The Reluctant Doctor

The Reluctant Doctor

'Fed up with grim, hand-wringing, one-man shows?' asks this production's flier: 'Go and see something funny.' While this production of Moliere's farce isn't laugh out loud amusing, it is certainly a refreshing antidote to bad stand-up, which is what 'grim, hand-wringing, one-man shows' connotes for me... 

Steve Bell: Rose Bladder - How did Cameron get to look like that?

Steve Bell: Rose Bladder - How did Cameron get to look like that?

Given that Edinburgh is something of a Glastonbury equivalent for guardianistas, Steve Bell's show seethes with lively, middle-aged enthusiasm. Yet the first face we are greeted by is not Bell's, but David Cameron's: Behind the ample assembly stage shines a huge close-up of the PM... 

Hashtag #DoubleStandards - Twitter on Trial

Hashtag #DoubleStandards - Twitter on Trial

Presented in a university lecture hall, Hashtag Double Standards: Twitter on Trial is a talk given by Paul Motion, a solicitor since 1984 with an interest in social media. He's not, as he iterates to us, providing legal advice here - though as it turns out, given the rapidity with which one misjudged tweet might result in prosecution, some of what he says might turn out to be personally useful to any prolific tweeter in the audience... 

The Way to Keep Him

The Way to Keep Him

This play has a great plot. Grieved by her husband's infidelity, the virtuous Mrs Lovelace goes to the house of his mistress, Mrs Bellmore, to confront her. Yet upon arrival, she is met by two surprises: firstly, that Mrs Bellmore has no knowledge of Mr Lovelace; secondly, that behind the glamour the famous widow-cum-mistress (a sort of eighteenth century It Girl) is in fact very sympathetic... 

Ad-Lib: Spontaneous Genius

Ad-Lib: Spontaneous Genius

'Who are you here for?' asks the Assembly ticket-tearer as he works his way through the sizeable queue. The answer showed little variation: Given the absolute mania Doctor Who inspires - and, indeed, Sherlock - what hope did the Frank Skinner fan base ever stand against the Stephen Moffat army? Such imbalance might seem a flaw in the 'Ad-Lib' format... 

Beside the Greenside

Beside the Greenside

Despite the promise of five ''appenings' on the poster, on arrival at Beside The Greenside, it is immediately clear that very little is 'appening there at all. Situated on a small patch of grass behind a church, Mardy Arts' artistic residency feels more like a dressed-up entrance to a car park than an artistic event... 

Piracy! Comedy on the High C's

Piracy! Comedy on the High C's

Pirates, exclamation mark. Eighteenth century pirates, eager to corrupt (in more ways than one) a Royal Navy ship under the command of the 'hapless' Captain Trumpeter. Murder, love, songs, a girl disguised as a boy... 

The Boss of It All

The Boss of It All

The 'office comedy': mastered in 'The Office' and storming the Fringe this year in Blam!; here that well-loved genre takes on a new guise in the first theatre adaptation of Danish film director Lars Von Trier's The Boss of It All... 

Darts Wives

Darts Wives

The writers of Darts Wives bring a new concept to the comedy circuit. Their sketch-style comedy centres on four insipid, fame obsessed and greedy wives of darts players: the DWAGS (their coinage)... 

Shhhh - An Improvised Silent Movie

Shhhh - An Improvised Silent Movie

I watched Shhhh in a state of complete bafflement. And not in a good way. This was bafflement bred of boredom; bafflement bred of a play that tried and failed miserably to string together anything coherent... 

Cape Wrath

Cape Wrath

Cape Wrath is an intimate one man show. It consists of performer Alex Kelly sharing with us the story of his grandfather's solitary 'jaunt' to Cape Wrath - the most Northern point of Scotland - by public transport and Alex's own experience of the same journey, made as an act of remembrance after his grandfather's funeral... 

Amazing Amber

Amazing Amber

One of the most memorable pieces on show at Amazing Amber is a beautiful piece of genuine Baltic amber containing a small, perfectly preserved fly. A fly which, in some bygone century, had made the mistake of flying too close to the sticky resin on the bark of a tree... 

Jackson Voorhaar's One True Love(s) - Free

Jackson Voorhaar's One True Love(s) - Free

Jackson Voorhaar’s set details the things he loves and loathes. He tells us about his relationship-destroying passion for the South American prog titans The Mars Volta, his love for travel, his affection for his yoga instructor girlfriend... 

We Love Comedy

We Love Comedy

When a show is going badly, repeatedly telling the audience that they’re a tough crowd only ever exacerbates matters. It makes the lack of laughs more noticeable, the comedian look bitter and the audience feel insulted... 

Dirty Hands

Dirty Hands

Only a few things feel strained in this transposition of Les Mains Sales to 1982 Northern Ireland. Resentment directed against Hugo - who’s originally a member of the bourgeoisie - is explained by making him an ‘intellectual American rich kid’... 

Sara Pascoe - The Musical!

Sara Pascoe - The Musical!

In her white shirt, grey knee length skirt and black brogues, Sara Pascoe looks like a schoolgirl. This is intentional - as well as her outfit, much of her set evokes the schoolgirl she once was... 

Baby With the Bathwater

Baby With the Bathwater

There’s a difference between absurdist theatre and ridiculous theatre. Baby With The Bathwater calls itself the former. However, in this production at least, it’s definitely the latter... 

Well Done You - Free

Well Done You - Free

‘Well Done You’ calls itself a character sketch show, but Lucy Trodd and Ruth Bratt are in character even when not doing sketches. This is a nice touch - it ensures that the chat in between is often as funny as the sketches themselves... 

Treasure Island

Treasure Island

Dominic Allen’s adaptation of this old pirate classic is fast paced and good fun. What with the looming threat mutiny and the Blind Spot, the pursuit of hidden treasure and Jim’s coming of age, the pirate ship is a busy place - and, in this production, an entertaining watch... 

Peer Gynt

Peer Gynt

Peer Gynt is, according to our storyteller, ‘the most self-centred, egotistical liar in literary history’. This, however, certainly hasn’t put Kare Conradi off Ibsen’s play... 

Roisin Conaty: Lifehunter

Roisin Conaty: Lifehunter

Roisin Connaty may describe herself as ‘almost good looking,’ but she has a weapon of attraction quite independent from her sunny, open expression or her bleached blonde hair. Roisin Connaty is gorgeously funny... 

Sally-Anne Hayward: The Inbetweeny Lady

Sally-Anne Hayward: The Inbetweeny Lady

It’s not why she’s called the Inbetweeny Lady, but Sally-Anne Hayward’s set details what happened to her in between last year’s Edinburgh Fringe and this year’s. It’s very heavily dominated by the death of her father, starting with the phone call that saw her make a rushed exit from 2011 Edinburgh Fringe Festival... 

Rubberbandits

Rubberbandits

Not long ago, the Rubberbandits were just a couple of schoolboy pranksters. It’s not difficult to imagine. Larking about on stage, the musical Irish comedy duo are cheeky and reprehensible, but also obviously clever and perversely appealing... 

Jenny Fawcett

Jenny Fawcett

Louise Ford’s character Jenny Fawcett has an earnest, alarming smile, slightly mad eyes behind unsexy specs and a gurgling voice. She reminds me of a schoolgirl or, more specifically, of Shirley Henderson’s Moaning Myrtle... 

Mary Bourke: Hail Mary!

Mary Bourke: Hail Mary!

It’s a relief when Mary Bourke promises that she won’t be doing any clichéd ‘female comic’ stuff. It’s a surprise, though, when she tells us that her set is a massive phallus rammed full of jokes... 

Jen Brister - Now and Then

Jen Brister - Now and Then

With an intense stare, Jen Brister describes her set as ‘a beige lesbian in a darkened room.’ ‘There won’t be any thinking’, she adds, in a similarly combative tone, ‘this show is entirely about me’... 

Nights at the Circus

Nights at the Circus

You should brace yourself before seeing Nights At The Circus, and not just because of its circus setting. Adapted from Angela Carter’s 1984 novel, it follows a troupe of circus entertainers journeying from London to Siberia... 

A Funny Thing Happened On the Way to the Forum

A Funny Thing Happened On the Way to the Forum

The 1960s hit A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum is a fast-paced, rollicking farce. Borrowing a few of Plautus’ stock characters and adding some American twentieth century wit, the script is good fun, if no particular vehicle for showcasing three-dimensional acting talent... 

Shirtwaist

Shirtwaist

Shirtwaist is a brilliant piece of grim theatre. It’s no easy feat to pull off a one-woman play based on a story as emotionally laden as that of the Triangle Shirtwaist factory fire, but here the tragedy is communicated with acute sensitivity... 

Celia Pacquola - Delayed

Celia Pacquola - Delayed

I’d never been enticed by terrible dancing before I saw Celia Pacquola. Sharing her top tips as to how to win the game Ugly Dance Moves, Pacquola establishes a charmingly silly, playful tone... 

The Table

The Table

This puppet’s nose isn’t growing when he comments that The Table is,‘difficult to put your finger on, as you’ll discover when you try and tell your friends what you came to see... 

Tartuffe

Tartuffe

The most prominent feature of this production’s adaptation is its swingin’ sixties setting. A pre-show video gives us a bit of context: a Folgers coffee ad; an extract from ‘Father Knows Best’; a few Beatles clips... 

Believe - Starring Shane Dundas from the Umbilical Brothers

Believe - Starring Shane Dundas from the Umbilical Brothers

For the first ten minutes, Shane Dundas’ material revolves entirely around his fear of a solo show. Accustomed to forming half of a double act, he confides in us that when alone on the stage he feels, ‘like a chicken in headlights’... 

Catriona Knox - Hellcat

Catriona Knox - Hellcat

First impressions can be misleading. The mawkishly patronising, ‘hello darling!’ with which Catriona Knox greeted each one of us made me feel tense rather than amused. While her first character, Nico the Glasto 1979 performer, is intentionally irritating, I found that choice irritating... 

BDOOL (Best Days of Our Lives) - Free

BDOOL (Best Days of Our Lives) - Free

James and Craig - the comedy duo behind Best Days of Our Lives - earn their stars as much through likeability as humour. The show only very loosely sticks to its professed theme of schooldays; Best Days of Our Lives feels more like a showcase for some assorted funny ideas than anything more unified... 

Hannibal Buress: Still Saying Stuff

Hannibal Buress: Still Saying Stuff

Hannibal Buress is a really chilled-out entertainer. Mockingly anti-climactic from start to finish, his set meanders with what seems like nonchalant ease. This is no doubt aided by his slow, South Californian drawl, which makes words like ‘goofy’ and ‘dude’ sound positively melodic... 

Barry Morgan's World of Organs

Barry Morgan's World of Organs

Barry Morgan’s act rests heavily on double entendre. If you don’t find puns on the word ‘organ’ funny, his hour slot won’t be your thing. Weirdly however, that doesn’t mean you won’t find yourself laughing...