223 Reviews for the 2023 Edinburgh Fringe (In order from most enjoyable to least)

 

Welcome to the 2023 version of my Fringe reviews.  I am a 70-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.   You can see my schedule at 2023 Schedule.htm.  You can find out about me, and my extended thoughts about reviewing at the bottom of this page. 

This year I found that “Strategic Love Play” and “Scherzo” were both my favorite plays because they appealed to me in different ways.  So, I ranked both of them as #1. 

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.  Sorting by the Date column on the right allows returning viewers to see my most recent reviews.

Fringe Festival Reviews

 

Rank

Review

Venue

Begins

Ends

Date

              1.        

Strategic Love Play (*****)

A man who is all about pleasing has a first date with a confrontational woman who demands honesty.  As the title suggests, their date is a series of pointed verbal battles as they try to different approaches to find a lasting resolution.  While she is given the bulk of biting logic lines, he gets those based on emotional social experience, with the final result surprisingly satisfying.

ROUNDABOUT @ Summerhall

17:20

18:30

18

              1.        

Scherzo (*****)

Five multi-talented musicians play every imaginable instrument in a compilation of antics that amazes the audience with their diversity.  From a pair parroting the Marx Brothers mirror scene to a all five doing a rhythmic dance routine using plastic cups to tap dancing with an array of footwear everything is superbly executed.  Their creativity and skill is a wonder to behold.

Pleasance Courtyard

15:10

16:10

24

              3.        

In Loyal Company (*****)

After the blitz of Liverpool, a young man joins the army, fights in Singapore, and becomes a Japanese POW in a “Bridge Over the River Kwai” camp building a railroad in Thailand.  The actor proves up to the task of blending the roles of the soldier, narrator, and a few secondary characters into a powerful whole.  While the privations of the POW camp take up much of the play, it is his tales of the air attacks on his transport that stand out for me.

Pleasance Courtyard

13:30

14:40

7

              4.        

Mirandolina (*****)

This updated version of the 18th century Italian play has smart, beautiful innkeeper manipulating two older suitors and a misogynist to teach each a lesson.  I marveled at how each male character has a comedic touch without going too far toward farce for me, and the innkeeper was sexy and sly without coming across as conniving.  We remain on her side throughout as she deftly keeps her roomers interested but unrequited.

Hill Street Theatre

10:00

11:30

16

              5.        

England & Son (*****)

Mark Thomas plays a bum accused of killing a man recounts his life with a hard father, lovely foster mother, and tough best friend.  Thomas maintains a consistent character as he move from hard to soft to hard environments.  His early ad hoc quips broke the fourth wall which was fun, and then they stopped as we are drawn into the taut story.

ROUNDABOUT @ Summerhall

13:10

14:10

18

              6.        

Deuteronomy (*****)

A beggar sitting on the side of a remote road has a series of philosophical arguments with a dirty man pulling a coffin.  For someone like me, who loves debating, their aimless arguments with their many logical parries and thrusts were a delight.  I loved watching their intellectual and emotional relationship grow from what was clearly one sided to become that of respected equals. 

ZOO Southside

21:25

22:15

7

              7.        

Standard Short Long Drop (*****)

In the 1880s, a young horse thief, and older, thoughtful man are on death row not knowing what day they will be hanged.  The naivete of the illiterate thief serves the play well as it invites his world weary cellmate to voice his criticism of the penal and industrial systems of that time.  He even receives a book by an executioner that he reads out loud that describes the three ways to hang a man, including the “standard short long drop”.

theSpaceTriplex

18:15

19:05

21

              8.        

Four (*****)

The manager of a veteran string quartet made up of older men finds a female Julliard grad student to replace a departed first violin player.  What a wonderful mix of short musical excerpts and vignettes exposing the strains and joys of having a new member.  It was interesting to see how well the show functioned with only two real musicians.

Gilded Balloon Teviot

12:45

13:45

14

              9.        

A Year and a Day (*****)

After a young Irish thief is struck by an alien particle that makes each of his days a year later for the rest of the world, he must learn to cope with his fellow thieves and lover.  This tale is not for every everyone, but I loved how the story deftly explores the ramifications of this curse.  Though there was no set, his straightforward acting easily allowed me to picture each scene.

theSpace on the Mile

21:15

22:05

4

             10.       

Breaking the Castle (*****)

As an Aussie drug addict goes through rehabilitation in Malaysia he recounts both his experiences with drugs and the family life that led him to drugs.  The actor is facile with accents to differentiate a whole host of characters with every description firmly grounded in reality.  I left feeling that his sister’s ailment confused the story, but in hindsight I realize that there often would be many factors that would contribute to a life path to drugs.

Assembly Rooms

10:50

12:05

4

             11.       

ADULTS (*****)

A teacher visits a brothel for his first time, and must deal with a former student, a baby, his sexual identity, and learning what he really needs.  The play gives each of the three characters time to flesh out their own, unique concerns, both personal and professional.  While I liked the play yesterday, it was only this morning that I realized how wonderfully constructed and balanced it was, with no wasted time.

Traverse Theatre

16:00

17:15

9

             12.       

1984 (*****)

The play brings Orwell’s dystopia to life with all its terror, trysts, and demands for psychological fealty.  With sparing use of videos, the three actors keep Winston’s life hopeless and isolated the way I still remember the whole book 50 years later.  The torture scene where he must see five fingers when there are four epitomized was perfectly wrought.

Assembly Roxy

18:55

20:05

20

             13.       

Appraisal (*****)

When the competent head of a department meets with her pedantic HR supervisor for her yearly review, the meeting does not go as she expected.  The meeting evolves at a properly slow pace that demonstrates her strengths and his weaknesses.  I must admit that part of my enjoyment of the play derived from her catching him lying and misspeaking. 

Assembly George Square Studios

11:35

12:35

3

             14.       

Strays (*****)

During a worldwide zombie epidemic, four young men who have been hiding in a secure basement for a year must deal with someone stealing from their locked storeroom outside their house.  This has less to do with zombies, and more about the interactions between the four after being cooped up with each other.  With a violent leader, a weak younger brother, a fellow with a secret, and a big caring fourth guy, the play has plenty of opportunities for interesting character development.

theSpace on the Mile

15:40

16:50

5

             15.       

Oat Milk & Honey (*****)

A keyboardist and a gymnast/contortionist collaborate to create a blend of music attuned to her movements.  As she rolls, stretches, and twists his music punctuates and/or swoops.  Sometimes she would entwine herself around him, and other times she would treat him as a catatonic puppet that she would move with her body parts.

Summerhall

10:00

11:00

18

             16.       

Bill's 44th (*****)

Bill is a two-person mute puppet who finds that, despite all his preparations, no one shows up for his birthday party.  Amidst all the Fringe drama, this is a welcome venture into well executed creative silliness.  Just when you think they have exhausted the concept, another joyous event occurs—maybe a simple carrot stick!

Underbelly, Cowgate

20:35

21:35

20

             17.       

Everything Under the Sun (****)

A British U.N. peace keeper is sent on a mission to a remote base across the Sahara in Mali with an native interpreter who helps her better understand how the locals (and many other Africans) think about peace keepers.  The pair confront situations that demonstrate how they care for Mali, but can be frustrated.  The disturbing decision by the U.N. to leave Mali in June, and be replaced by the Russian Wagner mercenary group makes this tale all the more relevant, and heartbreaking.

Army @ The Fringe

18:45

20:00

16

             18.       

Brief Candle (****)

A 15-year old girl tells of life in the 4-level vaults under the Edinburgh South Bridge where hundreds of people lived before the three-day fire in 1824.  She does a wonderful job of conveying what life would be like when your family lives in total darkness without candles, and doesn’t see the sun for months at a time.  The necessity of using a rope to get to her level really struck me.

theSpace @ Surgeons Hall

21:20

22:05

17

             19.       

James Rowland: Piece of Work (****)

The easy going Rowland tells of his younger brother’s life of wandering around the world, and of Rowland visiting the places of his childhood.  Rowland is a sweet man, and his stories are bathed in a love of people and place.  His use of a homemade map of a hamlet of his childhood lent a sense of a simpler time that reminded me of my father’s childhood in the 1910s.

Summerhall

18:00

19:10

24

             20.       

Locusts (****)

A gay man must deal with a his former pastor who had tried to convert his sexuality.  This four-hander delicately deals with this topic in a way that allows each character a chance to express their motivation and emotional states without being preachy.  The Christian protagonist does a great job of being tender, and conflicted.

theSpace @ Surgeons Hall

19:35

20:25

24

             21.       

Soldiers of Tomorrow (****)

An Israeli ex-pat who fulfilled his obligatory service in the Israeli army tells of his experiences there, and his take on the Israeli/Arab relationship and history.  His experiences in boot camp and on patrol demonstrated both the danger and tests of morality for Israeli soldiers.  I was touched by his regret that by aiming his rifle at a Lebanese child he may have caused deep psychological damage.

Summerhall

14:50

15:50

23

             22.       

OommoO (****)

Lulu creates wonderful music with catchy rhythms using looping, a computer, and her pure voice.  She brings her exuberance to every piece and her comments.  My ears couldn’t handle the constant reverb that interfered with understanding her words, hence the four stars, but the crowd would give her 5 stars.

Summerhall

16:15

17:15

23

             23.       

Grandfathers (****)

These excerpts from army boot camp demonstrated how eight recruits are prepared physically, socially, and psychologically to be a fighting unit.  The initial battle justifies their training by showing us a situation that may lie in their future.  While their physical training is obviously needed, the examples of team building, both official and incidental are well chosen.

Hill Street Theatre

12:00

13:00

21

             24.       

Paddy Englishman, Paddy Irishman and Paddy...? (****)

What starts out as a typical frat house buddy story, complete with a mislead cute woman, takes a turn into a exploration of hard choices as the IRA interrupts their carefree lives.   The fact that they are such close friends allows the story to spend less time on polemics, and more on decisions based on individual lives.  While initially she seemed like fluffy eye candy, the woman becomes an integral part of the whole conundrum.

Paradise in The Vault

22:30

23:45

4

             25.       

Groomed (****)

Accompanied by a saxophonist who provides little breaks, a man explores pedophilic grooming initially by taking on the role of a sly primary school teacher.  His manipulation of a child’s mother was a wicked reminder how insidious such people can be.  The section in which he has his pedophile defends himself by placing the blame on society weakens the power of the play. 

Pleasance Dome

13:30

14:30

12

             26.       

Irrepressible (****)

This musical has a modern day journalist commissioned by Lady Hamilton to return to the 1700s to watch her life so the journalist can write an article to correct the poor public opinion of Nelson’s lover.  The show does portray her as having been a prostitute early in her life, but justifies the choice as reasonable for poor, pretty, single woman at the time, and argues that she should not be judged by modern standards.  The music was tuneful, the lyrics clear, appropriate, and occasionally witty, and most of the singing was strong, particularly that of Lady Hamilton.

theSpace@Niddry

15:15

16:25

14

             27.       

Manchester Anthem (****)

An actor depicts the night a working class Manchester fellow celebrates being accepted to Oxford by sharing a beer with his close friends, and then attending an upper class party with some classmates.  The show provides a good comparison of the different British social strata while avoiding being too judgmental of the upper class.  The dance scene at a club when he finally accepts the gentry is particularly effective.

Pleasance Courtyard

19:50

20:50

8

             28.       

Perfectly Average Glimpse into a Perfectly Average Day (****)

This show is composed of five independent solo plays: a best man savages his abusive father; a swimming instructor bemoans not receiving credit for her student’s Olympic gold medal; an actor worries about his audition, and is jealous of his former girlfriends success; a neighbor peeping tom has an odd relationship with his neighbors; and a young woman escapes her strict Baptist parents for a wild night out.  The acting is top notch, and the stories well written.  This seems to be a dramatic version of comedic Bite-Size Breakfast shows.

ZOO Playground

20:35

21:35

27

             29.       

Burning Down The Horse (****)

Odysseus has to deal with a revolt inside the Trojan Horse.  From the imperious Odysseus to the carpenter strike leader to drunk without a sword, each of the six characters spread throughout the room contribute to the plot and fun.  I was called upon as a drunkard,  and I generally find audience participation a waste of valuable comedic time, in this case it took less than a minute, was funny, and served the purposes of the plot well.

Pleasance Courtyard

13:05

14:05

10

             30.       

Brief Life & Mysterious Death of Boris III, King of Bulgaria (****)

In 1943, the king of unoccupied Bulgaria had to capitulate to Nazi pressure to deport its Jews to concentration camps in Poland.  Interspersed with songs, the show portrays the efforts of the humane king to minimize, but not stop the killing of Jews.  The character of the king is beautifully portrayed as good man placed in an untenable situation forced to appear antisemitic, however the actor playing his prime minister yells constantly in an ill-considered attempt to lampoon Hitler.

Pleasance Dome

17:20

18:30

20

             31.       

Let the Bodies Pile by Henry Naylor (****)

During the height of the Covid pandemic, after suspecting that her brother had their mother euthanized, a nurse is confronted with ethical situations at her hospital.  The play does a good job of highlighting the subtle problems caused by a shortage of funding for the NHS.  In particular, the system puts her in an untenable situation where she either endangers one person or endangers many.

Gilded Balloon Teviot

16:00

17:00

28

             32.       

Shadows of Angels (****)

Set in 1930s Melbourne, this play follows four chronologically sequential characters through one day starting with a policewoman investigating an old woman abortionist.  Each character is finely drawn, and their lives portray different aspects of the dingy side of Melbourne.  I loved it until the final plot twist that didn’t make sense to me.

Greenside @ Infirmary Street

21:00

22:00

19

             33.       

Rewind (****)

This show honors the Latin American human rights activists that have been murdered, and the forensic anthropologists who exhume their bodies from unmarked graves and work to identify them.  With the initial looped soundtrack and blackouts, I thought it was going to be just another chaotic devised piece, but instead this is a well planned piece that alternates between the procedural path of bones found, and life of one victim.  The guitar and trumpet serve the piece well both during a lively dance, and as a solemn  requiem at a mausoleum for the victims.

Summerhall

11:40

12:40

23

             34.       

Collie's Shed (****)

Four old men each has a different view of the long, violent, unsuccessful coal miner’s strike in their town forty years ago.  The play wisely uses four younger men to recreate the events of the strike, but it took a while to figure out who was who in the past.  The play does a good job juxtaposing loyalty to the group with loyalty to family, and the realization that coal mining was economically doomed.

Gilded Balloon Patter Hoose

13:15

14:15

19

             35.       

Interrogation (****)

An experienced detective is assigned to do her first solo interrogation in a serial murder case.  The suspect is a cool customer, and many of her ploys fall flat.  The tension is enhanced by having a video screen above the stage that an off-stage director uses to switch between five cameras, including two under the table showing their hands when in their laps, to show their more subtle reactions.

Summerhall

22:20

23:20

23

             36.       

Ice Hole: A Cardboard Comedy (****)

A seemingly Icelandic man who speaks gibberish lives in our world except that it is represented almost entirely by cardboard objects manipulated by another hard working fellow.  As the protagonist searches for the mermaid he has saved we are treated to a panoply of cardboard objects running from clothing to stores to clods, and anything else you could imagine.  The show has a number of running gags that are funny at first, but by the fourth time they weren’t, so the show would benefit from cutting about 10 minutes of them.

Pleasance Courtyard

13:00

14:15

26

             37.       

Out of the Blue (****)

The twelve guys from Oxford are back with the great harmonies and fun choreography.  I didn’t enjoy the song selection as much as I usually do, and I was disappointed that they left out the traditional “The Lion Sleeps Tonight.”  I did enjoy the return of the battle between their vocal percussionist and their tap dancer, but was surprised that they didn’t mention that this was the last concert for this group of men.

Assembly - George Square

14:30

15:30

28

             38.       

Maureen (****)

A fellow plays a feisty 92-year old woman who regales us with tales from her life.  As much as anything this a tale about a remarkable approach to life that won her many friends.  He does a remarkable job of transforming into her right before our eyes with a minimal costume change, but a completely different, scratchy voice, accompanied with aged movements.

House of Oz

14:30

15:50

25

             39.       

Ed Byrne: Tragedy Plus Time (****)

The comedian decided that rather than talk about his children again he would talk about having his younger brother die last year.  True to form he finds ways to honor his brother while mining his life for humor.  There is pathos in that they didn’t speak for a year, but they reconciled in time for Ed to make a foolish, but loving, mistake at his deathbed.

Assembly Rooms

21:30

22:30

21

             40.       

Ginzel's Little Cordoba: A Double Bill (****)

This show has two independent stories: a story about two young thieves in 1522 venturing to London who cheat and steal all the time; and a modern story of a singer and a pianist who discuss their dissatisfaction with their jobs.  I had a coffee, to which I am quite sensitive, so my enjoyment of putting together a perceived puzzle of quick cuts may well be its product.  Nonetheless, the shared comradery of the two young men in both plays immensely warmed my heart.

theSpace @ Surgeons Hall

21:10

22:00

6

             41.       

Paved with Gold and Ashes (****)

We get a taste of the lives of five young immigrant women who work running sewing machines in a 1911 garment factory before its horrendous fire.  Even though two are sisters, each life outside the factory is quite different from the others, and allows the play to provide an expansive view of life as a poor immigrant in New York City.  Since the fire is the source of inspiration for this play, it was gratifying to see how they could provide many of its details within the framework of the play.

Greenside @ Infirmary Street

18:40

19:30

25

             42.       

Kerouac: And All That Jazz (****)

With jazz music from the 1950s in playing in the background, the Beat Generation poet/novelist Jack Kerouac repeatedly visits his literary friends and their women.  The show does a good job of recreating his life style with its open relationships, its music, his ever supportive mother, their shared literary approach, and his never ending search for life.  Throughout the piece the cast occasionally reads his current work to maintain its literary atmosphere.

Greenside @ Riddles Court

15:00

15:55

12

             43.       

The Big Bite-Size Breakfast, Menu 1 (****) This show has five sketches: their boss pits two office workers against each other for a single promotion; the ghost of her lover watches a woman meet a new man; two sisters, one married and one single, prepare for night clubbing together; a nerd calculates all the possible outcomes from his meeting with a romantic interest; and two environmental protesters glue themselves to the stage of the wrong building.  With five instead of six sketches some of these stories have a chance to delve deeper, and have a richer comedy.  I think my favorite sketch from the three menus is this menu’s promotion battle because it has time for several plot twists.

Pleasance Courtyard

10:20

11:30

8

             44.       

NASSIM (****)

This day Christopher Eccleston was the actor who took on the task of performing a script alone without having seen it before.  I shan’t give away anything more about the play except to say that we all learned a little Farsi.  The play is fun, not just a little because Eccleston is good natured, and a good sport.

Traverse Theatre

10:00

11:15

22

             45.       

It's a Woman's World (****)

This show follows three movie actresses, a 15-year old ingenue, a 29-year old who as aged out of her youthful roles, and a dancer as they try to renew their contracts with Louis B. Mayer of MGM in the 1930s.  Because each is at a different point in their careers the play can demonstrate how each woman was abused differently by the system.  I love old movies, and this story resonates with the Golden Age, except that the reporter uses a handheld recorder!

theSpaceTriplex

14:05

14:55

14

             46.       

The Big Bite-Size Breakfast, Menu 3 (****)

This show has six sketches: a husband reminds his wife of their anniversary; a husband likes counting events; jealousy pervades a lunch; a bike deliveryman has some bad news; a woman sees an ornithologist about her strange arm; and a bored couple go to extremes to overcome it.  Each of these work well, and find humor even in dark situations.  I was impressed that all of the actors could project enough to reach the back of the packed room without seeming to be shouting.

Pleasance Courtyard

10:20

11:30

7

             47.       

Asexuality! (****)

Robert’s tale of his life as an asexual man who must endure a society obsessed with sex caught my heart.  His use of a pre-recorded video of three versions of himself as advisors seemed trite at first, but was used to great effect.  I was impressed how he was careful to ensure that his recent revelation did not diminish the message of acceptance of his piece.

Gilded Balloon Patter Hoose

23:00

0:15

7

             48.       

Five Short Plays Loosely Linked by the Theme of Crime  (****)

A trio present comedic plays about: bandits splitting the loot; a married couple sailing in a small boat to Cuba; a polite novice loan shark debt collector having to collect from an old school mate; an anxious gay couple preparing to rob a bank; and an extortionist and his simpleton enforcer trying to threaten a pub owner.  Each is well done, and humorous in parts, with the final blackouts very well timed.  This reminds me of the very professional Big Bite-Size Breakfast shows, but without the croissants.

Greenside @ Riddles Court

10:25

11:20

17

             49.       

Olga Koch: Prawn Cocktail (****)

For my first show of the Fringe, Olga was all that a 70-year-old would expect from a 30-year-old single comedienne.  Though she often used modern references that eluded me, she presented a witty, well-rehearsed, consistently funny routine focused on her dating adventures with a frequent sexual slant.  Unique to her show is her humorous discussion of her Master’s thesis that asserts that people now treat celebrities as friends because the celebrities reveal parts of their lives on social media that previously only their real friends would be privy to.

Monkey Barrel Comedy

19:35

20:35

-31

             50.       

SCOTS (****)

A proud Scottish toilet spills forth a cast that celebrates the history of Scotland with cheery songs and whimsical testimonies to the achievements of Scottish women, and Scottish liberalism.  The talented cast takes on a huge array of characters easily to maintain the fun throughout.  The first character out of the toilet is that toilet itself played by a tall, lean guy doing a great imitation of Jim Carey as he lauds Scottish plumbing and attends to the rest of the cast.

Ghillie Dhu - Auditorium

13:00

14:00

16

             51.       

Jacob Storms' Tennessee Rising: The Dawn of Tennessee Williams (****)

A slick haired actor assumes the role of Tennessee Williams relating his life story.  His Southern drawl and eloquence along with the fairly chronological presentation gave me a satisfying sense of the playwright’s life.  It was fun how he would occasionally speak of someone he met that later would appear as a character in one his plays without ever alluding to that fact.

Assembly Rooms

17:05

18:05

4

             52.       

Baron and the Junk Dealer (****)

After their passenger spaceship crashes, a man and an alien with an elephant’s nose marooned on a planet learn how to deal with each other to promote their survival.   A variety of situations allow this play to blend humor and drama in a touching way while leading to a striking revelation.  A bottle of piss is a nice prop that serves both as a focus for their conversation and to reinforce the aura of an alien situation.

Assembly Roxy

17:55

18:55

2

             53.       

Gold! (****)

A loving senior couple must deal with an expensive bridezilla for a daughter, and his criminal past.  I was recently married, and I must admit that I reveled in the couple’s playful love instead of laughing at such antics as I would have before discovering Debbie.  Despite the added danger, the way they deal with their financial problem was fun and light hearted, but a Las Vegas wedding flashback unnecessarily disrupts the continuity and feeling of danger of the show.

theSpace on the Mile

20:15

21:05

5

             54.       

Île (****)

This light show has a young woman choosing to spend her gap year at her mother’s small homeland island in Mauritius to try to escape her battles with her mom, and relax.  The personable girl enjoys imitating the various animals of the island, and rejoices in learning about her inbred relatives and their odd ways.  From plucking roadkill to having two-week old corpses in family photos her stories are certainly fun to hear.

 

Pleasance Courtyard

11:35

12:35

19

             55.       

The Man Who Thought He Knew Too Much (****) A French ad copyrighter who works in New York City suddenly becomes a secret agent when his office is blown up.  From there, like in many modern spy movies, he roams around the world, and repeatedly encounters a woman in red.  His gymnastics and the show’s creative physical theater are wonderful, but the show could have one locale cut with nothing novel lost.

Pleasance Courtyard

12:10

13:20

8

             56.       

Tragedy That Befalls the Dastardly Crew of the Kakapo (****)

I rarely find farces funny, and maybe my cup of coffee had something to do with it, but I could somehow accept this goofy tale of an incompetent pirate captain and his crew of three misfits who steal a gold chest from the king of pirates and then pursed by him.  The mix of quirky personalities and absurd antics worked well together.  I was impressed when there was the addition of a female pirate the sexual talk was minimal.

theSpace @ Surgeons Hall

22:15

23:30

6

             57.       

Planetarium Lates: Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon (****)

I had imagined that this would be some laser light show, but instead found a 2023 animation that was combination of the first visit to the moon and a psychedelic trip.  It was well done, and the music has held up over time.  There is one scene of an approaching sandstorm that had me on the edge of my very comfortable seat.

Dynamic Earth-Planetarium

20:30

21:30

1

             58.       

Lash    A Pulsating New Play About Going Out! (****)

A 19-year-old fellow presents a lyrical description of his one night of clubbing that changed his life.  The conveys his youthful enthusiasm by occasionally bounding about the room while continuing to paint word pictures of the club scene with occasional rhymes that resonate with rap music.  His painting subtly prepares us to accept the events that lead to his revelation.

Pleasance Courtyard

23:00

23:50

2

             59.       

Mythos: Ragnarok (****)

Odin of Norse mythology and his various relations repeatedly wrestle to determine who shall rule the nine worlds.  While I would have never attended a WWW professional wrestling match, I am so happy I was exposed to the skill of these people live.  I was amazed at how a huge man (or woman) can be thrown from great heights without harming them, the thrower, nor the person they might land on.

Assembly Roxy

21:20

22:30

2

             60.       

After the Act (A Section 28 Musical) (****)

Using verbatim texts as sources, four actors backed by two musicians explore the impact of Section 28 of 1988 which prohibited the promotion of homosexuality by local authorities, particularly schools.  They chose the stories well so that covered legal, political, and personal ramifications.  Most touching was a teacher who had to shun a student asking questions about her sexuality for fear of losing her job.

Traverse Theatre

13:00

14:30

11

             61.       

JM Coetzee's Life & Times of Michael K

Three men control a ¾ size puppet of South African man to tell his story from birth to youth to a quest with his puppet mother to his death.  I marveled at how the puppet came alive to do a variety of activities.  The two hour tale does seem too long with repetitive encounters with violent people.

Assembly Hall

12:00

13:55

17

             62.       

In/Outside: Visible Things (****)

First, she uses a series of half steps to slowly propel a small, 5’ cubicle around the stage in ever smaller squares, then she performs a slow dance, and finally she paints slowly disappearing  calligraphy on a large sheet of paper.  Even though she performs using three modalities, somehow they all fit together as a coherent whole that seemed like a nice, slow, quiet way to start a day.  The swooping of her arms with her fingers curved backwards gave many of her movements a wonderful grace.

C ARTS | C venues | C aquila

11:00

11:45

9

             63.       

Looking for Fun? (****)

A young gay prostitute deals with johns, drugs, HIV, Grindr, and a lack of romance.  From medical appointments to waiting in a client’s room for an Uber to dancing in a club, each is gritty and real.  While I was impressed by his whole performance, the understanding nature of the counselor in the pre-recorded medical clinic really hit home.

Bedlam Theatre

14:00

14:55

6

             64.       

The Good Dad (A Love Story) (****)

A woman plays many family members in a true story about a twin sister who has four children by her father.  This powerful story does a good job of delving into the group denial and personal abuse that allows such things to happen.  The twin sister character demonstrates how even un-abused person can be affected.

theSpace @ Surgeons Hall

21:15

22:05

8

             65.       

Insider (****)

We listen on headphones to what a man inside a plexiglass cube hears as he is being questioned about a tax evasion scheme that cost EU countries 50 billion pounds.  He explains the financial side of the scheme to us well, and clearly re-enacts business and family meetings too.  In hindsight, I realize that the cube and headphones give us a feeling of being virtually trapped like he experiences as he is caught between the police and his scheme superiors.

ZOO Southside

16:30

17:35

12

             66.       

Lie Low (****)

A woman who hasn’t slept in two weeks after being sexually assaulted by a man in a duck mask enlists her brother to help her.  The plot seesaws their trust and mistrust in clever ways.  However, the ambiguity of the final act left me, and others, dissatisfied.

Traverse Theatre

16:00

17:20

3

             67.       

Pieces of Us (***)

A woman assumes five very different American characters to illustrate different takes on American life.  From a defensive West Virginian redneck to a strong daughter of a holocaust survivor to a proud New York City man each is a fine example of their particular characteristic.  I found the story of how a woman’s mother chided  a man for hitting his 4-year old, and then sits calmy through his verbal assault particularly good example of positive modeling.

theSpace @ Surgeons Hall

10:00

10:50

14

             68.       

Beautiful Evil Things (***)

This is a tour de force by the actress who plays Medusa reviewing the powerful women associated with Battle of Troy.  She never stops talking, using a microphone stand as weapons, and making sweeping gestures for the entire 75 minutes, and that’s the problem.  While the range of women, from monster to fighter to queen to soothsayer, is enlightening, the action is non-stop and too loud to the point of being tedious and boring.

Pleasance Dome

15:40

16:55

22

             69.       

The Magic of Terry Prachett (***)

A personable fellow follows the entire life of the author Terry Prachett, and talks a little about some of his key books with the assistance of a large video screen.  While the bulk of the audience were Prachett fans, he tailored the show to be accessible by us ignorant folks.  I was impressed that he arranged to handout free copies of four never before published Prachett short stories, but I was not happy with him running 10 minutes too long.

Gilded Balloon Teviot

17:30

18:30

28

             70.       

Draining the Swamp (***)

This show follows the political career of Oswald Mosely who formed the British Union Fascist party in the early 1930s, and chose to make it anti-Semitic in 1935 to attract more people.  Besides being a tremendous orator, he was quite a philanderer.  The show seems to get some facts wrong by providing a later date for the Jewish policy change, and oversimplifying the Battle of Cable Street.

C ARTS | C venues | C aquila

18:30

19:40

27

             71.       

Psychic Tests (***)

A personable psychic debunker tells how he chose to inhibit his skepticism, and found that psychics do have something to offer to some people.  He has many amusing anecdotes to share, and tells them well.  I appreciated that he left the result of his own visit, in true P.T. Barnum fashion, as a “big reveal” at the end of the show.

C ARTS | C venues | C aquila

15:55

16:45

21

             72.       

Chokeslam (***)

A young woman tells how she came to love pro-wrestling, and then vividly describes famous bouts.  She and her friends hold parties to watch wrestling, and her wedding had a wrestling theme with a ring announcer.  Her enthusiasm is infectious, and her indiscrete confessions surprising.

Paradise in Augustines

22:50

23:35

25

             73.       

Wiesenthal (***)

Simon Wiesenthal, the Nazi hunter, tells of his private efforts to track down Nazi war criminals after the war.  During the show he both tells of the criminal acts of some he caught, and conducts his last investigation over the phone.  The story is powerful, but there are personal touches, like phone calls from his wife that are superfluous and interrupt the flow of the show.

Pleasance Courtyard

11:00

12:10

24

             74.       

Distant Memories of the Near Future (***)

Set in the near future we see TV ads for services that will help you find a compatible lover, and companies that will buy your memories and voice.  The fellow sits and tells stories of searching for love and building several versions of an AI to solve the problem.  The show seems to have too many similar stories, and its final moral seems garbled.

Summerhall

17:45

18:45

23

             75.       

Salty Irina (***)

Two women attempt to solve two murders of immigrant shopkeepers by infiltrating a right-wing festival.  The first half was a mundane amorphous dating dance of little value, but the infiltration really came alive.  The more mild manner woman has just the right amount of hesitancy as they deal with their interrogator.

ROUNDABOUT @ Summerhall

14:30

15:40

18

             76.       

Ctrl Room (***)

Seven of us were ushered into a room with a combat simulation computer (VICTUS), and a map of an hamlet on a table where we must quickly agree among ourselves what actions a group of soldiers there should take at critical moments as the mission proceeds.  The whole set-up works pretty well to give us a feeling of urgency and incomplete information that may confront command and control centers now.  As a fellow who plays untimed strategy games, I definitely felt the time constraint that they enforced, but the amount and timing of information could be improved upon, and a short discussion afterwards would be a great addition.

Army @ The Fringe

20:30

21:30

16

             77.       

Cowboys and Lesbians (***)

Two young women who won’t acknowledge that they are in love with each other concoct a story where one is a rugged cowboy and the other is the woman he is smitten with.  The two actors slide easily between the story and the authors as their cowboy story slowly reveals their love.  It was fun to see the gender changing personality of the cowboy/woman character.

Pleasance Dome

13:35

14:35

15

             78.       

Alan Turing - A Musical Biography (***)

A fellow plays the mathematician and computer scientist Alan Turing, with an actress playing all of the women in his life.  The show does a very good job of revealing his breadth of interests as well as the significant events in his life.  I particularly like how it took the time to explain how the Fibonacci series applies to pine cones.

Paradise in Augustines

10:50

11:55

12

             79.       

Last Bantam (***)

A short World War I soldier tells of the Bantam battalions formed of men from 5’ to 5’ 3” when the UK was in desperate need of recruits.  As a war history buff it was interesting to learn that the German snipers focused on tall English soldiers because they were more often officers, and that the Bantam soldiers were often used in the cramp tanks.  The actor paused after each sentence, which caused the whole show to move at a crawl.

theSpace @ Surgeons Hall

12:15

12:45

25

             80.       

Grand Old Opera House Hotel (***)

A fellow arrives for his first day at work at an old opera house that has been converted into modern hotel full of quirky staff and guests, and maybe the ghosts of two opera singers who died in its fire.  What starts out as a series of quick comedic sketches evolves into an homage to opera.  My companion absolutely loved the show with its many subtle, and not so subtle references to operas.

Traverse Theatre

13:00

14:30

9

             81.       

Further Misadventures of Martin Hathaway: Shipwrecked Off Heramathea's Cove (***)

This show’s long title is misleading for the show’s content, but appropriate for its length.  The large, young cast create a fantastic steam punk world in which an incompetent Martin and the captain of an airship are in love from the beginning and go on an adventure together.  The costumes were great, and, surprisingly, the good-hearted production kept my interest.

Greenside @ Infirmary Street

17:35

19:00

10

             82.       

Manifest Destiny's Child (***)

A former campaign manager of Jill Stein’s presidential campaign in 2016 tells of his activist efforts before and since then.  I found it quite interesting to hear of the inside machinations of her campaign as well as his unsuccessful effort to launch various digital activist entities.  However, his assertions and view of politics, particularly that Jill’s entry on the ballot didn’t hurt Hillary, taint his well produced effort for me.

Assembly Rooms

14:25

15:35

16

             83.       

Good Morning, Faggi (***)

A middle aged gay man reads from his many diaries, and sings songs based on the entries.  At first he reads many sunny entries, but later finds others that call for sadder songs.  The original music, played on a keyboard by its composer, is consistently beautiful, but his voice is only suited to some of the songs.

Summerhall

20:45

21:45

23

             84.       

WONDER DRUG: A Comedy About Cystic Fibrosis (***)

A young man explains what cystic fibrosis is, and all the treatments he has used throughout the years while trying to develop a relationship with a woman.  At one point, he goes through all the many, many steps necessary for him to take antibiotics, and then learn that he had to do it three times a day.  It is very informative show, and it is heartening to know that a recent drug alleviates many of his symptoms, but is not a cure.

Pleasance Courtyard

12:30

13:30

24

             85.       

Luke Wright's Silver Jubilee (***)

For the first half of the show he talks about poetry throughout his life, and the second half he concentrates on being adopted.  Throughout he presents his witty, and occasionally touching poetry.  He is a brash fellow, but that suits the high quality of his poetry.

Pleasance Dome

14:55

15:55

15

             86.       

Dark Noon (***)

Six South Africans recreate a history of the American Wild West based on the westerns they saw on TV as they were growing up.  As they go through their history they actually build a huge movie set town that serves as a backdrop for many classic Western interactions that have been updated to highlight their violence and racial prejudice.  As a man from the West who taught American history, I was disturbed by some presented events that have no foundation in Westerns nor history.

Pleasance at EICC

17:00

18:40

15

             87.       

Chicken (***)

An actor in a great rooster costume recounts her life from egg in an industrial poultry farm to becoming a well paid movie actor.  The show does a remarkable job of blending aspects of a chicken with celebrity and protesting.  I marveled at her ability to mimic a chicken’s quick head movements.

Summerhall

20:50

21:50

12

             88.       

Good and Gaslit (***)

This show within a show has a daughter directing her mother in a show about gaslighting.  Not surprisingly, the daughter is gaslit during the performance, which is a little too convenient.  It was good that the daughter points out to her mother how her mother’s puts down of her acting was a form of self gaslighting.

theSpace @ Surgeons Hall

13:55

14:50

24

             89.       

Tennessee, Rose (***)

Tennessee Williams and his  mother don’t know what to do with his sister who has horrible temper tantrums.  This version of Tennessee Williams emphasizes his drinking while the version in “Jacob Storms' Tennessee Rising: The Dawn of Tennessee Williams” emphasizes his homosexuality and Southern politeness.  The final solution to the Rose problem leaves Tennessee feeling more guilty than ever before.

Pleasance Dome

12:10

13:10

15

             90.       

Tony (The Blair Rock Opera) (***)

Great music and good lyrics, but I couldn’t hear many lyrics, and I was ignorant of many of the politicians.  Brits I spoke with afterwards would give it four stars.

Pleasance at EICC

19:30

21:00

15

             91.       

Mark Thomas: Gaffa Tapes (***)

In much of this show the lefty activist vents his anger for Tories and the police.  As a Yank, I did not know of many of the Tories mentioned, but still found many of stories based on them funny.  Despite his distaste for the police, two of his stories place some of them in a good light.  (The rest of the crowd clearly loved the whole show, and laughed throughout it.)

 The Stand Comedy Club

22:15

23:15

13

             92.       

OTMA (***)

The four daughters of Tzar Nicholas II have to deal with being held by the Bolsheviks.  We hear of their family’s past, their current conditions, and of each of their dreams for the future.  I assume that they didn’t leave diaries of their confinement so much of the play is just conjecture.

theSpace on the Mile

10:20

11:00

26

             93.       

Bangers (***)

A young man and woman each must decide whether to become singers or move on with their lives.  Despite the addition of a DJ, the plot seemed simple like a 1930s musical that just provides an excuse for the two to sing.  Both had great voices, and the songs catchy, but since I couldn’t understand many of their lyrics it meant that I missed much of the show.

ROUNDABOUT @ Summerhall

18:50

20:00

18

             94.       

Pilot (***)

A Black man who thinks of himself as Brown, not Black, enlists the audience in developing his TV pilot about a Black superhero who can fly.  I rarely find audience participation efficient, and this show confirms my opinion that they are often a waste of valuable time, and in this case, made the story more disjointed that it already was.  Towards the end, he spent five minutes speaking so quickly that I could not understand him.

Summerhall

13:20

14:20

23

             95.       

Sean and Daro Flake It 'Til They Make It (***)

Two friends buy a Mr. Whippy truck, and deal with ebb and flow of such a business.  The vicissitudes of their business allows the show to explore their friendship under many conditions.  Unhappily my poor hearing and their Scottish brogues did not mix well, and missed important chunks of their conversations, and I would have enjoyed it much more.

Traverse Theatre

16:00

17:15

11

             96.       

Slash (***)

Starting as Betty and Veronica from the Archie comic, two women offer homoerotic tales of famous pairs such as Lennon/McCartney and Holmes/Watson.  From there the pair apply their sexual twist on a wide range of social activities.  I know I enjoyed it all, but its diversity didn’t lend itself to my remembering it.

Summerhall

22:15

23:25

12

             97.       

The Father (***)

This play show many short scenes of a daughter and/or her lovers dealing with her father who suffers from advanced dementia.  The show presents the scenes out of chronological order and uses the same undifferentiated set despite having two locales to convey the confusion of the father.  Though that does make it more difficult for the audience to detect the progression of the disease, but, as the son of a mother who had Alzheimer’s disease I thought all of the portrayals of the care givers failed to indicate any of them understood that his short term memory was gone and his long term memory was unreliable.

Greenside @ Infirmary Street

10:15

11:15

21

             98.       

Bad Teacher (***)

A drama teacher has three goals for the day: 1) get a raise; 2) have her regular talk with a troubled student; and 3) not cry during parent-teacher night.  As the day proceeds we meet her disagreeable superiors, learn of the underhanded way the Tories cut the art budgets, and for comic relief have two pictures of penises figure prominently in the plot.  As a former teacher, I have a special appreciation for plays about teaching, and this one is well done.

Underbelly, Bristo Square

18:50

19:50

13

             99.       

Quality of Mercy: Concerning the Life and Crimes of Dr Harold Frederick Shipman (***)

The doctor who used morphine to kill pain ridden patients as well a few troublesome ones tells his professional history, and asserts his right to kill them.  To me, except for a couple cases, it seemed like his decisions were motivated from kindness and the fact that euthanasia was illegal.  I spoke with actor afterwards, and found that Shipman treated underlings very poorly, and was less considerate of others than he was portrayed.

theSpace @ Surgeons Hall

17:35

18:35

22

           100.     

Horizon Showcase: Things Hidden Since the Foundation of the World (***)

The playwright of Iranian parents tries to put the murder of an Iranian singer in perspective for us by exploring the gulf between the Iranian and British cultures.  His introduction, and following podcast are well written, and the multimedia presentation gives the proper feeling of the meshing and collision of the two cultures.   However, the sound tech made the background percussion music loud I, and others, couldn’t hear most of the words when it was played.  (This was a preview so it may have been addressed now.)

Traverse Theatre

10:00

11:30

15

           101.     

Alison Skilbeck's Uncommon Ground (***)

The actress sets about sequentially portraying seven very different characters from a hamlet that have encountered some of the other characters along the way.  It is too apparent that Skilbeck wrote the piece to highlight her own versatility.  It is a snapshot of a community with little plot.

Assembly Rooms

12:40

13:50

4

           102.     

Optimistic: Elizabeth Holmes (***)

The engineer behind the medical testing company that promised more than it could achieve describes the growth and demise of her company.  The first half of the show is well organized and presents information well, but I think the show unnecessarily chooses to have her become more frantic on stage and the presentation less lucid as things start to come apart.  I thought the show would be better served by throwing things around less and spending more time exploring her sexual/love relationship between her and the CEO, and explaining how the machine succeeded and why it did not succeed with other testing.

ZOO Southside

18:55

19:55

22

           103.     

Looking for Giants (***)

After learning a combative discussion style from her terse university tutor, a young woman becomes enamored with him.  I thought seeing the style of debate developed interesting, but was ill, and cannot remember much more.

Underbelly, Cowgate

14:35

15:35

13

           104.     

PLEASE LEAVE (a message) (***)

Four actors explore the problem of leaving a message about a radioactive storage facility that will make sense for 10,000 years.  The show tries to demonstrate the many ways a message can be obscured using both physical and linguistic impediments.  The ideas are good, it just seems that the show strays a bit far afield, particularly with its dancing.

Underbelly, Cowgate

11:00

12:00

11

           105.     

Shakespeare for Breakfast (***)

This version of the Fringe mainstay has four people in street clothes update and severely abridge “A Midsummer’s Night Dream.”  While the changes are as radical as ever, they don’t let the comedy get too broad.  The final ditty was a perfect ending.

C ARTS | C venues | C aurora

10:00

10:50

13

           106.     

Call Me Elizabeth (***)

Elizabeth Taylor talks about her life starting from her childhood movies up until marriage to Eddie Fisher.  She does cover all of her husbands up to Fisher, and a fling or two, as well her penchant for gay men, but the choice to leave out her later life with Burton left the play feeling very incomplete.  That’s not to say that there weren’t a lot of nuggets along the way, including that she went through the graduating ceremony at a high school she had never attended.

theSpace@Surgeons Hall

11:05

11:55

25

           107.     

Bitter Lemons (***)

A professional football goalie, and a rising businesswoman alternately tell of their lives after both learn that they are pregnant at six weeks, and must decide whether to have the two pill abortion.  The first part, when they are trying to make the decision, works well, but the goalie’s choice to play in a game, and the businesswoman’s blow-up seem out of character.  The choice to stop alternating and start talking simultaneously diminishes the power of each tale at a crucial juncture.

Pleasance Courtyard

14:20

15:20

10

           108.     

Self Actually (***)

A clone and original have an hour to decide whether to push a button that will kill the cone and release the original, or have both stay in the room for eternity.  The two actors do a good job of duplication each other’s movements while trying to discover who is the clone, but the choices are ill conceived by the playwright.  An eternity in a room would be my definition of hell, moreover, a fact revealed midway also makes it completely unacceptable for them both.

theSpace @ Symposium Hall

19:15

20:05

14

           109.     

Blood of the Lamb (***)

A pregnant woman whose fetus has died is stuck in a Texas airport being interviewed by a woman.  The play plainly wishes to convey the absurdity and cruelty of the new Texas abortion law that treats a fetus like a full citizen, but loses much of its power by painting the interviewer as more of a villain than a rescuer.  Another big flaw was that interviewer never answers the explicit question from the mother as to who or what she represents that could give her the power to legally control the pregnant woman’s life.

Assembly Rooms

14:10

15:10

4

           110.     

Gusla (***)

This is an interpretation of Polish pagan rituals using Polish changes and foot stomping style choreography.  Since it was in Polish, I my lack of hearing didn’t frustrate me, and took up the challenge to try to divine the meaning from the inflections and movements.  The costumes were amazing and added to the primal feel, but I did look at my watch with ten minutes to go.

Summerhall

10:00

11:00

23

           111.     

Jane/Norma (***)

This show explores how the woman who was the Roe in Roe v. Wade became a spokesperson for the anti-abortion movement by having two actors portraying numerous real people involved in her life.  Despite consistent costume changes to indicate specific people speaking, the actress was tasked with too many for us to keep track of without something more explicit to identify them.  Nonetheless, her portrayal of Roe’s girlfriend, and his portrayal of two church leaders conveyed their key characters well.

theSpace on the Mile

14:15

15:15

5

           112.     

No Love Songs (***)

Two musicians fall in love, and then deal with the events of family life with the added pressure of his touring.  My hearing really hindered my understanding of the lyrics of the many songs.  The play does a really good job of describing the effects of post partum depression, but others agreed that the scene where he returns leaves the audience with an inaccurate impression that really disrupts the story when it is corrected later.  I should note that many others that I polled gave it five stars, but two women gave it only three stars.

Traverse Theatre

18:30

19:45

3

           113.     

Shadow Kingdom (***)

A pair control shadow puppets and scenery to tell a story of a little girl who ignores her father’s admonishment to stop looking at her phone and to sleep only to find that she dreams of a fantastic world ruled by a young sleepless tyrant.  To create the many locales and characters they use close to 100 cutouts that have slots with colored film to create a fully colored tale.  The show succeeds in reinforcing its moral that people should not sacrifice sleep for messaging.

Assembly Roxy

11:15

12:15

14

           114.     

Dirty Words (***)

Two actors explore a series of words besides just dirty words, including cliché, pressure, and lies.  The explorations run from videos of interviews of regular folks to personal experience to wide ranges of examples.  I loved her imitation of a coach’s rah-rah speech to her team that had all the inflections of encouragement, but really said nothing intelligible.

Pleasance Dome

12:15

13:15

12

           115.     

Wasteman (***)

A former drag queen resolves to win a drag queen contest, but he has songwriter’s block.  As he tells of his life we learn of his first encounters with women’s clothes with his best friend, and other people’s reactions to when he is in drag.  The fellow is winning, and his ditties cute, but I’ve grown tired of tales of clubbing and persecution this year.

Assembly George Square Studios

18:00

19:00

12

           116.     

Stuart Laws? Is That Guy Still Going? (***)

Laws is a congenial fellow with a light, clean who is rarely hilarious, but nonetheless keeps the crowd amused.  While telling stories covering three topics (cheating, his vasectomy and grief), he made some quite witty tangential asides.  I liked his observation about the unavoidable danger of closing one’s eyes when sneezing while driving.

Monkey Barrel Comedy (The Hive)

16:45

17:45

1

           117.     

Stark Bollock Naked (***)

When a woman discovers that she is pregnant she finds her sense of a biological clock and medical staff make dealing with an abortion quite difficult.  While the topic is certainly serious and important, what makes this piece standout is the presentation that combines a naked woman, video, song as well as drama.  While having a woman standing naked at the beginning of the show is catching, using her as a video screen to map different clothes or images of paintings of nudes  on her was used to great effect.

Assembly Roxy

15:10

16:00

2

           118.     

Buff (***)

A self-acknowledged fat gay teacher presents only his words from of a variety of conversations with his roommate, his fourth grade students, his dates, and his supervisor.  His vulnerability permeates the conversations as he frequently comments on bodies and gay issues.  Every conversation had the ring of truth, including his interactions with his students.

Pleasance Courtyard

13:50

14:50

3

           119.     

Playing Latinx (***)

A Latin fellow with a fake accent teaches the audience hot be Latin with lots of voluntary audience participation.  The whole show was good natured fun teaching us how to create “Latin” names, body language, and personal histories, among other things.  Unlike most of the shows with audience participation, it is an integral part of the show’s fun, particularly when we were waiting for someone to volunteer to sit in a char on the stage to continue the show.

Summerhall

18:55

19:55

23

           120.     

Awake, Gay, and Writing a Play (***)

A gay man explains how it took 30 years for him to leave the Jehovah Witnesses of his family in spite of their rejection of homosexuality as a major sin.  He addresses the topic with many techniques, and his movement toward self-acceptance is in fits and starts.  I originally though his game of musical chairs using audience members would be a waste of valuable time, but later it served a good purpose in his tale.

PBH's Free Fringe @ The Street

17:15

18:15

26

           121.     

Tom Moran is a Big Fat Filthy Disgusting Liar (***)

Moran asserts that he has been very popular in life because is/was a people pleaser whose winning smile and lying have fooled people all of his life.  He even went so far as letting doctors remove his appendix rather than admit that he had successfully fooled them into thinking he had abdominal pain.  Though he seemed as sincere in his new found self acceptance as the fat gay fellow in “Buff”, I was left with a feeling that he may well be lying to himself this time.

Pleasance Courtyard

15:10

16:10

7

           122.     

Rosenberg/Strange Fruit Project (***)

In a play that reminded me of the old James Burke TV show “Connections”, an actor promises to show how the famous Russian traitors, Julius and Ethel Rosenberg had an important connection to jazz.  In this case, the actor portrays a variety of disparate characters ranging from the Rosenbergs to the man who adopted their children to the Black leader W. E. B. Dubois.  The problem lies in the fact that is easier, and more satisfying, to see technological links than to celebrate the three degrees of separation of certain individuals.

Assembly Rooms

15:30

16:30

4

           123.     

Wallace (***)

We first see the Scottish rebel leader in jail awaiting his execution where he describes the battles he fought, and how he was caught.  Not surprisingly, the actor speak with a fairly strong Scottish brogue which meant that my poor hearing could only decipher some of what he said.  As a war game player, I did appreciate the tactical details of his victory where 5,000 Scots overcame 40,000 Englishman.

Hill Street Theatre

15:45

16:45

26

           124.     

Shit-faced Shakespeare: Romeo and Juliet (***)

With the promise that a random member of the cast will be drunk off their ass by the time the play start, upon her entrance it was obvious that Juliet was the night’s chosen one.  Besides her sloppy movement, and despite her wedding ring, she tried to kiss many members of the cast, and repeatedly got down to some serious snogging with Romeo.  Unhappily for me, many of the laughs came from what she said, but I couldn’t understand her slurred speech.

Pleasance at EICC

22:00

23:00

22

           125.     

The Court (***)

I was on the jury to determine if a woman who had suffocated her cancer ridden mother with a pillow was guilty of murder or manslaughter.  The testimony provided by the woman and her accusing sister was succinct and addressed almost all of the significant issues.  After their testimony we were allowed to question the sisters, but I must admit that I changed my vote at the last moment based on the judge’s instructions.

Hill Street Theatre

12:00

13:00

21

           126.     

Julius Caesar Must Die (***)

A large cast gives their abridged version of Shakespear’s “Julius Caesar”.  I am not that familiar with the play, so I can only say that this one had Shakespearean wording, and three acts: laying the conspiracy, killing Caesar, and retribution.  A couple of the actors frequently spoke too softly for me to hear them which detracted from my enjoyment.

theSpace on the Mile

11:10

12:05

26

           127.     

Sherlock Holmes The Last Act (***)

A much older Holmes recounts is life including meeting Watson, and Holmes’ faked death.  Last year there was a similar play from Watson’s perspective, that also suffered from a lack of action on stage.  The first time he uses cocaine on stage it has no visible effect, and the second time he doesn’t wrap his arm with the necessary tourniquet.

theSpace @ Surgeons Hall

16:25

17:25

24

           128.     

For Better, For Worse (***)

In 2014, a recent widow is starting to date while her two children constantly argue about impending Scottish independence referendum.  The constant bickering overshadows the more interesting growth of the mother.  The play might have worked in 2014, but has a lot of wasted time now.

C ARTS | C venues | C aquila

15:50

16:40

20

           129.     

Lady Dealer (***)

A young woman brags that her gender makes her unique in the drug world, and repeatedly avers that she is happy with her life.  Her experience with her downstairs neighbors and clients suggest that her life is not as rosy as she paints it.  While the drug dealing side is somewhat interesting, a young woman sad about being alone is not.

ROUNDABOUT @ Summerhall

16:00

17:00

18

           130.     

Cruelty (***)

A gay prostitute literally laughs at the violence in his neighborhood, and then goes clubbing, but he cannot escape the violence.  His acting was great, but the music in the club scenes was way too loud to hear him even though he was yelling.  This Fringe I have grown tired of all the depictions of twentysomethings clubbing, particularly with directors almost always choosing to make their plays “naturalistic“ by playing very loud music.

C ARTS | C venues | C aquila

15:55

17:05

13

           131.     

Serpent's Tooth (***)

A long lost sister helps a woman deal with the fact that her daughter has prevented her from seeing her granddaughter for twelve years.  The story is touching, but never explains why the grandmother lost her job.  I think that the repeated breaking of the fourth wall is unnecessary, and weakens the impact of the story.

Paradise in The Vault

14:45

15:45

19

           132.     

Hive (***)

The previous show ran late, and I missed the first seven minutes of this show.  Surprisingly, I never could figure out what was going on!  The audience liked it, but I shan’t post a review, and just have this table row to jog my memory in the future.

Assembly Roxy

16:35

17:35

14

           133.     

Molly (***)

Molly is a simple woman who works as sandwich maker at Gregg’s and has a crush on a handsome customer.  She does a great job of portraying this unhappy woman, but much of the plot is predictable.  But maybe making the play somewhat mind numbing, like her life, was one of the playwright’s goals.

Underbelly, Cowgate

12:55

13:55

13

           134.     

Mark Twain's The Stolen White Elephant (***)

Told in Mark Twain’s dry style we learn of an English detective, Inspector Blunt, who does everything in an over-systematic fashion to try to find an elephant stolen from a boat in the middle of England.  The absurd tale is fun, but with little stage movement, I found I dozed occasionally.

Paradise in The Vault

20:00

21:00

25

           135.     

Conversations We Never Had, as People We'll Never Be (***)

With thirty minutes to decide whether their four-year relationship will be erased from their memories by a drug, a lesbian couple review the highs and lows of their past together.  The drug is never explored and just serves as a flimsy excuse for the play to force them to speak honestly and succinctly.  I thought there approaches to children would have settled the issue, but that was ignored by the playwright.

C ARTS | C venues | C aquila

17:00

17:50

21

           136.     

It Won't Be Long Now (***)

A Hong Kong man speaks in Chinese with English supertitles, and then a British man speaks in English of their detention in the Japanese concentration camp on Hong Kong in World War II.  They do a reasonable job of presenting their privations.  However, the play “In Loyal Company” at the Pleasance does a much better job of portraying life in a Japanese POW camp.

Army @ The Fringe

17:00

18:15

16

           137.     

Nevernatal (***)

Five women attend a baby shower, and each has a different approach to having a baby, with one clearly choosing to be childless.  I appreciated that each of the different views was accepted.  The brought by the childless woman that had a bloody baby’s head emerging from a vagina cannot be ignored by them or me.

theSpace @ Surgeons Hall

18:05

18:55

14

           138.     

How To Rob a Millionaire (In Five Easy Steps) (***)

A large cast has a mastermind gather five misfits to steal an iconic teddy bear from its unscrupulous promoter, a la Mission Impossible.  Some of the story is quite fun with a series of plot twists.  However some of the plot twists placed heroic characters in a bad light, and I became less invested in the outcome.

Greenside @ Infirmary Street

20:45

21:45

26

           139.     

Mrs. President (***)

Matthew Brady, the famous 19th century photographer, repeatedly has President Lincoln’s wife, Mary, sit for her portrait.  He wants to create photos that will have emblematic feeling to them (complete with halos), whereas she wants an image of her real self as she thinks of herself.  The problems with this play is that they continually restate their positions, and he is yelling most of the time.

C ARTS | C venues | C aquila

14:30

15:30

20

           140.     

Trials of Galileo (***)

Galileo talks about the charges against him for writing the sun was the center of the universe, and why he chose to recant.  He argues that no one actually read his book, and just rejected his assertion because it challenged church dogma.  There didn’t seem to be enough facts presented to fill this play, but I think it worth noting that even Galileo didn’t realize that the stars were suns.

Greenside @ Infirmary Street

10:15

11:15

19

           141.     

Bullring Techno Makeout Jamz (***)

Nathaniel tells the tale of preparing for a date with Beyonce including finding the right barber.  I smiled, but the jokes were for a much younger audience.  In one routine, he responded with quips to a series of snippets of current songs (most of which a woman in the audience could lip sync to), which reminded me of the novelty records of the late 1950s that used sippets to create funny stories.

ROUNDABOUT @ Summerhall

20:20

21:20

18

           142.     

Drop Dead (***)

This farce has six people gathered together for a practice funeral while the “dead” man lies sleeping in the coffin.  While this show has the elements of a farce, including greedy characters, a cramped bathroom scene and a misconstrued “kiss”, it never seemed to gel for me—too many things didn’t make any sense.  However, the rest of the audience loved it, and laughed at the high jinks throughout it.

theSpace @ Niddry St

21:30

22:15

11

           143.     

The Poor Rich (***)

An oddly made-up woman interacts with the audience as she asks for tea and acts as a banker.  She assumes complete control of the show from the beginning by being incredibly unhelpful with the tea, and only permits it be served on her own terms after three failed attempts by the audience.   I just couldn’t see the humor in her bizarre autocratic behavior, but the rest loved it, and gave her a standing ovation.

Assembly Roxy

22:00

23:00

14

           144.     

Twenty People A Minute (***)

We follow the simultaneous treks of four disparate refugees to their common goal of Waiting Island in the middle of a sea.  The play has the characters speak in unison whenever more than one of them has a common experience.  The frequent use of loud background sounds and the actors taking quick turns speaking added to a feeling of frantic chaos, but also made it difficult for me, and others, to understand what they were saying, particularly the quiet actor.

theSpace on the Mile

12:50

13:50

5

           145.     

Call Mr. Robeson: A Life, with Songs (***)

Tayo Aluko portrays the actor, singer, and Black activist, Paul Robeson recounting his life and singing parts of his many famous songs with a piano accompanist.  This long show takes the time to flesh out the many aspects of his life, including his many lovers and his long fight to overcome the restrictions placed on him because he was a communist.  While Aluko’s  powerful, deliberate delivery matches that of Robeson, it does give the show a slow, ponderous feel.

C ARTS | C venues | C aurora

18:00

19:25

11

           146.     

Saturn Return (***)

The daughter of Pakistani immigrants debunks her auntie’s astrological predictions by recounting her life experiences.  This smart, well organized, financially successful woman uses PowerPoint lists of expected goals for a Pakistani to highlight how her real life has diverged from her parent’s.  Her ease at spending money somehow belittles her personal troubles for me.

Pleasance Courtyard

16:50

17:50

8

           147.     

Super (***)

A shallow man who makes a living wearing a Batman costume on Hollywood Blvd., and thinks of himself as a mentor other super hero imitators, alternates taking the stage with his former lover who provides a different view of his life.  It was both fun and heartbreaking to her his rosy take on life juxtaposed to her realistic one, particularly when it came to their dating.  The career of their mutual friend who initially wore a Robin costume provides a galling example of career advancement that eludes Batman.

Pleasance Courtyard

13:45

14:45

8

           148.     

Split Lip (***)

A fellow portrays an insane patient suffering from a form of split personalities that by perfectly lip-syncing pre-recorded characters as interact with each other.  His lip synching and facial expressions were so perfect that initially I thought he was actually speaking until a voice was from a movie I knew well.  However, the plot is thin, so the show was pretty much a one trick pony.

Assembly Roxy

13:45

14:45

2

           149.     

All is Pink in West Berkshire County (***)

A daughter brings her boyfriend home to meet her opinionated parents.  The play slides smoothly from verbal abuse to the macabre.  I think the excessive behaviors, particularly that of the roaring father, detracted from the darkness of the comedy.

theSpace @ Symposium Hall

17:05

17:55

17

           150.     

The Booth (***)

Four actors with different approaches to acting put stage a modern radio play with the guidance of two unhelpful directors.  The radio play itself is unimportant as it serves only to provide material for the satiric commentary on dramatic techniques and those who advocate each.  Both the radio play, and the actual show end abruptly without any sense of closure.

Bedlam Theatre

17:00

18:00

6

           151.     

Avital Ash Workshops Her Suicide Note (***)

The key to understanding this show is to note that she titled it as a workshop.  She makes notes throughout, and has an audience member jot observations as she explores her depression and life growing up in an Orthodox Jewish household after her mother fell or jumped off a building when Avital was only one.  While she often told touching, funny stories from her life, the show is punctuated with her sincere tears as her depression is triggered in the telling.

Monkey Barrel Comedy (The Tron)

22:05

23:05

1

           152.     

Mark Nelson: Bits & Pieces (***)

Nelson happily covers the topics that you might expect from a veteran professional comedian who is happily married with a with a wife and two kids.  His topics range from politics to a bath with his young daughter to old age sex.  His mushroom enhanced Las Vegas trip with fellow comedians serves as a source of many crazy and hilarious stories.

Monkey Barrel Comedy (The Hive)

19:05

20:05

1

           153.     

Not Our Crime, Still Our Sentence (***)

The unemployed wife of a man sentenced to 14 years in prison is severally depressed and deals with the pressure of raising two kids by blaming herself and sleeping a lot.  The show does a good job of conveying her experience of futility as interacts with her close friend and family.  I though the nightmare sequences with her mother as a bewigged judge worked well at conveying her sense of inescapable self-blaming.

Gilded Balloon Patter Hoose

19:40

20:40

2

           154.     

Kravitz, Cohen, Bernstein and Me (***)

A senior comedienne tells of her life growing up in a Jewish household, and meeting Jewish celebrities while offering an occasional song and joke.  Her meetings with Leonard Bernstein are quite a tale to hear.  The final montage of photos her reminded me of just how much of this show was devoted to her, somewhat like the vanity Fringe shows put on by twentysomething women.

Assembly Rooms

19:00

20:10

26

           155.     

Bad Blood: A One Man Musical (***)

A young man tells of visiting his father on his deathbed in the ICU for almost three months.  He is a talented composer and keyboardist with the earlier songs being catchy and well sung.  Later, darker songs don’t work as well, and his father’s obsequious aide’s role needs to be clarified.

Greenside @ Nicolson Square

20:55

21:55

24

           156.     

Beatles Were a Boyband (***)

Three young women are deeply affected by the news of another killing of a woman on a street.  The podcasting influencer gives voice to her anger, while the event hits close to home for one of her roommates.  I liked how the reaction to the podcast affected them all, but the show seemed a little too preachy.

Gilded Balloon Patter Hoose

19:30

20:30

21

           157.     

Please Love Me (***)

A young pole dancer explains how her need for affirmation caused her to repeatedly return to her first lover.  Her current girl friend played the keyboard, sometimes sang with her, and usually was looking at her with caring eyes.  The show is a sincere autobiography, but could use more family background to help explain her low self-esteem.

Pleasance Dome

20:20

21:20

13

           158.     

Auto-Engrain: A One-Woman Show (***)

A young woman tells of her trouble dating men.  The aircon was so loud that I could rarely hear her.  When I did hear her, it seemed like there was nothing in the play that I hadn’t heard many times at the Fringe before.

Hill Street Theatre

22:00

23:00

15

           159.     

Salome (***)

A large cast recreates the Biblical story of John the Baptist, King Herod II, and the sensual dance of Herod’s daughter.  Though they changed the tale slightly to make Salome the arch villain, the play properly portrayed the Judean political situation at the time of Christ.  With such a large cast, I was pleased to be able to hear almost everything, but the king and queen seemed to yell too loudly even for me.

Bedlam Theatre

15:30

16:30

6

           160.     

The Big Bite-Size Breakfast (Menu 2) (***)

This menu had stories about: a police interrogation of a man who that he was a gander; two older, high society, single women at a party; office workers dealing with a new, stricter management; a beginner learning improv with an uncooperative partner; and competing buskers.  Somehow only the goose man sketch had the lightness of the previous years.  When talking with others we all agreed that the new, open set with props along the back wall failed to focus the scene the way the small stage of the previous years had.

Pleasance Courtyard

10:20

11:30

6

           161.     

Half Moon (***)

A Belfast teenager finds her life stifling, and moves to Florida.  This was another play with a strong brogue , this time Irish, so strong that I could not understand her often enough to work out most of the critical facts.  The rest of the audience loved it though.

Pleasance Dome

14:35

15:35

27

           162.     

In Everglade Studio (***)

A pop singer, her keyboardist, and producer are in a recording studio when they are interrupted by a Black singer/songwriter the producer has hired to add a new sound to the album.  Only the pop singer has full blown character, albeit obnoxious at times.  Most of the songs they sing are very good, but the last part of the play veers too far from reality no matter what drug is involved.

Assembly George Square

13:00

14:00

28

           163.     

Ghost of a Smile (***)

A 19th century fellow relates a tale told by his drunkard uncle of a lady, two villains, and a horse drawn carriage.  This slight tale has elements of a ghost story, but without the ghosts.  The main problem is that the entire show lacks a destination as the actor spends a lot time describing his uncle, but then portrays him in the tale as a simple drunkard.

theSpace @ Surgeons Hall

13:05

13:40

20

           164.     

Strongest Girl in the World (***)

A 26-year old woman celebrates the joys of eight years of summer camp, and her wonderful father who died of cancer.  I liked that the summer camp seemed to empower her in the way her school life did not.  Frequently repeating her name, and hearing of summer camps, Greek cruises, child psychiatrists, and ski trips all would lead one to believe that she may be spoiled, but hers is not a story of woe, but fond memories.

Greenside @ Nicolson Square

16:20

17:05

19

           165.     

Polko (***)

A young fellow whose life is going nowhere now deals with a pretty former classmate who has returned to town to live with her mother, and a man who made an inappropriate marriage proposal to the classmate’s mother.  His relationships with both do slowly evolve, but there is no satisfying progress.  Despite the good acting, the play just seems to plod along without purpose.

ROUNDABOUT @ Summerhall

11:50

12:50

18

           166.     

Portrait of Ludmilla as Nina Simone (***)

With an accompanying guitarist, Ludmilla covers bits and pieces of Simone’s life while spending the bulk of the time reprising her songs.  While I enjoyed some of her songs, with my poor hearing I had great difficulty  understanding what she was saying between songs.  The “hour” show committed the unforgiveable sin of running twenty minutes past its expected end time.

French Institute in Scotland

20:00

21:00

11

           167.     

The Mitfords (***)

By simply changing her voice, an actress tries to portray many members of the Mitford family who became famous in the 1930s for the political views with two daughters becoming quite pro-Nazi.  Without a previous background in the family nor any introduction to the family members, I was at a loss as to who she was portraying.  As the story went along I could differentiate most, but still don’t know for sure whether the deep voiced person was a sister, brother, or father.

theSpace @ Surgeons Hall

18:40

19:30

17

           168.     

Teacher's Pet (***)

A high school girl who thinks herself much more mature than her classmates has an affair with one of her married teachers.  The dancing and singing are good, and the scene where he rejects her seems perfectly written to reflect the thoughts and feelings of such a young woman.  However after seeing the horrific true story of serial pedophilia in “The Good Dad (A Love Story)” the night before, the joyous song about pedophilia (with the young women around me singing along) made me angry with the playwright, particularly when the fact that the girl is pregnant was just mentioned, and then ignored for the rest of the show.

Pleasance Courtyard

18:30

19:30

9

           169.     

Tales of a Jane Austen Spinster (***)

After hours, in a Jane Austen museum installation, one of her minimally describe young women suddenly appears, and must deal with 21st century dating.  The actress was very likable, but the script really seemed to ignore how an early 19th century woman would perceive our modern world except in the most perfunctory ways.  While I appreciated the character’s complaint about her literary and feminist plight, her acceptance of a short skirt and quick understanding of a mobile phone and Tinder inexplicably ignored her background.

Greenside @ Nicolson Square

20:00

20:45

7

           170.     

Happier Daze (***)

A five-piece rock band’s drummer has died, and been replaced by his sister who is not an experienced drummer.  The death raises different issues for each of the band members that arise willy-nilly among the many rehearsals and performances of their original songs.  I enjoyed some of the tunes, albeit most were too loud, but only understood the lyrics of one which detracted a lot from this music heavy show.

theSpace on the Mile

12:25

13:35

22

           171.     

West End vs Broadway (***)

Four singers present popular songs from select musicals.  This was a great example of where the sum was much greater than the parts as most of the solos were weak, but their chorus work was great.  Unhappily, my poor hearing many of the lyrics unintelligible, but others thought the show great.

theSpace on the Mile

18:40

19:25

5

           172.     

Raising Kane (***)

A fellow plays Orson Welles talking about his life for the first 40 minutes hour of this short play.  After that he removes his make-up and costume and explains why he chose to produce this play.  I would rather have heard of Welles’ life after “Citizen Kane” than of the actor’s psychological issues.

Assembly George Square Studios

12:00

12:50

28

           173.     

Declan (***)

A fellow is first enamored with a male friend, and later becomes his victim when his friend becomes a vampire.  Though the initial scene with the attack by the vampire is captivating, the rest of the play is so low key that I lost interest and nodded off.

Underbelly, Cowgate

14:35

15:35

21

           174.     

Why I Stuck a Flare Up My Arse for England (***)

A lad becomes a celebrity for ticking a flare up his arse before an England football match because he thought it would fun and his friends would find it amusing.  I wasn’t tired, but somehow, I couldn’t stay awake for this show.  It just didn’t interest me.

theSpace @ Niddry St

22:20

23:10

19

           175.     

Lady of the Loch (***)

A real estate developer and his lover are visiting Loch Ness to complete the planning for housing around the lake when Nessie, in the form of a woman, confronts them in their hotel room.  I was offended that, despite the two men explicitly asking her to speak slower, Nessie often spoke quickly with in a strong Scottish accent that was rarely intelligible to my weak hearing.  The play is confusing as magic only sometimes appears, and the plot twist at the end seems inconsistent with the long friendship depicted earlier as well as preachy.

Greenside @ Infirmary Street

18:35

19:35

6

           176.     

Meat Boy (***)

A fellow that was given “Meat Boy” as a nickname by an abusive teacher much later takes advantage of an opportunity to poison him.  The teacher is too loud throughout, and the plot twist is as you expect it.  I found it banal, but the rest of the audience loved it.

theSpace on the Mile

18:40

19:30

19

           177.     

Runaway (***)

A runaway girl drifts from job to job, roommate to roommate, and lover to lover.  She spoke at an incredible speed so that it was like hearing two plays for the price of one.  Unhappily I have seen too many similar stories at the Fringe so that I found little novel here.

theSpace @ Surgeons Hall

20:05

21:00

17

           178.     

Hot as Hell (***)

A high school freshman has made a deal with a demon that gives her an exceptional singing voice.  The singing is pretty good, and the demonic horror aspects are classic, but she is such an unappealing character that I just didn’t care about her despite her backstory.  It didn’t help that the German heartthrob’s bona fides are challenged in the middle of the play for no reason.

Pleasance Courtyard

18:30

19:30

8

           179.     

Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind (30 Plays in 60 Minutes) (***)

With a list of 30 plays supplied to the audience, a large cast was going to execute each play as the audience randomly chose them.  I watched the first two, and thought they would probably do a credible job, but the room was hot, and the air conditioner was so loud that I could rarely hear them, and decided to leave.

Greenside @ Infirmary Street

20:45

21:45

10

           180.     

Terrence the T-Rex (***)

An actor playing a T. Rex in a one-man children’s show is unhappy when he is suddenly joined by a woman who will play a Triceratops with him.  Though good natured, this show really goes nowhere new with its blossoming romance being totally predictable.  This seems like a show for children, but isn’t.

Bedlam Theatre

12:30

13:25

6

           181.     

Enquiry Concerning Hereafter (***)

After seeing Charon, the ferryman across the river Styx, David Hume has a last conversation whit his great friend Adam Smith.  Since they agreed much more than differed, most of the play was just a celebration of their close friendship.  All three actors did a fine job, I would have preferred more philosophical discussions than Hume saying he never denied the existence of God, and Smith saying he never advocated laissez faire.

Panmure House

16:00

17:15

27

           182.     

Prick (***)

Prick explores the Scottish witch trials with testimony from three witches, puppetry, and other dramatic effects.  The director’s notes explain that they chose to use puppets for the torture scenes to avoid showing a woman tortured on stage, and to depict the lack of control and dissociation of such prisoners.  I felt that the play spent too much of its time on superfluous tasks, including scenes with a 21st century producer and animating models of ravens, foxes and cats.

theSpace on the Mile

11:15

12:30

5

           183.     

Heaven by Eugene O'Brien (***)

A married couple return to their hometown for a wedding 25 years after they were married take the opportunity to revisit people from their past.  The two actors never interact, and alternately describe their events after the wedding.  Though their stories are well told by the actors, the staging is so static that my mind drifted away at times.

Traverse Theatre

21:00

22:30

3

           184.     

My Dad Wears a Dress (***)

Until she was 19 a 26-year-old woman avoids revealing that her dad wears a dress.  I found it wearing to watch her go through each of her years from 4 to 12 with only a few references to her father.  In the end, I was left wondering what a “transvestite lesbian” is—a male transvestite, or a trans woman.

Underbelly, Cowgate

11:25

12:25

13

           185.     

Assemblywomen (***)

Six women steal their husband clothes, and pose as men at a city’s assembly meeting where they convince the assembly to put women completely in charge of the city.  While the redistribution of wealth gets some time, the bulk of the tale is devoted to working out how all men and all women will get their fair share of sex.  Toward the end, one randy husband throws incredibly hurtful insults at an “old” woman, and “ugly” woman for no purpose other than to demonstrate how uncivil and selfish he can be when that is already quite clear.

C ARTS | C venues | C aquila

17:20

18:20

13

           186.     

O Tusitala: Tellers of Tales (***)

The Samoan playwright reads and sometimes sings her story about when Robert Louis Stevenson came to live and die in Samoa.  The script has 17 characters, and she barely tries to differentiate them, so most run together into an amorphous mess.  The show was supposed to be an hour long, but took an interminable 90 minutes, and I missed my next show!

Royal Lyceum Theatre Edinburgh

11:00

12:00

27

           187.     

Scent (***)

This one of those shows that is so unmemorable that two days later I cannot remember much about it.  I have the sense that it was another Fringe play by a young woman about her life.

Greenside @ Infirmary Street

17:35

18:15

25

           188.     

LATER (***)

Reminiscent of late-night TV interviewing shows, the hostess had a cellist and singer to interview.  To give the show a relaxed ambience, she offered two glasses of wine to volunteers in the audience, and said we could leave at will.  While her interviewing skills were fine, and the musicians tuneful, the show had little to merit charging admission.

ROUNDABOUT @ Summerhall

23:00

0:00

18

           189.     

May Contain Traces of Nuts (***)

Four friends hangout in a living room discussing their impending departure from their hometown.  Not much happened in the first twenty minutes, and then the sound tech set the music volume so loud that it would damage my chemo-poisoned ears that I decided to leave the show.

theSpaceTriplex

23:00

23:40

17

           190.     

Four Cut Sunflowers (***)

The sister-in-law of Vincent Van Gough must contend with the artist and his ill, but supportive brother.  I already knew of Theo’s efforts for his brother, and found little new here.  The lead spoke breathily, and so quietly that I could rarely hear her.

theSpace @ Surgeons Hall

20:40

21:30

14

           191.     

The Last Show Before We Die (***)

Two “dead” women awaken to create physical theater with virtually no discernible plot for me.  Their show seems to be all about creativity.  Since I prefer wit, intriguing plot, and smart prose, it left me cold.

ROUNDABOUT @ Summerhall

21:40

22:35

18

           192.     

Unforgettable Girl (***)

A Thai mail order bride appears out of a cardboard box, spends the first ten minutes polling the audience, and then proceeds to her character as a starting point for a series of esoteric performances.  While I sort of could see how it all held together, and could appreciate her creativity, it didn’t seem to have a plot.  As usual, most of the audience interaction seemed a waste of dramatic time.

Pleasance Courtyard

15:40

16:40

17

           193.     

The Return (***)

A Croatian immigrant describes her life in Croatia in the 1990s, and how the Yugoslav and Ukrainian war impacted her.  Because of the small audience she immediately broke the fourth wall, and sat with us.  The staging is minimal, and she clearly has a lot of pent-up anger from dealing with both UK and Croatia governments.

Pleasance Courtyard

11:50

12:45

10

           194.     

Reflected (***)

A young woman tells her counselor that she really knows how to play the romance game, and just hasn’t found someone who really loves her.  As the play presents vignettes from her love life it makes it so obvious that she is a self-centered person with low self-esteem so that her confrontation with that fact is anti-climactic.  Close conversations were often difficult to hear, and the counselor often spoke too quietly.

Greenside @ Infirmary Street

22:00

22:45

9

           195.     

Yoga with Jillian   A New Comedy (***)

A yoga instructor invites five audience members to join one senior “student” already on stage for an hour of yoga with humorous asides.  I generally don’t like shows with audience participation because it usually wastes dramatic time, and this show takes it to the limit.  The asides and mistake prone student are slightly funny, but no consolation for spending a large part of an hour just watching people doing yoga.

Pleasance Courtyard

12:00

13:00

7

           196.     

Babs for Life (***)

A drag queen plays Babs Romance, an MP from her own Preservative Party.  She mixes sexual acts and innuendo with political commentary.  Her sexual hi-jinks seemed to titillate the crowd, but this Yank found that he did not know many of her political references.

C ARTS | C venues | C cubed

22:45

23:30

8

           197.     

Eugene O'Neill's Thirst (***)

Two men have been stuck on a life raft with half the body of a dancer for many, many days.  Only one talks, and has little of interest to say.  Though there is a little action at the end, the bulk of the show is boring.

theSpace @ Symposium Hall

21:40

22:25

25

           198.     

Pretending to Fly (***)

During Covid, two roommates journey to the roof to discuss their lives.  Due to a show running a little long, I arrived five minutes late, and never could figure out what was going on.  They seemed to pluck episodes from their past randomly.

theSpace @ Symposium Hall

16:05

16:55

25

           199.     

Funeral for My Friend Who Is Still Alive (***)

A Hong Kong woman provides scattered snippets of a friend’s life as well as hers in Hong Kong.  While sincere and touching in places, her broken English hindered my understanding of much of the play.  I couldn’t understand why she silently re-enacted three times him getting in and out of a coffin to act as his own pole bearer.

theSpace @ Niddry St

10:00

10:45

10

           200.     

Break the Chains (***)

An ex-addict created this show about his fight with addiction to help addicts kick their habit.  While he is quite sincere, and his tale uplifting, the production is pretty rudimentary.  I was impressed that he had kicked the habit for twenty years, and then returned to it after building a thriving business.

theSpace @ Surgeons Hall

22:15

23:05

10

           201.     

Alba (***)

In 2014, eight Scottish high school students learn of Scotland’s early battles for independence, and prepare for Scotland’s vote for independence.  Because of their strong Scottish accents made the songs and the protagonist almost impossible for me to understand, I found this play overlong and boring.  On top of that, many of the songs were quite repetitious.

Gilded Balloon Patter Hoose

11:15

12:45

2

           202.     

Graveyard of the Outcast Dead (***)

In Shakespearian times, three dead prostitutes, and a lover tell their tales.  Despite the cast speaking loud enough, my poor hearing made it so I missed significant parts of each story.  Others said they really enjoyed it.

theSpace on the Mile

17:10

18:20

5

           203.     

Shakespeare Up Late: A Right Royal Visit (***)

The four cast members take on MacBeth with broad humor and a few songs.  This show trades the wit of “Shakespeare for Breakfast” for the chaotic buffoonery of a farce.  The show had too much mugging, slapstick,, and low brow humor for me.

C ARTS | C venues | C aquila

22:40

23:25

27

           204.     

Great Ruckus (***)

Backed by macabre video drawings of the characters they are currently playing two sisters must deal with their wretched family at their mother’s funeral.  Despite my telling her that I had hearing problems, the usher insisted that I sit in the rear back corner of the theater despite the front row being nearly empty.  I was pissed when I could barely hear, and understood almost nothing when the too fast-talking sister spoke or the other when she used a squeaky voice for one family member.  After the show, I found out that the usher was following the seating specifications of the show itself, and that other people loved the show.

Pleasance Courtyard

14:00

15:00

22

           205.     

Murder in the Cathedral (***)

A large cast reads the verse drama “Murder in the Cathedral” about four men assassinating Archbishop Thomas Beckett under the orders of King Henry II.  I was disappointed because I had thought this was going to be play about a murder mystery, and not a reading of an historical drama.  Due to the fact that the entire cast was reading from books, the staging was minimal, and the entire show slow and pretty boring.

Old Saint Paul's Church

19:00

21:20

28

           206.     

Goodbye Uncle Fudgey (***)

An actor plays a boy who was sent to boarding school against his will by his parents and laments how it hurt him.  For the initial ¾ of the show Fudgey interacts with the audience using childish behavior both as an adult and schoolboy that quickly becomes tedious.  The last third is touching, but too late.

Gilded Balloon Teviot

20:20

21:20

22

           207.     

Swan Song (***)

Two acting friends are scheduled for the same venue time slot, and agree to only do half of each of their shows.  While the concept could be interesting, the unconvincing snippets and banter just seem to fill the time, and go nowhere.  In the play, they say that they are much more actors than writers, and it shows.

Greenside @ Infirmary Street

19:35

20:25

10

           208.     

Scaredy Fat (***)

A fat fellow who loves horror films must deal with his own horrific alter ego while talking about his experiences, and those of overweight people in the films.  Though it was clear that a lot of time went into the video aspects of the production it was just way too loud for me.  His character was too broad and antic for me to really care about his battle with his alter ego.

Pleasance Dome

16:05

17:05

10

           209.     

Tomorrow's Child (***)

After putting on blindfolds, we were led into a room to hear an adaption of Bradbury’s tale of how two parents deal with their baby born in the fourth dimension.  I am not sure whether I fell asleep or not, but it seemed to be almost entirely a sequence of loud sound effects with few words.  So for me there wasn’t much here.

Assembly Checkpoint

11:40

12:50

20

           210.     

Edmonds (***)

An actor plays Noel Edmonds and selects an audience to play “Deal or No Deal” by repeatedly selecting one of 22 boxes each of which contain references to Edmond’s career, and not money.  As a Yank who knew nothing of Edmonds, nor “Deal…”, I found most of the show boring.  Now that I have researched the two, I still think that the show has little to offer.

Pleasance Courtyard

15:15

16:15

8

           211.     

Otto & Astrid's Joint Solo Project (***)

The guitarist and drummer satirize rock bands, and their childish disagreements.  Though the music had a good beat, and I had the sense the lyrics were somewhat witty, it was just too loud and not particularly tuneful.  The whole “this is my side of the stage” shtick quickly grew tiresome.

Assembly George Square Gardens

19:25

20:25

12

           212.     

Until Death (***)

This one-woman show (with a little help) mixes together bats, a hospital, Marilyn Monroe, and stripper without a plot, nor premise, and ends up a mess.  The ideas are so disparate that it could be a fever dream.   One memorable sequence, based on Marilyn Monroe’s exhaust grate scene, has her wearing a white dress, and trying to have an orgasm by blowing progressively larger fans up her dress.

theSpace @ Surgeons Hall

22:10

23:00

26

           213.     

Ay Up, Hitler! (**)

Hitler and his three henchmen didn’t die, they took up residence in Yorkshire.  This show once again proves that only Mel Brooks could make a funny show about Hitler, and get away with it.  Anytime you are trying to make a joke involving the Holocaust you should know you are way too far afield.

theSpace @ Surgeons Hall

22:15

23:20

20

           214.     

How to Drink Wine Like a Wanker (**)

A woman talks about her transition from top level executive to winery counter person while discussing the attributes of six wines offered to taste for 10 pounds.  There is no script, she just talks mostly about her life at the expense of talking about the making of the wines, in particular, she never explained why we would be drinking a white wine with a 2017 vintage, nor why a vintner would choose to release a cloudy wine.  Besides there being no script, and there is an unannounced extra ten pound charge for the tasting that is integral to her presentation, the show ran 10 minutes long.

Summerhall

13:00

14:00

25

           215.     

Take The Bins Out (**)

A businessman who is going blind has serious marital problems, and spends most of the show calling his wife complaining about her and his plight.  Even though he does end up talking with a counselor on the phone, by then his constant self-centered whining had grown so tiresome that I didn’t care.  There was a white cane prop leaning up against a wall, but the actor made no real effort to maintain the illusion of his blindness.

Greenside @ Nicolson Square

18:25

19:25

7

           216.     

Breaking Up with Jesus (**)

The comedian starts off by saying “fuckin’” more than ten times in the first 30 seconds, and then goes on to treat his relationship with Jesus as a form of extended dating with three betrayals by Jesus.  While the premise is sort of funny initially, it cannot sustain the whole show.  Towards the end, I was just looking at my watch wishing time would move faster.

theSpace on the Mile

21:45

22:35

5

           217.     

My Father's Nose (**)

This absurdist show has a woman help a man she finds on a park bench to overcome his misconception that his thumb is the nose of his recently deceased father.  With forgettable family songs about banal subjects, this show just goes nowhere I found interesting.

Assembly Rooms

18:25

19:25

4

           218.     

Wildcat's Last Waltz (**)

A drag queen wife invites the audience into her home where she reminisces about her life with her husband.  In most cases I find audience participation a waste of dramatic time, and this show does it twice.  First we all invited to have some coffee, tea, and cookies, and then she and three audience members do a whole calisthenics routine twice for five minutes.

Assembly Rooms

19:45

20:45

4

           219.     

Lost Soles (**)

At the beginning of the show a professional actor tells of how his tap dancing was most informed by his grandmother, a man in Chicago, and a man in Cuba, and then proceeds to re-create each event with its resultant tap dance.  The huge problem here is that he spends 75% of his time silently moving props to create each of the three scenes.  On top of that, he often cannot be heard by people with normal hearing, and in Cuba he silently repeats a dinner scene four times with little explanation.

Assembly Roxy

16:30

17:30

2

           220.     

Importance of Being... Earnest? (**)

I generally think audience participation is a waste of valuable dramatic time, and from the start this version of Wilde’s play has an abundance of audience participation.  By the final scene five members of the audience had speaking roles on stage.  The show was so poorly constructed that the show ran more than twenty minutes longer than was promised.

Pleasance Courtyard

16:40

17:50

7

           221.     

Dan Tiernan: Going Under (**)

Tiernan is not a witty man; he seems to believe that louder is funnier that only produced courteous chuckles from the rarely amused audience.  He often runs up to an audience member until he is inches from their face, and then yells at them.  He started his routine by saying “fuckin’” in every sentence, and then proceeds to talk about his poor looks and beans until his notes prodded him with a new topic.

Monkey Barrel Comedy

22:00

23:00

-31

           222.     

Report to an Academy (*)

As best as we can tell, an old man tells a scientific academy of his captivity when an ape.  His performance is so full of artifice and cryptic descriptions that the people I spoke with afterwards just shook their heads in disbelief.  It didn’t help that he had the habit of dropping the ends of his sentences into unheard whispers.

ZOO Southside

20:10

21:05

9

           223.     

Escape Velocity (*)

This is not a play about dealing with sex addiction with a script, it is a man talking about all the sexual encounters he had until 2006.  It is telling that though the tale ends there, he then asserted that he is still trying to stop his behavior now.  He comes across as a stand-up comic who thought he could make some money bragging about how handsome he is, and easy it is to seduce women.

theSpace @ Surgeons Hall

21:15

22:05

10

 

            Unlike previous years, I will be alone at the Fringe for all but eight plays.  As such, I chose to try to see as many shows as I can.  Way back in 2010 by accident, I saw exactly 200 shows.  We’ll see how I do this year!  To facilitate seeing eight to ten shows in a day, I try to devote each day to a venue, or at least a small geographic area.  The biggest problem is that comedy dominates the Fringe evening programming.  Last year, I think I almost ran out of evening theater shows to see.  You can see my schedule at 2023 Schedule.htm. 

I hope to have the time to write my traditional three sentence reviews for all the shows I see.  In 2020, I had a chemo treatment for neck cancer that left me with reduced hearing, particularly in noisy environments.  I will note such problems in my reviews.  I try to have a consistent star rating across the years with 5-stars indicating a show that is excellent in all aspects of its production.  Usually only around 10% of the shows meet that criterion.  Four star shows are usually excellent in many aspects, but have area(s) that were problematic for me.  A three-star rating is not a condemnation, and just indicates that the show had provided normal enjoyment for me.  It is problematic whether, in this era of star inflation, that I should post my three star shows to edfringe.com.  In the middle of the Fringe this year I decided that I would not because a three star rating may hurt a play’s attendance.  Shows that I give less than three stars have serious problem(s) for me, and I feel obligated to warn others on edfringe.com.

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 154 reviews for 2022 Fringe, 15 reviews for 2021 Fringe, 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.

 

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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