The Bastard Queen

The Bastard Queen

My appreciation for the acting in The Bastard Queen was matched by my strong distaste for the actual play. As apocalypse dramas go, it’s pretty standard; the last few people on earth bicker over food, question morality following the annihilation of humanity, and revert to religious superstition and violence in the absence of order... 

Pre-View:

Pre-View:

Though not a play in the strictest sense, this showcase of extracts from the Playwriting MA at Edinburgh University offers a compelling insight into the program, via the portfolio of selected students... 

Domestic Labour: A Study in Love

Domestic Labour: A Study in Love

A domestic drama in a literal sense, 30 Bird’s abstract piece circles themes of cultural identity, sex, politics… and who does the washing up.The question of ‘women’s work’, of domestic chores and childbirth, set apart from the perceived masculinity of the revolution in Iran, is a recurring motif... 

Reduced Shakespeare Company in The Complete History of Comedy (abridged)

Reduced Shakespeare Company in The Complete History of Comedy (abridged)

The title of Reduced Shakespeare’s show is accurate to the point of pedantry. The trio faithfully follows the comedic trajectory from its (literal) birth, to yer-mum jokes (the nirvana of mirth)... 

A Split Decision

A Split Decision

This topical drama casts Scotland and England in the roles of bickering husband and wife, mediated by a third party functioning as both marriage therapist and collective child of Britain... 

Show Off

Show Off

If a cabaret act is consciously, deliberately devoid of talent, does that excuse it from criticism? It seems reductive to point out that the mono-browed, pink-wigged Figs in Wigs cannot dance, play music, tell jokes, make art or do the hula hoop – for that is exactly the point... 

Something Beginning With

Something Beginning With

Jake and Ollie have gone underground. Hiding out in Jake’s car, surviving on whatever they can scrounge or steal from nearby supermarkets, it soon becomes apparent that they are running away from a serious crime... 

Breaker

Breaker

This tale of small island intrigue and memory, penned by Icelandic author Salka Gudmundsdottir, translated and brought to the stage by Scottish director Graeme Maley, transcends the linguistic and cultural leap to create a compelling narrative... 

Pippin

Pippin

A version of the musical first performed in the 1970s, Pippin has a certain campy charm. The alarming plot twists and bizarre events perhaps have a surreal, avant-garde effect on the Broadway stage – but on an amateur level the production has a danger of becoming merely ridiculous... 

Titus

Titus

I have never resented a show so much for the hour I lost in enduring it. I pity the people who also paid in money as well as minutes. The only positive thing about the show was its venue’s proximity to Cowgate’s busy roundabout so I had some heavy traffic to play in after the show... 

Our Glass House

Our Glass House

Wester Hailes, a suburb of Edinburgh, is about as much of a potential tourist destination as the moon. Off the beaten track, yet only a thirty-minute bus ride out of the city centre, Wester Hailes is the setting for Common Wealth’s site-specific drama concerning domestic abuse... 

Punk Rock

Punk Rock

I shouldn’t blame the cast of this version excessively for how little I enjoyed Punk Rock: I should instead take it up with Simon Stephens. I found the unoriginality of the themes catatonically dull, the script and dialogue achingly obvious... 

Ménage à Trois

Ménage à Trois

Put simply, Claire Cunningham has with Ménage à Trois created a unique way of movement using her crutches. Half dance, half silent storytelling, Cunningham constructs a world in which the two sticks of metal which support her have as much agency as two people... 

Paradise

Paradise

The lives of a group of strangers clash on the London Underground. There’s a northern lad talking to anyone who’ll listen (and indeed those who don’t) about his band The Slave Boys; a skittish French woman; a couple so incompatible you wonder that they share a bench, let alone a bank account; a folk duo and an oddball hen night... 

DNA

DNA

The premise is mildly interesting: a group of feral, amoral teenagers kill a classmate and attempt to cover up the murder through ever more elaborate schemes of deception. A variety of character types are present: the alpha; his harem (not literally, this is not one of those plays) of devotees; the garrulous girl; the sinister loner; the sadistic girl, who you just know used to cuddle her pet rabbits to death... 

Our Fathers

Our Fathers

The relationship between child and father is creatively a well-trodden path, so kudos to Babakas for not only finding original angles to explore in their fact-meets-fabrication production Our Fathers, but also making it astonishingly affecting... 

Where the White Stops

Where the White Stops

ANTLER have created the story of a girl called Crab (Jasmine Woodcock-Stewart) who lives in a snowy wilderness with her brother Narwhal (Daniel Ainsworth), who one day leave the safe confines of their village, stepping over the forbidden line, to find out where the white stops... 

From Where I'm Standing

From Where I'm Standing

A bomb explodes in the British Embassy in Mumbai. Meg’s dad, Adesh, who she hasn’t seen in a decade, is seen trying to run from the scene just before the bomb explodes, so she is hauled in front of the police for questioning... 

A Genteel Tipple Through Gin in Literature

A Genteel Tipple Through Gin in Literature

Arriving at Hendrick’s Carnival of Knowledge early was a good decision, as there is plenty to observe even before the talk starts. Housed in a beautiful Georgian New Town building, everything from the furnishings to the bar staff is tricked up to look turn-of-the-century - tailcoats and grandfather clocks abound... 

A View from the Bridge

A View from the Bridge

My ear for accents is pretty poor; I think that Dick Van Dyke does a passable Cockney. So as to assess this show accurately, and crucially the Noo Yoik accents, I brought my American friend along to pass judgement... 

Chalk Farm

Chalk Farm

Chalk Farm is the first high-profile piece of theatre to consider the consequences of the riots and looting that ignited main cities in Britain last summer. I find this fairly surprising, as the events feel like particularly fertile grounds for the sort of social commentary drama currently in vogue... 

The Bunker Trilogy: Morgana

The Bunker Trilogy: Morgana

The Fringe is an incredible month for theatre but boy does it have some soulless venues. Hotel conference rooms, broom cupboards, university lecture halls with wheezing air conditioning like an arthritic elephant... 

Hag

Hag

Baba Yaga is a character featuring in folk tales from most European cultural traditions; a grotesque old woman who eats children then retains their skulls for macabre light fittings... 

The Canterbury Tales

The Canterbury Tales

Geoffrey Chaucer is a tricky writer to read, let alone convey in a coherent dramatic narrative. The densely archaic language, the context of long forgotten rituals and outdated customs, not to mention the lack of easily accessible mirth in many of his comic tales, present a real challenge for an acting group to convey The Canterbury Tales in a manner which fully engages and entertains the audience... 

The Seer

The Seer

The brief yet astonishing creative career of the ‘enfant terrible’ of French poetry, Arthur Rimbaud, is explored by Penn Dixie Productions’ frankly eye-opening production The Seer... 

The Babysitter

The Babysitter

The Babysitter, an original InDepth play written by Breman Rajkumar, is a very modern living-room drama, delicately mapping the peaks and troughs of drama in a dysfunctional yet simultaneously typical modern family... 

The Winter's Tale

The Winter's Tale

Tread The Boards theatre company’s retelling of Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale begins in World War II-era Britain, featuring Leontes as a military general with a stiff upper lip and a short fuse... 

My City Saturday

My City Saturday

At Gryphon Venues, instead of your humdrum paper ticket stub, you get a glittery poker chip. Not to keep, I disappointedly hasten to add, but still exciting. The show sadly had neither the anticipated gambling theme, nor quite the sparkle... 

Storytellers' Club

Storytellers' Club

Storyteller’s Club was the friendliest stand-up night I’ve ever been to. It was also located in what appeared to be a cross between an igloo and an inflatable beehive. Or, as one storyteller put it, exactly like being digested by the Michelin Man... 

A Modern Town

A Modern Town

A Modern Town is a very 21st century fable of Newton Bassett, a tourist hotspot which has fallen on hard times, and its efforts to draw in visitors; a sink or swim initiative which will pit small businesses against greedy corporate enterprises and divide families... 

4.48 Psychosis

4.48 Psychosis

For anyone following British theatre of the last two decades, Sarah Kane’s is a legacy which is impossible to avoid. Her swansong, 4.48 Psychosis, is both a detached and dazzlingly lyrical study of mental illness, and her own suicide note... 

The Thinking Drinkers Guide to Alcohol

The Thinking Drinkers Guide to Alcohol

I am still amused at the bravery (idiocy?) which compelled the thinking drinking duo to pull me out of the crowd to participate in their show, Broadway Baby lanyard clearly visible around my neck, notepad and pen in hand... 

Criminals, Lunatics, Women and Idiots

Criminals, Lunatics, Women and Idiots

You have to hand it to this motley crew of Ottawa teenagers - feminism is a tough topic to broach in youth theatre. This production, that goes from the suffragettes to sexism in the office, has a lot of heart; however, the mediums of song and dance didn’t seem particularly compatible with the subject matter... 

Translunar Paradise

Translunar Paradise

Translunar Paradise is a phenomenally creative show. However, what makes it stand apart from the multitudes of spark at the Fringe is its sheer competence and slick execution. This is professional theatre of the highest standard - each gesture and sound is meticulously choreographed and efficient, no movement is surplus... 

Secret Opera Society

Secret Opera Society

The Secret Opera Society event at restaurant Centotre brings together music and cuisine in a stunning fusion of Italian culture with a strong Scottish sensibility and humour. The waiting staff at Centotre were joined by the Secret Opera Singers, taking the ‘singing waiter’ concept to new operatic heights... 

Titanic Sinks Titswilly

Titanic Sinks Titswilly

The ludicrously titled Titanic Sinks Titswilly had such an embarrassing moniker I felt compelled to whisper the name under my breath at the press office, trailing off at the end to mumble something more like ‘Titanic Sinks Tiiii’... 

How Much is Your Iron?

How Much is Your Iron?

Reviewing a play by Bertholt Brecht presents some immediate difficulties as, according to the author’s intentions, whether one enjoys the play means zilch, as he believed that theatre is intended to educate and provoke debate as opposed to entertainment... 

That Old Noir Magic - A Film Noir Jazz Journey Into Night, in Story and Song

That Old Noir Magic - A Film Noir Jazz Journey Into Night, in Story and Song

As an avid fan of old noir movies, crooked cops, and general hard-boiled quick witted cynicism, needless to say I was looking forward to this show. The compere had obviously done his homework; the performance was a love letter to the noir genre comprising clips of movies, songs sung accompanied by a live band, little vignettes of noir movies, plus some original scenarios created by Dani Iannarelli following along the noir vein... 

Jimmie MacGregor - A Gathering of Songs, Stories and Famous Folk

Jimmie MacGregor - A Gathering of Songs, Stories and Famous Folk

This perma-tanned, white-toothed Glaswegian folk powerhouse produced an evening of (very few) songs, details of his exploits with various celebrities and other anecdotes from his long and varied career... 

Panning for Gold

Panning for Gold

In my experience of bluegrass, there is usually a lot of plaid and a smattering of Stetson hats among both band and audience. While not one member of the country/folk band was lacking a hat, to my relief the audience had not adopted this Wild West-themed attire... 

Captain Ferguson's School for Balloon Warfare

Captain Ferguson's School for Balloon Warfare

Despite the unwieldy mouthful of a title, Captain Ferguson’s School For Balloon Warfare turned out to a be a surprisingly simple, sweet tale of an affable American officer trying to adapt hot-air balloon technology for military purposes during WWI... 

Female Gothic

Female Gothic

Female Gothic is a treat of a show for anyone as macabre-minded as myself; but then again I compulsively watch plane crash documentaries. Scratch that, it was a cracking show for anyone who appreciates suspenseful storytelling with a delicious tingle of horror; Rebecca Vaughan managed to make her show impressively scary for a brunch time slot... 

Cubicle Four

Cubicle Four

Cubicle Four is comprised of a trio of duologues set in the eponymous hospital cubicle. The first deals with a man and his grandmother after she has broken her hip; the second features brothers with minor injuries after having escaped from an unsuccessful heist; the final part -which I found the most interesting - was the monologue of a woman visiting her paralysed, vegetative husband... 

Angels

Angels

Angels had quite an esoteric plot from the word go. Solitary security guard Nick Prentice is hauled in before a 1984-esque interrogation to be questioned about pushing an acquaintance off a car park roof; he is held under suspicion due to the smutty soft-porn he writes as a hobby, only to then be rescued by none other than Scarlett Johansson... 

Belt Up Theatre's Outland

Belt Up Theatre's Outland

Something consistently excellent about Belt Up’s productions is their dedication to preserving the illusion. For a company which has made an art of audience interaction (and frequently participation) this may seem like a contradiction in terms... 

Dirty Blood

Dirty Blood

Sam and Emma’s Mum has cancer. She needs a transfusion - and needs one from the rare blood type of AB negative. Joe is a match. He is not allowed to donate because he is in a homosexual relationship with Sam... 

NOLA

NOLA

An acronym of New Orleans, Louisiana, NOLA is a surprising theatre documentary following the devastating after effects of the BP oil spill crisis. After studying footage of interviews with fishermen, oil-rig workers, activists, toxicologists, lawyers, and housewives, the actors play the real characters within the story, which is as easily cinematic as any Hollywood disaster movie churned out year after year... 

Chapel Street

Chapel Street

Blisteringly funny, audacious, and moving, watching Scrawl’s Chapel Street (written by Luke Barnes) is akin to taking a shot of vodka, followed by a bottle to the face. Following the disillusioned Joe and Kirsty on a binge-drinking bender of epic proportions, their initially unconnected monologues of university dreams and deadbeat ambition collide in a heady combination of piss, beer, and shaving foam... 

Continuous Growth

Continuous Growth

Continuous Growth is a saga spanning the lifetime of Scottish everyman Andy: from falling in love in Year 4; through university; an unnecessary shotgun wedding; economic boom and bust; to falling in love again on a beach in Thailand... 

Still Life (or Brief Encounter)

Still Life (or Brief Encounter)

Dead Posh’s production immediately struck on a winning note before the play had even begun, endearing themselves to hungry reviewers by providing Tunnocks teacakes and plastic cups of Tetleys... 

1,000 Suns

1,000 Suns

If you like your musicals with an unhealthy dose of American cheese (from a can, naturally) set in a post-apocalyptic wilderness, then 1,000 Suns will set your world on fire. The town of Radiation Springs is isolated in a barren crater following a nuclear disaster, with the townsfolk developing extra limbs or succumbing to radioactive bouts of coughing... 

Stripped Back Blues Guitar Duo

Stripped Back Blues Guitar Duo

Early afternoon jazz runs the risk of coinciding with an early afternoon sugar crash; it’s possible that mellow blues might prove more soporific than scintillating. The Dixie-voiced duo (who are actually Edinburgh-based, but sound more Louisiana than Leith) luckily have both talent and charisma in spades... 

Faust/us

Faust/us

The ‘multimedia’ production of Faust/us, for a 40 minute show, has an oddly leisurely opening. The play begins with a full rendition of ‘Que Sera Sera’, before a voiceover dialogue deliberating how to best keep an audience’s attention, the consensus of which was lots of action, and nothing too ‘arty’... 

What's He Building in There?

What's He Building in There?

The absurd and often hilarious What’s He Building In There? from STaG productions opens with a sawdust-spattered man lovingly caressing a chair, and only gets weirder after that. There are six characters in the show: The Carpenter; The Wife; The Friend; The Friend’s Wife; The Manager... 

China Red

China Red

A long-winded titled, but undeniably talented, the Beijing Students Golden Sail Art Troupe brought a splash of colour to a typically grey Edinburgh morning. Precociously skilled in traditional Chinese folk dance and music; the show was a spare 40 minutes, yet stuffed with dazzling choreography and composition, not to mention absolutely stunning costumes... 

A Taste o' Scotland

A Taste o' Scotland

I have never been to a show which opened with the distribution of Nairns Oatcakes and sachets of Quaker Oats porridge. Unfortunately, the snack-based factor was also the highlight of Tackety Boot’s painful hour-long set...