15 Reviews for 2021 the Edinburgh Fringe (In order from most enjoyable to least)


Welcome to the 2021 version of my Fringe reviews.   This year is unlike any previous year because I have created the bulk of my schedule before I have even arrived in Edinburgh.  You can see my schedule at 2021 schedule.   Because I won’t have to spend as much time planning my schedule during the Fringe, I hope to have the time to write my traditional three sentence reviews for all the shows I see.  In general, the theater offerings at the Fringe this year are weaker than other years.  In order to maintain consistency of my ratings across the years, I will only give rating above three stars for show that are extraordinary in some way when judged against the shows of the previous years.  A three star rating is not a condemnation, and just indicates that the show had provided normal enjoyment for me. show.  Nonetheless, I have no desire to hurt the feelings of the brave people who made the effort to put on shows this year.  So I will only be posting reviews of the better shows to edfringe.com.

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 171 reviews for 2019 Fringe, 177 reviews for 2018 Fringe, 151 reviews for 2017 Fringe, 171 reviews for 2016 Fringe, 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.

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 on the right so that returning viewers can sort by it to see my most recent reviews.


Fringe Festival Reviews









A Play, A Pie, and A Pint - Chic Murray: A Funny Place for a Window (****)

The cast of three portray episodes from the lives of the comedian and his originally more famous song and dance wife while accompanying the play with a piano and an occasional accordion.  I had never heard of Chic Murray, but still found his story, and frequent examples of his 1950s humor interesting and funny.  But its been two years since I have had to decipher a Scottish brogue, and I missed quite a few of his lines.






When the World Stood Still (****)

A keyboardist and a delightful storyteller who plays a fiddle, recorder, banjo, and accordion, perform her original Celtic melodies and Scottish airs interspersed with tales from completely renovating their old, cold, wet house on the Isle of Lewis during lockdown.  The source of inspiration for her tunes range from the sea and the sky to grandchildren and celebrations, and their tempos vary accordingly.  Her tales resonate with a rough, rural life permeated with a love of nature, family and friends.

theSpace @ Symposium Hall





Carole King and James Taylor Story (***)

A pianist and guitarist sign well known songs from the famous pair, each with a short introduction describing the events of their lives surrounding the songs.   The patter is well crafted, and they both had fine voices, with his guitar work rivalled Taylor’s.  My problem was that only once did the timbre of her voice match that of King’s.

theSpace @ Symposium Hall





Miss Lindsay’s Secret (***)

Scottish Storytelling Centre





Slings and Arrows (***)

A cast of mentally disabled people tell the tale of one trouble woman’s life.  Even though the whole production had the feel of a elementary school production, with missed lines, and awkward entrances and exits, I couldn’t help but appreciate the sincerity of their efforts.  I admire their bravery in challenging themselves to perform in front of an audience, and making an effort overcome their disabilities.

theSpace @ Surgeons Hall





Eight Hundred Dollar Value

theSpace @ Symposium Hall





Somebody Special – The Aca-Betrayal (***)

theSpace@Surgeons Hall





You're My Jury (***)

theSpace @ Symposium Hall





Return of Sherlock Holmes (***)

Sherlock returns after his “death” at Reichenbach Falls, to solve a murder and prevent one with the help of Doctor Watson.  Both Debbie and I nodded off during this dark, slow piece.  Sherlock made his requisite keen observations and leaps of reason, but I never felt a sense of urgency or danger.

Gilded Balloon Teviot





Fear of Roses (***)

A self-centered manager carelessly orders around her former classmate who is now her assistant.  The flimsy plot had some twists, but the whole play lacked the necessary realism to have me care about either of them.  In particular, a heinous crime seemed unjustified, and was dismissed with a quick blackout.

Assembly Roxy





Burnt Out (***)

Roxy Theater





Bank Job (***)

theSpace @ Symposium Hall





Trust Me, I was a BBC Doctor (**)

theSpace@Surgeons Hall





Tick Tick (**)

theSpace @ Symposium Hall





Friend (The One With Gunther) (**)

The café owner from “Friends” complains about his unrequited love for Rachel while going through all ten seasons of the TV show.  While I was amazed by the energy the actor put into this manic acid trip of a review, it had little to offer me because I had not watched the show.  On the other hand, since most of the audience were fans, they seemed to enjoy all his quick references, and may given him four stars.

Pleasance at EICC





I am a 68-year old retired 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 fourteen times before.   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, and 2020.  I have learned to devote most days to only venues that are close to each other 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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