Theatre, Reviews

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Travesti

18 Aug 20143 stars

Male bodies, female voices in intriguing Edinburgh Fringe Festival show

Mirroring the themes of Ontroeren Goed's Sirens, Travesti has an all male cast voicing the words of women. This juxtaposition, putting words in the mouths of men, is the show's main concept and while it is initially shocking, it can't sustain the weight…

Beats North

18 Aug 20143 stars

A touching theatre double-bill that reminds of the power of music at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe

In this double-bill of plays by Ishy Din and Luke Barnes, Al and Jack are two young northern men trying to find their way into adulthood. Jack prefers Bonnie Tyler and Meatloaf to football, and needs to make sure his ragdoll – a hand-me-down toy from…

Mildred and the Midnight City

17 Aug 20142 stars

Adventurous children's theatre piece that feels a little crowded

There are plenty of understated heroics in HookHitch Theatre's overly quaint tale of a little woman who has adventure thrust upon her. And there is plenty of puppetry, involving clever duel-screen shadow projectors, a peculiarly poodle-like Polar Bear…

Albee Vector the Sound Collector

15 Aug 20144 stars

Engaging storytelling adventure for all the family at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe

In the already thrilling surroundings of the Hispaniola, littered with caged skeletons and other Treasure Island artefacts, Greenlight Theatre create a level of entertainment of which even RLS would approve. Albee Vector and his love, Andromeda, are…

The Capone Trilogy: Vindici

15 Aug 20144 stars

Betrayal and brutality in Chicago fuses Jacobean melodrama and film noir

Jethro Compton has become a firm Fringe favourite over the past few years: Vindici, part of his Capone Trilogy, is a fine example of his ability to bring together diverse influences into a coherent whole. The audacious melding of Jacobean melodrama and…

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Margaret Thatcher: Queen Of Soho

15 Aug 20143 stars

Uproarious, campy fun taking in key moments of political career

Revisionist history has seen ex-PM Margaret Thatcher absurdly transformed after her passing into a feminist icon. But Matt Tedford – who has the Iron Lady’s braying condescension down to a T – has now provided the ultimate makeover for Thatcher, turning…

Once Upon a Nightmare

18 Aug 20143 stars

Dynamic adventure play in need of streamlining at Edinburgh Festival Free Fringe

Although there is much to enjoy in this fantasy adventure from Box Step Productions, including some fine performances, there is one over-riding problem with Once Upon a Nightmare – it wants to be a film. It came as no surprise to discover, after…

Show Pony

18 Aug 20144 stars

Oddly delightful theatre piece from LetLuce at Edinburgh Festival Fringe

This is one pair of crazy ladies. Each playing one half of pink pony Eamonn, LetLuce tell the tale of how, finding himself unemployed, he ends up being punched by a nun in a field and sold into a circus that is somewhat surprisingly run by Ian McShane.

Can't Stay Away!

17 Aug 20141 star

A messy experiment which feels more like an under-rehearsed work-in-progress

Some Fringe shows thrive on experimentation, with a loose structure which well serves an atmosphere of seeming spontaneity. Some merely fail. Sadly, Fourth Monkey's Can't Stay Away! falls into the latter category. Examining an asylum seeker's…

Shakespeare, His Wife and the Dog

17 Aug 20144 stars

Joyous celebration of language and proof there is still life in scripted theatre

Shakespeare, his Wife and the Dog, is a joyous celebration of language, despite the underlying themes of senility and death. Finding himself unfashionable, Shakespeare retires and makes his household's lives miserable. Challenged by his wife, he goes…

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Symphony by Ella Hickson, Tom Wells & Nick Payne

17 Aug 20143 stars

Three delightful theatre pieces exploring growing up and falling in love

Individually, Ella Hickson, Tom Wells and Nick Payne have seen their fair share of theatrical success. Hickson's had a number of hit plays since her 2008 Fringe debut, Eight, brought her to nationwide attention. Payne's Constellations recently won the…

Broken Dolls (Razbitye Kuklu)

17 Aug 20142 stars

Strong performances in sex trafficking drama let down by unresolved plot lines and poor set

Broken Dolls tells the story of Narcisa, a young girl from Moldova who is sold into sex trafficking and imprisoned in a Turkish brothel. The play explores the brutal psychological abuse inflicted on women in order to desensitise them and trap them in a…

Woyzeck

17 Aug 20144 stars

Splendid Productions' energetic and playful hour finds new meaning in the great unfinished play

In their rendering of Büchner’s unfinished text, Splendid Productions adopts a playful timbre that sees them skip between scenes, co-opt the audience as the rumour mongers, and gleefully demonstrate the mechanisms behind their skilful stagecraft: as…

Jamaica Farewell

17 Aug 20143 stars

Solo Fringe performance presents thrilling journey across political turbulence and street violence

Jamaica Farewell is a solo performance by Deborah Ehrhardt in which she recounts episodes from her childhood in her beloved Jamaica and her conflicting desire to one day move to America, the place she thinks of as the land of opportunity. In the…

Title and Deed by Will Eno

17 Aug 20144 stars

Brilliantly unsettling piece of Edinburgh Fringe theatre questioning the essence of humanity

In 2005 the New York Times described American playwright and Pulitzer Prize winner Will Eno as a Samuel Beckett for the Jon Stewart generation. Almost a decade on, it seems Eno lives up to that weighted description with his monologue Title and Deed, a…

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21 Things You Should Know About Toronto's Crack-Smoking Mayor

17 Aug 20143 stars

Rob Ford-themed political theatre at 2014 Edinburgh Fringe that credits audience with intelligence

Canadian politician Rob Ford had a non-existent profile on the world stage until May last year, when clickbait news website *3Gawker*2 published evidence of him smoking crack cocaine. When Ford’s eventual admission only made things worse (‘Yes, I have…

All at Sea

15 Aug 20142 stars

Weak script lets down fearless acting by trio at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe

Intuitive Creatures' All at Sea employs a huge amount of audience interaction, and nowhere in the room is safe. During one skit they even come in from the back and mingle with the people hanging around casually at the bar who were mistaken in thinking…

Bill Clinton Hercules

15 Aug 20143 stars

Pleasant enough character show that shies away from making any new insights

Bill Paisley nails Bill Clinton’s down-home patter and renowned charm in this new show from Guy Masterson and Rachel Mariner. The former US President’s story is ripe with dramatic potential – but this show is fairly unexciting. As the audience files in…

Darling Ghost

15 Aug 20143 stars

Dark avant-garde musical cabaret is fascinating to witness, despite not always cohering

As the doors open you are greeted by four wind musicians at the front, a pianist with horns dressed in period costume and two women seated at a table to the left. Darling Ghost is hard to categorise; think free jazz meets Tori Amos or Regina Spektor at…

Every Brilliant Thing

15 Aug 20143 stars

Depression has never been so charming in this slightly-too-short play at the Edinburgh Fringe

Paines Plough’s travelling Roundabout Auditorium is probably the loveliest venue at the Fringe. Tucked away in a cosy corner of Summerhall, this Tardis-like theatre is bright, colourful and a comforting antidote to the festival’s any-space-will-do…

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The Great Gatsby

15 Aug 20143 stars

The American classic gets a Broadway makeover at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe

There are many literary parties that catch the imagination and inspire dreams of what it might have been like to be there. Satan’s Ball in The Master and Margarita and Kitty’s first dance in Anna Karenin stand out but the lavish scale of the extravagant…

The Initiate

15 Aug 20143 stars

Tense Edinburgh Fringe drama about the effect of Somali pirate kidnapping on London community

This intense, snappy drama from Alexandra Wood is an affecting tale of how the high profile Somali pirate kidnappings have affected London’s Somali community. Andrew French plays a cabbie who has lost his job for ‘talking too much’ – though it’s implied…

Sirens

15 Aug 20144 stars

Ontroerend Goed's symphony of female rage, staged at the Edinburgh Fringe, is impossible to ignore

If previous Summerhall favourite Silvia Gallerano's La Merda was a personal howl of anguish, Ontroerend Goed's Sirens is the symphonic rage of Everywoman. Using humour, song and a guttural roar rising to a blood-curdling scream, six women in evening…

Starchild: The Little Prince Reborn

15 Aug 20143 stars

Physical theatre with an Asian touch based on classic Antoine de Saint-Exupéry tale

As demonstrated by this likeable, if occasionally meandering, adaptation of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s world-famous fable, Shanghai-based ex-pat theatre company Urban Aphrodite International use drama and movement styles derived from influential…

The Carousel

15 Aug 20144 stars

Second play in Jennifer Termblay's triology is truimphant torrent of emotion at the Edinburgh Fringe

Stellar Quines ’ production of The List at the Fringe in 2012 was a quiet sensation, for the quality of the writing, by French-Canadian playwright Jennifer Tremblay, and for the team brought together by Muriel Romanes, including Maureen Beattie as the…