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!

The Edinburgh Fringe Full Monty (nearly) – Day 1, 5th August 2022

I’ve been looking forward to this! Our first visit to the Edinburgh Fringe, when we tentatively put our toes in to see how it felt, was a long weekend in August 2014. We loved it. So we went for a week in 2015. And in 2016. And 17. And 18. And 19. And… then Covid happened. No Fringe in 2020, and no Fringe (for us) in 2021. But this is the Brave New World of 2022. If we get through the entire month Covid-free it will be a miracle, but here goes.

Instead of my previous practice of writing a pre-blog for each show we see, this time I’m going to write just one blog a day, previewing the show’s we will see the next day, and then following up with updates as to how good each show was. I’ll update just once a day, at the end of the evening – or maybe the following morning, depending on how knackered we are. It’s gotta be worth a shot – let’s start here!

Here’s the schedule for 5th August:

10.40 – Head Girl, The Space on North Bridge. From the Edinburgh Fringe website:

Head Girl“A coming-of-age story about falling in and out of love with yourself. Head Girl navigates the 21st century and girl boss mentality, whilst still practising self-care seven days a week. Becca is running in the campaign for head girl at school and running herself into the ground, all with a smile on her face. But who is she doing all this work for? A platonic love story that will be full of adoration and careful ambition. ‘Fringe Theatre at its best’ (NorthEastTheatreGuide.co.uk). ‘In awe’ (BBC Radio).”

Performed by the group “Girl Next Door”, this is either going to be a funny and charming introduction to our Fringe Odyssey or a bit of a weak start. I’ll tell you later.

UPDATE: A great start to the day with a very funny and beautifully performed play about 17 year old Becca’s quest to become head girl, even if it means making unacceptable sacrifices to get there. There’s definitely a lesson to be learned here – not to work too hard and to remember the things that are important. Very nice characterisations, I loved the gawky super-enthusiastic Becca and the contrast with her more sophisticated pal and teacher. Great family entertainment which should appeal to anyone who’s ever tried to juggle with a burning ambition! ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

12.45 – Colossal, Underbelly Cowgate.

Colossal“’Ferociously funny’ ***** (Scotsman). Following his sold-out, five-star debut show, The Man, Patrick McPherson returns to Edinburgh with Colossal: a one-man comedy play that dives into love stories, morality, and the dance between the two. Colossal weaves sketch comedy, gig theatre and spoken word to tell the comedic and candid story of a man called Dan, his affinity for owls, and his messy recent past. An hour of dynamic theatre, comedy and music, that embraces the spectrum of modern romance, from the first date to the last text, from falling headfirst to falling apart.”

We’ve seen Patrick McPherson twice at the Fringe and he’s been absolutely brilliant. If this isn’t also brilliant, I’ll eat my hat.

UPDATE: 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. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

14.25 – Hannah Fairweather: Just a Normal Girl Who Enjoys Revenge, Just the Tonic at The Caves.

Hannah Fairweather“Award-winning comedian Hannah Fairweather is the Taylor Swift of comedy, joking about those who have previously wronged her. Hannah was 2019 Rising Star New Act of the Year, and semi-finalist in multiple new comedian awards including: BBC New Comedian Award, So You Think You’re Funny, Leicester Square, 2Northdown, Komedia Brighton. She has been heard on Union Jack Radio, BBC Sounds and Radio 4 and has written for The Now Show and Mock The Week. ‘Hannah mixes relaxed, confident stage presence with some killer subversive gags. Absolutely one to watch’ (Joe Lycett).”

I know nothing about Hannah Fairweather but I like the title of the show – so this is hopefully a lucky punt.

UPDATE: Hannah explains why the name of the show isn’t perhaps as appropriate as it could be, as she lists all the people who have done her wrong, but it’s not as straightforward as that! Very enjoyable material with great use of callback – I have the toilet roll messages to prove it (you had to be there). Very likeable and engaging; I missed out on some of her gems because she delivered them so quickly, but that’s probably my ears playing up. ⭐️⭐️⭐️

16.15 – Badgers Can’t Be Friends, Greenside @ Nicolson Square.

Badgers Can't Be Friends“Runner-up for Best Comedy at Standing Ovation Awards 2021. ‘Mrs Kirkham comes up to my classroom at lunch and sees… And sees us… Having a ninja battle’. When Mr. Dennis, a super-teacher, hits back at the education system, he finds himself becoming a not-so-super hero. Who is he fighting for? Will he triumph? And can he find that weird smell in his kitchen? After Southwark Playhouse and King’s Head Theatre, this phenomenon finally lands at Edinburgh. An offbeat comedy with a serious edge. ‘A riveting play with relentless energy… very, very funny’ ***** (LondonPubTheatres.com).”

Another one that’s either a sure-fire hit or disappointing dud, but I’ve got a good feeling about this one – I think there’s more to it than just a quirky title.

UPDATE: The central premise of the play creates a very interesting topic – a man who destroys his life by acting before thinking and makes himself look like a laughing stock. However, the three very hard-working actors can’t disguise that the play itself is rather stodgy, with almost too many ideas in it, and in the end it becomes rather hard work for the audience too. There are some rather surreal sequences that weren’t to my taste. There’s a good play lurking beneath the surface but it didn’t really do it for us. ⭐️⭐️

19.00 – Lew Fitz: Soft Lad, Gilded Balloon Teviot

Lew Fitz Soft Lad“Amused Moose New Comic winner and BBC New Comedy Award-nominated northerner Lew had a breakdown and ran away from home, forever. With explosive comedic energy and a rare vulnerability, he attempts to reconcile his past and face his present. With sell-out previews, catch this rising star whilst you can. As seen on BBC3, heard on BBC Radio 4 and voted Top 5 Jokes of the Fringe (Guardian, Dave TV, Telegraph). ‘As a newcomer he’s ticking lots of boxes’ (Chortle.co.uk). ‘An engaging comic with smart and freshly funny material’ (Kate Copstick, Scotsman).”

Lew Fitz is new to us, but he comes highly recommended, so this is another punt that I’m hopeful will be a good’un.

UPDATE: Lew was keen to point out this was a preview show so no reviews, but I’ve no reason not to write about his very enjoyable hour which includes quite a bit of audience participation – he got me involved writing down his best bon mots as he spoke them – where he takes us on a journey from his childhood in Moss Side, through a sports scholarship in North Carolina, to grown up life in beautiful Croydon. On the way, we investigate greatest fears and an impossibly inappropriate nursery rhyme. He’s a quirky, very likeable guy who puts us all at our ease, and it’s a very funny show! ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

21.25 – Ben Clover: Best Newcomer, C Arts C Venues C Piccolo.

Ben Clover Best Newcomer“Veteran stand-up comic Ben Clover returns with his seventh show: Best Newcomer. Ben has many successful Fringe runs under his belt, but this is his first in 2022. This year the award-winning comedian tackles the big themes as well as sweating the small stuff. ‘A delight… Inventive and savvy’ (Chortle.co.uk). ‘Comedy gold’ (Bruce Dessau, Evening Standard). ‘A magnificent performance’ (NottsComedyReview.wordpress.com).”

We saw Ben Clover at the Fringe in 2018 and really enjoyed his show so I have high expectations that this will also be a winner!

UPDATE: And 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’re still chuckling 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. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Tomorrow’s schedule is already out there on another blog post. But today was a great start!

The Edinburgh Fringe One-Weeker 2018 – Ben Clover: Crème Brûlée, 25th August 2018

Ben CloverOur next show stars a comedian whom I saw for the first time last year in one of these various variety-type shows and he really impressed me with his likeable and thoroughly recognisable brand of humour. It’s Ben Clover: Crème Brûlée at The Loft @ Laughing Horse @ The Counting House at 14:45 on Saturday 25th. Here’s the blurb: “A single creme brûlée can change the course of your whole life. Find out how in the latest show from award-winning stand-up Ben Clover. ‘A delight’ (Chortle.co.uk). ‘Comedy gold’ (Bruce Dessau, Evening Standard). ‘Impressive’ (LondonisFunny.com).”

I have no idea how a dessert can change your life but I’m willing to find out! Check back around 4pm to see what it was all about. By then the next preview blog should be available to read too.

Ben’s tale of dessert-based revenge is crammed with jokey observations and has loads of opportunities for very entertaining banter with the audience. He really creates a warm and comfy environment for us all to relax; a small venue which Ben uses to its best advantage. Lots of laughs in this very funny gig!

Review – Abigail’s Party May Day Eve, Upstairs at the North London Tavern, Kilburn, 30th April 2017

Abigail BurdessThis was our third comedy night out in four days, so don’t try and tell me we’re not funny. A different venue and venture for us this time; Abigail Burdess and Dave Tozer co-hosting an evening of comedy with three acts nestling around one decent interval and one emergency pause. The venue and the event as a whole has a real fringey feel to it that I find instantly appealing. As far as I can make out, the roles within the structure of the show are: 1) Abigail is the host and boss, welcoming us with some jokes and the ground rules, putting us at ease and inviting us to poke fun at 2) Dave, who is the butt of all jokes – and sound engineer. During the intervals we could either dance around Dave’s pole, or write on his forehead. I couldn’t possibly do either; after all, we went to the same school. Also I was sitting behind his mum, and I don’t think she would have been impressed.

Dave TozerAs it was May Day Eve, Abigail and Dave were in full Morris Dancing rig up, complete with fertility rite hankies, although Dave was in ballet tights which I have to say I can’t quite recall from the days I used to follow the Oxford Morris Men… but that’s another story. Abigail and Dave did have some terrific material which they shared during the course of the evening, including what constitutes acceptable heckling, what is the old name for crowdfunding, and how did you meet people for casual sex before the days of the Internet. Having been around in those days I can authoritatively confirm for anyone who is in doubt, that it simply never happened. At all; by anyone.

Ben CloverOur first act was Ben Clover, with whom you can instantly sympathise, as he used to get some horrible nicknames at school; thus he decided to re-enact his coping strategies with the aid of members of the audience. I felt his pain having suffered similar embarrassment myself as a kid. Mr Clover is a naturally very funny man with a sunny disposition that comes from having met his partner through Guardian Soulmates. We loved his calculation that the more tolerant you are of minorities in society, the disadvantaged or those seeking refuge, the less likely you are to be tolerant of lactose, gluten, dairy and so on. It’s 100% a proven fact. He carried us along with his terrific humorous observations and the time just flew by. An easy and delightful way to spend half an hour or more.

Omar and LeeNext up came Omar and Lee, a likeable pair of likely lads who ooze confidence and charisma and use it to their best advantage. Their opening section – where Lee is training Omar in the ways of how to be sexy – was occasionally hit and miss for me; some great ideas but something about it just didn’t quite connect. Obviously I am already sufficiently sexy not to have to take note, or I am so far off the mark that I would have to start with remedial classes. Others were guffawing madly all around, so I accept it was me who was off-kilter. However, once they got into their night-out mime routine I thought they were completely hysterical; beautifully inventive, skilfully choreographed and pinpoint accurately executed. I could watch that again and again. The act then moved on to Omar being visited by The Sacred Feminine but then taking it slightly more to heart than intended – which was really funny – and ended up with some pre-election advice with which I can only fully concur. We’ve not seen these two guys before but I was really impressed and look forward to seeing what else they can do.

Pippa EvansOur final act and – as advertised, as seen on the telly – was Pippa Evans, a member of the Showstoppers team (whom we haven’t seen) but we had seen Pippa six years ago at a Screaming Blue Murder in her alter ego of Loretta Maine, when she absolutely aced it – and in fact she was runner-up for the Screaming Blue Murder Chrisparkle Award that year; so high praise indeed. Pippa is just a natural performer – she’s so comfortable at drifting into comedy songs that, when you look at her, you really do believe that life genuinely could be like a musical. She’s gifted with the accents too, so she can create some great moments of humour by descending into Australian or Geordie at the drop of a pint of Fosters. I loved her resting face charity material and also the two roles (just the two) with which she’s successful at auditions. A really fantastic routine and we were all left wanting more.

Abigail'sPartyAnd more will come on the last Sunday of the month. Don’t think we’ll be able to make it, but if you’re in the area this is a bargain of an enjoyable Sunday night’s comedy. Great stuff!

P. S. I would like to add a personal note of thanks to whoever put together the background music at the start and during the intervals: how wonderful to hear Spike Milligan’s Q theme again.