, and re-staging, the "classics" is not without challenges, not least because they were often originally written at a time when actors were considerably cheaper to hire than they are now... 

Crime and Punishment

Crime and Punishment

There’s a brazen, wonderfully self-conscious theatricality in how director Dominic Hill approaches Chris Hannan’s new stage adaptation of Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s iconic novel, Crime and Punishment... 

Burton's Last Call

Burton's Last Call

Nearly 30 years after his death, Richard Burton still stands tall among the ghosts of Hollywood, the poor boy from a Welsh mining village whose acting talent and ambition took him to not just the heights of his profession, but also celebrity and notoriety – most obviously through his tempestuous relationship with (and two marriages to) Elizabeth Taylor... 

Everything That Happened in the 20th Century, Seen Through the Eyes of a Liar

Everything That Happened in the 20th Century, Seen Through the Eyes of a Liar

Mike Shephard likes his history and, as a cash-conscious volume-drinker, the prices of rounds of drinks have always easily segued for him into historical anecdotes from the relevant year in order to impress (or not) whichever female member of the hospitality sector was behind the bar at the time... 

Death Ship 666

Death Ship 666

Death Ship 666 is Airplane meets Titanic; an exuberant rollercoaster ride of humorous grotesques, which revels in its own clichés and absurdities. It's also a delightful (some would say long overdue) deconstruction of one of the most successful films of all time – and, crucially, a show that ensures you'll never be able to take the original quite so seriously again... 

Our Father

Our Father

Honesty's important in stand-up; so's making stuff up, obviously, but audiences can generally sniff out if the person on stage doesn't – at least for that moment – believe in what they're saying... 

The New Age Labrador

The New Age Labrador

Singer-songwriter Shaun Shears sort of fancies himself as a 21st Century reincarnation of the medieval Troubadour, travelling the country performing his songs about life, love and sex to whoever will listen... 

Young & Strange - Magic, Illusion and a Hate for Each Other

Young & Strange - Magic, Illusion and a Hate for Each Other

Most magic shows you find on the Fringe nowadays are necessarily intimate, close-up affairs – not least because of the size of the available venues, budgets and the 'close magic' effectiveness of many of the tricks (a standard box of cards is not easily seen from the back of a large hall, after all)... 

Landfall

Landfall

The idea of some supernatural being falling down to Earth and helping change the lives of us mere mortals is a powerful myth that resonates down human history, from the biologically peculiar trysts of randy Egyptian and Greek gods to Superman and David Bowie's The Man Who Fell To Earth... 

A Reason to Smile

A Reason to Smile

Two wooden chairs, some books, an otherwise empty stage. This is the performance space, full of latent potential, in which we watch the relationship between Jo (Lucy Ioannou) and Christopher (Connor Chambers) flower and then die, just a few weeks short of their planned wedding... 

Matt and Ian's Improv Show

Matt and Ian's Improv Show

Comedy improvisers Matt and Ian are sensible enough to start their show with what the unkind might describe as their get-out clause; they admit, from the start, that they ‘might fail terribly’... 

Ginger Nation

Ginger Nation

Canadian Shawn Hitchins bounces onto the stage with puppy-like energy, rushing straight into a 'blond, brunette and a ginger' joke to make the point that, as 'a person of primary colour', he knows there's genuine prejudice out there... 

Jon Ronson - The Psychopath Test and Other Real Life Mysteries.

Jon Ronson - The Psychopath Test and Other Real Life Mysteries.

Given that, at one point, Jon Ronson describes himself as 'essentially [just] a humorous journalist out of his depth,' you might be surprised that the Cardiff-born writer and documentary filmmaker proved to be one of the Assembly Rooms genuine blockbusters, with the queue for his one-appearance-only turn snaking round the side of the venue like a constipated anaconda... 

Way Back

Way Back

Beachy Head in East Sussex has the tallest chalk sea cliffs in Britain, offering some fabulous views along the south east coast and across the English Channel. This is not however the main reason for which Beachy Head is now famed; sadly, the cliffs have become the third most popular suicide spot in the world... 

A Hundred Minus One Day

A Hundred Minus One Day

Playwright Idgie Beau sets out the parameters of A Hundred Minus One Day quickly and economically; 20 year old Jen, who has lived away from home for many years, has returned to her old family home and childhood bedroom to spend her last few months being looked after by her dad... 

The Year I Was Gifted

The Year I Was Gifted

The anthemic song 'We've Gotta Get Out Of This Place' by The Animals sets the scene for this one-woman, biographical monologue by the writer and performer Monica Bauer. It's 1969: the world is divided between Protesters and the Establishment, Vietnam is going down badly and a 15 year old Bauer is determined not to spend her 16th birthday stuck in the Polish district of Omaha, Nebraska... 

Kevin Shepherd: Confess Nothing - Free

Kevin Shepherd: Confess Nothing - Free

In the past Kevin Shepherd has apparently used his Fringe shows as a kind of confessional, finding thoughtful humour in his past social and legal misdemeanours. This year, though, he's had enough of that; instead, he's out to share and discuss opinions... 

Story's End

Story's End

Even on paper, this 'reconnaissance mission into the no-man’s land where death borders storytelling' has the potential to be either really good or a recipe for self-indulgence; a multimedia combination of live music, film and spoken word on the subject of death... 

Rick Kiesewetter: Chink

Rick Kiesewetter: Chink

Identity is a complicated matter for Rick Kiesewetter; not least because, as he points out from the start, his Asian face doesn't match most people's expectations of his adoptive father's German surname... 

Gay Straight Alliance

Gay Straight Alliance

In some 4,000 High Schools across the US, you’ll find a Gay Straight Alliance (GSA) group. Established to bring LGBTQ pupils and their heterosexual friends together, the aim is for GSAs to create ‘a warm, welcoming environment’ in which a wide range of issues can be discussed... 

Easter Eggs

Easter Eggs

There's an unfortunate earnestness to this short piece from the Bangor English Drama Society, as they attempt with both script and performance to be all grown up and serious about something that really isn't quite up to the mark... 

We Are All Orange Ghosts

We Are All Orange Ghosts

Popular culture often gets derided by critics because, unlike many of the so-called ‘great’ works of art (you know, the ones that allegedly make you look good when ‘appreciated’), crowd-pleasers are genuinely loved and enjoyed by lots of people... 

French Kiss

French Kiss

One of the delights of the Fringe is that it can throw up the unexpected; so, for example, the first time I hear a delightfully bad-taste joke about a recent double suicide in one of Edinburgh's top hotels isn't from any of the ‘edgy’ comedians clogging up the Scottish capital at the moment, but a rather delicious example of lounge cabaret... 

The Ivor Novello Story

The Ivor Novello Story

‘A successful bachelor is always a puzzle to others,’ says the singer James Dinsmore, playing the composer and actor Ivor Novello. That’s probably the closest – indeed, the only – reference which writer John Cairney makes concerning Novello’s homosexuality... 

It Goes Without Saying

It Goes Without Saying

When Broadway veteran and world-famous mime Bill Bowers starts his show talking about sitting in a Hollywood make-up truck at three in the morning, with Hugh Grant to his left and Donald Trump to his right, you could be forgiven for thinking that you’re in for little more than an hour of polite kiss and tell about that old business they call show... 

The Pyramids of Margate

The Pyramids of Margate

While the BBC's iconic sci-fi series Doctor Who is currently one of the biggest, most popular shows on television at the moment - and it's likely to be everywhere this November, when it marks its 50th anniversary - the clichés of the Doctor Who geek (or 'Whovian', as they've become known) remain strong... 

Poems and Pots

Poems and Pots

John Rivers is the first to admit he's not an entertainer and that Poems and Pots isn't a 'show' as such, but hopefully a relaxing opportunity to tease out and encourage the creative connections between poetry and pottery... 

The Perilous Botanical Expedition

The Perilous Botanical Expedition

In May 2013, David Piper - the modestly-titled ‘Global Ambassador’ for Scottish boutique gin producer Hendrick’s - accompanied master distiller Lesley Gracie and celebrated adventurer Charles Brewer Carias (a 21st-century reincarnation of the great, independent Victorian explorers, right down to the moustache) on an expedition deep into the Venezuelan jungle... 

Scott Agnew - Something's Gotta Give

Scott Agnew - Something's Gotta Give

There’s a point in every show when stand-up Scott Agnew drops what he calls ‘the G bomb’; that is, he mentions that he’s gay. Given that Agnew is six feet five inches tall, burly and with a strong Glaswegian accent, he knows that this can come as a genuine shock to some people, not least those with somewhat clichéd ideas of how a homosexual man (even one from Glasgow) might appear and behave... 

Alistair Green: Ping Pong

Alistair Green: Ping Pong

Ping Pong is an energetic game usually involving two or four people, but this latest stand-up show from Alistair Green is very much a one-man endeavour, with the only significant badinage between him and the audience being while he's welcoming a few late-comers... 

Other Voices: Spoken Word Cabaret

Other Voices: Spoken Word Cabaret

This all-female spoken word cabaret claims to offer 'a veritable smorgasbord of poetry'; yet even though it is, to a certain extent, a daily-changing 'sampler' of numerous performance poets with their own shows on the Fringe, it's definitely a show which can offer you something a lot more filling and satisfying than just a few literary amuse-bouches (not in the least due to sweets that they pass round the audience at the start)... 

Chris Coltrane: Compassion is Subversive

Chris Coltrane: Compassion is Subversive

Last year, with Activism is Fun, comedian Chris Coltrane explained how he had returned to political action after years of apathy, not least because – thanks to the likes of direct, peaceful protest devised by UK Uncut – he had rediscovered how much fun it could be (turning branches of Starbucks into creches, for example)... 

Oliver Meech: When Magic and Science Collide

Oliver Meech: When Magic and Science Collide

Science reveals, magic conceals, but both can inspire a sense of wonder, according to stage magician Oliver Meech. Dressed in a white lab coat, his aim is clearly to inspire some of that sense of wonder– either that, or a breakout of discussion groups afterwards focused on 'how did he do THAT?!'... 

Patrick Monahan and Bob Slayer Set a World Record!

Patrick Monahan and Bob Slayer Set a World Record!

It was wonderfully refreshing to come upon something on the Fringe that, by its very nature, had blown the one hour slot to smithereens; further, that tapped into a reserve of fun and ridiculousness that's all-too-often missing from the Fringe these days... 

Björn Gustafsson

Björn Gustafsson

From the start, I must point out that I fully accept that standing up on a stage, making people laugh in a foreign language, even if it's the 'lingua franca' of the western world (ie English) seems incredibly tough... 

A Play With Songs ... and Music and Film and Dance

A Play With Songs ... and Music and Film and Dance

Playwrights’ Studio Scotland is an independent development organisation for playwrights, working with them across the country, including through its talent development programme. As part of its aim to celebrate, promote and develop Scotland’s rich culture of writing for live performance, it has organised a series of discussion sessions (at the Traverse) and workshops (at Fringe Central) enabling established professionals to share some of their thoughts and experiences... 

Roll It in Sequins

Roll It in Sequins

There's a playful, rough-round-the-edges physicality throughout this new show by Megan Heffernan and Sophie Fletcher. Performing against the backdrop of a roughly-painted office space, the pair – individually and together – create a plethora of amusing, easily identifiable characters during their supposed 'magical journey to the centre of an office'... 

Paul Dabek - Stand Up and Be Conjured

Paul Dabek - Stand Up and Be Conjured

According to the neat-suited Paul Dabek, the Magic Circle demands that all its members must include a card trick at some point in their act, otherwise there's a terrible risk of 'magic' becoming interesting... 

Magic Faraway Cabaret

Magic Faraway Cabaret

Now enjoying its third year in Edinburgh, the Magic Faraway Cabaret has a reputation for presenting the best burlesque, variety and sideshow skills available in the Scottish capital... 

Chops

Chops

Chops is not a piece of naturalistic theatre, but then that's hardly to be expected, given that this 'linguistic farce' by Brooklyn-based artist Kirin McCrory, performed by an all-female cast from Sweet Briar College, Virginia, is clearly focused on using its somewhat mannered language to express the emotional restrictions within prosperous American high society in the latter years of the 19th century... 

Robin Ince - Importance of Being Interested

Robin Ince - Importance of Being Interested

The British geneticist and evolutionary biologist J B S Haldane once stated his suspicion that 'the Universe is not only queerer than we suppose, but queerer than we can suppose'. To be sure, it's also incredibly difficult to fit the Universe into one of the 55 minute slots that have become the industry standard over the years... 

Desperately Seeking the Exit / Free Festival

Desperately Seeking the Exit / Free Festival

Heard of screenwriter William Goldman's rule about Hollywood? 'Nobody knows anything.' Yes, despite people having made movies for more than a century, still no one knows exactly how to make a successful one... 

In Tune With Dementia

In Tune With Dementia

It has been said that the one ‘mercy’ dementia offers is that the person who has it doesn’t know they do; so it is with the emotive subject of this solo play written and performed by Cheltenham-born writer and actor Howard Timms... 

We, Object

We, Object

‘We, Object.’ It can be said in many different ways, implying many different meanings. Yet the five women who make up Figs in Wigs are clear about one thing: this is a show about objects that we and they have taken for granted, but not about small things... 

That's Not How You Spell Pedantic

That's Not How You Spell Pedantic

Life's not easy when you're a pedant; not that you see yourself as being pedantic, according to Jim Higo, a self-described 'punk poet, social commentator and general irritant'. Pedantic is how other people describe you (though hopefully not in a list handed over to you by a girlfriend who's just about to dump you)... 

Alexis Dubus - Cars And Girls (2013 version)

Alexis Dubus - Cars And Girls (2013 version)

I first saw Alexis Dubus perform in 2008, when his 'A R*ddy Brief History Of Swearing' provided an interesting spine on which to hang some very funny material – and a justification to use some swear words, of course... 

Kevin Dewsbury Out Now

Kevin Dewsbury Out Now

Kevin Dewsbury is a bloke. He likes football, beer and... sexy men. Yes, Kevin Dewsbury's sexual orientation is the big twist in his new show, the supposed unique selling proposition (USP) of this particular stand-up... 

The Sunday Assembly

The Sunday Assembly

It's said that the Devil has all the best tunes, but why shouldn't the Godless also enjoy the fun and sense of community that comes from gathering on a Sunday morning to enjoy coffee, cakes and pastries, a bit of group singing and hearing some interesting speakers? The Sunday Assembly - its motto being to ‘live better, help often and wonder more - is the latest flowering of what the tabloids have quickly labeled the ‘Atheist Church’... 

Sandel

Sandel

‘I’ll save you yet,’ says the precocious Antony Sandel to the object of his desires, David Rogers. But it’s not as easy as he thinks. When they first meet, Tony is a talented young teenage choirboy at St Cecilia’s College in Oxford and David a car-racing undergraduate; in other words, the gap between them is far wider than the number of years alone suggests... 

Luke Wright: Essex Lion

Luke Wright: Essex Lion

‘Officer don’t be a Benny/the thing we saw was MGM-y.’ Last year, some campers in Clacton thought they saw a lion. In Essex. Obviously, they couldn’t have, but the incident and subsequent coverage–it was obviously a slow news day–inspired performance poet Luke Wright to look at the world afresh... 

Rob Lloyd: Who, Me

Rob Lloyd: Who, Me

This is not the first time Doctor Who has been put on trial. Back in the mid-1980s, its then perilous position within BBC Drama was even echoed by a 14 episode storyline called The Trial of a Time Lord... 

Dan Nightingale: Love in the Time of Cholesterol

Dan Nightingale: Love in the Time of Cholesterol

Dan Nightingale wants us to like him. And so, to lower his audience's defensive barriers, he's initially depreciative about his own flyer, in particular its 'overzealous' quotes and a main photograph (taken the week he'd lost his glasses) which looks so unlike him that someone on the street had earlier tried to give him a flyer for his own show... 

Tyke Rider: A Yorkshire Lass's Driving Adventure from the City of Angels to Graceland via the Big Easy

Tyke Rider: A Yorkshire Lass's Driving Adventure from the City of Angels to Graceland via the Big Easy

It was the 13th century Persian poet, Islamic jurist and theologian known to the English-speaking world as Rumi who said that ‘travel brings power and love back into your life’... 

Let The Right One In

Let The Right One In

There is one word that, quite deliberately, is never uttered by anyone on stage during the National Theatre of Scotland’s Let The Right One In—vampire. The much-older-than-she-looks young girl Eli may burn in direct sunlight and bleed profusely if she enters a room uninvited; she may need to drink human blood in order to survive, but she’s “not that”... 

Calum's Road

Calum's Road

Although based on true events, the story of Calum’s Road is so unique that it comes with a strong sense of some greater story being told, one of mythical proportions. This isn’t just a tale of one man’s determined labour to keep his family, community and culture together, but also the universal stories of leaving and returning, of the power of memory and the past to still affect the present... 

Running On The Cracks

Running On The Cracks

Children’s and young adult’s fiction have long been populated by orphans, characters who are both usefully free from parental restraints while also cut adrift from the traditional safety and security of the family unit, often left to make their own way through a confusing and frightening world... 

Harold and Maude

Harold and Maude

Inter-generational relationships are always controversial, especially when questions of predatory abuse arise in these Savile-dominated times. Yet it’s fair to say that the love-story which forms the heart of Harold and Maude — the growing relationship between death-fixated, 19 year old Harold (Tommy Bastow) and the full-of-life, take-every-day-as-it-comes Maude (Vari Sylvester) who is just shy of her 80th birthday, does come across as a genuine attraction of opposites, with the promise of both participants benefiting from each other’s company... 

Any Objections?

Any Objections?

Can you do anything of theatrical note in under 10 minutes? Is there a place for a theatrical equivalent of flash fiction, whether as a testing ground for new writers or as a form in its own right? Given the evidence of the first night of Any Objections?, the answer would seem to be a resounding “Yes, but... 

Markee De Saw & Bert Finkle

Markee De Saw & Bert Finkle

When does real life stop and the cabaret begin? Or the cabaret stop and real life return? On this occasion, Markee de Saw and Bert Finkle offer no simple or easy answers in this intimate, though perhaps too brightly lit city centre cafe venue... 

Arguments and Nosebleeds - Free

Arguments and Nosebleeds - Free

Arguments and Nosebleeds is becoming a little nugget of tradition, a one-off poetry performance — now in its third year — that gives a platform to a host of Scottish poets, along with other guest performers... 

My Stepson Stole My Sonic Screwdriver

My Stepson Stole My Sonic Screwdriver

Like much of the comedy currently clogging up Edinburgh, Toby Hadoke’s latest show is fundamentally about the man on stage, about his life experiences and his personal relationships (such as splitting from one partner, but gaining another)... 

The Curious Couple from Coney

The Curious Couple from Coney

The exquisitely moustached showman Donny Vomit was just 14, visiting an Oklahoma County Fair, when he saw a man swallow a long balloon. Enraptured, he was genuinely disappointed to later learn that it was, of course, a magic trick — a deception... 

An Audience With Tomás Ford - Free

An Audience With Tomás Ford - Free

From the start, you know that Tomás Ford isn’t your ordinary late night showman. It’s not just because he near deafens you with a wall of live-mixed electro punk, but that he chooses to say hello to the whole audience and shakes their hands, individually — a way of checking out who he might play with later on, perhaps? Whatever his reasons, it’s a signal that things are just about to get a whole lot weirder — that he’s cut off the sleeves of his silk dressing gown... 

The Long and the Short of It

The Long and the Short of It

From the start Richard Purnell (the short one) and Gary From Leeds (the horribly tall one) insist that their teaming up as ‘360 degree poetry consultants’ is not a gimmick. The pair believe that their ‘clients’ are best served by delivering snappy, humorous yet seriously thoughtful spoken word... 

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

Given that the original award-winning novel by Mark Haddon is told from the very singular, focused perspective of a 15-year-old boy on the autistic spectrum, it’s surprising that there are a growing number of theatrical adaptations doing the rounds... 

Wild Allegations

Wild Allegations

Matthew John Curtis is famous. He’s the young, handsome star of a successful, if critically unloved, sitcom. Everyone loves him. Well, everyone except his brother Alex, who thinks he’s the true source of Matthew’s adored ‘persona’, and his girlfriend Theo, who thinks he’s a hypocrite for continuing to do work he repeatedly says he hates, while rejecting any opportunity to do something different... 

Gay Straight Alliance

Gay Straight Alliance

Nominally, a Gay Straight Alliance is a pupil-based group found in some (though sadly too few) US schools, which meets regularly to discuss issues around homosexuality in order to increase understanding and reduce bigotry, ignorance and bullying... 

Chris Cross: Loose Cannon 2012

Chris Cross: Loose Cannon 2012

There are many things you can say about Chris Cross; that he’s a shrinking violet is not one of them. Coming across as some devil-may-care, ‘just arsing about’ Geordie answer to Russell Brand, Cross not so much intrudes into the audience’s personal space, he actively bounds across it, tweaks the audience’s nipples and invites them to lick his own in return... 

Legs 11

Legs 11

In an increasingly categorised Fringe (this year added Spoken Word to an already multi-colour-coded Fringe programme), it can still be a delight to come upon a show that just doesn’t quite fit any of the boxes... 

Kin

Kin

Three tables, each filled with the paraphernalia of different daytime meals; on each table, there’s an hourglass, progressively smaller. From the start, the staging of this piece focuses the audience’s attention on the passage of time, complemented very well by an aural patchwork of people half-remembering old songs... 

Ward and Bartlett's Double Impact

Ward and Bartlett's Double Impact

If comedy often rises out of adversity, could this help explain how Northern Ireland has proved such fertile ground over the years — from Frank Carson and Roy Walker to Patrick Kielty and Jimeoin? It’s safe to say that two new additions to the list of Northern Irish comics must surely be Ruaidhri Ward and Micky Bartlett... 

Alan Bissett: The Red Hourglass

Alan Bissett: The Red Hourglass

‘O wad some Power the giftie gie us/To see oursels as ithers see us!’ wrote Robert Burns in his famous poem To A Louse, apparently inspired by seeing the insect roaming over the hat and hair of a young lady sat in front of him one Sunday in church... 

Magic Faraway Cabaret

Magic Faraway Cabaret

Cabarets are, by their very nature, fluid and changeable beasts, especially those in Edinburgh which act as convenient samplers of what’s available elsewhere on the Fringe. They also come with a certain risk, of course; the potential to be somewhat piecemeal affairs, especially if they lack an entertaining and sympathetic host to hold it all together... 

Activism Is Fun

Activism Is Fun

Chris Coltrane is the first to admit that any political radicalism he might once have possessed had faded over time, thanks in part to a depressing sense of powerless after the UK went to war in Iraq despite more than a million people marching against it... 

Scotland in Song

Scotland in Song

It’s no small challenge to summarise a country and its history in a single hour, which is perhaps why Carolyn Anona Scott and Jack Foster instead choose to pay ‘homage’ to Scotland’s story through the traditional music, stories, ballads and songs that have been handed down from generation to generation... 

Laurent Piron - Unusual Day

Laurent Piron - Unusual Day

Are our lives ruled by fate or chance? It’s hard to decide most of the time but even harder when a stage magician is making the seemingly impossible happen before your eyes. Tall, blond, handsome (and from Belgium, which is certainly different) Laurent Piron is an eye-catching figure on stage... 

An Evening With Dementia

An Evening With Dementia

In his book about the onset of his wife’s dementia, former ITN journalist John Suchet explained that the one ‘mercy’ he could see about the condition was that the person with it was unaware of its full effects... 

Other Voices: Alternative Spoken Word Cabaret

Other Voices: Alternative Spoken Word Cabaret

Other Voices promised much — ‘comedy, politics, naughty lyrics, free sweets… And a veritable smorgasbord of poetry antics’, but the most significant terminology on its title-board was the now seldom-used word muliebrity meaning ‘womanly qualities’ or ‘womanliness’... 

Stories from the Middle

Stories from the Middle

Contrary to what some critics might suggest, it’s not a comfortable experience seeing someone ‘coming off the rails’ on stage, especially when they’re clearly talented and - usually - good at what they do... 

Montmorency

Montmorency

There’s a long tradition of the gentleman thief - not least in Edinburgh, the city of Deacon Brodie - so it probably seemed apt to bring to the Fringe an adaptation of Eleanor Updale’s Montmorency series of novels, in which a gentleman-thief eventually becomes a spy for the British Empire... 

Re-Animator The Musical

Re-Animator The Musical

You know something's different about a show when the people in the first three rows - also known as the slosh pit - are issued with cheap Scotland-branded ponchos. Given that the George Square Theatre does not have a reputation for a leaky roof, this can mean only one thing: it's likely to get a bit messy on stage... 

Murder, Marple and Me

Murder, Marple and Me

Despite a long and successful career in both British film and theatre, Dame Margaret Rutherford is now best remembered for a role she didn’t, initially, care for at all — Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple... 

Allotment

Allotment

At the heart of Allotment is a simple, visual metaphor: the burial and later uncovering of objects in the earth that clearly mirrors the suppression and later resurrection of memories, resentments, and frustrations from the lifelong rivalry between two sisters, Dora and Maddy... 

Casablanca: The Gin Joint Cut

Casablanca: The Gin Joint Cut

Casablanca: The Gin Joint Cut comes to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe with a strong pedigree and reputation, built on its debut as part of Glasgow’s Òran Mór’s iconic A Play, A Pie and A Pint and its subsequent success at the Tron Theatre and elsewhere in Scotland... 

Nggrfg

Nggrfg

As a show, NGGRFG has one obvious problem: people are either uncertain how to say it, or are simply reluctant to say out loud the two words it represents, because — quite understandably — it’s now generally accepted in polite society that ‘Nigger’ and ‘Fag’ are insulting and beyond the pale... 

Just a Gigolo

Just a Gigolo

Among the delights of the Fringe are the opportunities it occasionally presents to see quality performers in more intimate, personal projects. A case in point is Maurice Roëves, a popular character actor best known for his roles in Tutti Frutti and The Last of the Mohicans — though he’s also one of the few British actors to have appeared in both Star Trek and Doctor Who... 

Have a Nice Life

Have a Nice Life

In these increasingly cash-strapped times putting on any musical on the Fringe is worthy of praise, even if — with a cast of six accompanied by electric piano and drums — the depth and quality of sound on show here is necessarily shallower than you might hope for... 

Irreconcilable Differences

Irreconcilable Differences

There's one small, very special audience that most of us will be legally obliged to join at some point in our lives — a jury. Yet, despite the overt theatricality of any courtroom in the UK, there’s at least one thing you won't be asked to do — to decide whether someone lives or dies... 

Doug Segal: How to Read Minds and Influence People

Doug Segal: How to Read Minds and Influence People

If we believe everything we see, at least on the video screen, the stage mentalist Doug Segal can get from his hotel bed to the venue — stopping off mid-route to buy a lottery ticket — in under 90 seconds... 

When Holidays Attack

When Holidays Attack

Given the importance many people put on their annual holiday — the glittering gift to themselves for enduring the hard slog of everyday life for the rest of the year — there’s certainly potential in a show about when things go spectacularly or embarrassingly wrong... 

Des Clarke: Final Destination

Des Clarke: Final Destination

Particularly when compared to the polite folk of Edinburgh, Glaswegians have a reputation for talking. Loads. Des Clarke, who grew up in one of the city’s much-maligned tower blocks, certainly matches the stereotype, in that he simply doesn’t stop... 

Damien Crow: The World According to Damien Crow

Damien Crow: The World According to Damien Crow

Mid-afternoon, an audience of just 10 people is not what most standups would want to see in front of them. Damien Crow is different. He welcomes small crowds because otherwise it would just be like being in a branch of Starbucks, full of “dick-sucking corporate whores... 

Alistair Green: Jack Spencer - Why Anything?

Alistair Green: Jack Spencer - Why Anything?

While Green’s professionalism for going ahead with his solo performance with a tiny audience is worth a mention, this shouldn’t distract from the most important point: that his tale of a somewhat shallow, media-obsessed UK stand-up talking earnestly about overcoming his sex addiction is a sharp and amusing reflection of our celebrity-fixated, ‘journey of discovery’ times... 

Sammy J and Randy - The Inheritance

Sammy J and Randy - The Inheritance

The Australian duo of musical comedian Sammy J and puppeteer Heath McIvor - best known for his purple puppet Randy - are now experienced Fringe regulars who, quite rightly, are more popular with each successive show they bring to the Scottish capital... 

Paul Dabek - Nothing Up My Sleeve!

Paul Dabek - Nothing Up My Sleeve!

Can a magician’s hand really be faster than the human eye? Paul Dabek may well use that serious question as an excuse for a simple physical joke, but by the end of this excellent show his audience is left in no doubt that it must be — there’s no other possible explanation for the deceptively simple tricks with hankies, ropes and £10 notes that Dabek performs with an almost surreal disdain... 

Rob James: Magicana

Rob James: Magicana

The downside of performing in a multi-show venue must surely be that you may have very little time to set up a show beforehand — often little more than 10 minutes — while always keeping an eye on the clock (or, in this case, a carefully concealed iPhone) in order not to overrun your allotted slot... 

From Houdini to Potter

From Houdini to Potter

Yorkshire-born Chris Cassells seems such a trustworthy young man that it’s somewhat disconcerting to realise that he’s already recognised as a rising star among the UK’s stage magicians - a group of individuals whom Cassells admits lie, cheat and deceive for a living... 

The Last Days of Judas Iscariot

The Last Days of Judas Iscariot

Is Judas Iscariot the ultimate fall-guy, unfairly damned for his necessary role in what was once called The Greatest Story Ever Told? Is his sin — of “selling out the Son of God” — absolutely unforgivable, even by a God of Infinite Love? Cunningham, a young female lawyer with a clear grudge against monotheistic deities, forces a highly reluctant court in Purgatory to hear her appeal on behalf of Judas Iscariot who, after 2,000 years, still lies in a catatonic state in Hell... 

Age of the Geek

Age of the Geek

You know you’ve experienced a genuine one-man Fringe show when the guy who’s been performing on stage for the previous 50 minutes has to jump down, run to the tech desk at the back of the room and turn the house lights back up... 

Xavier Toby: Binge Thinking

Xavier Toby: Binge Thinking

A dinner party and a stand-up comedy performance might not seem to have much in common - and, in social terms, they don’t - but Xavier Toby gamely welcomed his first Edinburgh audience into the room as if they were dinner-guests just taking their coats off in the hall... 

Macbeth

Macbeth

Arguably the most famous Scottish story written by an Englishman is re-imagined as One Flew Over The Cuckoo Nest by the National Theatre of Scotland, and showcases a remarkable solo performance by Broadway and Hollywood star Alan Cumming...