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”!

Edinburgh Fringe 2023 Reviews – Mass Effect, Bacon, Nan Me and Barbara Pravi, Gold, Don Biswas – The Revolution will be Disorganised, and Tarot: Hive Mind.

Mass EffectMass Effect, Summerhall.

Himherandit Productions’ Mass Effect is a bizarre show in many ways. Five performers stand with their backs to us, then one by one turn, smile, and start a gentle swaying dance. Actually, the first part of the show isn’t really dance – it’s more like a running-around workout. As the workout becomes more intense and faster, the performers start calling out numbers – and there’s no significance nor sequence to them, so remembering those numbers whilst moving more and more frenetically must be a huge challenge to their mental coordination as well as stamina. But it also seems pointless; and, about halfway through, there were a few walkouts. However, something clicks and the show changes dramatically; 1) the five performers are joined on stage by at least ten others, suddenly appearing from the back of the stage, the auditorium exit doors, and even the audience – 2) the workout transforms into something more like dancersize and 3) the five performers all take their clothes off – as do some of the other new performers. The music and the action get much more frenzied so that at the end we’re witnessing some kind of exhausting, manic, naked Bacchanale. You can’t fault the performers for their commitment, their energy, their stamina, and the precision of their movements. However, I’m a bit more uncertain about the why rather than the how. I also think this is the first time that I’ve seen a performance that includes nudity where they remain naked for the curtain call and the after-show speeches. Definitely skilful, definitely brave, and definitely bizarre.


Bacon, Summerhall.

BaconMark is working in the cafe when he spots Darren watching him, which brings back all the horrors of their friendship four years ago, when Mark was a rather naive 15-year-old schoolboy and Darren was the streetwise and brash guy, who eventually became his friend. But that friendship takes a terrible turn for the worse when their mutual attraction becomes stronger and neither of them is grown-up enough to know how to deal with it – and Darren reacts in the worst possible way. Sophie Swithinbank’s fantastic play is gripping from the start and has two superb performances from Corey Montague-Sholay as Mark and William Robinson as Darren. Written with just the right blend of humour and sheer ghastliness, and simply, but intriguingly, set on a see-saw, this is one of those productions that will keep coming back again and again.

Nan, Me and Barbara Pravi, Summerhall.

Nan Me and Barbara PraviHannah Maxwell’s one-woman show takes us back to the night in 2021 when Barbara Pravi represented France at Eurovision with the glorious song Voila, which also happened to be the moment when Hannah Maxwell decided she was deeply in love with Barbara Pravi. Two stories sit side by side. Half of the show relates to Hannah supporting her Nan whilst her Grandad was dying – and their general life together during this period and in the future. The other part of the show relates to Hannah stalking La Pravi online and in person at her Cadogan Hall concert. It’s a very charming entertainment, and Hannah has a terrific stage presence – she reminded me a little of the young Victoria Wood – but it does feel a little inconsequential and slight. Nice performance of Voila at the end!


Gold, The Space on the Mile.

GoldIf you were around at the time – 1983 – I’m sure you’ll remember the Brinks-Mat robbery – one of the boldest in history, when £26 million was stolen from a warehouse. Most of the gold has never been recovered; but what if there was a little guy involved in it whom all the big hitters forgot – and who has been sitting on the gold all this time? Stafford Collett’s comedy about a rather grumpy couple, Julie and Dave, takes this as its central idea and it’s quite a good idea. However, the play itself is very disappointing, with lengthy sequences of 80s music padding that don’t contribute to the story at all, and there’s also a sequence of “comedy” domestic violence which is always a personal turn-off for me. If this couple saw The Lavender Hill Mob at the cinema as they claim, they’d be at least 90 years old by now – which they’re palpably not. A great idea, but the execution was wanting in virtually all departments.

Don Biswas – The Revolution Will Be Disorganised, Gilded Balloon Patter Hoose.

Don BiswasThe Revolution Will Be Disorganised because Don Biswas sets himself up as the leader of the revolution – which we the audience are perfectly happy about – but, as he tells us, he has autism, dyspraxia and ADHD so it will be unavoidably something of a disaster. He starts the show by recruiting members of the audience to his revolution, ascertaining what we will bring to the revolution. I offered my project management skills. Don Biswas is a naturally funny guy and very likeable to boot, and he has a lot of excellent and original material. However, I get uneasy when a comedian unexpectedly goes down the route of conspiracy theories without obviously taking the mick out of them – and I fear Mr. Biswas lost the room when he started talking about all the reasons lockdown was wrong – and you sense this was from personal anger rather than comedic material. He’s left-wing but believes there is more that unites us all than divides us – and if he said that once, he said it a dozen times, and that repetition became a bit tough to endure at the end.


Tarot: Hive Mind, Pleasance Courtyard.

Tarot Hive MindLots to appreciate here but as a late-night show with this particular title, it was only partially successful. The basis of the game works well; two teams headed by two guest comedians each have to answer a set of questions. The comedian knows the question but the audience doesn’t; and the comedian has to whittle down the audience members to just one person whom they think will know the answer to the question. They do this by asking roundabout, oblique questions to the audience who keep their paddles in the air until they feel they have been eliminated. It sounds a little confusing, but it isn’t. It’s a good game, and a fun show, but there are two problems. 1) As soon as you, the audience member, are eliminated from the game you lose a degree of interest in the proceedings – it would be much better if all the audience members could still answer the question and some sort of prize or entry to the final round is awarded for anyone who gets the answer 100% correct. 2) Although it’s billed as Tarot – Hive Mind, the Tarot team actually play a very side role in this, they are only operating the microphone, occasionally playing the piano or confirming the answers on the Internet – it’s a terrible waste of their physical comedic talent. The show is actually hosted by Kiri Pritchard-Maclean, who is brilliant, but it actually becomes her show rather than Tarot’s – and if you were hoping for a lot of Tarot-type comedy, you’ll be disppointed.


Edinburgh Fringe 2023 Reviews – OTMA, Pressure Cooker, Being Sophie Scholl, ADULTS, and Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater Programmes 1 and 2.

OTMAOTMA, The Space on the Mile.

The story of the four Romanov sisters is one of the most tragic but also most fascinating of the twentieth century. Rebecca Vines’ play tells the story of their last few days incarcerated in Ekaterinburg and is a beautifully written account of four very different characters; the frustrated Olga, the kindly Tatiana, the romantic Maria and the playful Anastasia. The hopes and dreams of the younger sisters are movingly contrasted with the dread reality of the older, and the whole production is intense, emotional and grips your attention. Excellent performances all round, especially from Ella Bladon-Wing as Anastasia and Oonagh Cubberley-Lobb as Maria. Simple but very effective.


Pressure Cooker, The Space on the Mile.

Pressure CookerAs a kid I grew up laughing at the antics of the students at St Swithins’ in TV’s Doctor in the House. Oh what innocent days they were, in comparison with the antics of this bunch of medical students. Jessie Millson’s shocking but insightful play opens the lid on what could happen when a celebratory night out goes severely wrong – and the errors are compounded by the attempts to cover up each individual’s contribution to the personal disaster that befalls one of the party – rather like a 21st century An Inspector Calls, only with Ket and stethoscopes. Highlighting a dangerous problem in society today, where people are under enormous pressure to achieve and succeed, this is an upsetting and alarming play – although not without its humour. Hard to “enjoy”, but I’m very glad to have seen it.


Being Sophie Scholl, The Space @ Symposium Hall.

Being Sophie SchollThis is the story of Sophie Scholl, who with her brother and a friend, was found guilty of treason and executed by guillotine in 1943. Of good German stock, they nevertheless rebelled against the orders of the Third Reich and were members of the White Rose resistance group, which Hans Scholl had started a couple of years earlier. This strongly written play tells the story of her family life, alongside an account of her questioning and the investigation against her, seen through the eyes of a ruthless special police officer. In Acting Coach Scotland’s production, Sophie is played by three actors – a very effective device, although I’m not sure why that decision was made – and the whole play is a chilling and important account of a heroic attempt to undermine Nazism.


ADULTS, Traverse Theatre.

AdultsIain has made an assignation via Zara to meet up with a “young boy” for an hour’s “adult company” at her flat (brothel) in Edinburgh. He’s a nervous wreck as it’s the first time he’s done anything like this – and the meeting doesn’t start well when he surprises Zara before she’s ready to greet him – and he gets covered in Strawberry Yazoo. It also doesn’t help that Iain used to teach Zara at school. Fortunately, he doesn’t recognise her… at first. Kieran Hurley’s comedy offers you plenty to laugh at, but there are also some cringey moments and a few rather obvious jokes – laughing at dildos for example – which are funny but unoriginal. Conleth Hill plays Iain with a nice balance of pomposity and vulnerability, while Dani Heron’s Zara has the best lines with an unexpected intellectual take-down of Thomas the Tank Engine, and Anders Hayward is Jay, the twink who’s really not 22 anymore. The play loses its way a little towards the end when everything gets very personal and rather serious, and you’re left with a mixture of laughter and sadness as no one’s life will ever be the same again.


Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater Festival Theatre.

Alvin AileyProgramme 1 on Wednesday started with Roy’s Joy’s, nine interconnected dances choreographed by Twyla Tharp to the music of Roy Eldridge (hence the name). Immaculately danced by the company, it’s a mellifluous melange of flowing movements against a stunning blue background, with exciting hand and arm gestures combined with never-ending leaps; it’s a really exciting dance to witness. The dancers are solo and in groups; in partnerships and in rivalries too, and it’s all put together with bags of humour and more than a touch of bravado. The second dance was Kyle Abraham’s 2022 work Are You in Your Feelings? set to a variety of well- and lesser-known tunes, giving us a real feelgood factor on stage, with effortless elegance and gorgeous grace. It’s the kind of dance you stop analysing after a while and just let it flow over you. Interesting to note that both these dances, although having different choreographers, conclude quietly in an intimate duet rather than ending with a big ensemble finish. The final dance in the programme, Revelations, also closes Programme Two.

Alvin AileyThursday evening’s Programme 2 started with Memoria, a 1979 dance created by Ailey to commemorate the death of his friend and colleague, Joyce Trisler. Although it has a few sombre moments, it’s much more celebratory than mournful. This production includes 22 young dancers aged 18-25 gathered from all around Scotland; and when they’re added to the 15 regular dancers, it makes for a busy, lively stage packed with movement – the finale has everyone returning in multicolour costumes and looks like a really fun ballet rave! Next came The River, originally choreographed by Ailey in 1970, with eight separate dance pieces composed by Duke Ellington, but in a much more showbiz style than jazz. I particularly enjoyed Giggling Rapids performed by Alisha Rena Peek and Patrick Coker, and Falls with Christopher Taylor, Kanji Segawa, James Gilmer and Xavier Mack. It’s fun, but I found myself slightly frustrated at the way so many of the Ailey short dances end with something of a fizzle rather than a strong resolution. The show ends with Revelations, Ailey’s 1960 showstopper, which brings joy to your heart with its stunning combination of delightful choreography, stunning costumes and lighting, and evocative, powerful music. Whilst the finale Rocka My Soul in the Bosom of Abraham has everyone on their feet (and rightly so) my personal favourite from this sequence was the riveting Sinner Man, danced by Solomon Dumas, James Gilmer and Kanji Segawa. But the whole piece creates true magic on the stage and sends everyone out into the night with a happy spring in their step. Magnificent!

The Edinburgh Fringe All Month Long – 25th August 2023

Would you like to know what we’re seeing in Edinburgh today? I thought you would!

Here’s the schedule for 25th August:

12.55 – Mass Effect, Summerhall. From the Edinburgh Fringe website:

Mass Effect“Mass Effect is an award-winning, high-intensity performance. Together, the cast push their physical limits, deal with exhaustion, motivation, and group dynamics. Spatial patterns carve out complex running formations and team collaboration becomes key, as they push to the limits of their physical thresholds, moving beyond exhaustion. Members of the local community join the stage in the end of the performance. Pumping up the energy to offer that last push to keep going, filling the theatre with an energetic pulse and a total Mass Effect. A tremendous spectacle that fills the room with vitality and joy. Part of #Danish.”

This should be an invigorating way to start the day – even if it is in the afternoon!

15.30 – Bacon, Summerhall.

Bacon“Bacon. Sophie Swithinbank, directed by Matthew Iliffe, produced by HFH Productions. The return of the multi award-winning play, Bacon is an unflinching and unexpectedly humorous look at masculinity, sexuality and power, through the dizzying lens of youth. Winner of the Tony Craze Award and three Off-West End Awards for Best Director and Best Performance in a Play. First performed at The Finborough Theatre, London. ‘Utterly compelling… beautiful and devastating to watch’ **** (Stage). ‘You will laugh, you will cry and you will be breathless when you leave’ ***** (Everything-Theatre.co.uk). ‘Unmissable’ ***** (Everything-Theatre.co.uk).”

I booked for this on the strength of the reviews – so I hope they are honest! Should be good.

17.15 – Nan, Me and Barbara Pravi, Summerhall.

Nan Me and Barbara Pravi“In 2021, Hannah Maxwell moved back to the Home Counties to care for her recently bereaved grandmother. But this show isn’t about that. It’s about France’s Eurovision star Barbara Pravi, who’s just lovely. In between cooking, cleaning and Countdown, Maxwell escapes into an intensifying fantasy of ballroom dances, heartfelt ballads, fluent French and definitely-not-creepy plots to engineer a meet-cute with a random foreign celebrity. It’s La La Land meets Mission Impossible meets Hannah’s nan. ‘Sublime one-person theatre’ (TheAdelaideShow.com.au). ‘Hannah Maxwell is a future star’ (ToDoList.london).”

This is the second play of the Fringe to feature Eurovision – Barbara Pravi, if you don’t know her, is a superb French singer and her Eurovision song Voilà is an instant classic. If it involves Eurovision, I want to see it.

20.15 – Gold, The Space on the Mile.

Gold“A thrilling and hilarious new comedy featuring 1980s music, terrible dancing, hidden gold and guilty secrets. Julie and Dave live in suburbia, with an Uptown Girl daughter, a nice house and a huge secret which has held them together for 40 years. They met in 1983, when the music was gold, the fashion was gold, and Julie and Dave stole a lot of gold from a very bad man. Four decades later, how are they going to sell it and, more importantly, avoid the elderly psychopath who wants revenge – and his gold back?”

Another rather esoteric sounding play, but hopefully it will be entertaining!

21.40 – Don Biswas – The Revolution Will Be Disorganised, Gilded Balloon Patter Hoose.

Don Biswas“Politically charged gag merchant Don Biswas returns to the Fringe to take on the status quo. A unique comic voice, Don looks at politics through the lens of dyspraxia and autism. The show takes a passionate – if uncoordinated – stab at the big issues: from the cost-of-living crisis to conspiracy theories. As seen/heard on the BBC Asian Network, Rosie Jones’s Box Ticker, and in his BBC Radio 4 comedy special Neurotypical.”

A new name to me, and I’m looking forward to hearing his style of political comedy!

23.10 – Tarot: Hive Mind, Pleasance Courtyard.

Tarot Hive Mind“Late night and loose, Hive Mind is a gameshow in which contestants have to crowdsource their way to victory. We came up with this idea while eating a Mexican meal. Come watch Tarot go all shiny floor and sequins and try and crowdsource their way to a format. ‘Bark out loud funny… the whole show is startlingly live’ **** (Guardian). ‘One of the balls-out funniest show of the Fringe’ **** ½ (Chortle.co.uk). ‘A very nice Mexican meal’ ***** (Tarot).”

This is the second of the two Tarot shows this Fringe – having loved them so much last year, it’s no-brainer to see as much of them as possible this year!

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

The Edinburgh Fringe All Month Long – 24th August 2023

Would you like to know what we’re seeing in Edinburgh today? I thought you would!

Here’s the schedule for 24th August:

10.20 – OTMA, The Space on the Mile. From the Edinburgh Fringe website:

OTMA“In the early hours of July 17th 1918, four young women were executed by shotgun and bayonet in a grubby basement in Yekaterinburg, Russia. Flung into lime pits, their remains and stories lay abandoned for 80 years. Yet their only crime was to be born into the unbearable expectation, garish privilege, and naive ineptitude of the ruling Romanov dynasty. The terrors and hopes of their final few hours are brought to life by acclaimed Fringe writer/director Rebecca Vines. Praise for Vines’ other work: 1984, ***** (BroadwayBaby.com); Coward Conscience, **** (BritishTheatreGuide.info); More Myself Than I Am, **** (TheWeeReview.com).”

A famous story, and I hope a good piece of writing to reflect it. I was uncertain what the title referred to – it is an acronym for the four daughters of Nicholas II – Olga, Tatiana, Maria and Anastasia.

12.15 – Pressure Cooker, The Space on the Mile.

Pressure Cooker“Pressure Cooker: The kettle boils, the lights come up, and we find ourselves watching four sixth-year med students treating a patient. As the play develops, we realise they may not be quite as sober as they should be. And, as we find out more about how they treat their own bodies, we wonder how capable they are of treating the body in front of them. Under the heat, will they uncover what’s wrong with the patient, and will they discover the lies amongst themselves?”

That sounds like a fascinating scenario for a play. I’m curious to find out more! I know they’ve had a tough time bringing this show to the Fringe but I’m sure it will be worth it.

14.05 – Being Sophie Scholl, The Space @ Symposium Hall.

Being Sophie Scholl“From the Producers of I, Sniper (2018) and Chaika (2010) – After her brother is unjustly arrested by the Nazis, a young German student begins a deadly game of cat and mouse with the local Gestapo. But can she stand up for her beliefs when she stands alone against the increasing tide of support for the Third Reich? Discover the inspiring true story of Sophie Scholl – the girl who defied Hitler.”

I had never heard of Sophie Scholl, to my utter shame. She sounds like an extraordinary person. I trust this play will tell her story well!

16.00 – ADULTS, Traverse Theatre.

Adults“A black comedy full of unexpected tenderness from Kieran Hurley (writer of the 2019 smash-hit Mouthpiece) that explores the gulf between generations, the futility of blame culture, and how we have make things better for those who come after us. In Edinburgh’s New Town, thirty-something Zara runs her own business: a brothel. Her newest client is her old teacher, and her colleague fears the inevitable ageing process. They’re all convinced that the mess of the world around them isn’t their fault. Soon discover that they have more in common than expected. Directed by Roxanna Silbert and starring Conleth Hill.”

Again this sounds like a most inventive story line – and Conleth Hill is an excellent actor so I’m hoping for good things here! Another play where the title is in CAPITALS! I guess there’s a reason somewhere…

19.30 – Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater – Programme 2, Festival Theatre.

Alvin Ailey“Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater dazzles with technical brilliance and passionate energy, bringing audiences to their feet at every performance. This programme combines three beloved works by Alvin Ailey himself who founded the company in 1958.

The programme opens with The River, created in collaboration with the late musician and composer Duke Ellington. Combining classical ballet, modern dance and jazz, the piece uses water as a central motif in an allegory for the journey of birth, life and rebirth.

Memoria is one of Ailey’s most personal works, created as a tribute to his dear friend and colleague, Joyce Trisler. The piece will feature dancers selected from all over Scotland performing alongside the company.

The performance closes with Revelations, the most widely viewed modern dance work in the world. Since its debut in 1960, Revelations has moved audiences with its powerful storytelling and soul-stirring music. Springing from Ailey’s childhood memories of growing up in the American South, attending Baptist church services in Texas, Revelations pays homage to rich African American cultural traditions.”

Back for more from the Alvin Ailey company; hoping for another spectacular night of dance.

22.35 – Hi Ho Hi Ho, It’s Off To Work I Go, The Space on the Mile.

Hi ho hi ho“In this biographical burlesque, a confessional cabaret, Phillipe will sing and dance you through his boyhood on the Broadway stage, teenage nights in the discos of Hollywood, 20 years in a New Age cult, and a surprising midlife career as an erotic masseur, while investigating through song the wild history of sex workers as portrayed in musical theatre. Moving, provocative and hilarious, Hi Ho is an intimate journey you won’t soon forget.”

Biographical burlesque is an interesting and rather niche genre. Hopefully this will be both fascinating and entertaining.

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

The Edinburgh Fringe All Month Long – 23rd August 2023

A good mix of comedy and theatre arranged for Edinburgh today as well as some dance at the International Festival!

Here’s the schedule for 23rd August:

11.45 –

Do Rhinos Feel Their Horns or Can They Not See Them Like How We Can’t See Our Noses, Summerhall. From the Edinburgh Fringe website:

Do RhinosWhat if the reason I don’t like capitalism is that I just wanna chill out a bit? Rhinoceroses or capybaras? Black-pink or something less cling-clangy? Two friends make a radio play for the internet; this week’s episode is about the 1980s “Rhinoceritis” epidemic. A Singaporean production rooted in Ionesco’s Rhinoceros, Do Rhinos Feel Their Horns? re-asks what conformism means as we live through what is objectively the best time in history. It is funny, bleak, sometimes joyous, and always full of play.

This sounds curious, and I’m aways up for a spot of the absurd, so hopefully it will be entertaining!

13.15 – Shortlist, Assembly George Square.

Shortlist“Two enemy novelists duel for the ultimate prize in a fast-paced, war-of-the-words comedy. Multiple Fringe First-winning playwright Brian Parks plunges into the writing world with a Withnail-esque joust between literature’s two sharpest pens. Year after year, Higgins and Houghton find themselves pitched against each other on the shortlist for literature’s number-one title, never winning. But this year is different, each primed to strike and finally grab it. All that stands in their way is each other. A world premiere directed by Fringe First winner Margarett Perry, starring Matthew Boston and Daniel Llewelyn-Williams. ‘A refreshingly mischievous, inventive author’ (Times).”

This sounds like a very funny set-up for a play. Looking forward to it!

15.15 – The Portable Dorothy Parker, The Space @ Surgeon’s Hall.

Dorothy Parker“The year is 1943: Dorothy Parker, famed wit, writer, and critic, is on the warpath. Viking Press is about to publish a collection of Dorothy’s poems and short stories, and Dorothy must make the selections. Now. As Dorothy sorts through her works, she reminisces about her life: her famous friends (Lillian Hellman, F Scott Fitzgerald, and, especially, Ernest Hemingway), the wits of the Round Table, the founding of The New Yorker, and her many loves and heartbreaks. Has it all been worth it? Has she made her mark as a writer, or is she merely clever?”

Love a spot of Dorothy Parker – this should be good fun.

17.10 – The Courteous Enemy, The Space @ Surgeon’s Hall.

Courteous Enemy“An absurdist satire set in July 1958, which tells the story of infamous theatre critic Kenneth Tynan who wrote a scathing review of The Chairs by Eugène Ionesco, the father of absurdism. Watch chaos unfold in this exploration of the nature of theatre criticism, art and what happens when the delicate egos that tend to accompany them are attacked.”

Critics giving bad reviews? Extraordinary! I like Kenneth Tynan, and I like Eugene Ionesco. Which one is better? There’s only one way to find out – FIGHT! Should be good.

19.30 – Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater – Programme 1 Festival Theatre.

Alvin Ailey“Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater presents a programme of contemporary choreography, completed by the beloved classic Revelations.

The performance opens with Aszure Barton’s BUSK, a piece examining the multi-layered wisdom of the human body. Set to a spirited score, BUSK has been described as watching the physical unfurling of the human psyche.

This is followed by the UK premiere of Kyle Abraham’s Are You in Your Feelings?, a celebration of Black culture, Black music and the youthful spirit that perseveres in us all. Scored to a ‘mixtape’ of soul, hip-hop and R&B, it highlights the bridge between music, communication and personal memory. Learn more about Kyle Abraham and his choreography in our blog.

The performance closes with Revelations, the most widely viewed modern dance work in the world. Since its debut in 1960, Revelations has moved audiences with its powerful storytelling and soul-stirring music. Springing from Ailey’s childhood memories of growing up in the American South, attending Baptist church services in Texas, Revelations pays homage to rich African American cultural traditions.”

Only seen Alvin Ailey a couple of times and they are always sensational. Seeing the other programme tomorrow night!

22.05 – Rock Bottom, Paradise in the Vault.

Rock Bottom“’You don’t know what to be, or not to be’ – Shakespeare’s best loved clown, Bottom, is reimagined in Fresh Life Theatre’s one-person show. When Bottom arrives at the theatre, ready to perform, and finds the rest of his cast have left him, he needs to improvise. Dealing with the trauma of pushing his friends away and needing the audience like him, is a cocktail for trouble. As his plan falls apart, he is forced to come to terms with who he is. Shakespeare’s Bottom, alone in the real world.”

I’d hoped to catch this performance last year but missed out, so I’m delighted to see it’s come back this year!

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

Edinburgh Fringe 2023 – Reviews – Joe Wells: King of the Autistics, 3rd Rock from the Pun: Darren Walsh, Married at First Sleight, Pina Bausch at the Playhouse with The Rite of Spring/common ground[s], and 99 Red Hot Kitties and a Cockatoo.

Joe Wells: King of the Autistics, PBH’s Free Fringe @ Banshee Labyrinth.

Joe Wells Joe Wells’ new show is a comedic exploration of all things autistic, including how autistics are perceived and treated, and what are the qualities that make good parents of autistics. He also tells us how he accidentally upsets a wide range of people, including listeners to his podcast and Christians; probably also people who use e-scooters, but don’t press him on that. Earlier this year he came to the decision to step down as self-styled King of the Autistics – shame, I think he should rule on! Joe always comes at comedy from a good place and leads you down unlikely alleyways to subvert your expectations. A delight as always!


3rd Rock from the Pun: Darren Walsh, Laughing Horse @ Bar 50.

Darren WalshFor his new show, Darren Walsh has scoured the Internet for Artificial Intelligence – and all the media he uses – video, audio, etc, has been created by AI. That doesn’t include the jokes; fortunately for Darren, AI is rubbish at making you laugh. Darren is a superb exponent of the art of the pun and will make you cringe, gasp, groan, and laugh ecstatically at a series of inventive, outrageous, or downright corny puns assembled together to explain the development and history of the Universe as seen through AI eyes. Friendly, fast, and funny!


Married at First Sleight, Gilded Balloon Patter Hoose.

Married at first SleightHudson and Hudson, the married magicians, base their act on the fact that she’s quirky and cheeky and he’s a bit of a dickhead (her words). Their magic tricks are brilliant, and their mind-reading stunts are out of this world. There’s a sequence when the ghost of Cat’s late aunt comes to the stage to assist her with a couple of tricks; you come away realising that the power of suggestion is an amazing force and it is very spooky how these tricks worked so well. However, they seemed to find it difficult to establish a rapport with the audience and we never felt comfortable with, or really believed, their faux-argumentative stage personas. This may be why their jokes and humour that frame the tricks fell flat. And that’s a big shame, as you felt that the show as a whole became hard-going for them. Fortunately, the magic outweighs the laughs, but it does need to be snappier and crisper.




The Rite of Spring / common ground[s], Pina Bausch Foundation and Ecole des Sables, Edinburgh Playhouse.

Rite of SpringThe evening starts with Common Ground[s], a two-hander choreographed and danced by Germaine Acogny – co-founder of the Ecole des Sables in Senegal – and Malou Airaudo, who had worked closely with Pina Bausch. It’s a dignified, elegant and controlled piece of choreography and dance, reflecting the many moods shared between two people over a lifetime of dance. It manages to be both supportive and light-hearted; I won’t pretend to understand all the interactions it depicts because this is essentially a private piece that offers us little insights and flashes of recognition.

After the interval – a good twenty minutes or more where the backstage team transforms the stage from its opening bareness to the peaty plains of Africa – it’s time for Pina Bausch’s stunning Rite of Spring, an extravaganza of movement and rhythm, accompanied by Stravinsky’s mesmerising music, where opposing groups of men and women come together to perform a sacrificial rite where one young girl dances herself to death. It’s an astonishingly vivid spectacle, and takes your breath away with its beauty, bravery and sheer bravado.

P. S. Don’t try to take a half-drunk bottle of water into the auditorium. Security will insist you tip it away. If they do that to ensure that you buy another one at their bar, it didn’t work with me.

P. P. S. Our performance was very nearly ruined by an arrogant, entitled git of a man who took photos and videos of Rite through almost the entire performance, despite the protestations of a) his nearby theatregoers, b) the front of house team and c) Security. I really thought there was going to be a punch-up at the end, so badly had he aggravated everyone around him. And the lesson to be learned is – don’t waste Security’s time checking for half-empty bottles of water, get them to eject antisocial audience members as soon as they become a problem.

99 Red Hot Kitties and Cockatoo, The Space @ Niddry Street.

99 Red Hot KittiesApparently every night is a different line up for this little burlesque show – I can only say that perhaps we went on an off-night. There were a couple of acts that were decent – a lady depicting a black widow spider who staples a black ribbon to her body, and another lady who cheers up a bad day at the office by stripping to her scanties. But on the whole it was rather underwhelming, and I have to say that some of the audience members were a little more well-oiled than was good for them.

The Edinburgh Fringe All Month Long – 19th August 2023

Wanna know what’s scheduled for today in Edinburgh? Only three shows and an evening free to have dinner with friends!

Here’s the schedule for 19th August:

12.00 – The Court, Hill Street Theatre. From the Edinburgh Fringe website:

The Court“This courtroom drama centres around the question of euthanasia. Did Cathy murder her mother or merely stop her suffering? This interactive production gets you questioning your beliefs – become a juror, but can you determine the truth? Our 11 jurors picked from the audience will cross-examine and determine the truth behind Cathy’s actions. Will they side with her sister Mary in the belief it was murder? Or will they put their trust in Cathy and support her… or is there more to this case than meets the eye? A must-see for all those part-time sleuths.

We absolutely adored Conflict in Court last year and I’m sure this will be another of those Crown Court type productions where we the jury get the chance to ask questions of the characters to work out if they’re innocent or guilty. Very excited to see this new version!

14.40 – Mary Bourke: 200% Irish, The Stand Comedy Club 2.

Mary Bourke“Mary Bourke and guests present a truly delightful hour about the joys of being Irish. There will be storytelling, music and lots and lots of jokes. ‘One of the best female comics in the country’ (GQ).”

Mary Bourke is another comic who we always make sure we see in Edinburgh because she never fails to challenge or delight!

16.50 – A Chorus Line, Paradise in Augustines.

A Chorus Line“’Well, it would be nice to be a star… But I’m not, I’m a dancer.’ A Chorus Line is a concept musical that explores the bittersweet lives of Broadway performers through a gruelling audition process. The chorus of overly-devoted, under-paid dancers show the dedication it takes to keep going in the hopes that one day they will achieve success. Through a complex fusion of moving songs, large-scale dance numbers, and compelling drama, the auditionees are cut down to a final eight. Now it is their turn to tell their story and stand in the spotlight.”

I’m very excited to see this student production of my favourite musical of all time. There’s a lot of challenges here, and I really hope they make the most of them! Warning: if I don’t like what they’ve done with my favourite show I might sulk for the rest of the day!

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

Edinburgh Fringe 2023 Reviews – The Misunderstanding, Letter to Boddah, The Last Flapper, Best Comedy Show Edinburgh Fringe (Ben Clover), Unstitching, 1 Tent 4 Girls, and Perfect Pairing: A Wine Tasting Dancegustation

The Misunderstanding, The Space Triplex.

MisunderstandingA modern adaptation of Albert Camus’ 1943 play, Le Malentendu, Martha and her mother keep a respectable little hotel, but have a small, secret peccadillo; they kill their lodgers for their money, in order to realise their dream of moving to the seaside. But what happens when the next “perfect” guest who comes to stay is their long lost (and not recognised) son/brother? It’s a challenging, complex play, simply staged, and Unexpected Places productions make a good stab at presenting it. Perhaps a little over ambitious, but the intrigue of the story keeps your attention.


Letter to Boddah, The Space @ Surgeon’s Hall.

Letter to BoddahBilly and Tink are locked in the disabled toilet at Tesco; they’ve got a bomb and they’re not afraid to use it. Actually, they are very, very afraid but, even though they are best mates, they have to keep up the pretence of bravery and commitment; until something snaps and they pour their hearts out to each other, confessing the abuses, fears and desperations that have blighted their lives. The Boddah in question refers to the imaginary friend of the late Kurt Cobain, who wrote him a letter as a suicide note. Kyle Fisher and Jordan Reece play the unlikely terrorists with huge conviction and energy, and Sarah Nelson’s play is smartly, humorously and emotionally written. No wonder it was a huge success at last year’s Fringe.


The Last Flapper Greenside @ Riddles Court.

The Last FlapperZelda Fitzgerald arrives for her doctor’s appointment at the sanatorium but he has been called away on urgent business which gives her the opportunity to ransack his office, steal his cigarettes and read and amend her medical notes. Diagnosed with schizophrenia, she tells us about her journey to where she is today – her relationships with her parents, her own creative life of dance, and her infatuation with F. Scott Key himself. It’s an immense performance from Catherine D Dubord, who is totally on top of her game as Zelda – confiding, joking, and literally hysterical. The Clover Studio is an over-hot claustrophobic little place – the show needs a bigger venue to accommodate her terrific performance.


Best Comedy Show Edinburgh Fringe, Laughing Horse @ 32 Below.

Ben CloverWith a typically understated title, the hugely likeable Ben Clover returns to the Fringe with a nifty set of funny routines, including handing over dubious goods for cash deals at tube stations, the aftermath of the pandemic and how to write an Amazon review. We had seen some of the material before but that was at a Work in Progress show, so that doesn’t count! Fresh and funny, and a superb engager with the audience so that we all have fun together!


Unstitching, The Space @ Niddry Street.

UnstitchingRuby Shrimpton presents herself as a young woman desperate to make contact, to express herself and to reach out and offer us a thread to grab hold of, something we can both identify with. Eurovision is obviously her chief passion (and why wouldn’t it be?) but she also packs each sequence with tons of “fun facts”, bizarre worries, and unconfident asides. “Is this boring?” she asks; “You can leave if you like…” The ultimate deconstruction show, where Ruby picks apart every yarn that holds her together, and several that don’t. If you’re a Eurovision fan, you’ll have loads of fun identifying songs, dance routines, and statistics. If you’re not, you might find this a bit of a hard graft. I really admire what she is trying to achieve with this show, and it’s almost certainly different from any other show you’ve ever seen. It feels thoroughly experimental; if you like that vibe, you’ll love this show.


1 Tent, 4 Girls, Greenside @ Infirmary Street.

1 Tent 4 GirlsIf you’ve ever gone on a camping holiday – especially in the UK – you’ve almost certainly gone on a camping holiday in the rain. Rosalie Roger-Lacan’s entertaining new play follows Sam, Lily, Rosa and Ruby as they brave the natural beauties of North Wales with a tent that only has Norwegian instructions and a quickly fraying sense of community friendship. There’s lots to recognise in this fun play; somehow petty jealousies, sensitivities and frustrations all get aggravated when you’re freezing cold and drenched. The play is perhaps a little long and a little repetitive, but the characterisations are all excellent, and the team of Ella Hakin, Evie Cooper, Alice Bebber and Bethan Owen make a formidable ensemble.


Perfect Pairing: A Wine Tasting Dancegustation, Greenside @ Infirmary Street.

Perfect PairingGeelong’s Attitude Dance Company has come up with a quirky and pretty much unique entertainment; pairing four different contemporary dance pieces with four different wines. Admittedly, this sounds somewhat gimmicky, but – guess what – it really works! A talented group of four dancers – Sarah Glynne, Tara O’Donnell, Monique Powe and Xavier McGettigan – perform four widely different but smartly choreographed and executed dance routines, accompanied by a Cava, a Rosé, a White and a Red. And it’s a thoroughly enjoyable, relaxing and civilised way to end the evening. Better than you might imagine!


The Edinburgh Fringe All Month Long – 15th August 2023

How about a list of today’s shows?

Here’s the schedule for 15th August:

10.35 – The Misunderstanding, The Space Triplex. From the Edinburgh Fringe website:

Misunderstanding“Happiness awaits Martha and her Mother. They just have to kill to get it. This adaptation of Camus’ absurd play sees the prodigal son return to a troubled home and a sister who longs to escape the banality of her world. ‘A crime is a crime, the only thing that matters is to know what you want.’ Martha longs to be by the sea, Maria wants love, Mother wants nothing more than to rest and Jan wants to be welcomed into his family’s arms. But in life, no one gets what they want. Even murder can become tedious.”

I’m not familiar with the Camus original, I regret to say, but it does sound like a delightfully absurd story! Looking forward to this.

12.00 – Letter to Boddah, The Space @ Surgeon’s Hall.

Letter to Boddah“Another chance to see the Broadway Baby Bobby Award Winner Best Theatre Show at the Fringe 2019. In the disabled toilet in Tesco we meet Billy and Neil. Wearing combats and carrying enough explosives to blow the place sky high they examine life and attempt to decide whether violence is the only way to be heard. With a title inspired by Kurt Cobain’s suicide note this is a darkly comic exploration of the lives of young working class men in austerity Britain. ‘One of the most powerful shows I’ve seen in years’ (TheWeeReview.com).”

I had originally booked another show for this timeslot but when I read the passionate reviews about Letter to Boddah, I realised I had made a mistake by missing it out. It does indeed sound like a very exciting drama!

13.45 – The Last Flapper, Greenside @ Riddles Court.

The Last Flapper“Is she mad… or just angry? Alone in a mental hospital, Zelda Fitzgerald, icon of the Jazz Age, asks the questions her doctor should have. Did F Scott steal her words? Did he claim she was insane just to gain his freedom? Can a woman ever decide her own fate? In this poignant, playful, and candid one-woman show, Zelda finally gets to tell her side of the story. Performed by award-winning Dallas actress Catherine DuBord, and directed by award-winning Texan Lydia Mackay, this historical play wrestles with issues that are anything but history.”

I’m a big F Scott Fitzgerald fan, so to read the description of this play is both enlightening and disturbing. I’m expecting a great performance from Catherine DuBord and that this will be a strong and telling drama.

16.00 – Best Comedy Show Edinburgh Fringe, Laughing Horse @ 32 Below.

Ben Clover“Woah…! Sheeeeeiiit! Here come dat Ben Clover! Veteran stand-up and award-winner Ben Clover presents his most eighth Edinburgh solo show yet. He got the zizzle-zazzles for ya! ‘A delight’ (Chortle.co.uk). ‘Comedy gold’ (Bruce Dessau).”

You have to admire the confidence with which Ben Clover named this year’s show! I always like to catch Ben at the Fringe and he’s always got loads of great material, so I’m looking forward to this year’s helping.

19.20 – Unstitching, The Space @ Niddry Street.

Unstitching“A hilarious and poignant comedy about a girl obsessed with The Eurovision Song Contest. Through spoken word, cynical stand-up, lip-syncing and dancing to Eurovision songs, she tries to find her voice on stage. However, as the show progresses, her facade starts to unravel and she becomes overwhelmed by her inability to organize her own thoughts. ‘An incredibly enjoyable one-woman play about art, the universe, self-expression, and Eurovision!’ **** (Everything-Theatre.co.uk). ‘A dynamic and very entertaining piece, immaculately performed’ (TheReviewsHub.com). ‘A wild, frenetic piece’ (BroadwayBaby.com). ‘The talented Liverpool-based writer has pulled off something rather fine here’ (TheReviewsHub.com).”

The first of two plays this Fringe to take Eurovision as its main theme, and as a big fan, I’m of course going to see both! Hope this lives up to expectations.

20.50 – 1 Tent, 4 Girls, Greenside @ Infirmary Street.

1 Tent 4 Girls“This firecracker of a comedy explores the relationships between four young women embarking on a disastrous camping trip. What better way to avoid post-graduation anxiety and push through the hellish clouds of PMS than an impromptu trip to Pembrokeshire in the pouring rain? When counting sheep to fall asleep doesn’t work anymore, the girls grab the Argos tent and join them in the fields. This is a comedy made by women, which isn’t about being a woman. It’s playful and sarcastic with a solid dash of chaos, rage and love. The perfect recipe for a storm.”

Having myself suffered an awful camping holiday with three friends when I was a student, I am already feeling their pain. I think I’m going to recognise a lot of the humour!

22.10 – Perfect Pairing: A Wine Tasting Dancegustation, Greenside @ Infirmary Street.

Perfect Pairing“Enjoy four wines paired perfectly with four dance pieces in this original Australian wine-tasting-meets-dance-theatre production. Perfect Pairing invites the theatre-goer’s favourite interval treat into the spotlight and challenges the connoisseur to développé the sensory strength of their wine-tasting talent. In an age where pairing wine with food is reaching its very limits, why not pair the mambo with a merlot, a pop & lock with a prosecco, even chassé with a chardonnay? Don’t think about it too hard, drink some well-crafted wine alongside a showing of some delicious dancing! Assisted by Geelong Arts Centre.”

The second of two shows this Fringe that I’m seeing that combine another art form with food and drink. It’s a preposterous idea but it just might work!

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