Edinburgh Fringe 2023 – It’s a Wrap!

Edinburgh Fringe 2023We arrived on 1st August and we left on the 29th. During that time we saw 145 shows, which was just six less than I had planned but was thirteen more than last year – so I’m very pleased with that number. According to the step count on the phone, we racked up about 184 miles of walking during the month – no wonder I didn’t put any weight on!

Here’s a quick reminder of the 4 and 5 star shows we saw, by star rating and in date order of when we saw them:


Jesus Jane Mother and Me

In Loyal Company

Glenn Moore


Ben Target – Lorenzo

Diana the Untold and Untrue Story


An Interrogation

Public the Musical


Gertrude Lawrence: A Lovely Way to Spend an Evening

Sophie’s Surprise 29th

Yoga with Jillian

Nuclear Children

The Trials of Galileo

Nobody’s Talking About Jamie

The Quality of Mercy: Life and Times of Harold Shipman

Tarot (Work in Progress)

The Life Sporadic of Jess Wildgoose

I Wish My Life Were Like a Musical

Paved With Gold and Ashes

Why I Stuck a Flare up my Arse for England

Adam Flood Remoulded

Mark Thomas: Gaffa Tapes

The Rite of Spring/Common Ground[s] (EIF)

The Court

A Chorus Line

The Good Dad (A Love Story)


Sooz Kempner: Y2K Woman

Frank Skinner: 30 Years of Dirt

Alvin Ailey Company (EIF)


Chopped Liver and Unions

Robin Grainger: An Audient with Robin Grainger

Ahir Shah: Ends



Spin Cycles

Jon Culshaw: Impostor Syndrome

One Way Out

17 Minutes

Showgirls and Spies

Bill’s 44th

Alan Turing – A Musical Biography

Alison Skilbeck’s Uncommon Ground

Pear but Braver

Ay Up Hitler!

The Academy Trust

Bitter Lemons


Raising Kane

The Way Way Deep

Andrew Frank: Ecstatic Blasphemy


Giving the Gift of Offence with Martin Rowson

In Conversation with Jack Monroe

Olaf Falafel: Look What Fell out of my Head

Letter to Boddah

The Last Flapper

Best Comedy Show at the Edinburgh Fringe (Ben Clover)

Perfect Pairing: A Wine Tasting Dancegustation

The Stall

Frank Sanazi’s Comedy Blitzkrieg

Long Long Long Live

Kevin Precious – The Reluctant Teacher

Joe Wells: King of the Autistics

Darren Walsh: 3rd Rock from the Pun

Mary Bourke – 200% Irish

Rob Auton: The Rob Auton Show

Marlon Solomon: How to be an Antisemite

Shenanigan’s Cabaret

Burning Down the Horse


Do Rhinos Feel Their Horns?


Pressure Cooker

Being Sophie Scholl

Dane Baptiste: Bapsquire



Congratulations to all these great shows. As to working out which of them are the absolute best – you’ll have to wait until the Chrisparkle Awards for 2023 are announced in January!

And thank you, gentle reader, for sticking with me throughout this busy month! My viewing/reading statistics have gone through the roof and are over twice the numbers who checked out my reviews at the 2022 Fringe – so thank you very much for that. Remember – reviews are only what one person thinks, they’re purely a personal reaction. And star ratings are even more unreliable!

Now it’s back to “ordinary” theatre reviewing – although theatre should never be “ordinary”!

The Edinburgh Fringe All Month Long – 20th August 2023

Wanna know what’s scheduled for today in Edinburgh?

Here’s the schedule for 20th August:

12.45 – Four, Gilded Balloon Teviot. From the Edinburgh Fringe website:

Four“In this poignant and compelling new work, an ambitious manager introduces a new first violinist to a longstanding string quartet with an uncertain future. As the reconstituted quartet plays, over twelve weeks of rehearsals and performances, it becomes evident that this new blood has disrupted the settled dynamics of the group. The award-winning playwright of Four, Clé Holly (Parallel Lines, Stretch, American Standard), is herself a violinist, and it shows in the verisimilitude of this sharply written drama. Featuring live music.”

This sounds like an interesting combination of genres. What happens when a new person disrupts a happy team?

14.25 – Rob Auton: The Rob Auton Show, Assembly Roxy.

Rob Auton“The Rob Auton Show is a show about Rob Auton. Rob Auton has written nine hit Edinburgh Festival Fringe comedy/theatre/spoken-word shows on specific themes including yellow in The Yellow Show, and sleep in The Sleep Show. In his tenth show Rob turns the pen on himself to explore the memories and feelings that create his life on a daily basis. ‘A genuine original’ (Guardian). ‘Makes laughter out of wonder. We need him’ (Scotsman). ‘Charming, eccentric and uplifting’ (Independent). ‘Brilliant’ (Stewart Lee). ‘One of my absolute favourites’ (Daniel Kitson).”

I’m a big fan of Rob Auton’s quiet, unconventional style so I’m looking forward to seeing what his new show is all about!

16.20 – Marlon Solomon: How to Be an Antisemite, Gilded Balloon Patter Hoose.

Marlon Solomon“From the maker of Conspiracy Theory: A Lizard’s Tale – **** (BroadwayBaby.com), **** (TheWeeReview.com) – comes Marlon Solomon’s highly anticipated second show. A black comedy about the current rise of antisemitism, where it comes from and what we can do about it. Marlon explores his own experience being a target and how it changed his life. Told in his own unique style, How To Be An Antisemite is a wry piece of storytelling which exposes a shocking underbelly in society that few know exist. It’s another comic tale which is no laughing matter.”

The last time we saw Marlon Solomon live was in the remarkable The Curing Room at Edinburgh a few years back. This will be a very different kettle of fish, and I’m looking forward to hearing everything he has to say about antisemitism.

18.15 – Shenanigans Cabaret, The Space on the Mile.

Shenanigans Cabaret“East London’s five-star variety show comes to Edinburgh for the third year in a row, bringing you top-class cabaret acts from across the performing arts industry, including circus, burlesque, sideshow, acrobatics, live music, drag, dance and anything else we can get our hands on. From the weird and wonderful to the sublime and ridiculous, showcasing a diverse cast of both new and established performers, anything goes at this show and, indeed, anything can happen… Hold onto your hats as they’re about to be blown away! ‘Highly entertaining’ , ‘hilarious’ and ‘a revelation’ ***** (Audience Reviews).”

I don’t know why it sounds funny to associate burlesque with East London, but I’m sure this will be a great show!

20.00 – Rosie Holt: That’s Politainment! Pleasance Courtyard.

Rosie Holt“The worse the political career, the more lucrative the subsequent entertainment opportunities. Matt Hancock may have slaughtered millions but now he’s making a killing. So can Rosie Holt’s viral hit MP follow “politainers” Dorries, Farage and Rees-Mogg and leap from the pages of Hansard to Heat? After her sell-out Edinburgh show last year, Rosie returns to tightrope the thin line between politics and entertainment. ‘The Thick of It levels of writing and performance applied to a very current flavour of political bullshit’ (Times). ‘Beautifully observed and performed’ (Guardian). ‘A character comedy treat’ **** (Time Out).”

We saw Rosie Holt’s Edinburgh show last year and it was a breath of fresh air – terrific political comedy. Hoping for great things again this year!

Check back later to see how we enjoyed all these shows!


Edinburgh Fringe 2023 Reviews – Things to do in Mull, The Academy Trust, Bitter Lemons, Vanya is Alive, Adam Kay: Undoctored – This is Going to Hurt… More, and Sophie’s Surprise 29th

Things To Do in Mull, The Space on the Mile.

Things to do in MullDonna Soto-Morettini’s play is loosely inspired by Gogol’s Diary of a Madman – and I must say I didn’t get the reference until I realised that our hero Janusz learns the background information on a girl he fancies by talking to the dog, Jasper. Janusz’ problem is not unique to him and nearly everyone has it to an extent – being addicted to social media and online scrolling. So he resolves to get rid of all his devices and spend some time alone on the island of Mull, researching Polish history for his thesis. It’s a nice idea, and Robert Litwin is excellent in the role of Janusz. It is, however, a rather slight play – one feels it could have been a little bolder and gone a little further, and at barely forty minutes there’s not that much opportunity to delve into Janusz’ character too deeply. An enjoyable start to the day though.


The Academy Trust, The Space at Surgeon’s Hall.

Academy TrustWelcome to the Academy Trust, formed from the merger of a primary school and a secondary school – and two headteachers vying for the same job. As a result they devise ways of scuppering the other one’s chances and making themselves look good by getting individual teachers on their side. Very cleverly written and performed by two actual genuine teachers, it gives a comical insight into the horrors of being a modern teacher, including managing the dreaded Ofsted visit. Loved the fact that the Academy is sponsored by Ladbrokes, and there are numerous references to the staff being encouraged to gamble. Very funny, very tongue in cheek – although you also recognise that there is more than a grain of truth in it all!


Bitter Lemons, Pleasance Courtyard.

Bitter LemonsThe two contrasting stories of a footballer and a banker – both facing an important crunch time in their career development, and, perhaps surprisingly, both women. As they interweave their separate stories you notice a few similarities between the two very different people. Then comes the event that unites them; they both discover that they are unexpectedly, and unintentionally, pregnant. How do they balance this discovery with the important stages in their careers? Well written, crisply staged, and with two excellent performances from Shannon Hayes and Chanel Waddock. The acting and the writing grip your attention throughout. A strong production, and highly recommended.


Vanya is Alive, The Space at Symposium Hall.

Vanya is AliveGiven the awful events in Ukraine and the destroyed families on both sides of the war, this play tells a bold and important story, as a mother hears news about her soldier son. Never having had the unfortunate experience of living under an authoritarian regime, I confess it took me a long time to understand the “trick” of this play; and even after I had started to understand its very particular form of doublespeak, it still didn’t fully make sense until after it was finished and I had time to reflect. Acted sparsely and relatively unemotionally by one actor, Nikolay Mulakov, I felt it was a shame that it didn’t have a more dramatic or dynamic performance – the recital nature of the delivery of the text felt laboured and reserved. Maybe that was the point? But the result was that something that should have felt powerful and significant came across as slightly underwhelming and understated.


Adam Kay: Undoctored – This is Going to Hurt… More, Pleasance Courtyard.

Adam KayNot having seen Adam Kay before, I wasn’t entirely certain what to expect from his show. I didn’t think it would be “stand-up”; and indeed it wasn’t. Instead he reads passages (presumably from his new book) that illustrate various funny and agonising events from his medical career and beyond. Some of them are excruciatingly funny, others are painfully sad. There are also a few comedy songs, but you wouldn’t exactly call Adam Kay the medical Tom Lehrer. In a real-life dramatic turn of events there was a medical emergency at the back of the audience and Mr Kay was the first to bound up the steps to see what he could do to help. An entertaining and provocative hour, but it’s probably equally entertaining to read his book at home.


Sophie’s Surprise 29th, Underbelly’s Circus Hub on the Meadows.

Sophie's Surprise 29thThree Legged Race Productions’ debut act at the Fringe is an enormously fun circus cabaret show with some fantastic balancing and aerial acts, a comedy unicyclist, and, as a running thread through the show, it’s Sophie’s birthday too – Sophie being a random young lady picked from the audience who ends up playing quite a significant part in the show! It’s all done in very good humour, and there’s a sensational roller skate act that looks absolutely terrifying and is definitely the highlight of the hour. A truly excellent example of this kind of show.


The Edinburgh Fringe All Month Long – 6th August 2023

What’s in store for us in Edinburgh today?

Here’s the schedule for 6th August:

10.55 – Chasing Butterflies, Pleasance Dome. From the Edinburgh Fringe website:

Chasing Butterflies“Murder in London: The Butterfly Butcher strikes again. Beneath the bustling capital, a relentless evil continues to lurk. Pressure mounts on Detective Richards and the Police to catch the serial killer that has haunted Whitechapel throughout 1985. Will Richards be able to save the people of London, or will he fall to the path of wickedness that corrupted the very soul he’s chasing, unravelling darkness? Anyone can be a victim of the Butterfly Butcher and everyone should be scared. May God be with you all.”

A bit of true crime drama to start the day – what’s not to like?

13.00 – The Ice Hole: A Cardboard Comedy, Pleasance Courtyard.

Ice Hole“An epic adventure told with a thousand pieces of cardboard. A great actor recounts his journey from the fjords of Iceland to the dust of the Spanish desert. Cursed by the mermaid he once accidentally caught, a fellow performer helps tell his tale in a language no-one quite understands. Monty Python meets Mighty Boosh with a twist of Laurel and Hardy. The theatrical acrobatics from these virtuoso performers will make you howl with laughter. Pure theatrical joy. From the creators of Edinburgh’s smash hit Fishbowl. Moliere Theatre Award winner. ‘Serious theatre magic’ (NewYorkTimes).”

You can do a lot with cardboard, as I expect this show will reveal! Not that keen on Mighty Boosh, but Monty Python and Laurel and Hardy are fine by me. Fingers crossed!

15.10- Släpstick: Schërzo, Pleasance Courtyard.

Slapstick Scherzo“Spirit of the Fringe Award winner Släpstick is back. Bringing their unique brand of mischief to Schërzo, a clown-esque concerto for the ages where a seemingly highbrow classical concert glissandos into a bacchanal of comical mishaps and absurdity. Neither floppy-wigged composers nor their magnum opus are safe from this Släpstick buffoonery. It’s Chaplin meets Tchaikovsky, Buster versus Bernstein, and Groucho Marx does Mozart, all rolled up into one raucous show! Internationally renowned Släpstick presents Schërzo, a performance of classical music as you’ve never experienced it before. Language no problem.”

Another show where I really don’t know what to expect – a dangerous mix of all sorts of different styles of entertainment, I guess. Definitely in for something anarchic here!

17.30 – NewsRevue, Pleasance Courtyard.

News Revue“We dedicate this year’s show to the late, great, founder of NewsRevue, Professor Michael Hodd, who launched this multi award-winning, Guinness World Record-breaking institution 43 years ago. Emma Taylor, its producer since 2001, says ‘it is fitting that Mike’s enduring legacy will make its debut in the iconic Pleasance Grand.’ Expect 100% brand-new material, much of it written by the preposterously talented cast and creative team. From King Charles to Keir Starmer, Prince Harry to Putin, Sunak to Strikes and Sleaze, no stone will be left unturned. NewsRevue provides ‘license to dissent en masse’ ***** (BroadwayBaby.com).”

Love current affairs and news comedy, so hopefully this will be bang up to date and on the button. Should be great!

19.15 – Lovefool, Summerhall.

Lovefool“A brutally honest, hilarious and heartbreaking one-woman show navigating the impossibly confusing gender dynamics of modern love. Grace, a young woman hungry for affection and looking for love in all the wrong places, is forced to discover what healthy (self) love might look like. A sensational solo performance championing a life’s endless pursuit of healing, told with vulnerability and humour. Presented by the Théâtre National du Luxembourg, where it played to sold out audiences and received critical acclaim. This extraordinary piece of new writing received its UK Premiere at The Coronet Theatre.”

The reviews from its runs in Luxembourg are very intriguing, so I’m looking forward to this very much!

21:00 – Weathervanes, Summerhall.

Weathervanes“Weathervanes is an immersive-multimedia exhibit and ritual dance-theatre experience – a re-thinking of the beautiful and what is holy… This mesmerising performance-installation by Jian Yi tunes into the collective psyche with audiences to create a dreaming state of mind; an architecture of queer futurity. Produced by Journey to the East Productions in association with Summerhall/Eclipse and Tramway – it features an ensemble of dancers with a live musician, and multimedia/FX created by Cryptic artist Heather Lander. ‘A manifestation of purity, of potential, of value and intrinsic grace… ’ (Critic Gareth Vile, on Weathervanes at Tramway DiG21).”

To be honest, that description sounds a little pretentious to me, but this sounds like the kind of experience one just has to attend so that one can form one’s own opinion!

Check back later to see how we enjoyed all these shows!

Edinburgh Fringe 2023 Reviews – The Big Bite-Size Breakfast Show, Spin Cycles, One Way Out, Jon Culshaw: Imposter Syndrome, Glenn Moore: Will You Still Need Me, Will You Still Feed Me, Glenn I’m Sixty Moore, Laser Kiwi: Rise of the Olive, and Manbo

The Big Bite-Size Breakfast Show, Pleasance Courtyard.

Big Bite Size Breakfast ShowAn entertaining start to the day with the five short plays that constitute Menu Two. The first two, Honk and Of Their Own, could have been a little shorter and punchier, but the other three are excellent. The New Normal tells a surreal tale of an office that starts to eat and kill its employees, The Improv Class starts by being just that but then you realise that it’s a very different experience indeed, and Charity shows just how vicious opposing charities can be when they all vie for the same pound. The cast throw themselves into the show with great gusto and some very amusing characterisations and voices. I really loved the charity collecting whale! Menu One and Menu Three contain a completely different set of plays so you can collect all three!


Spin Cycles, Pleasance Courtyard.

Spin CyclesA beautifully written examination of coping with illness by means of workouts and exercise on the spin bike. There’s an excellent balance between humour and tragedy, and the play is particularly perceptive when it comes to questioning one’s own lifestyle choices to see if you’ve unwittingly brought cancer on yourself. Written and performed by Jamie-Lee Money, a very likeable performer with whom you can easily identify. As someone who has done his time on a spin bike at the gym, I loved the way it took apart all that motivational cliche guff that trainers can sometimes spout! A very strong story and a strong, physical performance too.


One Way Out, Underbelly Cowgate.

One Way OutA dynamic group of four young actors – Shem Hamilton, Marcus Omoro, Adam Seridji and Sam Pote – play a bunch of 17/18 year olds just finishing school, making university or work choices, and their plans for the future, which of course includes always looking after one another’s backs. But when Devonte applies to go to university, this causes the authorities to look closer into his UK residential status. His mother always looks after the passports, but is he actually entitled to one? As part of the whole Windrush scandal, this tells a vital and highly relevant story that shows the personal cost of those people deported for no reason of their own. Extremely well acted, there’s a very active and physical performance from all – including a fantastic stage punch! Well written, it also reveals different layers of racism within British society, including in those areas where you might not expect to find it. Oh, and there’s a deft magic trick too! A sad but important play – I found it very moving.


Jon Culshaw: Imposter Syndrome, Gilded Balloon Teviot.

Jon CulshawYou know what you’re going to get with a Jon Culshaw show and there are no particular surprises here, just a series of superbly performed impersonations, including some clever musical material. Slick and entertaining, perhaps the structure of the show is a little unadventurous, with Mr Culshaw taking us on a nostalgic tour of all the radio and TV programmes he’s done over the years. Nevertheless, it’s a lot of fun and there’s no doubting he’s a fantastic impersonator!


Glenn Moore: Will You Still Need Me, Will You Still Feed Me, Glenn I’m Sixty Moore, Pleasance Courtyard.

Glenn MooreFinally got to see Glenn Moore’s show after many attempts to see it – and now I understand the hype. Mr Moore is a brilliant comedian, and this show is jam-packed with fast-flowing material, beautifully and anarchically structured, with loads of very satisfying callbacks, all about how he went into lockdown with his girlfriend arguing about whether or not they wanted to have a baby. A truly sure-footed performer, he rarely takes time to draw breath and is not afraid to use the entire auditorium to make his points. Intense! And don’t ever tell him his show is a laugh a minute!

Laser Kiwi: Rise of the Olive, Assembly Roxy.

Laser KiwiThe great thing about Laser Kiwi is that they are such a delightful threesome that they win you over with the strength of their personalities even before they’ve done any of their comic or circus-type business. Rise of the Olive is a rather weird and anarchic concoction of sketches and tricks; to be fair, not all of them hit the spot, but those that do are brilliant. I loved the singing ant and the recurring human olive, and the extended balancing the martini on the forehead trick was hilarious. A very enjoyable show.


Manbo, Underbelly Cowgate.

ManboThere’s only one man who’s man enough for the job of single-handedly saving the western world from the damn Ruskies and that’s Manbo, Sam Dugmore’s ridiculously funny comic creation – he’s strong and tough enough to win the war but also knows he couldn’t do it without the help of his faithful hound Fluffy. I wasn’t really sure what to expect from this show but it’s one of the funniest hours of childish escapism I’ve enjoyed in a long time. He gets plenty of help from the audience, who provide him with a supporting cast of Contact Woman, Boris the enforcer, and his old buddy Adrian – who on this first night of his Edinburgh show was played by little old me. Extremely silly, but it taps into a juvenile play mentality that hopefully we all still have – and I loved it!

The Edinburgh Fringe All Month Long – 3rd August 2023

Another day of Edinburgh Previews – what’s on the slab for today?

Here’s the schedule for 3rd August:

10.20 – The Big Bite-Size Breakfast Show, The Space on North Bridge. From the Edinburgh Fringe website:

Big Bite Size Breakfast Show“Good morning, Edinburgh! Following the hiatus since our triumphant run in 2019, we’re thrilled to be back for our 15th year! Bringing you three brand-new, delicious, rotating “menus” of 10-15-minute comedies, eccentricities and mini-dramas – all served up with complimentary fresh coffee/tea, croissant and strawberries. The perfect way to start your day. Doors open by 10am so come and meet the team before they perform for you. ‘The tapas of the theatre scene’ (ThreeWeeks). ‘One of the most important shows you’ll see on the Fringe’ (Daily Record).”

This is their fifteenth year but it’s the first time we will have seen them – I’m hoping this will be a new morning show you can rely on, filling the gap left by the loss of the old-style Shakespeare for Breakfast (the new version is just awful!) According to their website we’ll be enjoying “Menu 2”.

12.20 – Spin Cycles, Pleasance Courtyard.

Spin Cycles“Time to sweat out the sadness: Spin Cycles gives a cathartic look into why we search for something deeper when the inconceivable happens to us. After an earth-shattering year, can she spin herself out of a slump? What is it about cult exercise studios that give us a feeling of purpose and the sense that everything that was once upside down can be turned the right way up? She’s not in a cult… yet? Is she? Spin Cycles is a one person show about spinning, grief and everything in between. But mostly spinning, and grief.”

Mrs C and I are a pair of demons on the spin bikes at our local fitness centre and I confess that was the main reason I thought of seeing this show – there should be something relatable in it!

14.15 – One Way Out, Underbelly Cowgate.

One Way Out“‘Can we determine our fate? Or is there only one way out?’ Theatre Peckham’s first resident company present this powerful drama exploring young British Caribbeans’ experiences of the Windrush crisis. Four friends stand on the cusp of adulthood, with ambitious goals ahead. As they take their first steps towards independence, a world-shattering event turns Devonte’s life upside down. Forced to make decisions that may destroy their brotherhood as they know it, the young men must decide to follow the paths laid out for them or step off to help their friend in sudden need.”

Experiences like Windrush can only inform us better for the future, so I hope this play takes difficult themes and creates something positive from the mess.

16.00 – Jon Culshaw: Imposter Syndrome, Gilded Balloon Teviot.

Jon Culshaw“The star of BBC Radio 4’s Dead Ringers and BBC One’s The Impressions Show follows up his 2018 sell-out Fringe residency with a brand-new hour of comedy and music. Join Jon as he conjures up an array of the best-known personalities from the worlds of entertainment, politics, and beyond in his trademark style. ‘Culshaw delivers impressions of extraordinary variety and skill’ (Times). ‘Culshaw thrills audiences with his quick wit and wonderful impersonations’ (BroadwayWorld.com).”

Jon Culshaw always delivers an entertaining show, with terrific voices and excellent material – so I’m hoping for more of the same!

18.00 – Glenn Moore: Will You Still Need Me, Will You Still Feed Me, Glenn I’m Sixty Moore, Pleasance Courtyard.

Glenn Moore“’The best showcase of pure joke-writing skill on the Fringe’ **** (Guardian). Edinburgh Comedy Award nominee, and one of the greatest joke-writers of his generation, Glenn brings one of the best-reviewed shows of 2022 back to Edinburgh for just 14 nights. Regular on Mock the Week (RIP), The Great American Joke-Off and The Stand-Up Sketch Show. As heard on News Quiz, Now Show and Absolute Radio. Proud owner of a Pointless Celebrities trophy and a House Of Games tankard. ***** (Chortle.co.uk, Mail on Sunday).”

Glenn Moore has been touring this show for quite a while now and I keep on missing it – so this year, I’m determined to catch it! This will be the first time we’ve seen Mr Moore, but I’ve heard great things.

19.50 – Laser Kiwi: Rise of the Olive, Assembly Roxy.

Laser KiwiJoin the world’s only surreal, sketch, award-winning circus troupe on a wild ride as they bring people closer together, one olive at a time. Expect bizarre ideas, high-level circus and a bloody good night out. Winners of the Overall Circus Award at FringeWorld 2023. Winners of Best Circus and Physical Theatre at Adelaide Fringe 2019. ‘Fall-down funny, absolutely top shelf’ ***** (Advertiser, Adelaide). ‘Hilarious and impressive in equal measure’ ***** (GlamAdelaide.com.au). ‘Unbridled fun and contagious laughter’ ***** (SeeDoEatReview.com).

We saw Laser Kiwi at the Edinburgh Fringe in 2019 and thoroughly enjoyed them – even if they did get me up on stage to participate in their “Perfect Match” game. It’s circus, but it isn’t really circus. I’m sure they’ll be good fun this time around too.

21.40 – Manbo, Underbelly Cowgate

Manbo“Step aside Stallone! Sam Dugmore is locked and loaded as the greatest action hero of all time, unearthing his ruthless man skills to confront his worst nemesis… himself. A dead-sexy mission, filled with chaos, 80s singing, dancing and workout montages, explosions, evil Russians, suppressed raw male emotion and a dog called Fluffy. Extremely camp, extremely silly, extremely entertaining, extremely Manbo. Best Weekly Comedy Award, Adelaide Fringe 2021 and 2022. Best Newcomer, Sydney Comedy Festival 2021. Edinburgh Fringe Award winner, Adelaide Fringe 2022. ‘A physically challenging, extremely silly hour of pure, embodied entertainment’ **** (Scotsman).”

More fun from down under, I had this show on my long list to see last year but couldn’t quite fit it in, so it seemed churlish to miss out on Manbo a second time – not really sure what to expect, but I trust it will make us laugh.

Check back later to see how we enjoyed all these shows!

Edinburgh Fringe 2022 – The Final Analysis and 5* Shows

So, we did it! We saw 125 shows between 5th – 29th August and the standard was extraordinarily high. I also learned a lot about planning for a Fringe month rather than a Fringe week. For a Fringe week, you can be confident about packing as much into it as you possible can – you can always sleep on the train coming home. For a month however, you can get a burnout if you try to do too much. We found that we cancelled many of our late night shows because we were just too tired to do them justice; and we discovered that if I left too many gaps throughout the day (for meals, drinks, shopping etc) then you lose the adrenaline rush and it’s harder to pick up the enthusiasm again. This is particularly important from, say, 9pm onwards. But I am well prepared to plan next year’s Fringe already, and am ready to avoid the pitfalls I fell into this year!

But let’s look at these shows again. We saw 53 productions that you could loosely call “plays” and 18 of them were 5* status. We saw 52 shows that you could list as “comedy”, and of these 23 merited 5* – that’s a massive proportion! Additionally, 2 of the 4 dance productions we saw were 5*, 3 of the 6 Spoken Word events were 5* and, on a slightly lower proportion, 3 of the 11 “other” shows (cabaret, circus, magic, etc) gained 5* from me. At the moment, I’m finding it hard to identify my favourite, or even my favourite(s) from all these 5* productions, so let’s do a quick run-down of them, in the order that we saw them, and my on-the-spot reactions on the night:


The MistakeThe Mistake – It’s not often that a play leaves you almost lost for words. The Mistake is a heartstopping, blistering piece of theatre, telling the story of how atomic power was developed and misused to devastating effect. Michael Mears and Emiko Ishii create a cast of characters who either caused or suffered from the 1945 attacks on Japan, using just a few props with amazing inventiveness. Vital viewing for everyone.

Feeling AfraidFeeling Afraid as if Something Terrible is Going to Happen – Here’s another “false testimony”- type play given a brilliant tour de force performance by Samuel Barnett who has a huge number of words to remember! You can’t know what to believe and what not to believe as he pieces together the various stages of his relationship with “The American”. Both funny and occasionally ghastly, the play holds your attention throughout; and Mr Barnett is on fabulous form.

About MoneyAbout Money – A splendid way to start the day with a very thought provoking, and brilliantly written play about poverty and responsibility amongst young people and the things they make you do. Great performances, especially from the amazing child actor Lois Hagerty. Touching and moving; it’s incredible how using just two chairs and wearing two red caps can say so much.

Mrs RooseveltMrs Roosevelt Flies to London – An extraordinary story, well told, with great vocal characterisations and a wonderful sense of humour. It’s also very informative; for example, I didn’t know FDR had polio, nor that Eleanor Roosevelt played such an important role in the declaration of human rights – still a hot topic today. An assured and very enjoyable history lesson!

Please Feel Free To SharePlease Feel Free to Share – A liar gets addicted to lying by attending various self-help sessions pretending she is out of control. Very clever writing, matched by a very convincing performance. It’s also very thought provoking. Loved it!

Conflict in CourtConflict in Court – If you liked Crown Court (if you’re old enough) you’ll love this. A fascinating court case, beautifully realised, full of great interaction – and when the final truth came out the whole audience gasped! Plus you get a free pie and a pint and they were both delicious. Absolutely brilliant – really loved it!

BoyBoy – This is such an inventive way of telling an extraordinary story. Two amazingly good actors do a really strong script justice. Very moving, very sad, but also loads of humour. Never have soft toys played such a relevant role in serious drama. Just what you’d expect from the team who produced Us/Them. First class indeed.

An Audience with Stuart BagcliffeAn Audience with Stuart Bagcliffe – The story is kept secret in the promotional material and it’s important it stays that way. Suffice to say there are many twists to Stuart’s tale. But it’s blisteringly well told and there’s a fantastic performance by Michael Parker as Stuart. Only a tiny venue, so book early!

DorianDorian – Well, there’s dramatic and there’s dramatic, but this is super-dramatic! Incredibly intense, Dorian is a powerful, strongly-building adaptation that has you on the edge of your seat. I’d go so far to say this is a better adaptation of Wilde’s original than Matthew Bourne’s Dorian Gray. Some excellent performances, brilliant stagecraft – the fight scenes are superb – all topped off with a stunning lighting and sound design. A mini-masterpiece!

Dog ActorDog/Actor – A true masterclass in acting from Stephen Smith in this Berkoff double bill. Berkoff’s superb writing demands excellent characterisations, and that’s exactly what Mr Smith delivers by the truckload. He’s also amazing with the physical theatre – in “Dog” particularly you really got a sense of the powerful and aggressive Roy. An enthralling show!

Shoddy DetectiveA Shoddy Detective and the Art of Deception – They may call themselves Shoddy Theatre, but there’s nothing shoddy about this brilliant piece of nonsensical, physical theatre, packed with terrifically ludicrous scenes, hilarious characterisations, knockabout humour and superb stage fighting! Loved every minute of it.

Death of an AuthorDeath of an Author – A very clever premise,  excellent performances, extremely well written, and surprisingly moving. Lots to think about – and truly intriguing for literature buffs! I shan’t reveal who murdered the author…. but no jury would convict! I also liked how the detective did a spot of mansplaining!

Words Without ConsentWords Without Consent – Verbatim text of women in interviews combined with politicians’ comments on the role of women in society and the dangers faced daily from men. Extremely well staged, great use of video projections and two first rate performances. Take note of the trigger warnings; many of the things said in this production shake you to the core. A thrilling, appalling and vital work.

CandyCandy – Brilliant storytelling, both in Tim Fraser’s riveting play and Michael Waller’s spellbinding performance. At first, I thought the content of the play was going to position itself as some kind of analogy or symbol. But then I quickly decided it wasn’t that, it was just a straightforward story about a man falling in love with his mate, but only when Billy presents himself as Candy. Fascinating, thought-provoking, at times hilarious, at times deeply sad. We absolutely loved it.

Charlie WilliamsEh Up Me Old Flowers – An excellent portrayal of Charlie Williams, by Tony Marshall; and the play itself is full of great storytelling, and ultimately is remarkably moving. You don’t have to remember Charlie Williams from the 70s, but it helps if you do! The play posed fascinating questions about whether Williams was complicit in spreading racism, or did he pave the way for the likes of Lenny Henry or Gary Wilmot? I was really surprised to find I had a tear in my eye at the end. Way better than you might possibly expect!!

WilfWilf – That rare thing – a comedy that is extraordinarily creative in its subject matter, confronts headfirst disturbing issues like domestic abuse and mental illness, and is also jaw-achingly funny. Beautifully staged and performed by Michael Dylan, Irene Allan and Neil John Gibson, there’s no way this play won’t have a life beyond the Fringe. Absolutely magnificent!

ClosureClosure – Mrs Chrisparkle and I constituted the full audience! Yes, only two people in but the cast threw themselves into a great performance of a brilliant play, with very serious, challenging material, and a fabulous twist. A good old fashioned thriller, based on sexual violence. Read the trigger warnings first. We talked about it for ages afterwards! Riveting!

No Place Like HomeNo Place Like Home – Gripping tale, spellbindingly told, with superb use of video graphics that truly helped the story along. Marvellous acting – great characterisations. A feast of creativity, I’m so glad we didn’t miss this!



ColossalColossal (Patrick McPherson) – I predict another massive word of mouth success for Patrick’s latest creation. Incredibly beautiful writing reminds you of the hip hop rhythms of Hamilton, whilst telling his own very individual story of love and deception. So many brilliant callbacks, so many surprises. Patrick turns his likeable persona inside out and challenges the audience to stick with him. And we sure do. Technically brilliant too with a terrific sound and lighting plot, which also play their part. A complete winner.

Ben Clover Best NewcomerBen Clover: Best Newcomer – The evening ended with a great show from Ben Clover, who included anti-vaxxers, Prince Andrew and Boris Johnson in his material and it all landed perfectly. The show contained an early contender for best line of the Fringe; I won’t spoil it for you but we were still chuckling about it back at the apartment. He delivers his routine with apparently effortless ease, although I’m sure most of it scrupulously hand-crafted. A fantastic show, highly recommended.

Mark ThomasMark Thomas: Black and White – Why have I never seen Mr Thomas before? Most definitely a no-Conservative zone, he dishes out brilliant political observations nineteen to the dozen and absolutely left me wanting more. He also has some memorable Barry Cryer and Bernard Cribbins jokes, God bless their souls. I had no idea I’d be singing my favourite music hall song, The boy I love is up in the gallery, by Marie Lloyd. Just a fab hour.

Hal CruttendenHal Cruttenden: It’s Best You Hear it From Me – Crammed with callbacks, this is a beautifully constructed, very personal and very impressive show, with great audience interaction; probably the best I’ve ever seen Mr Cruttenden. Perhaps he should have more marriage breakdowns, it would be great for his career!

Mary BourkeMary Bourke: The Brutal Truth – On terrific form, the legendary Ms B talks cancel culture, Britain’s Got Talent as well as giving us a massive trauma dump (her words) that she turns to comedy gold. Peppa Pig also comes in for the treatment she so richly deserves. Absolutely brilliant.

AbigoliahAbigoliah Schamaun: Legally Cheeky – Abigoliah shares the ghastly story of her visa crisis with all her trademark upbeat optimism even though at times it’s a truly sad story. She has an amazing ability to see sunshine in the rain and she conveys her joyous observations with delightful ease. Fantastic!

Tarot Cautionary TalesTarot: Cautionary Tales – What a find! Sketch comedy is alive and well and living Beside the Pleasance Courtyard! Tarot are three immensely likeable idiots who have put together just the funniest hour of nonsense. Every night they pick a member of the audience to count the number of laughs (and make other suitable notes) and, you guessed it, it was me. I counted 217 laughs but I definitely missed a few – well, you have to keep these people on their toes after all. Favourite sketches included the Elvis Impersonator and the Never Have I Ever game. Ecstatically funny!

Your Dad's MumYour Dad’s Mum – Your Dad’s Mum is a nightmarish comic creation; a social night out, with a grim compère stuck in the 70s and a woeful but feminist assistant who together take us through some deliciously lamentable games and quizzes. And it’s all absolutely brilliant! Once you get the joke – that he’s deliberately awful and she’s trying to do the best she can to make up for it – it works a treat. As the catastrophes pile up, the audience creases up! The audience hurled themselves into the fun and played along with everything that Pat and Cherrie-Ann threw at them. Just don’t ask her to do her Christmas Tree routine. Loved it!

Marcus BrigstockeMarcus Brigstocke:  Absolute Shower – Another show where the subject of stupid people comes up! Marcus Brigstocke is on brilliant form, an hour full of political satire and happy lockdown memories. I particularly loved his observation about consent issues for single people today. Extremely funny, always a pleasure.

Nina GilliganNina Gilligan: Late Developer – Nina specialises in finding fantastic new material on familiar subjects, like the Menopause, sex, relationships and so on. She has a fantastic delivery style, leading you in gently and then hitting you with a killer punchline. An excellent discovery! Loved the pigeon and Chris Whitty material – I’ll say no more.

Garry StarrGarry Starr: Greece Lightning – I sometimes wonder how funny Garry Starr could be if he wasn’t quite so inhibited. That’s a joke, by the way – there is no one on stage who leaps over all the boundaries as much as Garry Elizabeth Starr. Once again the hammy thespian brings us a no-holds barred hour of unmitigated silliness which has to be seen to be believed. Don’t think that by avoiding the front row you won’t get involved (although if you do sit in the front row you might well see much more than you had bargained for!) Utter brilliance.

Troy HawkeTroy Hawke: Sigmund Troy’d – Effortless characterisation, the mischievous Milo McCabe has formed a brilliant, creative set of material for Troy based on a random tweet that caught his imagination. With scrabble values, psychotherapy, magic numbers, shop greetings and pizza dedications, this is an extraordinarily detailed flight of fantasy. I know that by sitting in the front we were asking for it – and we got it. But so did many others! Fabulously funny!

ShamiltonShamilton – How would this troupe create a hiphop musical about a character chosen by the audience? Brilliant performance and improv with the inspired audience choice of Paddington Bear!! Absolutely hilarious. The Browns needed sexual counselling, and The Queen was called on to prevent Hugh Grant and Nicole Kidman from demolishing their house. Completely nuts and completely wonderful!

Phil HammondDr Hammond’s Covid Inquiry – Dr Phil presents an excellent comedy lecture, packed with fascinating facts and opinions, jokes and observations – it’s almost as though Covid has never gone away (winking emoji). It’s also interesting to share your own covid experiences and beliefs with other audience members. Very enjoyable!

Joe WellsJoe Wells: I Am Autistic – Always one of our favourite comedians, Joe is on fantastic form with a show that gives rise to pretty much non stop laughter, mainly about autism – and yes I know it sounds unlikely. He’s a truly gifted comedian, with a beautifully crafted set, and there’s no better way to start your Fringe day!

PearPear (Patrick and Hugo McPherson) – “Are there twins in the audience, oh oh, oh oh, are there any twins in?” 🎵 🎵 I guarantee you’ll be singing that for ages.

Patrick and Hugo do an amazing double act, with a nicely structured, incredibly silly, beautifully funny show, with perfect callbacks and audience interaction. You don’t stop beaming from start to finish! Is there nothing these McPhersons can’t do?!

Robin MorganRobin Morgan: Snip Snip Bitch (WIP) – Robin is even slicker and funnier now than he was when we saw him in Leicester a couple of years ago! There’s no real narrative thread to his act, it’s just observations and memories and quirkinesses, all of which somehow combine together to create a very satisfying whole. He’s so very likeable and persuasive; you end up letting your guard down and telling him things you’d normally keep under your hat. Absolutely brilliant!

Foil Arms and HogFoil Arms and Hog:  Hogwash – At first we wondered if Foil Arms and Hog had reached their pinnacle, and were beginning to lose their way a little. A very long get-to-know the audience introduction (vital for later material) followed by a too-long sketch based on a ghost story experience, meant that half the show had already gone before we started getting into the really good material, but rest assured it’s as good as ever. I loved the suitcases on the carousel, and the long lost reunions were inspired. Three genuinely hilarious guys – you don’t get better sketch comedy.

Nish KumarNish Kumar: Your Power, Your Control – Nish Kumar comes across as a naturally funny guy but also an angry one; years of racism have taken its toll on his mental health, and he shares some of that journey with us – and you get the feeling that the journey is far from over. But it’s not all doom and gloom – in fact it’s 98% hilarious observations about politics, terrible gigs and how much he loves Ricky Gervais and Jimmy Carr*. An occasionally bruising (and aggressive!) watch, but always rewarding.  *not strictly true.

Sooz KempnerSooz Kempner: Playstation – Very funny – I thought we might be at a disadvantage knowing nothing about computer games, but Sooz used them as a springboard for lots of other brilliant material, all based on that natural unwillingness to grow up. Extremely funny and inventive, and excellent use of pre-recorded material. Our first time seeing Sooz Kempner, but definitely not our last.

Anna MannColin Hoult: The Death of Anna Mann – Perhaps this really is the death of Anna Mann? Whatever Colin Hoult gives her an amazing send-off in this brilliant retrospective of her lives, loves and careers. Turned out very emotional in the end! One of the best comedy shows ever.

SpankSpank! You and Goodnight – The last ever Spank! was the source of a lot of genuine emotion. We’ve loved this show over the past 8 years and it’s brought so much happiness to so many people. A wonderful last night final line up; brilliant acts who all made the night very special.

Just these PleaseJust These Please: Honestly No Pressure Either Way – Fast, slick and very very funny! Lovely silly sketches – I loved the one that featured Greyfriars Bobby – all performed to a high standard. What’s not to like?



HamletHamlet: Ian McKellen and the Edinburgh Festival Ballet – Ignore those 2* reviews. They clearly don’t understand the concept of Ballet. This is a stunning piece, superb choreography, meticulously danced, that tells the story of Hamlet clearly and thoroughly. The Prince of Denmark is split into two: one, the vocal nervous wreck played by McKellen, the other, the man who moves, played by an extraordinary dancer. I particularly loved Ophelia’s dances, and Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are a delight. Fabulous lighting and sound too. My toes curled with pleasure throughout!

Ballet FreedomBallet Freedom of Kyiv – Audience reviews online were about 75-25 in favour of this show, but those who didn’t like it *really* didn’t like it! We thought it was terrific; inventive, dynamic choreography, danced with joy and skill, frequently very tongue in cheek, lots of dark humour and even a few instances of audience participation (and don’t think by not sitting in the front you’re safe – you’re not!) Invasion by a hostile neighbour was tastefully suggested in a few of the dances. I was very disappointed at the amount of photography and videoing from audience members, which was extremely disrespectful of both the performers and other audience members. But we loved the show!



Rory StewartIain Dale: All Talk with Rory Stewart – Both Iain Dale and Rory Stewart were both on good form. Amongst the revelations was the fact that they both went for the Conservative nomination to stand for the constituency of Bracknell. Rory told some awful stories about Johnson that were ostensibly funny but just showed what an utter disgrace the PM is. Good questions, fascinating answers, and a surprisingly entertaining hour.

Keir StarmerIain Dale: All Talk with Keir Starmer – Iain Dale and Jacqui Smith both grilled Keir Starmer and I must say I was very impressed with the Labour Leader, much more than I expected to be. You can see he’s a thoughtful, intelligent man, he listens in full to the question then gives a most considered answer to it. I don’t think he suits the world of quick off the cuff comments; he’s much more the measured, detailed, considered kind of politician.

Devi SridharIn Conversation with… Devi Sridhar – Not entirely sure what I was expecting from Devi Sridhar, but this conversation with sports journalist Graham Spiers revealed her motivations for becoming a public health expert, her background, her opinions on a wide range of subjects and also much of the private person behind the headlines. She’s a natural at the Q&A, and it was a fascinating hour.



RougeRouge – Sets the bar for all the shows in this genre. Stunning to watch, decadent in the extreme, incredible acrobatics and a silly, adult sense of humour. No more to say!

Adults Only Magic ShowAdults Only Magic Show – Sam and Justin have put together some amazing magic and framed it within this “adult only” naughty presentation, to the delight of everyone. Very funny, very naughty and very incredible! Not a clue as to how any of it was done.

Evening without Kate BushAn Evening Without Kate Bush – I didn’t really know what to expect from this show, but you come away from it with a spring in your step and gladness in your heart, as Sarah-Louise Young beguiles you into the world of Kate Bush fandom, presents some of her best loved songs in ways you have never seen before, and makes you desperate to go back to your old LPs before the night is out. She also does a pretty amazing vocal impersonation! Very inclusive and hugely enjoyable.


So, an amazing Fringe – we loved every minute. And who will receive the coveted Chrisparkle Edinburgh awards? We’ll have to wait until the committee sits and deliberates next January!

The Edinburgh Fringe Full Monty (nearly) – Day 24, 28th August 2022

A big day of comedy ahead in Edinburgh!

Here’s the schedule for 28th August:

12.05 – Possibly the Last Chance to See Susan Morrison, The Stand’s New Town Theatre. From the Edinburgh Fringe website:

Susan Morrison“Susan Morrison is at an age and stage to get some funny stuff off her chest. Mid-life crisis? Nah. This definitely isn’t the middle of her life, but she’s still having a laugh. She survived the Cold War, shoulder pads and the Osmonds, but time marches on and it turns out the end might be sooner than expected, although she’s determined to breathe long enough to get her bloody pension. It’s been a funny old life and there’s a few things she’s learned along the way she’d like to pass on.”

This possibly will be the VERY last chance to see Susan Morrison as her show finishes today! It would be a shame not to see her before she gives up!

UPDATE: A show both funny and informative, as Susan takes us through some of us Edinburgh’s murkier history, early instances of swear words, and centuries-old sex clubs, before bringing the topics round to her own health and cancer diagnoses – but it’s never heavy, always light and funny. A very enjoyable Comedy hour! ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

14.55 – Ada Campe: Too Little, Too Soon, The Stand’s New Town Theatre.

Ada Campe“Variety artiste Ada Campe decided to do some research into her family history during lockdown – and was delighted and intrigued by what she found! Join her for a show about wonderful women, surprising secrets and amphibian water ballets. ‘Very funny’ (Guardian). ‘Fabulous’ (ScotsGay.co.uk). ‘Genius’ (Sandi Toksvig). ‘Extravagantly mischievous’ (Chortle.co.uk). ‘A marvellous teller of tall tales’ (Scotsman). ‘Resembles an unhinged supervillain’ (DIVA). Winner: 2019 Good Egg Award, Stand Comedy Club. Winner: 2018 Hackney Empire New Act of the Year Show (NATYS). Winner: 2018 Leicester Square Theatre Old Comedian of the Year. www.adacampe.com

We’ve never seen Ada Campe before but she looks like she’s a right laugh – so hopefully this will be fun.

UPDATE: Mad as a box of frogs, and I think she’d accept that description wholeheartedly. To be fair, there wasn’t a lot of content; but what Ada does, she does very well. ⭐️⭐️⭐️

16.45 – Wanderlust Assembly George Square Gardens.

Wanderlust“Hosted by an over-the-top and flirtatious host, this show delivers a dazzling array of exciting and naughty dance cabaret entertainment with frolicsome performers indulging in mesmerizing song and dance, acro, contortion, fire, pole and aerial acts, plus shameless comedic sketches, fostering oodles of audience interaction with hilarious and cheeky moments. It’s mischievous, it’s naughty and utterly wild! With a killer soundtrack and loaded with comicality, wickedness, killer vocals, hypnotic acts, dashes of nudity, exhilarating dance and so much more… this cheeky dance cabaret will leave you breathless and howling with laughter!”

More comedy and variety to while away a Sunday afternoon!

UPDATE: The last week of this show was completely cancelled, so we had drinks with friends instead!

18.30 – Sindhu Vee: Alphabet, Pleasance Courtyard.

Sindhu Vee“A show about the hair we want, the friends we have and living the vast difference between virus and viral. Expect ‘outspoken, frank and funny stand-up’ (Evening Standard) from this Edinburgh Comedy Awards Best Newcomer nominee. As seen and heard on Live at the Apollo, QI, Have I Got News for You, Sandhog (Comedy Special) on Amazon Prime Video, Would I Lie To You?, Sex Education, BBC Radio 4’s Things My Mother Never Told Me (…About Lockdown) and The Guilty Feminist podcast. ‘Superior comedy… exceptionally funny’ **** (List).”

We’ve seen Sindhu Vee a couple of times and I love her acerbic style and great material. This should be excellent!

UPDATE: Sindhu Vee also cancelled the final performance of her show, so instead we went to see Basil Brush Unleashed and Uncut. Basil and Mr Martin were on terrific form, with a really funny show, with a great End of term feeling. There was also a very charming and moving tribute to the late Mr Derek. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

21.10 – Colin Hoult: The Death of Anna Mann, Pleasance Courtyard.

Anna Mann“Anna Mann is back! The acclaimed actress, singer and welder (gotta have a back up) returns after five long years to tell the incredible story of her life in the arts in this, her final hour. Visceral, real and achingly brave, Colin Hoult (After Life, Netflix) presents a hilarious meditation on life, death and literally everything in between. You will leave screaming ‘f*** off I love it!’ ‘Funnier than almost all other shows at this year’s Fringe’ **** (Telegraph). ‘Deliciously funny’ **** (Times). **** (Scotsman). **** (Time Out).”

I only discovered Anna Mann for the first time last year and she’s an absolute scream, so I can’t believe Colin Hoult is going to kill her off! Let’s hope it’s just a title, and not the truth.

UPDATE: Perhaps this really is the death of Anna Mann? Whatever Colin Hoult gives her an amazing send-off in this brilliant retrospective of her lives, loves and careers. Turned out very emotional in the end! One of the best comedy shows ever. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

23.00 – Spank! You and Goodnight, Underbelly, Bristo Square.

Spank“Join the ‘best wild night out at the Fringe’ (Scotland on Sunday), Spank!, as they celebrate 20 years at The Fringe, and bow out disgracefully with this show-stopping one-night-only finale which promises to be a night to remember! With their favourite comedy and variety performers from over the years, keep an eye on @SpankComedy (Twitter) for the line-up. ‘Comedy and legendary party night… if you haven’t experienced this night, get down there right away!’ (Time Out). ‘It’s raunchy, raucous and ridiculous. Utterly and absolutely hilarious’ ***** (BroadwayBaby.com).”

So it was a no-brainer that we would have to book for the very last Spank of all, hopefully presented by arch-Spanker James Loveridge. I’m really sad that the era is ending, but this should be a great night.

UPDATE: The last ever Spank! was also the source of a lot of genuine emotion. We’ve loved this show over the past 8 years and it’s brought so much happiness to so many people. A wonderful last night final line up; brilliant acts who all made the night very special. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

The Edinburgh Fringe Full Monty (nearly) – Day 15, 19th August 2022

Big day today!

Here’s the schedule for 19th August:

11.40 – 100 Seconds to Midnight, Greenside @ Infirmary Street. From the Edinburgh Fringe website:

100 Seconds to Midnight“John and May were sixth form lovers, they haven’t seen each other in five years. One evening, the end of the world is announced. In a moment of lonely panic, May calls John. Can she come over? Five weeks later, the world is still standing but the pair are trapped in John’s studio apartment. They go back and forth between moments of apocalypse-fuelled panic to humorous distractions with cacti, kittens and condoms. The latter becomes responsible for the pair’s final descent into a downward spiral.”

I’m not entirely certain about this one, but you have to take lots of risks in Edinburgh. Hopefully Talkers and Doers, who produce this show, won’t let us down!

UPDATE: Interesting concept, and believable story line. Unfortunately one of the characters is very unlikeable – a cruel bully – which makes it hard to identify with them or indeed care much about what happens to them. The script was good, but the performers were shoutier than necessary for a small venue. Not bad though. ⭐️⭐️

13.30 – 9 Circles, Assembly George Square Studios.

9 Circles“How can a soldier be trained to be a cold-blooded killing machine while clinging on to the threads of humanity? A Dantesque descent into the conundrums, contradictions and hypocrisies of war through the eyes of a convicted war criminal. Based on real events, this taut psychological thriller seeks justice from the collision of morality and empathy. A European premiere from multi award-winning House of Cards writer Bill Cain, directed by Olivier winner, Guy Masterson, (Morecambe, Shark Is Broken), starring Joshua Collins, Samara Neely Cohen (Snatched!) and Fringe favourite, Stage Award and multiple Fringe First winner David Calvitto.”

This was one of The Guardian’s shows to watch, so who am I to disagree?

UPDATE: A very powerful, intense, play following the experiences of a soldier who had committed atrocities in Iraq, examining his motivations and legal defence. At our performance, two of the roles (including the main character) were played by understudies, and they did a great job. Emphasising the recent case of a Russian soldier in Ukraine, Kalush Orchestra’s Eurovision winner Stefania was the playout music! ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

15.40 – Michael Spicer: The Room Next Door Assembly George Square Studios.

Michael Spicer“Join the creator of The Room Next Door in this final run at the Edinburgh Fringe after a successful sell-out tour as he talks about making comedy under the radar and the dangers of social media fame, as well as performing exclusive sketches as the viral sensation. The Room Next Door sketches have amassed over 60m views online, appeared on The Late Late Show with James Corden, and the spin-off radio series has twice won the British Comedy Guide Award for Best Radio Sitcom. ‘Genius’ (Richard Herring). **** (Guardian).”

Twitter hero Michael Spicer’s brilliant videos never fail to make you laugh so I hope this live show does the same!

UPDATE: I was uncertain how Michael Spicer’s hilarious online character would transfer to a live stage, and he probably presented it the best way it could be, with a live performance of some of his greatest hits. Nevertheless, the show still relies on pre-recorded material a lot, but is still very funny. ⭐️⭐️⭐️

17.30 – Shamilton Assembly George Square Studios.

Shamilton“Comedy supergroup Baby Wants Candy presents improvised hip-hop homage to Hamilton! After sold-out runs in Chicago, NY and LA, Shamilton comes to the Fringe! Join Shamilton as we improvise an epic musical based on a historical figure/celebrity of your choosing (Genghis Khan, Paul Hollywood, Kim Kardashian, anyone!). Shamilton is just like Hamilton but (ahem) better! Expect the same level of hip hop, incredible songs, moving storytelling, stunning choreography and powerhouse singing, except made up on the spot. ‘One of the top-five comedy shows to catch’ (New York Times). It’s the show Lin-Manuel Miranda calls ‘cease and desist!’”

We’re massive fans of Hamilton, so this seemed like an obvious choice. I just hope it works!

UPDATE: How would this troupe create a hiphop musical about a character chosen by the audience? Brilliant performance and improv with the inspired audience choice of Paddington Bear!! Absolutely hilarious. The Browns needed sexual counselling, and The Queen was called on to prevent Hugh Grant and Nicole Kidman from demolishing their house. Completely nuts and completely wonderful! ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

20.10 – Dr Hammond’s Covid Inquiry, The Space @ Symposium Hall.

Phil Hammond“Private Eye’s MD and best-selling author of Dr Hammond’s Covid Casebook dissects the pandemic. The more certain someone is about Covid, the less you should trust them. Do we know what went right and wrong? Could we have prevented it? Why are experts so polarised? Can you trust a leader who petrifies the people while partying? Should we have copied Sweden? Or Taiwan? Have vaccines saved us? Will we be kinder to animals and children? Are pandemics here to stay? Can we disagree without hate? Warning. May contain traces of doubt, compassion, humour, nuance and batshit.”

If anyone can make sense of the Covid pandemic, Dr Phil Hammond can. We’ve seen his live shows before and he’s always challenging as well as entertaining. Should be a good one!

UPDATE: Dr Phil presents an excellent comedy lecture, packed with fascinating facts and opinions, jokes and observations – it’s almost as though Covid has never gone away (winking emoji). It’s also interesting to share your own covid experiences and beliefs with other audience members. Very enjoyable! ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

21.40 – Frank Skinner: 30 Years of Dirt, Assembly Roxy.

Frank Skinner“A highly anticipated brand-new hour from comic legend Frank Skinner, ‘King of stand-up’ (Bruce Dessau, Evening Standard), following his sell-out hit Showbiz. ‘Frank Skinner has funny bones… even at the top of the comedy tree it’s rare to see his sort of fast-thinking but slow-talking instinctual wit…’ (Dominic Maxwell, Times). ‘Doing what he does best… the gags just keep on coming. Stand-up’s coming home’ (Mark Wareham, Mail on Sunday). ‘Skinner is warm, impeccable company and his way with a punchline is masterful… a delight’ (Paul Fleckney, Guardian).”

UPDATE: Frank Skinner’s show has sadly been cancelled, so we’re going to see Christian Brighty’s Playboy instead!

UPDATE 2: Christian Brighty’s Playboy is a marvellous comic creation, incapable of resisting sexual temptation from anyone and everyone in the audience. A lovely, light, frothy storyline, and the audience is put on the spot as to whether the Playboy is a sexist pig or one of the lads – you decide. Very inventive audience participation – our game audience members were brilliant. Recommended. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

The Edinburgh Fringe Full Monty (nearly) – Day 5, 9th August 2022

What’s in store for us in Edinburgh today?

Here’s the schedule for 9th August:

10.25 – Mrs Roosevelt Flies to London, Assembly George Square Studios. From the Edinburgh Fringe website:

Mrs Roosevelt“Returning to Edinburgh following a near sell-out 2016 Assembly season, Alison Skilbeck’s critically acclaimed one-woman show reveals the public and private life of one of the most extraordinary women of the 20th Century, Eleanor Roosevelt, from her daring trip to wartime Britain to her unconventional partnership with President Roosevelt. Granted special permission to use Eleanor’s diary and daily newspaper columns, this is the story of a passionate humanitarian, a woman beset by deep personal insecurities and tragedy, but one who never lost her passionate belief in the strength of the human spirit.”

This show was very well received six years ago, and since then we’ve seen Alison Skilbeck perform two more shows that were absolutely brilliant – so I have high hopes for this one.

UPDATE: An extraordinary story, well told, with great vocal characterisations and a wonderful sense of humour. It’s also very informative; for example, I didn’t know FDR had polio, nor that Eleanor Roosevelt played such an important role in the declaration of human rights – still a hot topic today. An assured and very enjoyable history lesson! ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

12.50 – Please, Feel Free to Share, Pleasance Courtyard.

Please Feel Free To Share“Alex is a social success. Her Instagram boasts a montage of members-only rooftops and clinking glasses – like after like after like! When her father dies, Alex reluctantly joins a bereavement group. She shares a little, and then lies… a lot. Please, Feel Free to Share is a dynamic, darkly comic one-woman show about our personal addictions, the never-ending pursuit of likes and our growing desire to share all. Finalist: Popcorn Writing Award 2021.”

Produced by Scatterjam, this sounds like it should be an excellent dark comedy. Looking forward to it!

UPDATE: A liar gets addicted to lying by attending various self-help sessions pretending she is out of control. Very clever writing, matched by a very convincing performance. It’s also very thought provoking. Loved it! ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

14.45 – Rajesh and Naresh, Summerhall.

Rajesh and Naresh“A feel-good love story. When Rajesh visits Mumbai, he encounters Naresh – not exactly the Indian wife his mother hoped for. Bend it like Beckham meets It’s a Sin in the queer romcom you’ve been waiting for – set just after India’s landmark decriminalisation of homosexuality in 2018. Funny and charmingly performed, Rajesh and Naresh was written from workshops conducted with members of the queer South Asian community in London and abroad. **** (Stage).”

We’ve been lucky enough to visit Mumbai a few times so I imagine I will be able to appreciate a lot of the background humour that I suspect lurks behind this play. Should be good.

UPDATE: Charming delicate story well told, great characterisations and terrific attention to detail – and a brilliant portrayal of an Indian mother, desperate for her son to marry. However, there were a couple of lulls in the narrative where my attention just started to wander, and I wasn’t convinced by the characters’ dance fantasies. Very good though, and they really got the audience on their side. ⭐️⭐️⭐️

17.00 – Blanket Ban, Underbelly, Cowgate.

Blanket Ban“Winner of Underbelly, New Diorama and Methuen Drama’s hit-making Untapped Award, 2022. ‘Sometimes I’m afraid of this play.’ Malta: Catholic kitsch, golden sun, deep blue sea, Eurovision – and a blanket ban on abortion. Propelled by three years of interviews with anonymous contributors and their own lived experience, actors and activists Marta and Davinia interrogate Malta’s restrictions on the freedom of women. What does it mean for your home to boast the world’s most progressive LGBTQIA rights, leading transgender laws – and a population that is almost unanimously anti-choice? A rallying cry from award-winning Chalk Line Theatre.”

This sounds really interesting – having been to Malta a few times, and also being a Eurovision fan! I can just imagine the gap between what’s allowed and what’s approved of. Should be very interesting.

UPDATE: A very important topic expressed with great passion and commitment. I did find the sea analogy heavy going and the anger of the two performers would be better conveyed just a bit more quietly! But you can’t take away from the seriousness of the subject and it’s something everyone should see. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

19.30 – Ivo Graham: My Future, My Clutter, Pleasance Courtyard.

Ivo Graham“Bumbling wordsmith and tripe factory returns to discuss three years of heavy-duty pranking/parenting/procrastinating since Dave’s 2019 nominations for Best Comedy Show and Joke of the Fringe (‘I’ve got an Eton College advent calendar, where all the doors are opened by my father’s contacts’). As seen/heard on Mock The Week, Live At The Apollo, Have I Got News For You, British As Folk and was the fondue-set winner on Richard Osman’s House of Games. ‘A hugely enjoyable hour of stand-up comedy’ (Times). ‘Suddenly has star-in-the-making coming off him like steam’ (Telegraph).”

We’ve seen Ivo Graham a few times and he never fails to deliver a great show, so we’re looking forward to this!

UPDATE: A solid hour of good observations, nicely delivered, but it never really soared though. Ivo is very likeable but he is also very wordy, and doesn’t use pauses for comic effect, so after a while it becomes just a little tiring. A very slick and well prepared show – maybe too well? ⭐️⭐️⭐️

22.20 – Rouge, Assembly Hall.

Rouge“Circus for grown ups – a decadent blend of sensational acrobatics, operatic cabaret and twisted burlesque. A non-stop celebration of the astonishing, surprising, subversive and supremely sexy. Winner of Best Circus 2020 Adelaide Fringe, Rouge is back with acts you’ve loved plus brand-new offerings to shock, delight and tease. Australian circus cabaret at its finest. ‘One badass sizzler of a show’ ***** (Daily Mail). ‘Rouge redefines what circus is and should be’ ***** (TheWeeReview.com). ‘Welcome to a circus for the new age… Brilliant performances… embodies the phrase: filthy and gorgeous’ ***** (WeekendNotes.com).”

We saw Rouge a few years ago and it was one of the better circus/burlesque offerings, so here’s hoping they continue the standard!

UPDATE: Sets the bar for all the shows in this genre. Stunning to watch, decadent in the extreme, incredible acrobatics and a silly, adult sense of humour. No more to say! ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️