Married With Snails

Married With Snails

Bernard and Miranda are living in marital bliss with their snail children. He's a traffic warden, she works in a library. The stage is set for an odd, Balamory-esque spectacle; however, the ominous portent of a ‘Before – Paris – After’ flat lurks in the background, a terse indicator of the shifts in time and tone to follow... 

Towards the Moon

Towards the Moon

With acting instrumentalists, declarations of “Colour! Light!” and a lead called Bobby, I feared I was about to see a bad Sondheim knock-off. Not so, yet this new musical does manage to replicate some finer characteristics of the master himself – clever harmonies and a lyrical verisimilitude to everyday speech – while replacing deliberate, artistic distance with intimacy, heart and soul... 

Active Virgin

Active Virgin

After last year's successful Fringe offerings, One Academy Productions became a firm favourite of mine. Upsetting, then, to see them produce something that falls far short of 2011's high standards... 

Vocal is Lekka

Vocal is Lekka

I don't know where these guys have been hiding - well, I do: South Africa - but they sure know how to bring it. From the very outset, this (largely) a cappella group brought wide grins to every face around with their ambitious, tight harmonies, high-energy, perfectly synchronised choreography and general all-round dazzling performance... 

Bugsy Malone

Bugsy Malone

Bringing a musical to the Fringe is no mean feat, nor is coordinating a rabble of small children. Full credit to the director and musical director for having accomplished both of these and for producing a particularly well-costumed show... 

What You Will

What You Will

Shrewsbury School here lives up to its gleaming reputation with a technically flawless production. Their telling of Twelfth Night, cleverly titled using the play's alternative name, is of the highest quality in every respect... 

Macbeth

Macbeth

Macbeth (I'm not afraid to name it; there's nothing vaguely Scottish about this production) is a play that most everyone encounters at some point in their lives. If they don't hit you with it at age 11, they'll get you at 14 or 16... 

Sleeping Beauty

Sleeping Beauty

As though the Märchen of the Brothers Grimm weren't harrowing enough, Another Soup's production of the classic Sleeping Beauty renders this tale even bleaker and more upsetting.Many people will have read the Grimm version, others perhaps the original Perrault, but most will know the Disney version... 

Antonio Forcione

Antonio Forcione

Few things can silence a crowd. A gunshot, perhaps, or a particularly droning sermon. And seemingly, Antonio Forcione. Perhaps Mr Forcione was relying on everyone in the audience being an avid fan, so he did not have to make an effort to win us over, but I found it more puzzling than crop circles why so many hundreds of people were so subservient... 

The Squiffy Journals

The Squiffy Journals

In a suitably dank place, a darkly comic tone is set by this troupe's exploration of the less glamorous elements of the entertainment industry, tempered somewhat by more light-hearted scenes of what we'd like to see, but generally don't... 

Flanders and Swann

Flanders and Swann

When Tim FitzHigham and Duncan Walsh Atkins took to the stage as Flanders and Swann in their dashing tuxedos, I mentally groaned and waited for the crooning to start. As possibly the only audience member below the age of 50, I wondered whether I wasn’t going to be in for something I wouldn’t like... 

Henna Night

Henna Night

The intense naturalism of this piece is realised in the staging. A wholly unglamourous single woman's apartment, strewn with empty cigarette boxes and dirty clothes, is lit for a short while before anyone enters the scene – the late entrance reminding us that this is real life... 

We Didn't Have Time to be Scared

We Didn't Have Time to be Scared

Looking for emotional charge? If so, this new musical blows everything else out of the water.Austrian sisters Inge and Lucy look back in later life on the upheaval they faced in their childhood during the months before and during World War Two... 

Pollyanna Meets Piaf

Pollyanna Meets Piaf

Besides me, the modest audience comprised exclusively of people 'of a certain age'. Melissa Cloake has devised and here performs this one-woman show in which she promises an exploration of her difficult past, handling failed relationships, incest, sexuality and her ability to overcome her problems through the release of singing... 

Samba Sene and Diwan: Africa Calling

Samba Sene and Diwan: Africa Calling

The Fringe guide listing for this performance promises an ‘exuberant’ show full of 'impassioned vocals' and 'Senegalese soul'. Something must have gone wrong then, as the band has a backing singer looking distinctly bored for the majority, a bongo drummer who looks like a burnt-out investment banker and a percussionist who is reminiscent of my school IT Technician... 

Heavy Like the Weight of a Flame

Heavy Like the Weight of a Flame

This show was difficult to review. The label ‘one-man show’ doesn’t feel as though it quite covers everything on offer in this innovative and potentially searching production... 

Doris Day Can F**k Off

Doris Day Can F**k Off

The question on my lips for the first few minutes: what on God's earth is he doing? In very few words, Greg is telling Doris Day to take a running jump. Her fans needn't be offended: Ms Day hardly features in this bizarre, thought-provoking show of strange noises and expressions... 

Wasted Love

Wasted Love

Yes! This is everything you, I, everyone wants in a musical. Fresh and new, this baby sashays its glittery way down the catwalk – which is quite ironic, given the squalor in which the action takes place... 

The  Butterfly Effect

The Butterfly Effect

The Butterfly Effect is possibly the strangest gig I've ever been to, even by Steampunk standards. Meet Erik, Bengt, and Svante Drake: three shamelessly nerdy Swedes. It’s obvious from the beginning that we are not going to hear the 'virtuos [sic] music for the glowing bow' that we are promised but instead, something gloriously eclectic and quite possibly fantastic– how many virtuosos look like they might pillage your city if you don't applaud, then down a barrel of grog and sing a shanty? The concert that follows is an illustrative exemplar of Edward Lawrence's scientific Butterfly Effect theory, which acts as a thread running through the performance... 

The Hot Mikado

The Hot Mikado

Never before have I seen G&S performed so well; too often is it synonymous with G&T, churned out rambunctiously by red-faced socialites clustered around a piano. Yet like the operetta, which has been reinvented more times than Madonna, this production is quirky and dynamic in its new jazz incarnation... 

Spring Awakening

Spring Awakening

Gordonstoun's bears the hallmarks of a high school offering: mixed ability and tampering with the script to give kids fairer parts. Ensemble pieces generally did not stand up and many a vocal line was omitted... 

Apply Within

Apply Within

Heaven knows it's tough enough trying to get a job in these economic times without the daunting prospect of a cut-throat arena where every other candidate is your ultimate nemesis. You just might lose your life, if not your humanity, before you find employment...