Theatre, Issue 638

67 articles

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A Tribute – Gielgud’s Ages of Man

24 Aug 20093 stars

Good, but a poor fit for the Free Fringe

Billed at two hours, George Innes rushes to complete his tribute to Gielgud on time, losing several impatient people halfway through. It’s a shame; while his Romeo lacks youthful vigour, Innes is an imperious Prospero, and reads Gielgud’s letters with…

The Last Witch

24 Aug 20095 stars

Sensual story of power and the state

Beneath its bare story there’s something far more complex at work in Rona Munro’s new piece for the Traverse and the EIF. This re-imagining of the true, though factually sketchy, demise of Janet Horne, a Dornoch woman executed for witchcraft in 1727 and…


24 Aug 20094 stars

Awesome voyage to the bottom of the sea

Anyone who caught this immersive drama set aboard a submarine at London’s Young Vic in June were knocked out by the scope of the staging. Given that so much Fringe theatre is necessarily scaled down in terms of sets, costumes and technical…

The Sound of My Voice

24 Aug 20094 stars

A dark and powerful piece of entertainment

This revival of an acclaimed two-hander from the Citizens Theatre has lost little of its power. Adapted from Ron Butlin’s novel by director Jeremy Raison, it tells the story of a biscuit company executive’s descent into alcoholism. The punishing…

Sea Spray and Cuckoo Spit

24 Aug 20093 stars

Some very good performances

Decent production about a grief-shattered fishing family struggling to cope with the loss of a son to the sea that still sustains them. The story is nothing new, but some very good performances (particularly by bright-eyed Alex Marieka Hanly as the…

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Me Too – A Sideshow

24 Aug 20093 stars

Would play better somewhere more intimate

Ulrike Quade’s one-woman show, about the outrageous, tragic life of conjoined twins Daisy and Violet, would benefit from a change of space. The Majestic is too large for sideshows, and the play’s dream-logic plotlessness would play better somewhere more…

If That’s All There Is

24 Aug 20093 stars

Cynical piece of work

Less a play than a series of sketches, this show created by Inspector Sands is about a couple of maladjusted professionals approaching their wedding day. Wittily staged, it has some good gags about the bureaucratic mindset, but it is ultimately a…

The Cubicle

24 Aug 20093 stars

Riotous mix of comedy, dance and audience participation

This energetically performed lav-based farce is more entertaining than any number of shows at major venues. Devised from graffiti found on the back of bog doors, it’s a riotous mix of comedy, dance and audience participation (the latter involving a pair…

Borges and I

24 Aug 20094 stars

Astonishingly accomplished young company

Stick with this lovely piece about the power of reading through the first scene and you’ll find an astonishingly accomplished young company, crafting an entire interactive set out of inscriptions carved into second hand books. There’s beautiful…

Austen's Women

24 Aug 20093 stars

If you aren’t a fan you’re unlikely to be converted

An enthusiastic roll-call of Austen moments. If you aren’t a fan you’re unlikely to be converted, and Rebecca Vaughan might want to go for subtlety over squeals more often, but she’s good at the character parts and it’s a pleasant romp through the…

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The Assassination of Paris Hilton

24 Aug 20093 stars

Rarely lifts itself above the obvious

With a provocative, audience-pleasing title and an oh-so-now toilet location this production screams must-see Fringe show. But while there’s a lot to like here – the five plotting Paris-alikes are suitably un-self-aware, decrying the über-valley girl…

The Return of Ulysses

23 Aug 20095 stars

And they all lived happily ever after. But what happened next?

Homeric purists will be disappointed here. This is a tale of Penelope, not Ulysses, and it takes place almost entirely after the return of the hero – in narrative terms, after the end of the Odyssey. By the end of the scene one Ulysses has returned…

The Man Who Planted Trees

23 Aug 20094 stars

This charming show from Puppet State Theatre Company has been doing the rounds for a few years now, but the two performers approach it with the kind of freshness and wit you’d expect from a brand new show. Adapted from Jean Giono’s short story, the…

Five groups preserving the spirit of the Fringe in 2009

23 Aug 2009

We salute five groups who are preserving the original spirit of the Fringe, off the Fringe! Serenade street parade At 9.59pm on Friday night last, from a location revealed 24 hours earlier, a renegade parade set out to paint the town red. The word…

Hitlist: Around Town

21 Aug 2009

The best events, books and LGBT

Sheep Heid Inn Summer’s End Beer Festival, Launch of SEEDBOM, Bletherheads, Jeffrey Lewis’ Watchmen, Handmade Heaven, Mary Brennan, Dead Girls’ Dance Club

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21 Aug 2009

Literary and performance talent on the cheap

Why would you bother forking out your last twenty quid for a probably patchy big-name comedian when you can see the cream of Scotland’s literary and performance talent, live, for less than the price of a fish supper? The increasingly ubiquitous…

Go to Gaza, Drink the Sea

21 Aug 20093 stars

Strong political drama

Justin Butcher and Ahmed Masoud’s production is a bleak reminder of the human consequences of the Zionist aggression in Gaza, particularly focusing on the recent bloodbath enacted in the last days of the Bush government. Its story focuses on a young…

The List Festival Awards: 2009

21 Aug 2009

From chicken sex to naked puppets

Our annual awards for the most interesting and unique shows out there.


21 Aug 20093 stars

Avoid the security guards on this inventive supermarket exploration

There are moments in Wondermart that might make the more self-conscious shopper ditch their trolley and run away in fright. Through the course of this 30-minute supermarket wander, the listener is required to become the performer, quietly complicit in…

Everything Must Go (or the voluntary attempt to overcome unnecessary obstacles)

21 Aug 20094 stars

Dad, in drag, in memoriam

It says on the programme notes that this show is a labour of love, and it is. Kristin Fredricksson’s father Karl was a hurdler, a ballet dancer, a drag enthusiast, a comic, a creator of characters, and a hoarder. He died of cancer in June this year; and…

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A Life in Three Acts

21 Aug 20094 stars

A fascinating story, engagingly told

This three-part biography, based on edited transcripts of conversations between playwright Mark Ravenhill and the performer Bette Bourne, sounds on paper like the kind of theatrical experiment that could easily go awry. Yet the raw material of Bourne’s…


21 Aug 20093 stars

Sea shanties and your long-lost auntie

You thought your family reunions were bad? They’ve got nothing on the Wellesferry’s. Except that it turns out you are part of the extended Wellesferry clan, which is made clear in this interactive musical with name badges all round, enthusiastic…

Heroin(e) For Breakfast

21 Aug 20094 stars

Glamorous, gritty drug drama

It’s 11.40 am real time, perhaps slightly later dramatic time, and before even the stage lights go up we are treated to explicit, morning-gloom sex. But this is not ‘shock tactic’ Fringe theatre. This sex is cartoonish, speeded-up and half-ironic. So…

Faulty Towers: The Dining Experience

21 Aug 20093 stars

Excellent impersonations but no Waldorf salad

Unsurprisingly, dining at Faulty Towers is a tense experience. From the moment we arrive at B’est restaurant, Basil, Sybil and Manuel (but alas no Polly) are on hand to ensure that our meal is anything but straightforward, and by the time we reach the…


20 Aug 20094 stars

Dark, thrilling and unsettling adaptation of Goethe’s classic

Surely one of the Edinburgh International Festival’s most ambitious projects, Silviu Purcarete’s grand adaptation of Faust takes over, and fills, the huge warehouse space at Ingleston’s Royal Highland Centre. Based on Goethe’s treatment of the German…