Jacques Brel is Alive and Living in Paris

Jacques Brel is Alive and Living in Paris

Any list of famous Belgians must include the trio Georges Simenon, Audrey Hepburn and Jacques Brel. Brel has become the epitome of the French chansonnier, intense, dramatic, black polo-neck, despite his nationality and indeed the fact that French was his second language... 

Return of the Soldier

Return of the Soldier

Rebecca West was one of the supreme journalists and travel writers of the 20th century, caustic and sharp-eyed. Her novels have lasted less well, and The Return of the Soldier, her first, is widely regarded as rather clumsy and unfocused, a case of an ambitious reach exceeding grasp... 

Eye of a Needle

Eye of a Needle

For traditionalists, this is a heartening time for new writing in the theatre. Suddenly there seems to a plethora of young playwrights with a proper respect for the virtues of shape, climax and release, for solid character and plotting, who are happy to provide a satisfying evening in the theatre without one eye on the future TV play or film... 

The Trial of the Jew Shylock

The Trial of the Jew Shylock

‘The Merchant of Venice’ has always been a problematic play, with its Elizabethan anti-Semitism rubbing shoulders with almost fairy-tale elements (the three caskets) and Shakespeare’s emerging dramatic skill infusing the racial stereotype with a kind of grudged humanity almost in spite of the playwright’s conscious intent... 

In The Heights

In The Heights

The Heights of the title are Washington Heights, a Dominican-American neighbourhood of New York at the top end of New York. It’s a neighbourhood familiar to composer/lyricist Lin Manuel Miranda, who is of Puerto Rican origin, and was brought up In the Hood... 

How To Succeed in Business Without Really Trying

How To Succeed in Business Without Really Trying

‘How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying’ is the third of Frank Loesser’s trio of Broadway masterpieces, following ‘Guys and Dolls’ and ‘The Most Happy Fella’ (someone revive, please)... 

Blues In The Night

Blues In The Night

“Blues in the Night” is a compilation revue, a tribute to the black performers and music of Harlem in the 1920s and 30s. Loosely strung on a plot involving three women who have all had a relationship with the same heel of a man, the dialogue-less show consists of a series of classic numbers which fall into two categories: full-on blues, mostly written and performed originally by Bessie Smith, and torch songs, anthems of female masochism, several of which share the distinction of being covered by the great Billie Holiday... 

Safe Sex / On Tidy Endings

Safe Sex / On Tidy Endings

Harvey Fierstein, before he branched out into writing books for straight musicals, was a kind of theatrical barometer of gay life. His concerns as a dramatist were our concerns. In ‘Torch Song Trilogy’, it was all coming out and gay identity; in ‘La Cage Aux Folles’ it was gay marriage... 

Archimedes' Principle

Archimedes' Principle

Archimedes’ Principle is a recent (2012) play from the young(ish) Catalan playwright and director Joseph Maria Miro i Coromina. The principle in question concerns displacement – a floating object displaces its own weight in water... 

Joe Orton: The Musical

Joe Orton: The Musical

‘Above the Stag’ (ATS) is one of the most distinctive and necessary production houses in London. For the last four years it has been mounting in-yer-face yet populist queer theatre of a kind found hardly anywhere else... 

Damn Yankees

Damn Yankees

There are no three words more calculated to make a critic’s heart sink than Amateur Operatic Society. So I approached Imperial Productions' staging of ‘Damn Yankees’ with a certain amount of trepidation... 

Thérèse Raquin

Thérèse Raquin

I was worrying about the cat. In the 1869 Zola novel on which this adaptation is based, Madame Raquin, Thérèse’s aunt, has a cat. Once Thérèse and her great hulk of a lover Laurent have killed her husband, Camille, their relationship falls apart in recrimination and guilt... 

Doctor Miracle

Doctor Miracle

Bizet’s one-act opera ‘Le Docteur Miracle’ is a fine and fizzy confection cooked up at the age of only eighteen as an entry to a competition for a comic opera organised by Offenbach in the 1850s... 

It's A Bird! It's A Plane! It's Superman!

It's A Bird! It's A Plane! It's Superman!

Charles Strouse and Lee Adams’ ‘It’s a Bird etc’ is something of an oddity. Premiered in the middle of the 1960s and inspired by the Superman comics, this is a camp confection of 50s kitsch which both sends up the original characters and situation, and yet yearns for the time when America, in the form of the Caped Crusader, had a mission to Do Good in the world – and when Evil was a simple matter of mad scientists... 

Rachel's Café

Rachel's Café

“Everyone is Welcome – No Exceptions” is the motto of Rachel’s Café in Bloomington, Indiana, a university town with a liberal and artistic ambience and pretensions. Rachel is a transsexual, and in her rather makeshift café (chairs not matching, menu misspelt) regales us as she closes up with the story of a life which led to this moment... 

Drunk

Drunk

Drew McOnie, the inventive deviser and choreographer of ‘Drunk’, straddles worlds. He has worked closely with Mattew Bourne and done a whole slew of accessible modern dance pieces as well as choreographed musicals ancient and modern... 

Punishment Without Revenge

Punishment Without Revenge

There is a film of the life of Lope de Vega, in English The Outlaw¸ but no film could do justice to his extraordinary life. Two wives, one of whom died in childbirth while the other went blind and died mad, several mistresses, innumerable casual encounters before and after he became a priest, several military expeditions as a soldier (he was with the Armada), several children both legitimate and illegitimate, most of whom died young, secretary and general factotum to the Dukes of Alba and Sessa, imprisonment for libel, banishment – and somehow, in and out of this whirlwind, he managed to write 1,800 – that’s not a misprint – 1,800 full-length plays... 

Flight

Flight

The set is made up of suitcases. Battered old cases and trunks piled up anyhow. Temporary, chaotic, makeshift. For this is Russia (or, more accurately these days, the Ukraine) towards the end of the Russian Civil War of 1917-22... 

Fuerzabruta

Fuerzabruta

Fuerzabruta (Brute Force) has been touring its acrobatic, surreal spectacular for nearly ten years now, which is proof of its enormous popularity. It reopened the much-revamped steam engine shed in 2006 and now it’s back and playing to packed houses... 

Kiss Me Kate

Kiss Me Kate

Ovation has a distinguished track record for musicals at the Gatehouse. With their last show, ‘Avenue Q’, they played a blinder. It would be pleasant to report that they had hit the jackpot again with ‘Kiss Me Kate’... 

The Pride

The Pride

I’ve never bought into the distinction between ‘amateur’ and ‘professional’, at least on the London Fringe. Performers are lucky if they can barely cover expenses anyway; while many in the best so-called ‘amateur’ companies have had ‘professional’ training... 

The Shape of Things

The Shape of Things

It occurred to me watching Neil LaBute’s 90-minute four-hander, that he is the nearest thing America has to George Bernard Shaw. He writes ‘issue’ plays, with meaty themes, in which the dialectic of argument is matched by the dialiectic of character... 

Halbwelt Kultur

Halbwelt Kultur

This cabaret of 1920s and 1930s Berlin songs is billed as an homage, a reclamation, of the female cabaret performers of the Weimar Republic. It references forgotten names such as Valeska Gert, Gabriele Tergit and Blandine Ebinger, as well as the better-known, even legendary, Marlene Dietrich and revolutionary Rosa Luxemburg... 

Passing By

Passing By

Martin Sherman’s ‘Passing By’ has an assured niche in gay history, being one of the first plays mounted by the pioneering Gay Sweatshop, and the first that seemed to have no axe to grind... 

Jekyll and Hyde

Jekyll and Hyde

‘Jekyll and Hyde’ is such an archetypal folk myth by now that it’s hard to believe in an imaginative world without it, or that someone actually sat down and wrote it. Robert Louis Stephenson, the story goes, had a nightmare, woke up and wrote his novella in an hour, and was so horrified by what he had written that he burned it... 

A Scent of Flowers

A Scent of Flowers

James Saunders is one of the forgotten playwrights of the 60s, sandwiched between, and elbowed aside by Osborne, Pinter, Stoppard etc. Yet he is a unique voice of the period, and at the time was widely regarded as a rare torchbearer of Absurdism in the British theatre... 

Fleabag

Fleabag

Reviews of ‘Fleabag’, which won a Fringe First Award at Edinburgh this summer, tended to treat it as a kind of scabrous stand-up routine on the subject of Sex and the Single Girl... 

Little Me

Little Me

'Little Me' is the musicalisation of a cod autobiography by Patrick Dennis. In it, Belle Poitrine (French for ‘Great Tits!’ – what makes you think it was written by a gay man?!) tells of her rise and rise to acquire money, culture and social status in order to be worthy of her true love, blue-blooded Noble Eggleston... 

Titanic

Titanic

On paper, any musicalisation of the story of the Titanic looks like sailing to disaster. The story is so well known, it has been done so often, from the classic British movie ‘A Night to Remember’ to Julian Fellowes recent miniseries, where it would have been more interesting to watch the iceberg... 

Skin Tight

Skin Tight

There is a moment in Sheridan’s ‘The Critic’ when Mr Puff and Mr Dangle are watching a play-within-a-play about the Spanish Armada. Sir Christopher Hatton and Sir Walter Raleigh are at Tilbury Fort, and Raleigh is deep in acres of exposition:“Raleigh: Philip, you know is proud Iberia’s king... 

The Comedy of Oedipus

The Comedy of Oedipus

In these times of galloping Islamophobia, the Shubbak (Window) Festival, celebrating Arabic arts, is most welcome. A highly imaginative two-week extravaganza across the genres offers something pretty much for everyone, and the music looks particularly tasty... 

Pop-up Opera

Pop-up Opera

Pop-Up Opera are a (very) small-scale touring company taking opera with piano accompaniment to unusual venues in the hope of creating new audiences. Operating with a hair-raising lack of resources, often in rooms no bigger than your living room, they bring to their work great good humour, inventive visual gags and musical flair... 

Four Farces

Four Farces

Probably our best knowledge of Victorian farce comes from WS Gilbert’s topsy-turvy world of the Savoy operas, where an absurd premise leads with impeccable logic to an even more absurd conclusion... 

The Bear

The Bear

Bears, in dream interpretation theory, are a symbol of renewal and rebirth. Or, alternatively, of obstacles. Being attacked by a bear, in one theory, represents anger and having problems with anger management... 

Billy

Billy

We live in something of a golden age as far as Fringe productions of music theatre are concerned. At least three venues (Union Theatre, Ye Olde Rose and Crown Walthamstow, The Gatehouse in Highgate) devote a large part of their output to musical revivals or UK premieres... 

Avenue Q

Avenue Q

It takes some chutzpah to present the Fringe premiere of a West End musical that played 2000 performances over five years and across three theatres, and only closed less than three years ago... 

Phantom

Phantom

Pity the composer who gets there first: Auber’s opera ‘Manon Lescaut’ eclipsed by both Puccini and Mascagni; Nicolai’s ‘Merry Wives of Windsor’ by Verdi’s ‘Falstaff’... 

Michelangelo Drawing Blood

Michelangelo Drawing Blood

Michaelangelo Drawing Blood is a 75-minute dance piece with an arresting score by Charlie Barber. Michaelangelo (Aaron Jeffrey) wrestles – literally at times – with his creation, the naked male form which he both tries to understand (like Leonardo he scandalised his times with his interest in anatomy) and to shape to his vision... 

The Last Days of Judas Iscariot

The Last Days of Judas Iscariot

The ‘last days’ of the title is used in a Milennarian sense – we are at Judas’s Judgement Day, at a trial which ostensibly will determine whether Judas should be released from the 9th Circle of Hell, which is where Dante consigned traitors... 

L'Elisir d'Amore

L'Elisir d'Amore

PopUp Opera – not Pop Opera, they insist – has a mission to take ‘real’ opera into new places and reach new audiences. This includes such unlikely venues as the upstairs front room of Black’s Club in the heart of Soho, where they presented Donizetti’s evergreen comic masterpiece... 

The Revenge of Sherlock Holmes

The Revenge of Sherlock Holmes

Leslie Bricusse is a distinguished name in the songwriting pantheon, with a string of Oscars and Tony Awards to his name. With two Bond theme songs, ‘Dr Doolittle’, ‘Willy Wonka’ and ‘Victor Victoria’ to his credit, Bricusse arguably did his best work for movies... 

Gibraltar

Gibraltar

On 6th March 1988 a group of SAS men ambushed three IRA members (Mairéad Farrell, Sean Savage, Daniel McCann) on a petrol station forecourt in Gibraltar and killed them. .The British soldiers shot McCann five times, Farrell six times, and Savage, a 17-year-old who bolted towards the town centre in panic, sixteen times... 

Quasimodo

Quasimodo

There was a time when I was a lad when Lionel Bart was everywhere. Children’s Favourites every Saturday was sure to have Tommy Steele singing ‘Little White Bull’ (or, as he put it, ‘Li’ew white Buw); Two-Way Family Favourites on Sunday would have ‘Fings Ain’t Wot They Used T’Be’... 

Darling of the Day

Darling of the Day

On paper, it looks like a dream team. Jule Styne with The Bells are Ringing, Gypsy and Funny Girl to his credit wrote the music; Yip Harburg (Wizard of Oz, Finian’s Rainbow) did the lyrics, who had penned two of the most perfect songs ever written – Over the Rainbow and Brother Can You Spare a Dime? Librettist Nunnally Johnson, though better known as a film writer/director, had at least won an Oscar for The Grapes of Wrath... 

Mydidae

Mydidae

‘Mydidae’, according to Wikipedia, are a group of large flies with a short lifespan and a large sting. Having taken the trouble to look it up, I then spent much of the 75 minutes of this two-hander subconsciously trying to ferret out the significance... 

Making Dickie Happy

Making Dickie Happy

‘Making Dickie Happy’ is set in March 1922. Arthur Conan Doyle has just published part two of ‘Thor Bridge’, one of the better late Sherlock Holmes stories, in the Strand Magazine... 

Oedipus

Oedipus

Sophocles’ ‘Oedipus’ is probably the oldest text in the world which still retains the power to shock, excite and move us in a thoroughly modern way. Across 2400 years it speaks to us of helplessness before events, of come-uppance and the essential unfairness and arbitrariness of life... 

One Touch of Venus

One Touch of Venus

‘One Touch of Venus’ is Kurt Weill’s most ‘commercial’ American score, attached to a kind of variation on the Pygmalion theme, in which an ancient statue of Venus, brought to America from Anatolia by dodgy art collector Whitelaw Savory, is accidentally brought to life by a humdrum little barber, Rodney Hatch... 

Dear World

Dear World

‘Dear World’ is one of those problem musicals, beloved by its creator Jerry Herman but, like his other sickly child ‘Mack and Mabel’, never quite taking off. This despite multiple tinkerings with the book and additions and subtractions to the score... 

Gay's The Word

Gay's The Word

Ivor Novello was the Andrew Lloyd-Webber of his day. He specialised in vast lavish productions at Drury Lane, soupy, rather derivative romantic ballads, impossibly Ruritanian settings... 

A Respectable Wedding

A Respectable Wedding

Berthold Brecht was never averse to biting the hand that fed him, as long as it didn’t harm his career prospects. At the time he wrote ‘A Respectable Wedding’ he was 21, living off a generous parental allowance in his native Bavaria, desperately trying to get into the theatre by any means possible... 

London Wall

London Wall

Gay playwright John van Druten is now almost completely forgotten except for ‘I am a Camera’, his adaptation of Isherwood’s ‘Goodbye to Berlin’, which was also the basis of the musical ‘Cabaret’... 

The Act

The Act

To some, history is a search for reinforcement, basically about people like ourselves: theatre as a lifestyle accessory. To others, such as LP Hartley, who famously wrote that “the past is a foreign country, they do things differently there”, it is an act of empathy and imagination, a journey into often strange mindsets... 

Hancock's Half Hour

Hancock's Half Hour

The BBC has a lot to answer for, not least the wiping out of great swathes of our cultural heritage from the 50s, 60s and 70s. Peter Cooke and Dudley Moore’s seminal ‘Not Only… But Also’, large swathes of early ‘Doctor Who’, the Wednesday Play, the Apollo moon landings coverage…... 

Crazy for You

Crazy for You

It is a brave company which puts on the first Fringe production of the Gershwins’ ‘Crazy for You’ so soon after the Regents Park Open Air production, which transferred successfully into the West End and only closed a few months ago... 

Guys And Dolls

Guys And Dolls

Frank Loesser’s 1950 musical, ‘Guys and Dolls’, dates not a day in this charming production by SEDOS, the thespian arm of the Stock Exchange (I kid you not). In addition to offering at least five numbers which have entered the Great American Songbook, it boasts a book, based on the short stories of Broadway low-life by Damon Runyan, as witty and flavoursome as any in the musical canon... 

Boy Meets Boy

Boy Meets Boy

Dear Noel and Cole,Put down that celestial martini and stop fondling those cherubs. I have the most sensational news for you. You know how you’re always bitching that no-one can write musicals nowadays like you did? I know there was a time when you had high hopes for that brainy young Sondheim, but then he got all serious about Musicals as Art, so that one went out of the window... 

The Happy Prince

The Happy Prince

Sue Casson’s musical adaptation if Oscar Wilde’s short story, “The Happy Prince” is billed as a family show, but it’s difficult to see children appreciating it. It’s a dark tale, with a characteristic fin-de-siecle equation of love and death... 

Endgame

Endgame

Just sometimes, the best of amateur companies come up with a production which puts in the shade all those numerous Fringe productions with pretentions to ‘professionalism’ put on by out-of-work drama graduates and thespian bottom-feeders... 

Shelf-Life

Shelf-Life

‘Shelf Life’ is an interactive, site-specific piece which makes use of the labyrinths of the old BBC Radio London studios in Marylebone. When we arrive we are given an Achievement Book and a balloon, which we are instructed to blow into before we start... 

The Francis Bacon Opera

The Francis Bacon Opera

The 1985 South Bank Show interview with Francis Bacon is a television classic. In it, presenter Melvyn Bragg went out to lunch with the painter in Soho. In the course of an afternoon, the encounter turned more liquid than lunch, and the normally magisterial Bragg became progressively more sozzled while Bacon, to whom this was an almost daily routine, remained comparatively in command... 

Annie's Room

Annie's Room

Annie’s Room purports to be a biographical show about jazz singer Annie Ross, but there is very little biography in this apart from a bald statement of a few facts which could have been culled from Wikipedia... 

21A - Free

21A - Free

Fans of Garrison Keillor will know the territory covered by this show, the semi-folksy world of Lutheran Minnesota. This show is better than Keillor. Less whimsical, less sentimental... 

Secret Weapons

Secret Weapons

Dickson Telfer’s solo play, in which he also appears, charts the struggle of a teacher to impose control on a rogue class in so-called Higher Education. The 16 to 18 year-olds are there ‘because they can’t get a job, or won’t get a job’... 

Yorkshire Comedy Cabaret IV: Jokers, Born and Interbred - Free

Yorkshire Comedy Cabaret IV: Jokers, Born and Interbred - Free

The gimmick for this showcase show is that it’s meant to be ‘Yorkshire’ comedy, whatever that may be. Since only the compere and the headliner seemed to be from Yorkshire it hardly made any difference; their jokes certainly weren’t distinguishable from any other comics, even when they were audible... 

Marcel Pursued By the Hounds by Michel Tremblay

Marcel Pursued By the Hounds by Michel Tremblay

Michel Tremblay is a French Canadian playwright who was an Angry Young Man in the 60s and shook the stuffy Anglophone artistic establishment by introducing Quebequois working class characters and themes along with their local patois, jouai... 

Treasure in Clay Jars

Treasure in Clay Jars

Treasure in Clay Jars is listed in the Theatre Section of the Fringe Programme. It is about as theatrical as a Sunday morning visit from the local evangelicals.The title comes from 2 Corinthians, Chapter 4, Verse 7... 

The Property Known As Garland

The Property Known As Garland

When Judy Garland gave her last concerts in Copenhagen in March 1969 she was 48 and a wreck. There was a documentary made of this tour by Swedish TV, which was never shown, I believe, because scenes of the great gay icon passed out on the floor were deemed too distressing... 

Puppet. Book of Splendor

Puppet. Book of Splendor

neTTheatre are an experimental Polish physical theatre company, who here produce what they describe as ‘the Clinic of Dreams’. There is back projection with cabbalistic symbols that mutate into their English translations: Justice, Beauty etc... 

The Showstoppers' Family Matinees

The Showstoppers' Family Matinees

Showstoppers have been improvising musicals for several years now and an edited version has had a series on BBC Radio 4. This is the kiddies’ version, albeit with the familiar ingredients... 

Always Be Comedy

Always Be Comedy

The Jekyll and Hyde is a lousy venue to play: poor acoustics, bar noise and seating split so the audience is in two sections which can’t see or hear each other. And we were a lousy audience... 

Unlucky for Some

Unlucky for Some

Tina Macfarlane has a first in Actuarial Maths from Glasgow University - ‘A real university, not a polytechnic like Strathclyde’ - but there’s a recession on, so it’s not much use when there’s nothing to count... 

Kit and McConnel

Kit and McConnel

The split of a long-established duo is like a marital divorce. Kit and the Widow were at the top of the sophisticated cabaret league for over two decades until they parted company last year... 

This Time It's Personal

This Time It's Personal

Dave Baucett is a puppyish like-me-pleeease comedian in his early twenties. His title tells no lies, in that all his material comes out of his personal life: his mum, his grannie, his job at John Lewis, coming from Stevenage... 

Sir Gawain, the Yellow Knight

Sir Gawain, the Yellow Knight

Port Dover, a Canadian High School, brings a simple and charming cod Arthurian fable to Church Hill. Gawain gets his Sirdom because his uncle works in the Ministry of Knighthood. He doesn’t want it; he wants to be a goat farmer... 

You Are Being Lied To 2012

You Are Being Lied To 2012

David Mulholland is a former Wall Street Journal hack and this is a show driven by the passion of a good journalist for getting the story right and a hatred of bad journalism and the Murdoch effect... 

Simon Munnery: Fylm-Makker

Simon Munnery: Fylm-Makker

‘Makar’ is a medieval Scots word for poet. ‘Fylm Makker’ suggests an Olde Englishe hand-made scone type of film. It’s not far off as a description. It’s as if Rodin had made ‘The Thinker’ out of old loo rolls and milk bottle tops... 

Booking Dance Festival - Festival Showcase

Booking Dance Festival - Festival Showcase

Thanks to the vagaries of Lothian Buses I missed the first number in this multi-company showcase of short dance items. I arrived as two tap-dancers (Hammerstep) were giving their all in a blackout with just small LED lights twinkling on the toes of their tap shoes... 

You Have Nothing to Fear...

You Have Nothing to Fear...

Ed O’Meara has some of the scariest flyers on the Fringe, with a teasing tag, ‘Follow Your Nightmares’. While it does not lie, O’Meara spends the first fifteen minutes of his set explaining his publicity: it’s not a photo of him, it’s not an inspirational book of the How To Win Friends and Influence People variety, it’s not a horror tour of Edinburgh... 

Our Soldier

Our Soldier

Fools Play is a young physical theatre collective reworking the Macbeth plot with a mixture of movement and script. The adjective ‘our’ is significant; it suggests that Mac, the tommy of the title, is a creation of the people he represents... 

Dorothy Squires: Mrs Roger Moore

Dorothy Squires: Mrs Roger Moore

First, a declaration of interest. When I was programming the Gay Pride Cabaret Tent in the 80’s, I was always being pestered by one Alan Pillay to promote him; he was trying to make a career as a disco singer a la Sylvester, using his own material... 

Morceaux de Choix

Morceaux de Choix

As we walk into a rather austere hall at the French Institute, two girls are giggling and practicing a song. There is one of those little blackboards you see outside French bistros, chalked with ‘Fermé’... 

The Late Jake Thackray

The Late Jake Thackray

The French have a word for it, and that word is ‘chanson’. A pop song, or an American standard, is generic, the ‘you’ and ‘I’ not individuated, so anyone can identify with the emotion... 

Grant's True Tales Presents The Liar Show

Grant's True Tales Presents The Liar Show

Fans of Would I Lie To You? will need no prompting to visit this ingenious variation on the theme of Spot the Porker, in which four storytellers by turns deliver 10-15 minute solo spots... 

No Turn Unstoned

No Turn Unstoned

No Turn Unstoned gives you no idea what to expect from Beth Vyse’s show. As we come in, we see a montage of doctored slides with her in the company of the famous – Doris Day, Frank Sinatra, Elvis... 

Working Men's Club

Working Men's Club

The title of Luke Benson and David Hardcastle’s show can easily give rise to the fear that it will be a rather patronising pastiche of working class culture for the benefit of a middle class audience... 

Andrew Ryan: Ryanopoly

Andrew Ryan: Ryanopoly

You shouldn’t always believe the flyers. Ryan’s says that his show is about ‘how money can move us to places we might not want to go’. It is nothing of the sort. It starts, true, on this tack, with a quick overview of the awful Irish economy ‘in recession since 1948’... 

An Audience With the Duke of Windsor - Bob Kingdom

An Audience With the Duke of Windsor - Bob Kingdom

Bob Kingdom is an Edinburgh institution. He’s been appearing on the Fringe since Methuselah was a lad and his Dylan Thomas show is the Fringe equivalent of The Mousetrap; his facility for impersonation is uncanny... 

Winston on the Run

Winston on the Run

Churchill is about the only politician in British history who can be referred to only by his first name. However, he’s only referred to as Winston by those on the Right, politically... 

The Exonerated

The Exonerated

St Paul’s School Theatre take a series of testimonies from former Death Row prisoners in the States and, through interweaving monologues, create a powerful story of police brutality and incompetence, biased judges, lazy defence lawyers, and a corrupt judicial system... 

Scott Agnew: Tales of the Sauna

Scott Agnew: Tales of the Sauna

Tales from the Sauna opens with a voiceover from a 1960s psychiatrist about how all gays are socially and sexually inadequate borderline pyschopaths. It closes with the story of the priest who had a heart attack in a Dublin sauna, where three other priests were on hand in their towels to give him the last rites... 

Theatre Uncut

Theatre Uncut

Theatre Uncut is a shoe-string operation aiming to provide immediate dramatic response to current crises. Last year it was government cuts, this year it has gone global with the world economic crash and protest movements... 

Candide

Candide

American High School Theatre Festival is a regular in Edinburgh, and there are several reasons to check them out. For a start, this is one of the few places you can see big-cast plays with decent production values in today’s cash-strapped, solo-show, black curtain Fringe... 

And Now for a Nice Evening With Wallan

And Now for a Nice Evening With Wallan

There was a fashionable word in the 1950s for a certain type of female performer, which was ‘kooky’. These ladies, such as Libby Morris and Dorothy Loudon, built their acts around being breathless, scatty and disorganised,, then turned in blinding performances as serious vocalists... 

Back to School

Back to School

We file in crocodile formation from the Pleasance, clutching a collective length of rope to keep together. We’re shepherded by two lollipop ladies who urge us to sing the St Dumbledyke’s school song and hurry up or we’ll miss assembly... 

A Brief History of Scotland - We Done Loads!

A Brief History of Scotland - We Done Loads!

An aspect of the Fringe that is sometimes passed over is the indigenous shows for the local population, which, heaven knows, puts up with enough to deserve something good of its own... 

The Complete History of the BBC in 60 Minutes

The Complete History of the BBC in 60 Minutes

The BBC is the Church of England of the media. Having to be all things to all people, beset on all sides by complaints of dumbing down (not High Church enough), being pompous (not Low Church enough), or out of touch, it bumbles on with its fair share of disasters and the occasional, increasingly less frequent, touch of original genius... 

A Tapestry of Many Threads

A Tapestry of Many Threads

A Tapestry of Many Threads is a 19-song cycle commissioned by the Dovecote Studios for its centenary from Alexander McCall Smith (words) and Tom Cunningham (music).Its subject is the Dovecote tapestries themselves, which also feature in slide and film: the subjects, the stories in them, the techniques of making them, and the unfashionable qualities of stillness and patience needed to be a weaver... 

A Romance of Asian and Western Classical Voice

A Romance of Asian and Western Classical Voice

Florence Foster Jenkins is alive and well and living in Edinburgh. She, you may recall, was an eccentric American millionairess convinced of her own greatness as a soprano. She hired Carnegie Hall in the 1940s, at the age of 76, and filled it with loyal fans who saw the spectacle of her awfulness combined with her sublime confidence...