171 Reviews for 2016 Edinburgh Fringe Festival (In order from most enjoyable to least)

 

Welcome to the 2016 version of my Fringe reviews.  I again tailored 10 days of my schedule to that of my friend Tim’s.  He is much more knowledgeable about the production qualities of the companies.  You can see my 2016 schedule.  You can find out about me, and my extended thoughts about reviewing at the bottom of this page.  I think that the most useful aspect for my readers is the rankings.  I base the rankings on my enjoyment of the show, so they may not reflect the quality of the script and/or acting.  I prefer plays to comedy acts, but work in a little of the latter for diversity.  I have discovered that I have a penchant for true stories.  The comments are usually only three sentences long because I have little time between shows, and, after all, I am here for the shows.  You can also see my 189 Reviews for 2015 Fringe, 165 reviews for 2014 Fringe, 152 reviews for 2013 Fringe, 135 reviews for 2012 Fringe, 175 reviews for 2011 Fringe,  200 reviews for 2010 Fringe, 177 reviews for 2009 Fringe, 153 reviews for 2008 Fringe, 162 reviews for 2006 Fringe, and 151 reviews for 2005 Fringe.  I always enjoy chatting with both audience members and dramatic artists.  If you wish to contact me, send e-mail to Sean Davis.

Because I have less free time this year, my reviews may be shorter than in previous years.  I have tried to give 4- and 5-star shows the full three-sentence treatment, but just provided the premises for some of the less enjoyable shows.  You can change the sorting column of the table below by first clicking anywhere in its header.  Each succeeding click in the header sorts the table by the column clicked.  Succeeding clicks of a column will reverse the previous sort order.  I have now added a Date column so that returning viewers can sort by it to see my most recent reviews. (The ranking numbers are bit messed up to allow this, but I haven’t had the time to debug the change in Word that causes the problem)

 

 

Rank

Title and Review

Venue

Begins

Ends

Date

1. 

Please Excuse My Dear Aunt Sally (*****)

A math teacher becomes enamored with her 15-year old student after finding remarkable photos on his mobile phone.  This play had all the things I look for in a play: innovative set, fine acting, realistic characters, sensitivity, and an emotional mix.  As a nod to the mobile centric culture of high school the play has their two mobile phones serve as expository devices that comment on the situations.

Pleasance Courtyard

12:50

14:00

16

2. 

Chopping Chilies (*****)

This one woman show has an Indian martial arts guru coming to London to run his deceased uncle’s shoe repair store, and proceeds to help his hippie neighbor with her Indian restaurant.  Clair Whitefield brings both the dour Indian and the light restaurateur to life with equal ease.  Though the coincidence of shared sandals is unnecessary, it does at a touch of magic that fits the story.

Assembly Roxy

14:50

15:50

5

3. 

Fresher (*****)

The university sends ten freshmen to a small room where they must use drama therapy to address their various offenses that range from date rape to cyber bullying to petty theft.  Each case is uniquely handled with a mix of debate, re-enactment by others, and denial.  The two highlights were an anti-feminist Russian who constantly pointed out biases towards women in British society, and a scene where a plutocrat finally identifies with an unfortunate person.

Pleasance Courtyard

11:45

12:45

3

4. 

A Streetcar Named Desire (*****)

A large Georgian troupe presents Tennessee Williams’ play about a woman who comes to stay with her sister in New Orleans and is confronted with her uncouth husband.  The entire production is top notch, with the actress playing Blanche conveying her mix of disgust, fragility, and reluctant hope perfectly.  Though the story is in Russian the brevity of the lines of the play is perfectly suited to supertitles. 

Assembly Roxy

13:55

15:30

18

5. 

Hamlet in Bed (*****)

A foundling who is obsessed with Hamlet finds a diary that leads him to a woman who may be his mother, and then casts her as Hamlet’s mother in a play in which he is Hamlet.  What starts out feeling like a stalker tale, expands as the world of acting and the Bard reveals much deeper characters. 

Pleasance Courtyard

14:10

15:25

9

6. 

Sleeping Trees: Sci-Fi? (*****)

Three fellow backed with two musicians create an inspired spoof of Star Wars based sci-fi movies.  With no sets, no props, and no costumes they take us on a wild ride of imagined Darth Vader death grips, and pistol packing robots.  I must warn others that you have to love sci-fi AND be in the right mood to enjoy this.

Pleasance Courtyard

17:00

18:00

27

7. 

My Eyes Went Dark (*****)

A successful architect has trouble dealing with the loss of his family when two planes collide.  This intense play touches on themes of justice, and personal loss in an ambiguous way I’ve rarely seen.  There are no black and whites here.

Traverse

varies

varies

12

8. 

Once…(*****)

The Derovo troupe presents a tale of a tongue-tied streets sweeper who falls in love with a waitress who is enamored with a wealthy, stylish patron.  The surreal show careens from semi-realism to Keystone Kop chases to sword and sorcery fights with surprisingly accessible physical theater.

Assembly George Square

11:30

12:50

10

9. 

Mungo Park: Travels in the Interior of Africa (*****)

Three men create a “blockbuster” based on the life Mungo Park, a real life 18th century physician who was the first Westerner to explore Western Africa.  This has entertaining mix of adventure, simple hardware props, a turntable, drama, with a dash of whimsy.  The production does a great job of conveying the privations of the two expeditions as well as the African cultures that he came upon.

Summerhall

20:45

22:05

6

10. 

Camille O’Sullivan : The Carny Dream (*****)

As usual, the Irish singer provides a show that mixes ballads and rock with theatrics using her Edith Piaf voice to its full effect.  I see her every year because she never fails to create

Underbelly Circus Hub

20:30

22:00

9

11. 

Joe Stilgoe:  Songs on Film (*****)

The jazz pianist, with a bassist and drums, mixes medleys and jazz interpretations of famous songs from film.  Though his medleys were well compiled, I wish he had shortened the jazz, and played more of the songs themselves.

Assembly Checkpoint

20:20

21:25

7

12. 

Mouse - The Persistence of an Unlikely Thought (*****)

Daniel Kitson plays a storyteller who receives a wrong number call, and then carries on with call.  Kitson alternates between brief excerpts from the storyteller’s life, and skillful interactions with the pre-recorded caller.  Though the show is supposed to be eighty minutes long, it turned out to be two hours, which was too much for my companion.

Traverse

22:20

23:20

12

13. 

The Marked (*****)

A homeless man must regain his faith in man before he can deal humanely with his community.  The ragged puppets and protagonist’s pervasive skittishness beautifully convey the disarray, danger, and fragility of the environment of the homeless.  Little things like a simple bird puppet that moved surprisingly naturally, and referring to a magic torch as a metaphor, raise this story to another level.

Pleasance Dome

13:30

14:30

15

14. 

Pss Pss (****)

The two mute clowns return to work their gymnastic magic while conveying their emotional states in delightful ways.  Their work with an inverted step ladder is inspired, and her facial expressions are so winning.  This is just a fun show you shouldn’t miss.  

Assembly Roxy

16:00

17:05

18

15. 

Only Bones (****)

Without leaving a one meter circle and almost no words, Thomas Monckton uses his body parts to create an amazing variety of stories, images, and movements.  Who would believe that painting finger nails or an extra sock could be so entertaining?  The highlight was watching him act like his neck could not support his head unless his head was perfectly balanced above his shoulders.

Summerhall

20:30

21:15

27

16. 

All Quiet on the Western Front (****)

We follow the lives of five young German soldiers as they suffer the privations, and occasional joys of the First World War.  Though there were a few battle scenes, the heart of the story lies in their experiences away from front lines.  The visit back home by one is particularly heart wrenching as the townsman of his village have no idea of what he has been through.

Pleasance Courtyard

13:45

14:45

27

17. 

Jules Verne’s Extraordinary Voyages:  The Lighthouse at the End of the World (****)

After pirates overrun his Cape Horn lighthouse, the keeper and a shipwreck survivor try to delay their ship’s departure.  I didn’t know the story, and the cast of five just made this a rip-roaring adventure of resourcefulness for me.  While it may not suit others, for me it was a perfect rendering that relied on suspense and cunning instead of sword fights.

C Nova

16:45

17:45

20

18. 

Angel by Henry Naylor(****)

This solo performance has a Syrian teenage girl is suddenly trained by her father to defend their orchard, and then is thrust into the current conflict.  This story reveals both the plight of all of the non-combatants in a war with fluid front lines, and the sexual abuse of girls in the war.  The play has a great mix of adventure and cultural revelations.

Gilded Balloon Teviot

19:00

20:00

25

19. 

Dark Vanilla Jungle (****)

A neglected 15-year old girl finds solace in the arms an older man who takes advantage of her.  This is a very intense play as the girl creates an ever more fantastical world to deal with her own horrific experiences.  I had rated this among the best plays a few years ago, and the acting was again excellent this time, but I think the stage direction having her move among the audience really diminished the sense of isolation that gave the original so much power.

C Nova

18:15

19:25

20

20. 

Underminded (****)

In 1984, a young coal miner tells of his experiences during the long strike when Thatcher decided to close many of the coal pits.  Whether describing the confusion and retreat in the face of a mounted police, or confronting his best friend who becomes a scab, each scene has the details and depth of emotion to keep me always focused on the story.  This darker version of the events was all the more interesting as a counterpoint to Mark Thomas’ celebratory version of the events in “Mark Thomas:  The Red Shed”

Zoo

17:00

18:00

15

21. 

Mark Thomas:  The Red Shed (****)

For the 50th anniversary of his hometown’s socialist social club, the activist comedian agreed to provide speakers and learn whether his own memory of a miner’s march is accurate.  Thomas is his usual sincere and thorough self while presenting the tale of his search in a very entertaining way.

Traverse

varies

varies

6

22. 

Meet Fred (****)

A three-person, two-foot tall puppet comes alive when he is lifted from his box, talks with the play’s director, and then tries to get a job through a council employment bureau.  The mix of his awareness of both his self and his three puppeteers, and the difficulties of making his way with humans and the huge physical world is both great fun, and touching at times.  A key moment is when his Puppet Allowance is reduced by the job counselor, and he must decide which puppeteer must be fired.

Summerhall

15:55

17:00

14

23. 

The Bookbinder (****)

With just a few books, some knickknacks, and a desk lamp as props, a bookbinder of olde tells a wondrous tale of an apprentice who falls into another world where he learns to not take shortcuts in his job.  This is a well honed tale by a personable and expressive fellow that is suited to both adults and grammar school children.  The large pop-up book and simple shadow work seem perfectly suited to the story in this small venue.

Pleasance Courtyard

13:00

14:00

4

24. 

A Tale of Two Cities:  Blood for Blood (****)

This play has virtually nothing to do with the Dickens story, and is instead about a French mother whose son was run over by a nobleman vows to kill all of his descendants after the French Revolution.  The seven cast members create a world of many characters with their own subplots that all contribute to the overarching story.  I loved how all the pieces finally come together to make the finale perfectly plausible.

Pleasance Courtyard

14:40

16:10

16

25. 

Love, Lies, and Taxidermy (****)

While his father futilely tries to re-unite with his mother, a young man falls in love with a woman whose father’s ice cream truck business is failing.  From porn bathtub scenes to selling stuffed animals on E-bay, each solution to their problems is quirky but realistic.  Though the story has its share of shady dealings, it makes sure to avoid the black and white trap, and utilizes the winning chemistry of the three actors to the fullest.

Summerhall

13:35

14:45

17

26. 

Growth (****)

After a girlfriend notices a bump on one of his testicles, a down and out young man constantly imagines the worst.  His interactions with his family and the NHS mine the serious aspects of his situation while providing both caring and amusing support.  Though long awaited, the finale provides a satisfying conclusion that addresses his greatest need.

Summerhall

13:35

14:45

8

27. 

Moscow Boys (****)

A string quartet plays a wide range of music while dancing.  The music ranges from classical to themes from James Bond movies to Pink Floyd, and the dancing ranges from physical theater to tap.  Though the four men are always engaging, much of the last 20 minutes offered little new.

Zoo Southside

20:35

21:50

28

28. 

Saturday Night Forever (****)

Well after breaking up with his boyfriend over dancing, a man thinks he meets a less flamboyant man of his dreams.  The romance is lovingly slow and well told without being too graphic.  I know it is a minor point, but I was impressed by the versatility of six light towers composed of lines of LEDs that were used to both create the club scene backdrops, and emphasize emotional states.

Underbelly Med Quad

19:10

21:00

18

29. 

The Six-Sided Man (****)

To charge of one’s life, a therapist advocates using a die to choose from an intentionally wider range of six choices created by his patient.  While the idea is well conceived, the real charm of the show is having the two men interact as they mime through a whole romance for the patient over a series of sessions.  The age and professionalism of the actors brings a gravitas to the show that a young cast could not achieve.

Assembly Roxy

11:50

13:00

24

30. 

Small Hours(****)

Two twenty-something close friends review their many late hour chats.  I found most touching a scene where one woman starts to sing “their” song, and must start again before her friend finally gives in and shares the song.

C Nova

16:20

17:05

3

31. 

A Regular Little Houdini (****)

In the working man’s world of early 20th century Newport, Wales, a young man attempts to emulate his escape artist idol.  Though Daniel LLewelyn-Williams does do a couple of magic tricks, he relies on apt descriptions of his training to really convey the boy’s determination.  Williams also works hard to bring the life of the dockworkers at the time, but he switches characters too subtly at times.

Pleasance Dome

12:20

13:20

20

32. 

Waves (****)

In the 1930s, an Australian girl living on a very small island learns to swim by trying to emulate a series of sea creatures.  This is a heartwarming story of a naïve child overcoming a fear of the sea, and growing stronger as she adapts to it.  We were so mesmerized by the tale that we had not realized it was fiction until we researched it.

Summerhall

10:10

11:00

23

33. 

Horse McDonald in Careful (****)

Horse gives a deeply felt account of her life as an outsider when gays were persecuted by fellow students, doctors, and people in general.  She tells poignant stories of hiding in her room to escape the bullying, dealing with a damaged vocal cord, and, after 50 years, discovering her soul mate.  With snippets of her songs punctuate the stories and highlight her exceptional voice, the with only the section dealing with the death of her parents 

Gilded Balloon at the Museum

19:30

20:30

3

34. 

One, Two, Three, Yippee (****)

The three young adult children have their ineffective lives changed when their rough crime boss father returns to town, and reasserts his power over it with terrible violence.  Each of his children responds to his return in quite different ways, and learn that suddenly becoming powerful may not make their lives better.  I was impressed with sheer power of self that the father exuded in all situations.

theSpace at Surgeons Hall

23:00

0:30

6

35. 

Equations for a Moving Body (****)

Hannah Nicklin tells of her life as it relates to her two year goal of participating in an Ironman triathlon.  She keeps this interesting by mixing descriptions of her training regimen with anecdotes from her dealings with the other people involved in the sport.  I was touched by her tribute to John Lam, a professional snowboarder who died snowboarding after he helped her train for the marathon part of the triathlon by running alongside her.

Summerhall

11:00

12:20

14

36. 

Michael Griffiths: Cole (****)

The pianist/singer presents Cole Porter’s life while singing many of his hits.  Both his voice and playing suited to his role as the wealthy, erudite composer.  I particularly liked that instead of medleys he chose to play extended versions of songs that included less frequently heard verses.

Assembly George Square

18:00

19:00

17

37. 

Kursk (****)

In 2000, a British submarine is tasked to find and photograph a new Russian submarine that is somewhere in the Bering Sea.  With a cast of seven in diverse roles, this show provides an excellent view of life aboard a modern submarine with all of its privations and complex routines.  The only false note is the captain’s explicit self-doubt on a couple occasions.

Bedlam Theatre

13:25

14:35

25

38. 

Jane Eyre: An Autobiography (****)

Rebecca Vaughn portrays Jane all the way from childhood to her marriage to Master Rochester.  Even though I was not familiar with the story, I found her story clear, and always interesting.  Unlike other Vaughn ventures, the script leaves her room to breathe and take the time act instead of rushing to get all of the words into the time slot.

Assembly Roxy

11:15

12:45

21

39. 

Mrs. Roosevelt Flies to London (****)

In 1942, the wife of President Franklin Roosevelt comes to Britain as his eyes and ears to learn of the country’s condition and to promote plans for improvements after the war ends.  The play does a good job of balancing the tales from her actual trip and her life story with FDR.  At each stop, her short speeches made it clear that she appreciated the efforts by the men, and particularly women workers.

Assembly Hall Mound

12:15

13:30

6

40. 

Big Bite-Size Breakfast Show (Menu Two) (****)

The five comedic pieces for this menu are:  1) a wife and her clown husband visit a marriage counselor; 2) two separate couples carry on conversations that have phrases that coincide despite having opposite tenors;  3)  a crime mob’s traditional killer and his wife discuss an odd request from his boss;  4) an elderly rural couple argue over the arrival of a mule in their front yard;  and 5) two policemen callously deal with widow of man killed by a bear. 

Pleasance Dome

10:20

11:20

7

41. 

Queen Lear (****)

Like Stoppard’s “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead,” this show takes minor characters of a Shakespeare play, and lets them elaborate on their events.  Here we have King Lear’s wife suffering through a painful, overlong, pregnancy being attended by a physician and a midwife who are both caring and loyal.  The whole story is both tender, and tragic.

Assembly Roxy

16:10

17:10

9

42. 

Buzz: A New Musical (****)

This story combines a history of personal vibrators with a woman trying to get over her musician lover jilting her.  This is definitely not a show for everybody, but it was just great fun for both of us.  A large part of its success rests with the winning personality of the lead as she participates in almost all of the scenes.

Greenside at Infirmary Street

20:45

21:45

23

43. 

Hess (****)

Derek Crawford Munn plays an old Rudolf Hess, Hitler’s deputy, serving a life sentence in Spandau Prison who presents his autobiography and his ultra-nationalist views.  The fellow next to me whispered to me that he thought Hess a psychopath, but I think Munn was persuasive in showing how a well educated man like Hess could reasonably believe that totalitarian nationalism was a legitimate path for Germany after World War I.  The play provides a finely wrought portrayal of a complex man who not only help found Nazi Germany, but independently tried to sue for peace with Britain, and was found innocent of the crimes of the Holocaust. 

Gilded Balloon Teviot

15:00

16:15

13

44. 

Breakfast Plays: How to Ruin Someone’s Life from the Comfort of you Own Beanbag (****)

A hacker walks through the use of Internet resources to find out about someone, and then declare them dead.  As a Computer Scientist, I found it illuminating as well as scary.  Just another way we can harm each other.

Traverse

9:00

9:50

25

45. 

Diary of a Madman (****)

When his son takes a break, the sole painter of the Forth Bridge accepts a university intern to replace him, and live in his bedroom.  The story and acting were fine, but I had trouble understanding the lead at times because of his accent.  The devastating finding of the intern was a great plot twist.

Traverse

varies

varies

11

46. 

Care Takers (****)

A new drama teacher takes her concerns that a student is being bullied to her unsympathetic assistant head teacher.  The acting is superb, the ratcheting up of their tension precise, and the finale well conceived.  However, the supervisor was so unnecessarily craven, and bigoted that she seemed a straw man instead of a real person.

C

18:35

19:40

23

47. 

Teatro Delusio (****)

With mute performers wearing masks, and manipulating a multi-person puppet, this show has three backstage workers at an opera house dealing with a wide range of performers as well as each other.  The variety of masks and the performers ability to communicate despite their immobility were a delight.  The show does seem to go on a bit long, as evidenced by the audience readily applauding when they mistook a fake curtain call as the real end.

Pleasance Courtyard

13:45

15:00

24

48. 

Blush (****)

This two hander explores how sexual interactions on the Internet can damage people.  Though one story covers disrespectful tweets, the bulk of the show looks at how nude selfies can be abused.  The main problem for the show is that the shifts among the female characters are often not clear.

Underbelly Cowgate

18:00

19:00

26

49. 

Penny Arcade : Loving Lasts Longer (****)

The performance artist gives her own take on her life and the events of the decades, and dispenses advice and how to be more satisfied with one’s life by rejecting the social norms.  She certainly has a presence on stage, but I was left the impression that her advice suited her own life much more than that of the audience that supports her.

Assembly Checkpoint

18:55

19:55

5

50. 

Bricking It (****)

A young woman and her 73-year old contractor father combine to create a show of their lives by him telling stories and dad gags, and her building a brick wall on stage.  This is not great theater, but the love and respect that the father and daughter have permeates the whole show to make it sweet but not saccharine.  A good example of this was the gentle way she gave him stage directions between some scenes.

Pleasance Dome

17:30

18:30

5

51. 

9 to 5 (****)

This musical is a faithful adaptation of the 1980 film that has three female office workers stage a secretly usurp their male chauvinist boss.  The choreography and singing are fine, but this comes across as a musical based on the title song.  It seemed that it was always playing in the background, and all of the new songs paled by comparison.

Assembly Mound

11:30

13:50

12

52. 

The Humble Heart of Komrade Krumm (****)

In 4016, after a series of ice and hot ages, twelve chilly middle ages like people gather to tell and sing the tale of a girl as she seeks the temple of the heroic Komrade Krumm to help save Great Britain.  The show rotates through communal songs, a translated descriptions of the quest, and fantastical stories of the 21st century’s Komrade Krumm’s bravery in space and war.  The early, beautifully sung song about how Great Britain has better trees and mountains than anywhere else sets the tone for a tongue in cheek production that requires a lot of suspension of disbelief by the audience. 

Bedlam Theatre

13:30

14:30

7

53. 

Us/Them (****)

Two teenagers re-create the experience of the 777 children hostages during the three-day Chechnyan terrorist siege of their Russian school in 2004.  From the initial chalk drawings of the school layout to the lads embarrassment at taking his shirt off in the hot gym in front of the girl, the two do a beautiful job of evoking the atmosphere of a grammar school.  The re-enactment of the terrorists switching the man with his foot on the trigger for the many bombs every two hours maintained the sense of threat throughout the piece.

Summerhall

10:00

11:00

17

54. 

Glasgow Girls (****)

This musical is based on the true story of five high school girls who lead a protest against the attempted deportation of their asylum seeking friend.  While the story is certainly heart warming, most of the songs and many of the lines were unintelligible to my American ears.  I was left with the feeling that the show relied more on the audience’s reaction to the actual events and less on anything particularly outstanding in their portrayal.

Assembly Mound

14:20

15:50

12

55. 

En Folkefiende (***)

A scientist discovers that the local spa is poisonous, but her brother, the mayor, tries to force her to squash the report to protect the town’s economic interest.  The play does an excellent job of revealing the political machinations in the face of unpleasant truths.  The glass cube set was an interesting idea, but the failure of some characters’ microphones meant that many in the audience could not hear them.

Pleasance Dome

17:00

18:20

16

56. 

Fabric (***)

A working girl marries a posh guy, and then gets raped by his close friend.  Great acting, but I was tired of seeing so many rapes and abuses of women at this years Fringe.

Underbelly Cowgate

11:55

13:05

27

57. 

The Wives of Others (***)

Seven mobster women family members get together while their husbands and fathers hit another gang.  The matter-of-fact conversations among the crass Italians is fun, and the plot twists keep things interesting.  However, I found the final act tedious with its long harangue by a daughter, extended needling by a threatened cop, and predictable blood bath.

C

19:55

20:55

20

58. 

The View from Castle Rock by Alice Munro (***)

In 1818, a Scottish family sails to Canada. 

artSpace at St. Mark’s

12:30

13:30

26

59. 

William Shakespeare’s Long Lost First Play (abridged) (***)

The veteran comedy trio try to condense all of Shakespeare’s plays into one that has an overarching plot of Puck and Ariel trying to outdo each other by monkeying around with the other characters.  This gives them the opportunity to make clever changes to a wide range of well known passages, but also requires them to make endless costume changes that become tedious.  The big flaw is that the enmity between Puck and Ariel feels too contrived and cannot hold the pieces together.

Pleasance Courtyard

16:40

18:00

23

60. 

Travesty (***)

This two hander has a standard romance story where boy meets girl, they decide to live together, and then they grow apart, except that the boy is played by a woman, and the girl is played by a man.  The sincere and witty script tries hard to ignore the gender switch, and leaves it to the audience to note any situations that seem awkward physically.  For me, I noticed that the actor often held the actress’ face which seems uncommon to me.

Assembly George Square

17:30

18:30

22

61. 

Big Bite-Size Breakfast Show (Menu Three) (***)

This menu has five plays:  1) at an audition an actress must contend with an abusive casting director; 2) a married couple deal with their unsuccessful attempt at sado/masochism; 3) a man whose been alone on a large spaceship for many years finally has contact from intelligent life; 4) vignettes exploring where a woman responds to a man speaking to her through her front door; and 5) a business meeting with a leader who drones on and on. 

Pleasance Dome

10:20

11:20

4

62. 

Big Bite-Size Breakfst Show (Menu One) (***)

This menu has six plays: 1) a team leader tries to teach how to collect for a cat charity; 2) two political prisoners don’t trust each other; 3) two women practice a kidnapping; 4) a global Internet company supplies the things you want without you having to order them; 5) a man can always see two minutes into his future; and 6) three high school kids argue that Hamlet was gay.  Though all were entertaining, only 4 and 6 were the least bit thought provoking.

Pleasance Dome

10:20

11:20

26

63. 

Playing Maggie… The Iron Lady (***)

Pip Upton plays another actor who impersonates Margaret Thatcher.  The play flows from his dressing room to performance as Maggie, and then, in a further departure from such shows, he/she takes questions for Thatcher from the audience for a full half hour.  His answers are well reasoned within Thatcher’s philosophy, and he rarely ducks difficult questions.

Pleasance Courtyard

12:30

13:30

9

64. 

Oliver Reed: Wild Thing (***)

Robert Crouch portrays the actor as he careens through life drinking and wenching with commoners and celebrities at every turn.  Starting with four real beers, Crouch takes on the role with a gusto suited perfectly to his subject.  The amount of liquid he consumes in the hour is amazing, and serves as a touchstone to the excesses of the man.

Gilded Balloon Teviot

22:00

23:00

14

65. 

Mark Thompson's Spectacular Science Show (***)

Though this science show is oriented toward children, it was a wonderful reminder of those science demonstrations of my childhood.  The experiments varied from Alka-Seltzer powered film canister rockets to pouring super chilled water to create ice stalagmites to a Whamo-blaster made of a garbage bin and a table cloth that shot smoke rings across the room.  I was never bored, and often amazed.

Gilded Balloon at the Museum

16:30

17:30

13

66. 

Van Gogh Find Yourself (***)

Walter DeForest takes on the persona of Vincent Van Gogh magically transported to 2016 as he sketches members of the audience, and relates aspects of Van Gogh’s life in response to questions.  While his sketchers are not in the style of Van Gogh, he does a remarkable job of staying in character and weaving in a fairly complete (auto)biography of the painter.  Along the way, he asserts that both the slicing of his ear, and the gunshot that killed him were the actions of others who he chose to protect.

Natural Food Kafe

14:25

15:20

14

67. 

Panti: High Heels in Low Places (***)

The Irish drag queen tells colorful tales full of allusions to gay sex of how he became the national symbol for LGBT rights in Ireland.

Traverse

varies

varies

11

68. 

Bubble Schmeisis (***)

A Jewish boy goes to summer camp, and is taken by his grandfather to his first steam bath.

Summerhall

15:00

16:00

25

69. 

Rose of Jericho (***)

The son of an abuser becomes a soldier and tries to curb his violent tendencies towards his wife though four tours of duty in the world’s trouble spots.  Great acting, but I was tired of hearing of abusers at this year’s Fringe

theSpace at Surgeons Hall

17:05

17:55

25

70. 

Stories to Tell in the Middle of Night (***)

Like a late night DJ, Francesca Millican-Slater calmly tells innumerable stories ranging from a man who starts to walk around his block each morning to “keep the world turning” to another fellow who creates valentines between two people based on the contents of their bins.

Summerhall

10:15

11:15

28

71. 

Milk (***)

This play has three stories that are only tangentially related to each other: 1) the daughter of a prostitute tries get her friend to show he cares for her; 2) an elderly couple cling to each other as he becomes fearful of the world; and 3) a couple must deal with an unhappy baby.  The tales are diverse and fresh with fine acting throughout.  However, the punishment for the father, and his wife’s reluctance to get help over such a long period of time both seemed veer from reality.

Traverse Theatre

varies

varies

19

72. 

Le Bossu (***)

This is a clean retelling of “The Hunchback of Notre Dame.”  Esmeralda was beautiful and exotic, Quasimodo sincere and naïve, and Archdeacon Frollo stern and conflicted.

Bedlam Theatre

18:00

19:05

7

73. 

A Boy Named Sue (***)

A young teenager who pimps himself online finds comfort in the flat of a gay doctor who is concerned about his reclusive lover.  Each of the three is leery of the world, and must find a way to re-connect with their significant others.  The choice to have the doctor living in an unrealistic flat with glass exterior walls (whether metaphorical or not) diminishes the realism of the play, and with that it’s power.

C Nova

18:25

19:20

10

74. 

Poena 5X1 (***)

A businesswoman/scientist presents a talk about a drug that can be used to punish people by causing nightmares.  Though the story starts out exploring the ethical issues when dealing with criminals, it veers off into a less interesting story that is more personal to the scientist.  In hindsight, the play starts of poorly with her having to deal with inexplicable problems with her video presentation.

Underbelly Med Quad

15:20

16:20

20

75. 

Guy Masterson: Love and Canine Integration (***)

Actor/director Masterson turns his talents to performing a stand-up routine based on his courtship of his German wife who was an international model, and then dealing with her dog from hell.  His tale of wooing is endearing partly because he reveals how it was she who seems to be in control instead of this usually dominant man.  Though he offers dad gags as one intermission, his use of Barbie and Ken dolls is a sexually crude form of blackout for the overlong, repetitive tale about her dog. 

Assembly Roxy

17:40

18:40

3

76. 

Last Call (***)

A woman narrates a Dutch graphic novel following a day in the life of a young woman that is presented on a video screen while a pianist accompanies her.  This unique production had interesting moments, but had troubles keeping a good pace as the complexity of the panels varied widely.  The subplot with car keys made little sense.

Summerhall

22:40

23:45

16

77. 

Nel (***)

At the behest of her boss and friends, a content foley artist tries to change her life by becoming more outgoing.  He exploration of sound effects was novel and charming.

Pleasance Dome

15:00

16:00

3

78. 

The remains of Tom Lehrer (performed by Adam Kay) (***)

Kay talks about the ditty writer/performer’s life, and presents many of his songs.  This was probably a very good show, but I had a headache that made it difficult to concentrate.

Gilded Balloon Teviot

15:45

16:45

28

79. 

A Series of Unfortunate Breakups (***)

This show has three independent couples in different stages of relationships breakup: 1) a young teen “breaks up” with her boyfriend (even though he didn’t know they were a couple) because she thinks a rock star has the hots for her; 2) a fresher discovers that her boyfriend of three months is a narcissist who readily sleeps around; and 3) after being unfaithful to his long term girlfriend, a fellow spends a year trying to rebuild the relationship.  While the Lothario story had unbelievable characters who were played for cheap laughs, the other two stories had their touching moments mixed with some light touches.  A letter supposedly written by rock star was doubling touching in revealing her naiveté, and her friend’s hidden feelings.

C Nova

19:30

20:25

21

80. 

Growing Pains (***)

Using rap and some songs a fellow tells of his leaving an abusive father and unsupportive friends, going to London, and finding the girl of his dreams.  Too familiar.

Underbelly Cowgate

16:30

17:30

26

81. 

Life by the Throat (***)

The son of an abuser becomes a petty criminal, and waits until his late 30s to turn his life around.  Another play that seems all too familiar.

Underbelly Cowgate

14:00

15:00

26

82. 

House and Amongst the Reeds (***)

This show presents two independent stories: 1) after five years, an ostracized daughter returns for her mother’s birthday; and 2) a homeless pregnant Vietnamese girl finds support in an upbeat Black girl.  The interactions between the two daughters and their hard mother is riveting, and enough for any show.  The second, less complex, play pales by comparison.

Assembly George Square

12:00

13:30

18

83. 

Escape from the Planet of the Day that Time Forgot (***)

This spoof has a 1930s scientist, his young female assistant, and a college student climb aboard an ironing board spaceship to search for the source of an unusual meteorite.  For the most part, they keep a light touch with many quips that maintains the tone.  A couple sequences are overlong, and a second expedition has little to add.

Assembly Roxy

11:50

12:50

13

84. 

Nicole Henriksen is Makin’ It Rain (***)

Nicole alternates between one of her strip tease routines and telling of her life as a stripper.  She does a good job of asserting that all women in the various levels of the sex trade deserve to be treated fairly without prejudice.  However, the tales from her non-professional life feel like just another self-indulgent Fringe autobiography.

Underbelly Cowgate

17:50

19:00

8

85. 

Daffodils (A Play with Songs) (***)

In New Zealand an engaging young man marries a quirky farm girl, but they find that their life is twisted by his father’s adultery.  This seemed like a play that was good, but should have been presented in a Fringe venue other than the Traverse.

Traverse

varies

varies

11

86. 

Cosmic Fear or the The Day Brad Pitt Got Paranoia (***)

Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie, and a movie producer work through a seemingly endless series of movie scenarios starring Pitt addressing the global climate change.

Bedlam Theatre

15:00

16:00

7

87. 

Three for Two by Phil Booth (***)

This show is composed of three independent stories: 1) a house painter negotiates the price his client must pay to photograph him; 2) an older, wealthy gay must deal with his doubts about his young lover; and 3) a footballer’s butler is conflicted about the player’s indiscretions.  These are good clean plays that are well acted, but nothing sets them apart.

Zoo

18:15

19:25

15

88. 

How is Uncle John? (***)

This two hander has a smitten teenager go to Italy with her Greek lover only to be forced into the sex trade while her mother copes with her disappearance by limiting herself to her own house.

Assembly Hall Mound

15:00

16:00

4

89. 

A Good Clean Heart (***)

A Welsh adopted teenager goes to London to meet his brother and mother for the first time.  Though his is half-brother is of Jamaican descent, that is decidedly secondary to his urban naiveté.

Underbelly Cowgate

18:40

19:40

6

90. 

Delphine (***)

A meek, naïve 30-year old woman tells of her experiences with her first boyfriend that started just four months ago. 

Pleasance Courtyard

14:15

15:15

28

91. 

Royal Vauxhall (***)

In 1988, Princess Diana, Freddy Mercury, and Kenny Everett head over to the Royal Vauxhall Tavern to party.

Underbelly Med Quad

22:10

23:25

25

92. 

Discretion Guaranteed (***)

Cast of four assault the audience with a wide range of scenes that all have to deal with aspects of the phone sex industry.  Powerful at times, but uneven and unfocused.

Paradise in the Vault

20:25

21:25

25

93. 

Deal with the Dragon (***)

This solo show has a dragon/devil character in human form encourage an artist to greater accomplishments.  This update of the Dr. Faustus story set in San Francisco works well.  His German accent added a subtle air of menace to the dragon character.

C Nova

20:30

21:40

21

94. 

Swansong (***)

Global warming has left four people in a pedal boat in the middle of an ocean trying to figure out what they should write in a diary.  It was cute at times, but in the end it was just fluff.

Pleasance Courtyard

17:00

18:00

28

95. 

Agent of Influence: The Secret Life of Pamela Moore (***)

In the late 1930s, a high society journalist is recruited to help determine if Edward VIII is spying for the NAZIs.  The initial idea of her doing an in depth piece on Wallace Simpson as cover made perfect sense, but having her jump out of a plane to retrieve a bathing suit strained credulity beyond the breaking point.  Similarly, there was no need for her to disrobe.

Underbelly Cowgate

14:40

15:40

19

96. 

Foehn Effect (***)

A young woman tells of her robbery and rape at knife point in the Canary Islands, and dealing with the authorities and her family afterwards.  Though powerful, and well told, there was nothing new here for me.

C nova

19:00

20:00

14

97. 

Bucket List (***)

The daughter of Mexican woman killed for protesting work conditions vows the kill the people responsible.  The play does a good job of conveying the squalor of the maquiladora towns along the Mexican border, and the protagonist is powerful in her role.  However, her character and the play are overambitious when they spend time dealing with international leaders.

Pleasance Dome

15:50

17:20

17

98. 

Northanger Abbey (***)

This adaptation of the Jane Austen novel using a raft of puppets playing the secondary characters worked pretty well even for someone who did not know the story.  Despite its brevity, the play succeeds in connecting the critical parts of the story in a sensible manner.  I must admit that I did doze in a couple of the quieter passages, but my companions thoroughly enjoyed it.

Underbelly Cowgate

11:40

12:50

19

99. 

Touch Therapy (***)

Based on an event in 1975, a therapist to treat a lesbian wife by forcing her to have sex with her husband.  While the skittishness of the wife worked well, adding a repulsion to being touched at all seemed to push her issue beyond that of just being a lesbian. 

Paradise in the Vault

15:45

16:25

15

100. 

Breakfast Plays: The Girl in the Machine (***)

A junior partner in a law firm is tasked with dealing with the legal problems arising from an app that creates new music from the music of dead song writers, but also offers to upload the user’s mind.

Traverse

9:00

9:45

28

101. 

A Number by Caryl Churchill (***)

A man must deal with a series of clones of his dead son, each with a different level of acceptance of his situation.

C nova

18:55

19:50

27

102. 

Overshadowed (***)

A high school girl asserts control over her life by choosing to become anorexic at the behest of a beguiling, rhyming monster.  Each of the portrayals of her sister, mother, and boyfriend seem spot on, but the scene in which she makes the choice because of a spoiled math homework doesn’t provide enough background for such a momentous decision.  She was supposedly quite popular in school, and yet she has no close friend in which to confide.

Assembly Roxy

14:30

14:30

13

103. 

All the Things I Lied About (***)

A young woman presents a survey of the lies she tells from white lies to being unfaithful to her lovers.  She explored the topic reasonably well, but the show deteriorated when she got the audience involved with squirt guns.

Summerhall

16:40

17:40

10

104. 

Breakfast Plays: The Conversation (***)

The playwright Rob Drummond gets drunk and has a conversation with an online chatBot about a wide range of subjects.  As a computer scientist, I could understand the logic underlying her answers.

Traverse

9:00

9:45

27

105. 

Hair of the Dog with Village Pub Theatre, Aug 8 (***)

Five short plays read script in hand all dealing with relationships between couples.

Traverse

10:00

11:00

8

106. 

Hair of the Dog with Village Pub Theatre, Aug 15 (***)

Five short plays read script in hand all dealing with the aftermath of a long night of drinking.

Traverse

10:00

11:00

15

107. 

Hair of the Dog with Village Pub Theatre, Aug 15 (***)

Five short plays read script in hand all dealing with disoriented people.  Because of the topic, three of the plays were just too incoherent for me.  The one gem had two aliens from another planet tasting Edinburgh pub life.

Traverse

10:00

11:00

22

108. 

Breakfast Plays: Bin Head (***)

After being ejected from a bar a woman talks with a paranoid man who is afraid to take his head out of a bin. 

Traverse

9:00

10:00

26

109. 

Adventures of a Redheaded Coffeshop Girl(***)

A young Canadian woman serves an internship with Jane Goodall in her chimpanzee compound. 

Gilded Balloon Teviot

16:15

17:15

6

110. 

The Gin Chronicles: A Scottish Adventure (***)

After treating us to a gin and tonic, we are treated to a 1947 radio mystery in which NAZIs are trying to steal all of the juniper berries in Scotland.  The four actors and sound effects fellow try to maintain the whimsy, but there a many lapses.  The final fight scene is particularly worthless.

artSpace at St Mark’s

18:30

19:30

19

111. 

In Tents and Purposes (***)

Two twentysomething women have divergent career paths with one succeeding, and the other still looking for a job after ten years.

Assembly George Square

13:30

14:30

10

112. 

In Fidelity (***)

Rob Drummon asks single volunteers to come on stage, pares them down to two, and then asks them questions concerned with dating and fidelity.  The questions range from their opinions to facts about their very personal lives.  In general, I find audience participation shows to feel like a cheap thrill at the participants’ expense, and this show has that distasteful quality.

Traverse

varies

varies

4

113. 

A Common Man: The Bridge That Tom Built (***)

An actor presents the life of the Thomas Paine, the American Revolutionary War writer and orator.  This is a straightforward mix of history and biography that was informative and entertaining enough

C Nova

20:15

21:25

5

114. 

Expensive Shit (***)

Set in a Nigerian night club bathroom, its attendant and three other women scheme to escape their lives by “pulling” a man, or developing impressive dance routines.

Traverse

varies

varies

4

115. 

Calisto: A Queer Epic (***)

Four independent stories from across time are interleaved: 1) An lesbian post-Elizabethan actress’ lover poses as her husband; 2) Turing dealing with his deceased lover’s mother; 3) a 1980s Nebraska woman leaves her husband to make porn films in California; and 4) in the distant future a man only has only a male android to keep him company.  The stories are so diverse that the interweaving requires that small cast to make many costume changes that would be unnecessary if they would present the stories as an anthology.  As is, the interleaving reduces the flow and impact of each.

Pleasance Dome

11:50

13:00

22

116. 

Philip Pullman’s The Ruby in the Smoke (***)

This murder mystery has a young woman victim trying to follow the clues in a letter to find a ruby left to her by her slain father.  The tale is confusing because it has just too many plot twists to fit into its one hour slot.  Add another hour, and it could be very good.

Pleasance Dome

12:00

13:00

15

117. 

Driftwood (***)

Five gymnasts/acrobats try to amalgamate dance and circus routines.  At its heart, this is a series of short circus acts separated by short movement pieces that add nothing.  Particularly worthless were the five sections where each actor has their chance to interact with a lamp that is lowered from the ceiling in their own uninspired way.

Assembly George Square

15:30

16:30

24

118. 

Wil Greenway: The Way the City Ate the Stars (***)

Greenway, with an occasional assist from singer and a guitarist presents a tale of an unrequited lover and an uncle responding to an accidental request for help from a woman in labor.  Wil is a good storyteller, but there is nothing exceptional here.  His two assistants contributed nothing other than a way to create space between sections of the stories.

Underbelly Med Quad

16:10

17:10

22

119. 

Private Manning Goes to Washington (***)

The computer programmer/activist Aaron Swartz asks a friend to help him write a play that would have Chelsea Manning confront President Obama about his approach to whistle blowing.  I was pleased that the friend was allowed to voice an argument damning Manning’s action, but it was clear that the playwright sided with the whistle blower.  But the real problem was that the two men were just cyphers for a debate, and had no real lives.

theSpace on Niddry St.

22:10

23:10

24

120. 

Greater Belfast (***)

Matt Regan “sings” and speaks of Belfast as a string quartet plays in the background.  The quartet was beautiful, but I could rarely understand his him, and found his songs repetitive and jarring.  However, my Scottish friend found that “the blend of emotive language and beautiful music conveying the atmosphere of Belfast created a wonderful theatrical experience.”

Traverse

varies

varies

4

121. 

Perfidious Lion (***)

For this solo show Bettine Mackenzie is always in the character of a high strung widow creating a formal dinner party for five friends in the servant quarters of her rundown manor.  From her inconsiderate interactions with her Columbian maid to her snide remarks to the façade of normality Mackenzie creates a seamless and believable character.  But single perspective is the downfall of the play as we have no explanation for all of the other character’s odd reactions to her.

Underbelly Cowgate

11:20

12:20

4

122. 

E15(***)

A group of pregnant women refuse to be evicted from their council hostel, and promote an ongoing protest promoting use of boarded up houses that are in fine condition.

Summerhall

18:30

19:40

9

123. 

Villain (***)

For me, this one woman show had three characters: an understanding social worker who rushed between clients, the title character who had been reviled in the media for her crime, and a successful telemarketer who begins to doubt her job.  In reality there were only two characters, but the poor delineation and chaotic time stream made this difficult to apprehend. 

Underbelly Med Quad

20:20

21:20

11

124. 

Jules Verne’s 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (***)

In the mid 19th century, two survivors of a naval attack are taken aboard Captain Nemo’s amazing submarine, and then given a tour of the undersea world.  This show is not as entertaining as “Lighthouse at the End of the World” because of there is less action, and the settings are more limited.

C Nova

15:15

16:15

27

125. 

Erik Satie’s – Faction (***)

Alistair McGowan plays a 50-year old Satie who talks a little about his adult life, and plays works by Satie and Debussy.  The music was nice, though a bit repetitive, but I expected more facts about his life instead of impressions.

Pleasance Courtyard

12:50

13:50

28

126. 

Save + Quit (***)

This show has two independent two-handers with the first having a new grammar school teacher deal with her workload outside the classroom, and a young man deciding to sell a treasured X-box.  The second story again had a man and woman, but the plot evaded both my companion and me.

Assembly George Square

12:15

13:15

23

127. 

Tank (***)

In the middle 1960s, an inexperienced girl helps John Lilly to try to teach English to dolphins.  The mix of cast hijinks and dolphin abuse did not sit well with me.  It certainly seemed that the supposedly recorded “verbatim” words of the teacher should never have been acceptable to her superiors.

Pleasance Dome

10:30

11:30

18

128. 

Allison After a Fire (***)

After a forest fire destroys their home, a wife has trouble dealing the loss of animal life.  This seemed like a one note story cthat moved too slowly for me.

Greenside at Infirmary Street

22:05

22:50

23

129. 

How to Win Against History (***)

This show depicts the life of Henry Paget, 5th Marquess of Anglesey after he inherited his vast family fortune in 1898, and how for the next seven years he spent much of it on furs, parties, and touring experimental theater in which he starred.  The piece is constructed of a mostly series of scenes out plays with Paget always in a sequined dress joined by his actor/friend that range from dance hall routines to a narcissistic solo performance.  While I understand the company choosing to present all the bizarre things the fellow did, keeping blue dressed persona throughout divorced it from reality, and started to bore me.

Assembly George Square

17:40

18:45

18

130. 

Wonderman (***)

In a World War II, a hospitalized injured Allied pilot repeatedly wakes up in his bed to find himself in surreal stories.  The stories vary from a boarding house run by murderous landlady to a him being a country cook who is guided a slaughterhouse for pigs and people.  Though the stories are diverse, the grand reveal does not seem to justify their common theme, nor the play itself.

Underbelly Potterrow

18:05

19:20

13

131. 

The Sister (***)

This character driven play explores submission and self-esteem as two sisters change their relationships with two men and each other as their sense of self wanes and waxes.  The idea is interesting but the play was displaced too far from reality to draw me in.  In particular, when one pair ran away from a pair of hand shadow animals, the play lost my attention.

Paradise in Augustines

10:10

11:15

13

132. 

The Trial (***)

This version of Kafka’s story of a man who is charged with an unknown crime within an arcane criminal system has the protagonist driven by lust, and a sense of self-importance.  His constant sexual antics detract from the intended feeling of futility.

Summerhall

20:15

21:35

10

133. 

Bonita & Billie Holiday (***)

Bonita re-enacts a performance of Billie Holiday right after she left prison.  Whether Bonita was tired, or it was a directorial choice, the whole show felt subdued.  The backstage scenes added little to our understanding of the woman, and her singing lacked both emotion and energy.

Assembly Roxy

21:50

23:00

13

134. 

Infinity Pool: A Modern Retelling of Madame Bovary (***)

A young woman uses a multimedia presentation, including slides of her texting, to tell the story of an adulterous woman.  She was so serious about her task that it dampened the whole show for me.

Bedlam Theatre

16:35

17:35

7

135. 

The Toyland Murders (***)

An inspector and his sergeant investigate a series of murders in a muppet city.  The premise sounds like fun, and much of the audience of the cast’s friends enjoyed it, but it was surprisingly dull for me.  It seems that production fell into the trap that loud music and yelling can replace character motivation and a real mystery plot.  

Bedlam Theatre

12:00

1:00

7

136. 

World Without Me (***)

A woman recites a seemingly endless list of what the world would be like if mankind simply vanished now.  The list was revealing at times, but since there is no action, I found myself closing my eyes and allowing her images to just flow through my consciousness as a stream. 

Summerhall

11:30

13:00

17

137. 

Circleville, Circlevalley (***)

A friend of one of the participants disrupts the supportive environment of weekly drama therapy session of a therapist and three of her clients.

Pleasance Courtyard

23:00

0:00

8

138. 

Femage a Trois (***)

Three women’s stories.  One about caring for senile demented father was interesting.

theSpace on Niddry St.

21:05

21:55

26

139. 

Happy Together (***)

A director “randomly” selects two “audience” members to perform a play using cue cards, while the show intersperses vignettes from the pair’s future in reverse chronological order from 2020.  While the acting was fine, the whole production was too “clever” by half as sometimes the cue cards were read and sometimes they were not, and the constant removal of set furniture slowed the progress of the show.  The whole cue card and audience façade was superfluous, and the use of a spatula as a threatening knife lent an air of sloppiness to the production.

C Cubed

18:15

19:10

21

140. 

Mr. Incredible (***)

This solo show has a fellow repeatedly visiting a therapist and talking about how he misses his former girlfriend, Holly.  This just seemed like an excuse for quips about modern times and relationships, with little depth.  Even though he was supposedly talking to a therapist, he had no personal growth.

Underbelly Cowgate

16:40

17:40

21

141. 

Another Fine Mess (***)

Two men who have an act performing as Laurel and Hardy, along with a girlfriend, must deal with an illness of the Hardy actor.  Besides the backstage drama, the show does provide a few short renditions of Laurel and Hardy routines as well as a few very soft shoe dances.  It just seems that the illness pervades the whole show so that it seems slow and dull.

theSpace on the Mile

19:05

19:55

24

142. 

The Nine Lives of Antoine de Saint-Expury (***)

A fellow portrays the author of the “Little Prince” reviews his many exotic aviation related jobs while his female companion plays Death and his wife.  I found his sensitive, breezy personality charming, but the storyline seemed a blur. 

Assembly George Square

13:25

14:25

22

143. 

Hurricane Michael (***)

Adf plays the meteorologist Michael Fish who was tasked to improve the viewership of the BBC weather, but later failed to reported the impending arrival of a major hurricane.  Adf plays down Fish’s meteorological skill, and plays up his showmanship almost to slapstick levels.  His use of audience members serves no purpose except to make the play needlessly silly.

Assembly George Square

14:45

15:45

22

144. 

A Remarkable Person (***)

A writer and her two alter egos try to figure out how to write a self-help book that will make her admired without the public seeing that that is her goal.  The story highlights the conundrums of such books with their advice of “trying to play” or improving one’s self by becoming selfless.  While the initial scenes seem perceptive, the later ones seem just a re-hash of the thesis.

Pleasance Dome

13:05

14:15

5

145. 

My Name is Gideon: Songs, Space Travel and Everything In-Between (***)

Gideon is a singer/storyteller with a Rube Goldberg trunk who normally does house concerts.  Though he has a winning personality, I was left with the feeling that I had just watched a busker who rented a room.

Pleasance Courtyard

13:00

14:00

21

146. 

Grace (***)

The gymnast/acrobat Emma Serjeant plays a young woman who reviews her life as a photographer and lover as recoils from being hit by an automobile.  Like “Driftwood,” this show seemed to be a 15-minute circus act that was padded out to be an hour long play with a lot of replication throughout it.  When she was not repeating the same phrases over and over again, most of her words were lost in the background music.

Assembly Checkpoint

17:30

18:30

24

147. 

Last Dream (on Earth) (***)

After being given headphones, we sit in a darkened room and hear looped music, and intermittent snippets of stories about the first man in space, and a seaborne emigration from Morocco.  The music was nice, but nothing special, and the stories were so chopped up that they lost most of their impact.

Assembly Mound

13:25

14:25

19

148. 

XX (***)

Five performers use an algorithm to decide who will play whom in a series of ten duets, and which monologue each will do about love and relationships.  Not surprisingly, there was no flow to the scenes, and the play was just a mess.

Paradise in the Vault

18:55

19:45

28

149. 

Revolt.  She Said.  Revolt Again (***)

This uneven show addresses revolution in many spheres of life.  The chaotic approach was fitting for a revolution, but also meant much made little sense.  However, both the initial scene that had a man and a woman try to describe their sexual plans in politically correct ways, and a later scene of a woman simply asking for Mondays off, were both great.

Traverse

varies

varies

16

On the Conditions and Possibilities of Hillary Clinton Taking Me as Her Young Lover (***)

A young fellow presents a whimsical, but weak PowerPoint presentation argument based on the title. 

Summerhall

13:05

14:05

14

150. 

Denton and Me (***)

A family friend of actor/playwright Sam Rowe gives him the fictionalized autobiography of the writer Denton Welch and is deeply influenced by his life and writing style.  Though at times beautiful, the slow progress of the plot combined with the lousy acoustics of the Anatomy Lecture Theatre made it difficult for me to keep awake.  There was flash in a tea cup that I never did understand.

Summerhall

15:05

116:20

10

151. 

Ada/Ava by Manual Cinema (***)

A multimedia presentation of a woman who must deal with the death of sister with whom she lives in a remote house.  The dark story is accompanied by a cello and guitar that provide an unrelenting somber tone to the play that put me to sleep with its monotone.

Underbelly Potterrow

16:00

17:00

8

152. 

Camille (***)

This story of the sculptress Camille Claudel was just too sparse and arty for me.

Summerhall

21:10

22:00

15

153. 

Troika (***)

This is composed ten vignettes of sexual pairings with each using one person from the previous pair until the last contains one from the first.  This version is updated from the original using modern situations and less overt sexual situations.  The updates are interesting, but the tale loses some of its power without the raw equivalence that sex provides.

Space Triplex

11:40

12:30

5

154. 

Partial Nudity (***)

A cocky amateur male stripper shares a dressing room with a dismissive female professional stripper.  After seeing “Nicole Henriksen is Makin’ It Rain,” this comes across as quite shallow.

Zoo

19:55

20:45

15

155. 

Mr. Kingdom’s Queen Victoria (***)

Before assuming the title role, Kingdom admits that he could not get a handle on how to make the play, and the play reflects that.  There is no thread to connect his chaotic presentation of the monarch. 

Assembly Mound

16:15

17:30

12

156. 

Immaculate (***)

A woman discovers that she is pregnant even though she thinks she has not had sex for a year.  She ends up having to deal with archangel Gabriel arguing with Lucifer, her former lover and his girlfriend.    

C Nova

21:35

22:35

5

157. 

The Auld Alliance (***)

Just before the Battle of Waterloo, a French ship runs aground off the Fife coast, and the households nearby must deal with its survivor while searching for a chest of gold.

Mayfield Salisbury Church

19:45

22:05

8

158. 

Tristram Shandy: Live at Scotland (***)

The character created by Laurence Sterne in the middle 18th century, presents his life to a TV interviewer utilizing a large acting company.  This farce did not work well for me because I had not read the books, and therefore the many allusions to the novels were lost on me.  This one big inside joke that should be skipped unless you have read the books.

C Nova

21:35

22:45

18

159. 

Parish F?te-ality: A Game of Scones (***)

Farce about a priest trying to take over the world by murdering a town.

C

19:30

20:30

26

160. 

I, Who Have Hands More Innocent (***)

A woman recites selections of poetry in written by a Croatian in the 20th century that reflect her inferior position within that society.  Because she recited in Croatian, we had to read supertitles that were, at times, faster than I could read.  When she switched to perfect English for the last stanza, I wondered why she had not used English throughout—the sounds of Croatian are not exceptionally pleasing.

Zoo

19:25

20:35

17

161. 

Heads Up (***)

A man sits at a desk and shifts between the lives of four characters as global change alters many lives.  This was just too dense, and confusing for me.  Tim liked it though.

Summerhall

19:05

20:05

16

162. 

Love for Sale (***)

Accompanied by a pianist, Kelly Burke portrays a World War II chanteuse sings a seemingly endless medley of songs of drudgery.  Her voice and the song selection lack range, and become boring quickly.

Assembly Mound

17:45

18:45

14

163. 

Krapp 39 (***)

Actor obsessing about become 39.

Pleasance Courtyard

11:30

12:40

25

164. 

Echoes (***)

Nine years after he leaves, a husband who returns to see his young daughter finds his path blocked by her strange mother.  The story reveals the state of the dysfunctional marriage well, but devolves into an ill-founded horror show after that.

Zoo

21:00

21:55

17

165. 

Be Prepared (**)

A chaotic mish mash of man dealing with the death of his father at a funeral

Underbelly Cowgate

15:20

16:20

26

166. 

Sweet Child of Mine (**)

A 32-year old Australian tells of her pursuit of art through a mixture of videos of her parents talking to her, dance, and spoken word.  Her father had toured with her for the past year, but told her only two weeks ago that he could not join her on stage in Edinburgh.  Even had her father been with her, this would have still been a very self-centered show, though arty.

Gilded Balloon Te6viot

13:45

14:45

3

167. 

Just by Ali Smith (**)

A policeman arrests a girl as she is about to remove an umbrella from the back of a murder victim.  From the production design to the script to the plot to the acting this is mediocre high school play at best.  Don’t bother unless you are relative of the cast.

Assembly George Square

13:45

14:45

20

168. 

OwlTime (**)

Contrary to the Fringe catalog description, this show has a man who really cannot dress himself presenting a disorganized argument about the ills of the world.  The actor is sincere, but seems not quite all there.

C nova

20:15

21:15

14

169. 

Lucy McCormick: Triple Threat (**)

It seems like the goal of the show was to see how much gratuitous sex and food mess can be used in the portrayal of the life of Jesus.  She interprets his anointing with oil by smearing mayonnaise on her body, has a male dancer/angel smear Nutella around her mouth before snogging and humping Judas, and lifts her leg so the audience can have a clear view of her repeatedly thrusting Doubting Thomas’ fingers into her vagina to prove her Jesus has nail holes.  I suppose she achieved her goal, but it seems like a waste of her talents.

Underbelly Cowgate

20:10

21:10

13

170. 

MacBain (*)

Courtney Love interviews her heroin addicted rock star husband Kurt Cobain, and then they provide their rendition of Macbeth.  Though we often hear Shakespeare’s words, their roles as Macbeth and his Lady hide with beauty with a lack of conviction and druggy hallucinations and rants.  Though Macbeth is touchstone, the rambling, repetitive incoherence seemed interminable after just a half hour of its one and half hours!

Summerhall

20:55

22:10

3

171. 

Skrimshanks (*)

Two buffoons guide ten entering audience members onto the stage, and then leave them standing there for the whole hour while making fun of them.  This was the most mean spirited show I have seen in years because they belittle people who were not even volunteers for such abuse.  In the show I attended, they brow beat a meek fellow into throwing away his collection of flyers and then smeared lipstick on his forehead.

Assembly George Square

22:30

23:30

17

 

I am a 63-year old Computer Science lecturer from the University of California in Davis who thinks even a bad play is better than no play at all.  I have been to the Fringe eleven times before.  Twelve years ago, after two weeks touring France, my wife and I spent nine days of our honeymoon at the Fringe.  We shared 45 plays, and I attended ten other events besides.  In 2005, I fulfilled a dream of seeing an entire Fringe Festival.  Since then, I have been here for the whole Fringe every year except 2007.  I have learned to devote most days to only one venue to maximize the number of performances I can see.  I expect this year to be similar to last—many performances, and many new friends.

 

After attending more than 1000 performances, I have a much better idea of my biases and prejudices in the role of a critic.  To limit my analyzing shows during their performances as much as possible, I have intentionally avoided any training in criticism and the dramatic arts, both formal and informal.  I find that I prefer fact to fiction, innovation to repetition, coherence to creativity, the concrete to the symbolic, and cleverness to depth.  I realize that many of these are antithetical to the spirit of the Fringe, but I cannot deny my nature.  In particular, I just do not like shows that push the bounds of creativity beyond my ability to make sense of them.  Because I choose to fill time slots with whatever is available, I still expose myself to such shows, and do not mind.  However, I do feel a little guilty giving a low rating to a show on which a company has worked so hard, and with such commitment.  Nevertheless, I envision that that is my role—to accurately report my enjoyment so that others may better use my ratings.  In all but a very few cases, I admire the effort of each company, and wish them well.

 

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