Soaring Leap: Eric Whitacre

Soaring Leap: Eric Whitacre

It is easy to lose St Giles’ Cathedral in the haze of the Mile, where every square inch is covered with thespians still needing to sell the last few tickets. In this miasma it can be easy to overlook the gothic backdrops for the street performers and theatrical installations: St Giles’ Cathedral, in all its majesty, is one such place... 

Tissue

Tissue

At first glance, Tissue is an exploration of a fascinating topic: breast cancer. At times it seems to be what happens when you are young and a sufferer of breast cancer, and sometimes it is about being a young adult suffering, with breast cancer, but at no point is it clear where the story falls due to its non-linear narrative and young cast... 

Riot Squat

Riot Squat

In a squat in Edinburgh in the midst of the riots, Miles and Kristy have set up their own little home of pillaged potpourri and Wetherspoons sauce sachets. Kristy is the St Andrews born daughter of wealthy parents and longs for the success and advantage she was promised when she came to university... 

Deserving?

Deserving?

It feels important to say before we discuss a show about such a sensitive issue that its engagement with the topic of women being raped is sensitively handled and that the dancer is honest in her exploration... 

The  Guild of Cheesemakers

The Guild of Cheesemakers

Stand & Stare Theatre Company create immersive theatre, which is like gold dust for me at the Fringe. Whilst some may consider the involvement of the crowd in a show a cop-out (the theatrical equivalent of a build your own salad bar) I consider it nothing short of the icing on the cake of a great piece of modern theatre... 

Assassins

Assassins

Sondheim’s Assassins sounds like a show that should not work; a musical exploration of some of the United States’ most famous attempts (and successes) to kill the President. With an abstract chorus of smiling symbolic figures and FBI agents completing the universe of each storyline... 

Rime

Rime

To hear that a company is performing a classic poem like The Rime Of The Ancient Mariner with dance, acrobatics and music is the sort of combination of ideas and media that can leave a critic running for cover... 

Romantic Inspired Improvisation

Romantic Inspired Improvisation

In the beautiful St Mark’s ArtSpace, Arash Bazrafshan improvises pieces of piano music inspired by a set of four pieces of art provided by his sister, Roza, which sit next to the piano... 

Grit

Grit

Grit tells the tale of Amy, a girl whose father has recently died in the Middle-East whilst photographing the conflicts. As Amy searches through the remnants of her relationship with her father we experience snippets of their lives, whether it be a boy that her father met on his journeys, or Amy’s childhood memories of playing with toy soldiers... 

XXXO

XXXO

It is difficult for a fan of Ontoerend Goed to try and compare their output this year with their previous work, and that is mainly because they have little in common. Beyond the company name being applied and being funded by the same people, XXXO, like All That Is Wrong, is a show produced and devised by a new generation of Belgian thespians who have worked with the company before and are now returning at the helm... 

Go to the Devil and Shake Yourself

Go to the Devil and Shake Yourself

This is not a prospect faced with every day: a musical journey through the history of the Papacy. Nonetheless, the audience of ‘Go To The Devil and Shake Yourself’ is treated to this very feast of facts and music... 

The  Ugly Sisters

The Ugly Sisters

The Ugly Sisters should not work. It should, when discussing its contents and its general feel, come across as the Heat Magazine of theatre. However, put in the sincere and skillful hands of RashDash, a play that turns the story of Cinderella and her stepsisters into two council-estate twins being raised in a classy household and finally trying to woo the prince on a reality TV show that tests their every fibre has potential... 

A Little Night Music

A Little Night Music

A Little Night Music is one of Sondheim’s most exquisitely written shows- somewhere between Wilde’s comedies of manners and Chekhov and Ibsen’s simpering naturalism. The show features a series of scandalous Scandinavians being lascivious in beautiful surroundings in a show filled with glum classical music and barbed dialogue... 

bANGER

bANGER

When a show advertises itself as involving ‘heavy music, headbanging and a smidgen of angst-ridden poetry’, it does not sell itself well to a punter like myself, especially as I am timid enough when it comes to dance and physical theatre... 

Golden Gloves

Golden Gloves

It is rare that, as a reviewer, to see a show that struggles even to reach the praise of a single star. Golden Gloves, however, makes a very good case for the absence of any rating at all... 

A Donkey and a Parrot

A Donkey and a Parrot

Sarah Hamilton relates a story drawn from the annals of her family history. This original solo piece uses quirky and inventive staging, rhythmic language and multiple characters to stage the family myth of the Protestant Roussel family escaping from Huguenot France... 

Scottish Songwriters in the Round

Scottish Songwriters in the Round

It is easy to forget that in the tempest of the Edinburgh Festival, between the international plays and the famous comedians, there is still a strong Scottish backbone to many of the performances at the festival... 

All That is Wrong

All That is Wrong

I love Ontoerend Goed; whether it’s their audience-dividing masterpiece that was Audience last year or something life changing and unique like A Game Of You, I have been a massive fan for years... 

Nathan Caton: Get Rich or Die Cryin'

Nathan Caton: Get Rich or Die Cryin'

Nathan Caton is possibly the most amiable comedian you will ever witness on a stage. Tucked away in the Pleasance’s Baby Grand, Caton dismisses his microphone to talk to the audience who he treats like family... 

Cast

Cast

Britpop band Cast's live performances have been compared to a ‘religious experience’ by the Gallaghers.Every member of the audience - of which there was a great number - were caught in one of the most incredible atmospheres I have ever witnessed... 

The Oxford Gargoyles: Jazz a Cappella!

The Oxford Gargoyles: Jazz a Cappella!

It can be difficult, in a festival crammed with a cappella acts, to tell the talented from the dross. I therefore feel like I can help you significantly with this review: No matter what, make sure you see The Oxford Gargoyles perform, because they are exceptional... 

Livewire Theatre's Salem

Livewire Theatre's Salem

Salem is a production that attempts to do something dangerous - to perform a piece of theatre about a historical event that has already been covered by a really well-known play. Arthur Miller has monopolised theatrical representations of the Salem Witch Trials for decades, so how does this production compare?Well, not spectacularly... 

Nunsense

Nunsense

Here in a school’s performance hall is one of the best shows of the festival, in this humble reviewer’s opinion. The tale of a group of nuns putting on a talent show fundraiser to afford the burial of four dead nuns killed in a freak soup accident, the musical is trite and saccharine and chronicles the cast of holy sisters as they seek fortune or fame... 

The Unexpected Items Are On It, In the Zone, Off the Hook and Down With the Kids

The Unexpected Items Are On It, In the Zone, Off the Hook and Down With the Kids

The Unexpected Items come with great credentials: they are the team responsible for the famous ‘Gap Yah’ videos on YouTube and have a poster covered in recent reviews decrying them as the vanguard of a new generation of British sketch comedy and other such hyperbole... 

Elis James: Do You Remember the First Time?

Elis James: Do You Remember the First Time?

Elis James bounds onto the stage with wonderful energy and a poetic way with language; there is something wonderfully friendly about this Welshman that gives you the feeling that rather than seeing a comedian, you are in a conversation with a particularly hilarious friend... 

Catie Wilkins: A Chip Off the Odd Block

Catie Wilkins: A Chip Off the Odd Block

Catie Wilkins works in a call centre, has a gay brother and parents who are both completely normal and yet very unusual - all great topics for a comedy set. Whilst maybe not delving fully into the comedy of many areas of her life due to a focus more on other people than herself, Catie manages to be darkly humorous and sexually awkward in a wonderfully refreshing and young set... 

The Midnight Beast

The Midnight Beast

It is incredible how the Internet can expose and produce brand new superstars. This year at the Fringe, so many shows have arrived with the epithet attached of ‘the YouTube sensation’, and few shows are as deserving of the title as The Midnight Beast... 

Terezin: Children of the Holocaust

Terezin: Children of the Holocaust

Terezin Concentration Camp is an utterly fascinating story; built in the Czech Republic, it was inspected by the Red Cross, and during the visit the Nazis turned the camp into a holiday resort replete with a football match between the guards and the prisoners, an orchestra, gardens, and a shaving and shower room where none of the taps were connected to plumbing... 

Turandot

Turandot

It is often easy to think that a top quality set and good technical support can make a performance great in and of itself; shows like Turandot exist to demonstrate that this is not the case... 

Bellissima: All-Female a Cappella from The Oxford Belles

Bellissima: All-Female a Cappella from The Oxford Belles

The Oxford Belles are a small set of seven, performing upon a dauntingly massive black stage but as soon as they burst into song they fill the entire space with life. The group have put together a staggering show full of vivacity, fun and also incredible professionalism that left the audience with a smile on their face... 

Sodom

Sodom

The show starts with a projection poorly shone onto the back wall; ‘Lie Back And Think Of Sodom’. The projector, as the show starts, suffers from a few issues. It is the sort of issue that one can forgive due to their tiny tech, but still makes one shudder with fear that this will be a sloppy production... 

Scary Gorgeous

Scary Gorgeous

Rash Dash are a theatre company to watch. I was lucky enough to catch their show Another Someone when they performed it at the National Student Drama Festival and it was one of the most inspiringly sincere and layered pieces I had ever seen... 

Jet Set Go!

Jet Set Go!

At theatre festivals there are often two types of show; dark and serious theatre that achieves acclaim, and theatre that acts as the tonic. Often I come out of these antidotal pieces with a feeling that what is described as unpretentious is actually flimsy... 

Audience – Ontroerend Goed

Audience – Ontroerend Goed

In a festival filled with shows about wonderland and Lewis Carroll, Ontroerend Goed’s new production, the latest in a long line of probing pieces, stands tall as the true master of the topsy-turvy... 

Recursion

Recursion

Recursion is a play that explores a plethora of different and fascinating themes, tapping into some intriguing sections of psychology in the process; a man who has lost his memory begins to write a play, hounded by a strange man in black, and a cryptic supervisor... 

Trainspotting

Trainspotting

It seems ironic that a show about heroin lacks so much speed. Trainspotting, a production by Spud Theatre, has its virtues, but agility is not one of them. The play is an adaptation for the stage from the novel by Harry Gibson, but is a script that one can only describe as clunky...