Funny Girl

Funny Girl

Revivals always run the risk of not resonating with a contemporary audience, or relying wholly on nostalgia, but Michael Mayer’s touring production of the Fanny Brice story, made famous by Barbara Streisand on stage and screen in the 1960s, is compelling and relevant without so much as a hint of sentimentality... 

Buddy – The Buddy Holly Story

Buddy – The Buddy Holly Story

Nostalgia is big business. Harking back to some mythical golden age permeates both politics and popular culture just now, but nostalgia is undeniably rose-tinted and glosses over the hardships, struggles and wider picture... 

TOM, the Musical

TOM, the Musical

Everyone has a story about Tom, says the narrator. A truism, but it’s also true that the singer’s early life has reached legendary status within the landscape of his youth. TOM, the Musical follows the struggle of “Jones the Voice” in his push for stardom... 

​Sarah McIntosh: 11 hours of James Plays in one day? Challenge Accepted.

​Sarah McIntosh: 11 hours of James Plays in one day? Challenge Accepted.

It’s been nearly two years since The James Plays made their considerable impression at the 2014 Edinburgh International Festival and today audiences have the opportunity to spend a dreary Saturday watching all three of Rona Munro’s heavyweight history plays back to back... 

James III: The True Mirror

James III: The True Mirror

Like the first, the final play in Rona Munro’s James Plays is part family saga, part love story. Yet the atmosphere is quite different; the brutalist set has morphed to something more feminine, with roses and green foliage decorating the back... 

James II: Day of the Innocents

James II: Day of the Innocents

Day of the Innocents takes place on the same set as the first James play, but it feels somewhat different thanks to subtle changes of dressing and lighting. This is apt; this is a tale of friendship and rivalry between cousins and childhood friends James II (Andrew Rothney) and William Douglas (Andrew Still)... 

James I: The Key Will Keep The Lock

James I: The Key Will Keep The Lock

There’s the feel of a gladiatorial arena to the staging of Rona Munro’s trilogy of James Plays, not least because some audience members seated on a raised area above the stage, looking down on a giant sword thrust into the saltire that covers the floor... 

The Sound of Music

The Sound of Music

Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II didn’t shirk from social issues within their musical theatre productions: racism (South Pacific), transient/absent fatherhood (Carousel) and here, with The Sound of Music, reactions to the rise of the Third Reich in Austria... 

Priscilla Queen of the Desert: The Musical

Priscilla Queen of the Desert: The Musical

Australia is home to many curious creatures; a place where men are macho, except when they put on a frock, heels and make-up to sing along to disco classics. Whilst this musical theatre production is no place to analyse the homophobic/sexist/racist leanings of a country, it does use aspects of the themes to show how the two drag queens and one transgender woman overcome their own and others’ attitudes, and find acceptance whilst travelling across the outback in an unreliable bus named Priscilla... 

Close to You: Bacharach Reimagined

Close to You: Bacharach Reimagined

If you grew up in the 1970s it was almost compulsory to know the music of Burt Bacharach and lyrics of Hal David - Alfie, Anyone Who Had a Heart, Look of Love and What the World Needs Now sit resplendent within their hefty songbook as within the psyches of several generations of fans... 

A Bench On The Road

A Bench On The Road

Billed as “a story of women’s courage, of sisterhood and pride”, A Bench on the Road is a work in progress based on the true experiences of Italian immigrants, Scottish-born Italians and the native Scottish women around them... 

Journey's End

Journey's End

With the death of the last surviving veterans a few years back, the so-called Great War of 1914-18 slipped from living memory, but some records remain preserved none-the-less, not least in R C Sherriff’s 1928 play Journey’s End, set in trenches near Saint-Quentin and inspired by his experiences as a captain during the fighting... 

BFG

BFG

Edinburgh’s Royal Lyceum Theatre always has a Christmassy feel to it, with its gilded pillars and Arabian Nights ceiling, and this enchanting adaptation feels like an early Christmas present... 

Cabaret Roulette

Cabaret Roulette

PHB’s Free Fringe often uses some odd venues and this one, in the small disco downstairs at The Street, is cramped with awkwardly-shaped seating making it difficult for the whole audience to see the acts... 

Hiraeth

Hiraeth

Bud wants to leave home, but when doing so breaks the tradition of four generations of farmers in rural West Wales, it is a tough decision for the aspiring artist. There is so much to keep her: parents, boyfriend, beautiful countryside and knowing her place in the scheme of things... 

Ukulele Workshop With Tricity Vogue - Free

Ukulele Workshop With Tricity Vogue - Free

Last year I bought myself a ukulele but I have to confess that most of the time it looks really cute hanging on my wall. On the rare occasion I pick it up, I try to follow songbooks but sometimes, well most of the time, the chords just seem too complicated for a beginner like me... 

Burton

Burton

The tiny venue was packed so tight for the opening performance of Burton no one in the audience dared breathe. The incarnation of Richard Burton stood before us, dressed in typical 1970s casual yet stylish (for the era) attire and clutching a glass of whisky and soda... 

Trainspotting

Trainspotting

Is it really 20 years since the publication of Irvine Welsh’s novel Trainspotting? This immersive stage version adapts Danny Boyle’s celluloid presentation of the novel brings to larger-than-life some of the characters familiar from the film, but is hampered by an ungainly ensemble... 

Bianco

Bianco

A few years ago I took my children to a circus. It was an odd remnant of the circuses of my own childhood, without the big animals but with the very same now faded and jaded ringmaster... 

Rumpelstiltskin

Rumpelstiltskin

Don’t be put off by the title: this is a completely fresh reworking of the 19th century story by the Brothers Grimm. Fresh is a bit of an understatement though. Writer and director Simon Jolly has taken themes dear to the hearts of the younger generation - the fascination/absurdity of talent shows; the pitfalls of materialism; being heard by the older generation and following your heart - and spun them into a script of pure gold using the familiar characters plus a few new ones... 

Snoopy the Musical

Snoopy the Musical

As part of the American High School Theatre Festival at Church Hill Studio Theatre in Bruntsfield, Van Buren High School brought to life the colourful and well-loved characters from the Peanuts comic strip by Charles M... 

Kit Hesketh-Harvey and James McConnel

Kit Hesketh-Harvey and James McConnel

The Edinburgh Academy makes for a spacious yet slightly odd choice of venue for music and comedy due Kit Hesketh-Harvey and James McConnel. BBC Radio 4 stalwart Hesketh-Harvey explained amicably that due to their, and therefore their audience’s advancing years, the flat approach ending in a slight downward slope made for an easy and swift entry (ooh errr) into the performance space... 

Soul to Soul (I Have a Dream) by Movin' Melvin Brown

Soul to Soul (I Have a Dream) by Movin' Melvin Brown

American song and dance man Movin’ Melvin Brown is not content to have just one show at the Fringe (The Ray Charles Experience), or two (an interactive workshop Tap into Health - Movin’ with Melvin) but three... 

Aurora Winterborn's Candid Cabaret

Aurora Winterborn's Candid Cabaret

The rise in popularity of Burlesque at the Edinburgh Fringe means there is sometimes no telling what is tacky and what is classy. A trip to a Burlesque night at a different venue recently was typical of this... 

Adventures of Andy Kershaw

Adventures of Andy Kershaw

Kershaw has had a lot of bad press over the last decade for his personal life but he’s back on track and promoting his autobiography No Off Switch at the Auditorium, Ghillie Dhu - which is, incidentally, stunning... 

Jamie Andrew Life and Limb

Jamie Andrew Life and Limb

Each time a mountain rescue is reported in the media, it is difficult not to think ‘Why would they climb that alone/in that weather/at that time of year?’ But the truth for some people is that they simply must do physical things to challenge themselves, and when one challenge is completed they are compelled to seek out the next... 

Tony Benn and Richard Holloway: Two Old Gits

Tony Benn and Richard Holloway: Two Old Gits

In a society where the older generation is generally ignored and marginalised by the media, Two Old Gits comes as a welcome change. Besides, what better can you do as a former political behemoth than reflect on your life and share those thoughts with a knowledge-hungry public? Indeed, our audience’s appetite was clearly voracious, for the Music Hall at the Assembly Rooms was full to capacity... 

Three Half Pints

Three Half Pints

Last year I regretted not taking my junior reviewers to see the Three Half Pints. This year the trio of Robin Hatcher, Callum Donnelly and Richard Franks (plus silent sidekick Emily Moffat) are back at the Fringe, this time at an easily accessible central location with enough space to complement their slick physicality... 

Arthur Conan Doyle Experience

Arthur Conan Doyle Experience

Despite being described in the Fringe brochure as a ‘walk and talk exhibition’, the audience of the Arthur Conan Doyle Experience was sat in a lecture room upon arrival and a short film was played on a small television set that only a few audience members could see... 

Val McDermid - Killing People For Fun and Profit

Val McDermid - Killing People For Fun and Profit

As a writer I am always keen to find out how other writers tap into their creative process, and the opportunity to delve into the mind of such a prolific writer as Val McDermid in this one-off event was too good to miss... 

The Loveboat Big Band Summer Love-In

The Loveboat Big Band Summer Love-In

It’s true: All the nice girls really do like a sailor. On the night I attended the Loveboat Big Band Summer Love-In, the group arrived in the courtyard of Summerhall and were instantly hit by a wave of women... 

Susie McCabe: An Uncivil Partnership

Susie McCabe: An Uncivil Partnership

About as far down the opposite end of the spectrum from disappointing as you could get, McCabe’s set is an insight into her coming out at the age of 17 (her dad asked, ‘Susie, is this because you play rugby?’), the reasons behind Scotland’s under-fitness, lesbian dating and her imminent nuptials to her longterm partner... 

Kindness

Kindness

Sam Brady ushers us into his gig and then darts behind the curtain to announce his own entrance. He has the affable and easy manner of a bloke you might get talking to at a bar, but the more he talks, the more you find he is not the average Northerner... 

Threesome

Threesome

How do you stop people from getting scared by the word ‘feminism’? Why do we live in a world that presents the size zero as the bodily ideal, and any normal, curvaceous figure as greedy, uncontrollable and lazy? Why is it desirable to have about as much body hair as a child’s plastic doll? An hour spent in the company of these three performers will tackle all these infuriating questions, and is guaranteed to not only emancipate but educate - helping to eradicate any negative self-image the audience may have, as well as exposing the reasons behind these neuroses... 

Writing Plays for Young People

Writing Plays for Young People

Head of Drama at Trinity College London, John Gardyne does not lecture in the art of playwriting, yet he makes an engaging host for this one-hour workshop encouraging the craft. Perhaps best known as an exam board for music, Trinity College also supports young people’s playwrights for by running the International Playwriting Competition... 

Chinese Music Traditional and New

Chinese Music Traditional and New

The connection between traditional Scottish music and Chinese music is something I had given no thought to until this concert, but the Harmony Ensemble changed all that with their evening of ‘Chinese Music Traditional and New’... 

Journos

Journos

TTMOOTV Theatre & Film Company’s Journos is the new play by producer/actor Jamie Alexander Eastlake and co-writer/actor Adam Donaldson who did rather well at last year’s Fringe with Big School... 

Angels and Demons

Angels and Demons

I love the name Wendy. J. M. Barrie popularised it with Peter Pan, drawing it from Margaret Henley’s baby-talk: ‘friendy-wendy’. Wendy Carle Taylor is one such ‘friendy-wendy’... 

Vanessa Knight

Vanessa Knight

Vanessa Knight is the most glamorous thing to come out of Birmingham since Duran Duran. Even her shoes (towering and sparkly ruby slippers) got a round of applause at the Jazz Bar on her opening night... 

Kevin Dewsbury: In...Sane - Free

Kevin Dewsbury: In...Sane - Free

There’s a familiar traditional-northern-comic style about Kevin Dewsbury as he welcomes the audience to the room above the Meadows Bar, mixed with a bit of laddish banter. His stand-up set is based on his descent into and recovery from a psychotic episode... 

The Noise Next Door: Bring The Noise

The Noise Next Door: Bring The Noise

I’ve never been a huge fan of improvisational comedy for its sheer clever-dick-ness and the prospect of spending an hour with five testosterone-fueled young guns filled my heart with the desire to go and get a facial instead... 

Forget Therapy - Just Drink - Free

Forget Therapy - Just Drink - Free

It promised to be a fun show. Pauline Curtin’s stand up at the Phoenix is based on her experiences in therapy and trying a certain holistic holiday in Greece to improve herself and find inner peace... 

Punk Rock

Punk Rock

This tense drama, nominated for two best new play awards in 2010, centers around the lives of seven young people as they sit their mock ‘A’ Levels at a public school. The play opens with the flowering friendship between William and new girl Lily and I was lulled into thinking this was going to be a run of the mill teenage relationship angst drama... 

LOL-ocaust

LOL-ocaust

A late show, particularly a free one, will always attract the rowdy drunk hecklers and this gig was no exception. Ant Craven and Tom Groble have been writing together since 2005 with a few years’ worth of Edinburgh experience so Groble was able to shout down the hecklers with such skill that the whole group eventually left... 

Blackwell's Writers at the Fringe

Blackwell's Writers at the Fringe

This series of free events gives the public a chance to see, listen to and meet Scottish literary performers, from poets to crime novelists, folk musicians to a-capella singers; a different line-up each Thursday... 

The Three Half Pints

The Three Half Pints

If I were an anthropologist or a linguist I could write a thesis on non-verbal communication through shared laughter. I have come to recognise the difference types of laughter as a response to live comedy... 

Fag Ends and Families...!

Fag Ends and Families...!

Simon Egerton is already playing the electric piano when we enter the bar. It’s like he’s always been there, tinkling away, smiling at half-forgotten memories. Taking on the persona of Paul, he starts in the present, lamenting or perhaps admitting with relief that he prefers a cup of tea to a boozy session, an early night to a night on the town... 

Dancing About Architecture

Dancing About Architecture

The host for this chat show is Mark Olver, a stand up who has supported Russell Howard on tour and is the warm-up for such television favourites as Deal or No Deal and Vicar of Dibley... 

Colours of Tango

Colours of Tango

To say that the audience was full of women of a certain age at Colours of Tango would be slightly unfair. There were a few men dotted around the audience, along with a handful of younger people... 

Pips and Panda Meet the Three Bears

Pips and Panda Meet the Three Bears

The thoughtful touch at this venue was two rows of weenie seats at the front that my petit companion Olivia (4) announced she was going to sit in, next to the girl at the front. A great venue but it would have been even better to have tea or coffee available at the interval not just snacks for the kids... 

Funny Women at the Fringe

Funny Women at the Fringe

A soggy Sunday afternoon spent in a cosy tent with the rain pitter-pattering on the roof felt much better than the battle of brollies it took to get there. This showcase gig was hosted by Lara A King, the winner of last year’s Funny Women Award... 

Luminous Tales

Luminous Tales

Shadow puppetry has delighted people for about 1,000 years and little has changed. Ripstop Theatre bring Luminous Tales to the Pleasance to share this amazing form with a new generation of audience albeit a small one for this particular performance... 

Moon

Moon

Given that I am Welsh and probably genetically hardwired to love close-harmony singing, I do not normally go out of my way to find it. However, on this occasion I made my way with my children (BBR11 and BBR8) to the Symposium Hall... 

Lady Carol Must Die

Lady Carol Must Die

There’s a definite buzz on George Street. A swanky al fresco bar (it is summer, it is Scotland, we can do al fresco) outside the newly refurbished Assembly Rooms, whilst inside there are bouncy new carpets and generously appointed conveniences (mental note for decent loos around town)... 

And the Girls in Their Sunday Dresses

And the Girls in Their Sunday Dresses

Two women, one food queue and one unlikely friendship. Is this communist Russia? No, it is modern day Lesotho and the two scrubbers (one prostitute, one cleaner) wait, and wait, and... 

Antigone

Antigone

The last time I ‘did Greek’ was the NTS’s production of The Bacchae with Alan Cumming. Fabulous as it was, I was not entirely sure what was, quite literally, going down on stage... 

Classical Guitar - Jonathan Prag

Classical Guitar - Jonathan Prag

Any single live performance can be affected by many things; a cold venue, a small audience, a slightly fidgety child in the second row (BBR8, sorry!), but when a performer is billed as ‘legendary’ it inevitably raises the expectations of the audience...