Karaoke Saved My Life

Karaoke Saved My Life

All month I have spotted Scott Swinton, star of Karaoke Saved My Life, on the streets of Edinburgh, flyering for his show. He’s hard to miss in his starry black suit – like a disco themed Steve Martin, he generates smiles wherever he goes... 

Twonkey’s Night Train to Liechtenstein

Twonkey’s Night Train to Liechtenstein

Reviewing Mr. Twonkey at the Fringe has become a bit of an emotional rollercoaster. Every year, I’m excited to go see his new show and then, during the performance, I find myself thinking, “How the hell am I going to review this in a way that makes sense?” This year is no exception... 

Mat Ricardo vs the World

Mat Ricardo vs the World

When you’re considered the best at what you do, some of us might rest on our laurels but Mat Ricardo wants (indeed, needs) new challenges. So, he invited the world (via the open forum of Twitter) to set him the task of learning ten new tricks in one year which he would then perform at the Fringe... 

How to Be a Bad Girl

How to Be a Bad Girl

Like a piano player in brothel or a chanteuse at an orgy, Sabrina Chap is the fallen woman of cabaret. A classically-trained pianist who slipped into the world of burlesque and bawdy songs, Chap has bags of personality and cheeky twinkle that entices the audience in this small, hot space to lean in and let her take control... 

Bowjangles: Excalibow

Bowjangles: Excalibow

Excalibow features a String quartet consisting of Mitch McGugan (first violin), Ollie Izod (violin), Bertie Anderson (viola), and Ezme Gaze ('cello) who are all talented musicians on their respective instruments and they’ve got a lot more to offer than Pachelbel’s Canon... 

Nerd Time's a Charm

Nerd Time's a Charm

Up ‘til now, I had only ever seen Tom Crosbie perform short spots at Fringe cabaret shows where his skill with a Rubik’s Cube and his awkward, amiable persona intrigued me. Could this guy really hold the attention of an audience for a whole hour with only some 80’s era puzzle toys (invented in the 70’s but licenced in 1980) and some nerdy humour? The answer is a resounding yes... 

The Tape Face Show

The Tape Face Show

As a genuine YouTube sensation, TV talent show star, and with a Las Vegas residency, Tape Face is a comedy rock god but he isn’t here to play the hits; this is an hour of brand new whimsical material that doesn’t stray far from what you’d expect from this unique act and yet has some delightfully baffling moments... 

Slipstick

Slipstick

A man enters and, La Cage Aux Folles style, he sits at a mirror that isn’t there and paints his face in lurid make-up. He then launches into an inventive and entertaining hour of drag slapstick impersonations and sketches that justify Martin Kent’s billing as ‘The Master of Mime’... 

Chores

Chores

Direct from winning the Weekly Award for Best Children’s Show at the Adelaide Fringe, circus performers Derek Llewellin and Julian Roberts have brought their fun show to Edinburgh... 

8 Songs

8 Songs

For almost thirty years, Gandini Juggling has been setting the bar for juggling performances across the world. Their work blends with performance art and truly pushes the limit of what can be done with juggling as an art form... 

Waiting for Godot

Waiting for Godot

Considered to be one of the greatest plays ever written, Samuel Beckett’s Waiting For Godot is famously a play about nothing. Twice. Two characters wait for the titular character to arrive and as they wait, they meet some other travellers on the road before being informed that Godot will not, in fact, be coming... 

Tilda Swinton Answers an Ad on Craigslist

Tilda Swinton Answers an Ad on Craigslist

Some shows are a must-see simply because of the title, and Tilda Swinton Answers An Ad On Craigslist is about the best title for a play I’ve encountered in several years of reviewing... 

Ben Hart: The Nutshell

Ben Hart: The Nutshell

Ben Hart is concerned with the Butterfly Effect; the part of chaos theory that suggests a small event (such as the flapping of the wings of a butterfly) can have huge consequences elsewhere... 

Skin Deep

Skin Deep

This comedy revue is billed as a ‘celebration of (and for) every body’, an admirable theme for our times when people of all genders, persuasions and body types are finding their voice and becoming part of both the #MeToo and #ItGetsBetter movements... 

Sky Labyrinths

Sky Labyrinths

Having absolutely loved Posolev’s other work at the 2018 Fringe, (Some)Body, I’m a little nervous at the start that this may not be of equal standard. On stage are two performers, cocooned in huge brown paper bags, as an apple hangs in mid air... 

Gamarjobat

Gamarjobat

Gamarjobat shows that comedy is truly without language barriers. Using nothing but gibberish exclamations, whistles, a case full of props and their own bodies, Ketch! and HIRO-PON unleash chaos for an hour before a delighted, baffled and enthusiastic audience... 

Briefs: Close Encounters

Briefs: Close Encounters

I was lucky enough to be in the audience when Briefs made their Fringe debut at the Gilded Balloon back in 2011. The show was fresh, new and utterly original. The company was so small and broke that they held a raffle during the show to try and recoup some of the expense of shipping themselves over to the UK... 

Breaking the Magicians' Code With Kane & Abel

Breaking the Magicians' Code With Kane & Abel

This is one of those shows where to review too closely is to spoil the experience for future audiences, so I’ll stick to the abstract. The jokes come thick, fast and often, and are delivered with the experienced knowledge that a groan is as good as a laugh... 

Broken Romantics: A Unicorn's Quest for Love

Broken Romantics: A Unicorn's Quest for Love

This is one woman’s tale of the many heartbreaks in her life and the lessons she learned from each that allowed her to be able to love herself instead of seeking it in others. It’s a well-worn subject for cabaret and will very likely continue to be so as long as the human race has to deal with all those messy emotions... 

Arr We There Yet?

Arr We There Yet?

When a show opens with the introduction of Captain Skidmark sailing the seven seas upon the good ship, Red Rubber Duckie, you know exactly the level of humour to expect for the next hour... 

The Artist

The Artist

Thom Monckton of Finland’s Circo Aereo returns to Edinburgh with a hugely entertaining hour of silliness. The Artist is full of delightful visual gags, some wonderfully slapstick circus skills and all the hijinks you’d expect from the man behind the smash hit show, The Pianist... 

Cazeleon: The Movies in My Mind

Cazeleon: The Movies in My Mind

Cazeleon, the self-proclaimed ‘cabaret chameleon’ – resplendent in monochrome make-up and a jaunty red, wide-brimmed hat - opens her show with a pitch perfect rendition of ‘History Repeating’... 

(Some)Body

(Some)Body

Last year, I was lucky enough to catch Alyona Ageeva’s Physical Theatre PosleSlov perform to a small audience and immediately became a fan. This Russian company tours outside their homeland in order to express the freedoms inherent in art... 

Maureen Lipman Is 'Up for It'

Maureen Lipman Is 'Up for It'

Maureen Lipman more than qualifies for National Treasure status; she’s shared the stage with everyone from Olivier to Hugh Jackman and has appeared in Oscar winning movies and national advertising campaigns... 

The Birds And The Beats

The Birds And The Beats

Grant Busé wants to talk about sex and he’s determined that we should join in the conversation. The Birds and the Beats is part show, part lecture and part conversation where Busé invites us to ask and answer questions about sex education, sexual experiences and manages to create a genuine intimate atmosphere where it feels safe to talk about one of the most taboo subjects... 

Grace

Grace

Some performances defy genre and this production features elements of solo theatre, sketch comedy and stand-up. Essentially, it’s a one-person play about gender identity but that description does Grace and its writer/performer Katie Reddin-Clancy a disservice... 

No Frills Cabaret

No Frills Cabaret

Circus is changing; different art forms are being encompassed into the genre and many shows are far removed from the classic days of traditional circus, crossing the line into performance art, physical theatre and dance... 

Arj Barker - We Need To Talk

Arj Barker - We Need To Talk

At the start of the show there’s a lot of emphasis on switching off and putting away our mobile phones. We get at least two announcements and then, as he arrives on stage, Barker spends a few moments ensuring the last few folks with digital screens lighting up their faces put their devices in a pocket... 

The Man In The Mail

The Man In The Mail

Inspired by some lesser known writings of the great novelist, poet and playwright, Jules Verne, The Man in the Mail tells the story of a lovelorn fellow who decides to send himself by freight to China in order to pursue his paramour... 

PO PO MO CO

PO PO MO CO

Some shows at Fringe are reviewed because the artistes or their producer approaches you and requests that you come along to see their show. If one has time and is so inclined, you get along and review accordingly but most often, especially during Fringe, you have to politely decline due to an already full calendar... 

KillJoy - Destroy The Fantasy

KillJoy - Destroy The Fantasy

Destroy the Fantasy is unashamedly feminist with a humorous take on the political implications of the fantasy of circus. With a cast of three powerful, queer women, there are all the sequins and sparkle you’d expect but an underlying message that you may not... 

Idris Stanton - The Last King of Vaudeville

Idris Stanton - The Last King of Vaudeville

As one quarter of the amazing Pants Down Circus and one half of hit children’s show The Circus Firemen, Idris Stanton has absolutely earned the right to put his name above the title of this tribute to Vaudeville... 

Fuego Carnal

Fuego Carnal

Returning to Adelaide for the third time, Fuego Carnal is a combination of traditional circus, cabaret and spectacular fire performance. In a tent that’s open to the stars, we are dazzled by an incredible array of performances... 

Michelle Braiser & Laura Frew: Double Denim Adventure Show

Michelle Braiser & Laura Frew: Double Denim Adventure Show

Like Morecambe and Wise smashed together with the two best Spice Girls (Sporty and Scary), Michelle Brasier and Laura Frew have created a brand-new show that easily puts to rest any worries that their success last year could have been a one-off... 

Naked Girls Reading

Naked Girls Reading

I’m not entirely sure of the point of Naked Girls Reading. Surely it couldn’t just be some girls, naked, and reading? But it is a show that does exactly what it says on the poster; four ladies, sans clothing, reading selections from books and poetry chosen based on an ever-changing theme... 

GINGZILLA: Glamonster VS The World

GINGZILLA: Glamonster VS The World

As we wait to enter the Speigel Zelt at Gluttony, Gingzilla is out front, working the crowd. I don’t get close enough to hear what’s being said but she’s clearly the centre of attention and this is obviously her favourite place to be... 

Faulty Towers The Dining Experience

Faulty Towers The Dining Experience

On arriving at the Strathmore Hotel, my companion and I are directed to the bar to secure our drinks order for dinner and to wait until Mr Faulty arrives to seat us. I’m immediately grinning at the thought of the iconic incompetent hotel manager’s imminent appearance... 

Not Today's Yesterday

Not Today's Yesterday

Using a combination of Bharatanatyam (an Indian classical dance style) and contemporary, interpretive dance, this show is a feast for the eyes, ears, heart and soul. Dancer Seeta Patel and choreographer Lina Limosani have created a piece that manages to feel ancient and yet completely of the moment... 

6 Quick Dick Tricks: A Dirk Darrow Investigation

6 Quick Dick Tricks: A Dirk Darrow Investigation

It was hot in the Speakeasy at Gluttony. The kind of hot that makes you wish for a cold beer and some warm companionship. I’d been sent by my editor to check out a Private Investigator that had been making some waves among the showbiz set... 

Movin' Melvin Brown: A Man, A Magic, A Music - The Story continues!

Movin' Melvin Brown: A Man, A Magic, A Music - The Story continues!

Rich acapella singing opens this show as Melvin Brown takes to the stage. He cuts a dashing figure in his red suit and white tap shoes and, as ever, there’s that deep rumbling laugh that peppers his stories... 

LAURIE BLACK: LIVE

LAURIE BLACK: LIVE

The apocalypse is here! No-one is sure how it started or what’s going to happen but luckily, Laurie Black has gathered us in the safe environs of La Boheme to wait out the worst of it... 

Elixir

Elixir

There’s weird science going on in the Octagon at Gluttony; three scientists are attempting to create elixirs that will improve on humanity and perhaps even grant superpowers. Willing to test experimental drugs on themselves (and mostly each other), it can only lead to a bad end scientifically but a fantastic and fun hour for the audience... 

Leather Lungs: Son of a Preacher

Leather Lungs: Son of a Preacher

Leather Lungs, aka Jason Chasland, has something of a following in his home country of New Zealand and with good reason. His four-octave range means that he can hit the notes that other cabaret performers can only dream of and he’s a hilarious and charming presence on stage... 

Cirque Nocturne

Cirque Nocturne

Inspired by the hardboiled crime noir of the 40’s and 50’s, Cirque Nocturne has a narrator rather than a master of ceremonies. Our host is a hard-drinking private investigator attempting to solve yet another murder and encountering a line-up of circus performers who each have a secret of their own... 

Charlie Caper & Malin Nilsson: Minor Miracles

Charlie Caper & Malin Nilsson: Minor Miracles

The initial impression of this show is that it’s going to be an hour of magic with a bit of banter and it’s exactly that but it’s also wonderful. Many of the tricks on display are old classics; the ball and cup routine, rope trick, linking rings, and the bottle and glass switch routine made famous by the legendary Tommy Cooper but, like Cooper, Caper and Nilsson have made these routines their own unique spectacle... 

Yummy

Yummy

The audience in The Box at The Garden of Unearthly Delights is clearly ready to party and expectations for a great show are high. Luckily the Yummy cast are here to deliver the most spectacular drag extravaganza, leaving us screaming for more and hoping that, one day, we might be anywhere near as fabulous... 

The Displaced

The Displaced

The line between circus and physical theatre has been blurring for years now and The Displaced is a magnificent example of how the two art-forms are merging. A cast of seven circus performers have collaborated to create a beautiful performance piece that aches with expression and emotion... 

Indigo's Pianolympics

Indigo's Pianolympics

Indigo’s Pianolympics is a very silly show. Classically trained pianists India Hooi and Hugo Selles have invented a new genre, the piano-themed sketch show. They spend the duration of the performance telling jokes, playing characters and mugging appropriately and the audience laughs along with them throughout... 

Big Tops & Tiny Tots Circus Show

Big Tops & Tiny Tots Circus Show

With seats at the back reserved for the adults, the children are encouraged to sit on the floor right up against the stage for this lovely show that aims to educate and entertain in equal measure... 

Justin Matson: Fatter Than You Think

Justin Matson: Fatter Than You Think

Many stand-up comedians like to be super punchy in their comedy. It’s all about the laughs per minute and working the audience to hone their wit and establish their prowess as masters of comedy... 

The Very Circusy Caterpillar

The Very Circusy Caterpillar

Everyone thinks of children when they think of circus and yet so many shows are completely unsuitable for younger children; they’re either too bombastic and overwhelming or the fusion of circus, theatre and art is completely inaccessible to a small child who isn’t fluent in clowning and the finer arts of contemporary dance... 

Victoria Falconer: Oxymoron

Victoria Falconer: Oxymoron

As one half of the excellent EastEnd Cabaret and a founding member of the awesome Fringe Wives Club, Victoria Falconer is already considered an acclaimed multi-instrumentalist with excellent comic chops and an innate ability to steal a show so the only surprise is that it’s taken her this long to star in her own solo cabaret... 

The Unfair Advantage

The Unfair Advantage

Meeting at a prearranged location in Gluttony to await being led to a secret spot, the small audience for this intimate performance – including myself – are intrigued. Harrison Milas appears and immediately puts us at ease... 

Burlesque By Force

Burlesque By Force

Brodie John has a story to tell and it’s a raw tale of sexual assault, consent and how to move on. John presents himself onstage as a burlesque performer exiting the stage to rapturous applause before telling his tale directly to the audience interspersed with pre-recorded spoken word and some lovely bon mots that bring chuckles that perfectly break up the prose... 

The Circus Firemen

The Circus Firemen

There’s mischief going on in the Cornucopia at Gluttony and it’s not coming from the packed-out audience of children and accompanying adults. On the stage, Angus and Matilda, the titular firemen are throwing beach balls at folk and generally messing around as they wait for the cue to start the show... 

Monsteria

Monsteria

Featuring an all-female cast of three, this is most definitely not your granddad’s idea of circus. This is a fusion of performance art, dance, and physical theatre with elements of circus skills used to challenge our expectations of what circus can be... 

Tabarnak

Tabarnak

Cirque Alfonse return to Adelaide with their newest show and it’s a very different beast to their last hit, BARBU. Set in a sanctuary-like space set with pews and random clutter, the mixed cast are dressed in white, apparent monks or celebrants in this tabernacle of circus... 

Entropy

Entropy

We enter the Speakeasy at Gluttony to pounding techno music and, as the first performer takes the stage dressed in dance leotard and denim shorts, there’s a bawdy whistle from someone in the audience... 

Welcome to the Music Hall

Welcome to the Music Hall

The Old Married Couple may be married but they’re certainly not old. Playing Dixieland jazz with a vaudevillian twist, there’s more than just the music to entertain. Their dynamic is a classic one; the mischievous husband being reined in by the slightly condescending wife, but it’s done with a knowing wink and a certain sexual frisson... 

FuturePlay Virtual Reality Studio

FuturePlay Virtual Reality Studio

Assembly’s foray into digital entertainment returns after last year’s debut of the exhibition with more cutting-edge technology and a fantastic representation of how it can intersect with art... 

The Gin Whore Tour

The Gin Whore Tour

Katherine O’Neil really knows gin. As a professional in the drinks industry for several years and an obvious fan of her subject, she has created this tonic of a show (see what I did there?) that fills us in on the important and fascinating history of Gin and also fills us with gin... 

Abigoliah Schamaun: Namaste, Bitches

Abigoliah Schamaun: Namaste, Bitches

Enlightenment is an unusual concept. What is it? How does one attain it? Is such a thing as enlightenment even possible? An hour in the company of Abigoliah Schamaun is unlikely to aid you in reaching the serenity of the gurus but you’ll definitely leave feeling better about the universe... 

Elaine Davidson's Kinky Freakshow

Elaine Davidson's Kinky Freakshow

Elaine Davidson is something of an Edinburgh icon. She can be regularly seen performing on the Royal Mile and is hard to miss; her multi-coloured hair and several hundred piercings make her a unique sight... 

Paul Dabek – Encore!

Paul Dabek – Encore!

Dabek is an old-school showman; his banter is honed to a bleeding edge and you can easily imagine him holding forth on classic Saturday night TV, perhaps as a guest on The Paul Daniels Magic Show or The Royal Variety Performance... 

Bubble Show for Adults Only

Bubble Show for Adults Only

I wasn’t really in the mood for this show. There was the pressing concern that a bubble show aimed at an adult audience was going to be an hour of dick jokes tagged on to what could just have been a family show... 

Ordinary Days

Ordinary Days

The New York musical is so much of a trope that it could almost be its own genre. Ordinary Days by Adam Gwon is the story of four people, living in the Big Apple and the way that their ordinary lives intersect... 

Any Suggestions, Doctor? An Improvised Adventure in Space and Time

Any Suggestions, Doctor? An Improvised Adventure in Space and Time

I remember when Doctor Who was a practically forgotten, long cancelled show that was only the domain of nerds (like me). I’ve also not forgotten the excitement of the return of the show to Saturday night TV and how happy my nerdy friends and I were to see children playing with toy Daleks and so it still gives me a thrill to see families lining up to see an un-ironic, celebration of this 50-year-old sci-fi serial... 

Dr Carnesky's Incredible Bleeding Woman

Dr Carnesky's Incredible Bleeding Woman

Created through a series of devised rituals performed every month during the dark moon (when the moon is black against the sky) for three months, this show is part lecture, part sideshow and part catharsis... 

Camille O'Sullivan: Where Are We Now?

Camille O'Sullivan: Where Are We Now?

Camille is the Fringe. This is her 13th year here and, in the spiegeltent at Underbelly’s Circus Hub, she’s created a beautiful, personal show.Camille is like a gestalt entity made up of all the greatest singers, alive and dead and this is her anthem to the ones she loves... 

Juan Vesuvius: I am Your Deejay

Juan Vesuvius: I am Your Deejay

New Zealand’s Barnie Duncan has created a perfect comedy persona; he’s believable enough as a character but ridiculous in so many perfectly pitched ways. Using a brilliant blend of wordplay, confused translations and some sublime physical comedy, Duncan shows that he’s deserving of comedy superstar status... 

Twonkey's Christmas in the Jungle

Twonkey's Christmas in the Jungle

Twonkey is lost in the jungle. His agent, Mr Pines, has sent him to the Iquitos Fringe deep in the Peruvian Jungle but, unfortunately for Twonkey and his ever-present sidekick, Chris, there isn’t actually an Iquitos Fringe... 

Whose Line is It Anyway? – Live at the Fringe

Whose Line is It Anyway? – Live at the Fringe

Improv comedy at the Fringe? It’s practically become a punchline in itself but the art of making it up on the spot is big business in Edinburgh in August. There are 96 shows in the 2017 Fringe programme that list themselves as including improvisation but they’re all in trouble because, this year the Daddy of improv has landed at the Assembly Rooms... 

Michael Redmond: I Wrote a Joke in 1987

Michael Redmond: I Wrote a Joke in 1987

Michael Redmond did indeed write a joke in 1987, a good one that still gets a laugh today. This isn’t a show about that one joke, though; it’s about the events led to by the invention of that joke with a few asides, audience questionings and discussions of plagiarism thrown in for good measure... 

The Naked Magicians

The Naked Magicians

I think a naked magic show is a brilliant idea; two magicians with no way to hide anything up their sleeves, in their pockets (or anywhere else) amazing us with their skill at sleight of hand... 

Love Gasoline!

Love Gasoline!

Marcel Duchamp was an artist who is famed for creating work in the cubist style and had a huge impact on the conceptual art movement, particularly Dadaism – He’s the one who famously exhibited a porcelain urinal under the title Fountain... 

On This Side of Time

On This Side of Time

Alyona Ageeva’s PosleSlov Physical Theatre Company presents the UK premier of this contemporary physical theatre performance. A member of the team takes to the stage to inform us that the piece is presented as a philosophical reflection on the relationship between humanity and time; a movement fable about life, death, love and love’s demise... 

Popular Comedian Rob Mulholland

Popular Comedian Rob Mulholland

Rob Mulholland assures us that he’s a popular comedian and then launches into a tirade against the so-called middle class comedians who sell out at the Fringe. It could seem like a less successful standup suffering from a bit of jealousy and having a pop at the comedy establishment but Mulholland’s points are well made and, most importantly, funny... 

Carol Cates: Lady Carol

Carol Cates: Lady Carol

Lady Carol, doyenne of cabaret and comedy ukulele songs for over ten years has reinvented herself and now she’s just Carol Cates. This hour of entertaining banter, charmingly funny songs and crippling self-doubt is a great introduction to the new and hopefully improved Cates... 

Acéléré by Circolombia

Acéléré by Circolombia

Circolumbia was formed in order to provide professional opportunities for the graduates of Columbia’s national circus school, Circo Para Todos which provides circus training for disadvantaged youth in the cities of Cali and Bogota... 

Terry Pratchett's Wyrd Sisters

Terry Pratchett's Wyrd Sisters

This play is an abridged version of the stage adaptation of late novelist Terry Pratchett’s sixth Discworld book which is in itself a parody of Shakespeare’s Macbeth. Confused? Don’t worry; all the tropes are there: three witches, a murdered king, an ambitious wife and a child with a destiny and possibly a crown... 

Someone Dies at the End

Someone Dies at the End

A small group of survivors huddle in a bunker, eating beans and reminiscing on their favourite foods. Before long their camaraderie is shattered by new arrivals, recriminations and mistrust... 

Djuki Mala

Djuki Mala

Djuki Mala, formerly known as the Chooky Dancers, rose to fame ten years ago with a viral YouTube video of Aboriginal dancers performing Zorba the Greek in homage to a Greek woman who cared for the sister of one of the troupe... 

Attached

Attached

Massimilliano Rosetti and Manu Tiger are like a live action cartoon or perhaps a 1930’s Laurel and Hardy short where the boys have joined a circus. We open with them standing on stage wearing Velcro suits... 

Chris Dugdale: Up Close!

Chris Dugdale: Up Close!

Chris Dugdale is a master of the art of sleight of hand and, even when encouraging the audience to closely watch his every move he manages to repeatedly stun them with his apparent ability to teleport cards and other items from one place to another... 

AnimAlphabet the Musical

AnimAlphabet the Musical

Colin the Country Cockatoo is on a mission to reunite all the notes of the stave and save his friends from the dastardly plans of Calando the duck who wants to bring eternal silence to Treble Clef Island... 

Red Bastard: Lie With Me

Red Bastard: Lie With Me

The Bastard is back! Returning after taking a year away from the Fringe to conquer the world, Red Bastard, the beastly bouffon, is here to feast on our lies and he has prepared a spectacular smorgasbord for us to share whether we want to or not... 

Anya Anastasia: Rogue Romantic

Anya Anastasia: Rogue Romantic

There is a woman sprawled across the keys of a grand piano. She rises, sings a song and composes herself in order for her grand introduction. Adelaide’s Anya Anastasia presents herself as a dejected diva and, through original songs and plenty of audience interaction, she’s going to sort out her love life and maybe teach us some lessons along the way... 

Jack Rooke: Happy Hour

Jack Rooke: Happy Hour

Jack Rooke won a scholarship to attend Westminster University to study Journalism. Like all good students, he spent the next three years drinking, dabbling in drugs, dancing and discussing Harry Potter... 

Reuben Kaye

Reuben Kaye

Reuben Kaye is a cabaret god; he’ll tell you so himself. Launching himself onto the stage, he’s dressed like a chandelier mated with a Butlin's redcoat (in a good way) with massive eyelashes and ridiculously high heels and he’s come to Edinburgh to cement his place as a superstar... 

Circus Abyssinia: Ethiopian Dreams

Circus Abyssinia: Ethiopian Dreams

A bed sits in the centre of the huge Lafayette big top at Underbelly’s Circus Hub. The Man in the Moon appears on a small, circular screen and tells us of two boys (who promptly appear on stage) and how they dreamed of being in the circus... 

Show Up

Show Up

Peter Michael Marino greets the audience as we arrive. He’s bouncing about with a nervous energy that he uses to work the crowd and ensure everyone is settled in before he begins his one man show... 

Sigma

Sigma

Four shrouded women take to the stage. They each remove their shrouds and, one by one, they list their hopes for the upcoming show. They want a performance that has fabulous juggling skills, they want a feminist statement, they want it to incorporate Bharatanatyam dancing and they want sexy men to do the dancing... 

Skin

Skin

Last year, 201 Dance Company shattered the stereotypes associated with hip-hop dance with the critically acclaimed Smother. This year, they bring us Skin, which explores one boy’s struggle through gender transition using urban and contemporary dance and a fantastic original score of hip hop and dubsteb beats... 

Origins

Origins

Animikii Theatre’s Origins is an intriguing piece of physical theatre that isn’t afraid to be subtle with it’s plot. Had I gone into the venue unaware of the themes of the piece, I suspect that I may have come away with my own, very different interpretation of what the performance was about... 

Betty Grumble: Love and Anger (or Sex Clown Saves the World Again!)

Betty Grumble: Love and Anger (or Sex Clown Saves the World Again!)

How does one describe Betty Grumble? No really, I’m at a loss. I can throw out words like, obscene beauty queen; sex clown; absurdist stripper; ecosexual satirist, but none of them really do justice to her magnificence... 

Coppélia

Coppélia

Coppélia is originally a comic ballet based on the writings of Prussian romantic author, E.T.A. Hoffman. It tells the tale of Dr Coppélias, who creates a lifelike doll so beautiful that Franz, a young man from the village, abandons his flesh and blood lover, Swanhilda, to pursue the doll, Coppélia... 

Ben Hart: Belief?

Ben Hart: Belief?

Ben Hart opens his hour-long show with a simple but beautiful magic trick that has a playful story attached. He’s confident, charming and has a wry smile that lets you know that he’s never going to be too serious and immediately makes you feel safe in his hands... 

Driftwood

Driftwood

A single red lamp shade hangs above the stage in Assembly’s Spiegeltent Palais Du Variete. The cast of three men and one woman enters and, as they writhe their bodies together and stretch out for the light, the lamp slowly rises out of reach... 

Colin Cloud: Dare

Colin Cloud: Dare

The Fringe is full of mind readers but Colin Cloud’s framing device of presenting his skills as deduction and manipulation creates a whole different feel.It’s a sell-out crowd in Pleasance Grand and the majority seem already convinced from his first moments on stage that, even though this isn’t magic, his abilities transcend normal human reach... 

Hot Brown Honey

Hot Brown Honey

The ladies of Hot Brown Honey are back in Edinburgh and they’re still bringing the power! This mix of burlesque, beats and brashness plays with our preconceptions of what a burlesque show is by being exactly what a burlesque show should be; biting, funny, challenging and an extravaganza... 

I See You – Live

I See You – Live

Stand-up comedian Sam Gore has been taking down celebrities and politicians with his cutting, satirical, absurdist diatribes on Facebook since 2014 and garnered over fifty thousand followers who are quick to click ‘like’ on each of his weekly I See You articles... 

The Ping-Pong Ball Effect

The Ping-Pong Ball Effect

Upsala Circus have been doing incredible work in St. Petersburg for seventeen years and is currently working with more than ninety vulnerable children and adolescents from the street or in difficult or dangerous situations... 

The Listies Make You LOL

The Listies Make You LOL

Back after last year’s fantastic show, the Listies are just as wonderfully ridiculous as ever. Playing to a packed room of children, Matt Kelly and Rich Higgins are still two besties having a great time... 

Knightmare Live

Knightmare Live

As a child of the eighties, I dreamed of appearing on Knightmare; the high-tech fantasy adventure game where three adolescent friends used their inability to discern left from right to guide a fourth friend encumbered by a vision-impairing helmet through a dungeon filled with monsters, riddles and inexplicable random holes in the floor... 

Cirkopolis

Cirkopolis

Cirkopolis begins from the moment the doors open and the audience filters into the massive space at the EICC. Two trenchcoated gentlemen move amongst the crowd playfully interfering with the seating arrangements, blocking aisles and chasing small children (who sometimes chase back!) All the while there is the sound of massive machinery working in the distance... 

The Blues Brothers – Live

The Blues Brothers – Live

It’s a pretty short drive to Stockbridge, I’ve got a full tank of gas, no cigarettes whatsoever, it’s dark... and I’m wearing sunglasses. Hit it.After I take my sunglasses off (safe driving, y’know), I make it safely to C Scala where the joint is rocking... 

Amelia Ryan: Lady Liberty

Amelia Ryan: Lady Liberty

Amelia Ryan used to be a mess. She openly admits it. Her career was in free-fall along with her non-existent love life and her lifestyle wasn’t helping. So she decided to take control and transform her life and herself using her own Seven Step Guide To Being a Lady (or Lad) of Liberty and she’s going to tell us how it went... 

Norman Lovett: Entertaining Moaner

Norman Lovett: Entertaining Moaner

Norman Lovett’s deadpan face will be instantly recognizable to a generation as the dim-witted ship’s computer, Holly of Red Dwarf fame. Fans of the show are well represented in the audience and they’re thrilled to be in the company of the character with an IQ of 6000 (the same as 3000 PE teachers)... 

Smother

Smother

Hip Hop is a strange medium with which to tackle the homosexual experience. It’s a genre that’s steeped in anti-gay rhetoric and misogyny with ‘gayness’ being viewed as something to be disrespected and even destroyed... 

Aaron Calvert: Mind Games

Aaron Calvert: Mind Games

Where a show like Mind Games has to shine is in the mind reading and Aaron Calvert has chosen some lovely tricks that suitably stun the participants onstage and the audience alike. Like most of the new slate of mind reader acts, Calvert doesn’t claim to have psychic abilities; rather he refers to psychology, body language and emotional cues... 

Paul Dabek – Look at Me!

Paul Dabek – Look at Me!

Paul Dabek is back in the spotlight at the Free Fringe and, without giving anything away; this is man who really knows how to make the most of a spotlight.Dabek is a confident and accomplished magician... 

Steele Edge: Martial Arts Illusion Show

Steele Edge: Martial Arts Illusion Show

Steele Edge: Martial Arts Illusion Show bills itself as “a dynamic fusion of physical excitement and visual wonder” but it’s more of a bizarre fusion of vague ‘oriental’ stereotypes, slow motion fight scenes and mediocre magic... 

Royal Vauxhall

Royal Vauxhall

With a script and songs by Desmond O’Connor, this new musical tells the tale of the legendary night that TV superstar, Kenny Everett and rock god, Freddie Mercury dressed Lady Diana, Princess of Wales as a man and smuggled her into notorious London gay venue The Royal Vauxhall Tavern... 

Ben Hanlin: Trickhead

Ben Hanlin: Trickhead

At the end of Trickhead, Ben Hanlin asks the audience to tell everyone about the show but not to spoil the tricks. That’s going to make this a hard show to review as all I can really say about Ben Hanlin apart from his skills as a magician is that he’s a charming, funny and witty chap to spend an hour with... 

SNAP

SNAP

Snap is an incredible display of the very best magic performance that South Korea has to offer. The cast of eight magicians represent a diverse range of magical skills and Casa Kim directs the whole show with panache... 

A Cup of Tea With Lady C

A Cup of Tea With Lady C

I have to start this review with an admission; I had never heard of Lady Colin Campbell and I’ve never watched I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here. However, after some intense research (Wikipedia) and a couple of YouTube binges that made me glad I’d managed to miss out on the phenomenon of people I don’t recognise eating things that they don’t recognise, I was up to speed for this show... 

Dandy Darkly's Myth Mouth!

Dandy Darkly's Myth Mouth!

Louis CK is undoubtedly backstage in the Edinburgh Playhouse, prepping for his show while his audience stretches around the block. They’re not keen to move in fear of losing their place, so I have to fight my way through to the iconic gay bar, CC Bloom’s, which nestles under the historic theatre... 

In the Wine

In the Wine

As a mournful cello plays, Sarah Gatzonis dances a playful ballet around three sturdy wine barrels. She’s naked except for her boots and a vine branch which she shakes at us playfully... 

Michael Griffiths: Cole

Michael Griffiths: Cole

Michael Griffiths is obscenely talented. Over the years, he’s appeared at the Fringe with shows sell-out shows celebrating the music of Madonna and Annie Lennox, but this year, in something of a departure, Griffiths is tackling the songs of Cole Porter... 

Chris Henry: Chris' World

Chris Henry: Chris' World

Chris Henry is a frantic comic. He bounces around the stage like pinball that’s taken a lot of MDMA. Occasionally he giggles manically before launching into his next comedy rant or tale of ineptitude and judgmental friends... 

The Listies 6D (Twice as Good as 3D)

The Listies 6D (Twice as Good as 3D)

There are many children’s shows at the Fringe that seem to follow the formula of throwing a couple of popular franchises together with whatever kids currently like, before adding some by-the-numbers audience participation... 

Colin Cloud: Exposé

Colin Cloud: Exposé

At last year’s Fringe, Colin Cloud packed out the house with his show Kills where, amongst the baffling displays of supernatural prowess, he killed and resurrected an audience member onstage... 

Twonkey's Mumbo Jumbo Hotel

Twonkey's Mumbo Jumbo Hotel

In a tiny room at Sweet Grassmarket a man has placed a wide array of props, toys, figurines, dolls and detritus in an apparently haphazard way. Mr Twonkey, also known as Paul Vickers, welcomes his tiny audience before using all of his assorted trinkets to tell the tale of the Mumbo Jumbo Hotel, its denizens and the shenanigans that may or may not lead to its demolishing and the creation of a retail park that features a Frankie & Benny’s... 

Supper Club at Checkpoint

Supper Club at Checkpoint

Assembly’s Supper Club is up against the big, flashy late night circus revues and cabaret shows and sets out to compete with these by presenting many of the very best guest acts in variety at the Fringe... 

The Remains of Tom Lehrer (Performed by Adam Kay)

The Remains of Tom Lehrer (Performed by Adam Kay)

For a fan of legendary lyricist Tom Lehrer this show is a delight. If you’re not a fan of Mr Lehrer then this show will still delight you and you will be a fan by the end. You’ll also be a fan of Adam Kay... 

The Glitter and Doom Salon

The Glitter and Doom Salon

Jennifer Kingwell has a voice like whisky liqueur and a talent on the piano to rival her own hero, Tom Waits. As host and creator of the Glitter and Doom Salon, she clearly holds Waits in high regard and performs his songs with passion and humour... 

Briefs Factory Presents: Sweatshop

Briefs Factory Presents: Sweatshop

You know you’re in for a good time when a variety show opens with one half of cabaret legends Frisky & Mannish belting out a pop medley, whilst self-proclaimed “sex clown” Betty Grumble and devilishly handsome striptease artiste Brett Rosengreen writhe across the stage as backing dancers... 

The Addams Family

The Addams Family

Charles Addams’ cartoons have been adapted numerous times for TV, film and as an animated series. Thanks to longtime Hollywood composer Vic Mizzy, it also has one of the most recognisable theme tunes in popular culture, so was an obvious candidate to be adapted for a stage musical... 

Yve Blake: Lie Collector

Yve Blake: Lie Collector

Yve Blake is fascinated by the lies we tell and has even gone so far as to set up a website where you can anonymously reveal the various untruths you've told. She's taken that collection of little fibs, white lies and massive untruths and created a one woman musical comedy show that's unmissable... 

Eleanor Morton: Allotted Mucking Around Time

Eleanor Morton: Allotted Mucking Around Time

We are welcomed into the Stand 2 by a red-headed young woman in the guise of an older man. She's made no real effort in her costume other than a jacket and a flat cap and a talent for casual ambling... 

Poet of the Impossible

Poet of the Impossible

In a tiny, hot, almost claustrophobic room on Hanover Street, a poet is performing miracles. Renz Novani weaves words as well as he manipulates a pack of cards and, although we risk passing out from the heat, not one of us will look away for fear that we might miss the next trick... 

La Clique and The Famous Spiegeltent presents VELVET

La Clique and The Famous Spiegeltent presents VELVET

La Clique has been a feature on the Fringe for over ten years and has a well deserved reputation for slick circus cabaret and variety. This year's show from director and creator Craig Ilott is something a little different... 

Afternoon Delight

Afternoon Delight

Bill shows (where the show is made up of several guest acts) can be a mixed bag especially when the format is to showcase one venue’s acts from across their programme. Another difficulty can be when your afternoon show is marketed as being family friendly but many of your acts have shows that are far from that description... 

Hitch!

Hitch!

From Rope to Psycho, Hitch by the Mary Bijou Circus Theatre Company covers all the famous Hitchcock thrillers plus at least one you may not know, as admitted to by a sheepish audience member in the front row... 

Les Misérables (School Edition)

Les Misérables (School Edition)

Les Misérables is a musical based on the 1862 French novel by Victor Hugo that tells the tale of an ex convict who flees his parole, meets a generous priest, becomes mayor of a town, adopts the child of a dying prostitute before getting caught up in a French Revolution (not the famous one - a smaller, less successful, political one) in Paris and finally redeeming himself in the eyes of the policeman who has vowed to return him to prison... 

Dandy Darkly's Trigger Happy!

Dandy Darkly's Trigger Happy!

Dandy Darkly, resplendent in a fringed and spangled cowboy costume complete with tiny Stetson and incredibly pointy snakeskin boots opens his show with a request: should anyone decide to walk out, could they please do so quietly... 

Pants Down Circus: Rock

Pants Down Circus: Rock

It’s probably not acceptable for a review to simply take the form of OMG! This show is amazing... go see it! But that’s probably the most concise way to present Pants Down Circus as they’ve certainly created a show that fits that description... 

Double Booked: Slater vs Melons

Double Booked: Slater vs Melons

Two very different performers have arrived at the Fringe to find that a scheduling conflict means they’re sharing the same one hour performance slot. Wannabe poet and comedian Rachel Slater is chronically unpopular and knows it; she has no friends and even her teachers at school avoided her... 

Renz Novani: Spellbinder - Magic & Mystory

Renz Novani: Spellbinder - Magic & Mystory

This stripped-down mind reading act doesn't have any music, set, lighting changes or bells and whistles and it doesn't need them. It's just Novani in a small black box studio with a table and a couple of chairs... 

Lady Rizo

Lady Rizo

Lady Rizo has quickly become a darling of the Edinburgh Fringe. In three short years, she's now a must-see act and it's easy to see why. She's funny, sexy, smart, dangerous and daring... 

Bec and Tom's Awesome Laundry

Bec and Tom's Awesome Laundry

As the audience files in to Bec and Tom’s Awesome Laundry, the two leads are on stage blowing bubbles and playing a game to see how far into the venue they can float the soapy spheres... 

Hall of Fame

Hall of Fame

Ray Gunn and Luke Reel were expecting to be inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame but a misunderstanding about the eligibility criteria means that they’re going to have to find a new way to achieve rock infamy... 

Jollyboat: Five Stars, F*****ck Yeah!

Jollyboat: Five Stars, F*****ck Yeah!

It’s always a delight to see a Free Fringe show doing well and, on arriving at the venue for this show, the queue is stretching into the distance. Not being the type to stand in queues, I hang around the door until everyone is in and then luckily nab a seat in the second row as it’s standing room only in the largish venue... 

Colin Cloud – The Forensic Mind Reader

Colin Cloud – The Forensic Mind Reader

Colin Cloud strolls confidently on stage and announces that he already knows what we’re thinking. It’s easy to believe him; he’s every inch the Forensic Mind Reader inspired, as he claims to be, by the greatest forensic detective, Sherlock Holmes... 

Frisky and Mannish: Just Too Much

Frisky and Mannish: Just Too Much

Felicity Fitz Frisky and Hansel Amadeus Mannish are the quintessential Fringe success story. They have spent the last few years going from unknown act on the cabaret circuit to bona fide international stars... 

The Creative Martyrs: Cabapocalypsaret

The Creative Martyrs: Cabapocalypsaret

Last year the Creative Martyrs offered weary Fringe-goers refuge from the apocalypse in their musical show at the end of the world. They encouraged the huddled masses to work together to rebuild society using the egalitarian world of cabaret as a model... 

Dr Sketchy's Edinburgh Anti Art School Experience

Dr Sketchy's Edinburgh Anti Art School Experience

Dr Sketchy’s Anti-Art School is an international phenomenon with events on six continents and an army of dedicated ‘Art Monkeys’ attending these life drawing classes where art and mischief go hand in hand... 

Damsel in Shining Armour

Damsel in Shining Armour

Sophie Walsh Harrington is talented, beautiful and a little bit unhinged – but in a good way. She’s returned to the Fringe with her 2011 show about trying to find love which saw her win Best Cabaret at the Adelaide Fringe and gain fantastic reviews here in Edinburgh... 

Broadway Enchanté

Broadway Enchanté

Broadway Enchanté is a delightful piece of entertainment. As a huge fan of musicals, I expect high standards from musical revue shows and Isabelle Georges has a fine voice and is pleasant company for the duration of this show consisting of a wide range of musical hits from the West End and Broadway going back to the earliest days of Cole Porter... 

Briefs: The Second Coming

Briefs: The Second Coming

Recently, in another review, I wrote that La Clique was showing every other cabaret on the Fringe how it should be done. The cast of Briefs didn't get that memo; they were too busy putting together an incredible, overwhelming barrage of talent, beauty, bawdy comedy and fantastic circus that reinterprets the cabaret format in the same way that La Clique did in 2004... 

La Clique

La Clique

One can’t help going into La Clique with a certain expectation. The reputation of this show thunders before it and with the swish surroundings of the Famous Spiegeltent, cat-lady usherettes and an insistence from the staff that the show is best enjoyed with a drink in hand, I was expecting to be dazzled and dazzled I was... 

In Flagrante

In Flagrante

As a man who has seen more cabaret and burlesque than any sane person should; I was unconvinced by the promise of ‘An all out rebellion against female sexual stereotypes’ but after an hour of pony-girl dressage, hospital fetish strip-tease, sensual ballet and synchronised marching, I have to say that In Flagrante is definitely a contender for sexiest show on the Fringe... 

Triskaidekaphilia

Triskaidekaphilia

Described as Scotland’s best schlock horror cabaret burlesque sideshow, Triskaidekaphilia is a show that certainly managed to live up to its publicity. The host, Vendetta Vain, is a modern day Elvira - all big hair and slinky PVC... 

The Lady Boys of Bangkok - Carnival Queens Tour

The Lady Boys of Bangkok - Carnival Queens Tour

I’m not convinced there’s still a place for The Lady Boys of Bangkok anymore. Surely we’ve moved beyond the time when we pay to see what is essentially a freakshow? Yes, it’s kind of glamorous (although with a hint of low-rate Vegas) and yes the costumes are fabulous but it all seems a bit strange... 

Cabaret Whore - Her Finest Hour

Cabaret Whore - Her Finest Hour

This show is certainly value for money. A one-woman show with a cast of three, all original songs and even some sing-a-long action at the end where the audience gets to sing something awful in French...