154 Reviews for 2022 the Edinburgh Fringe (In order from most enjoyable to least)

 

Welcome to the 2022 version of my Fringe reviews.  This year is unlike any other because my 49-year old stepson, Breck, will choose most of the shows for the first week.  He loves comedy and magic much more than I do so I won’t get to see much theater until the 11th.  As usual, my incredibly knowledgeable friend, Tim, will choose our plays for a week, Aug 22-26.  If you want suggestions for strong plays before I have a chance to write many reviews,  I suggest you look at my schedule for those dates.  You can see my schedule at 2022 Schedule. 

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 criteria.  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.  Since in this era of rating inflation, a three star rating will hurt audience attendance, I will not be posting reviews of three star shows to edfringe.com until after they close.  Shows that I give less than three stars have serious problem(s) for me, and I feel obligated to warn others on edfringe.com.

You can find out about me, and my extended thoughts about reviewing at the bottom of this page.  I think that the most useful aspect for my readers is the rankings.  I base the rankings on my enjoyment of the show, so they may not reflect the quality of the script and/or acting.  I prefer plays to comedy acts, but work in a little of the latter for diversity.  I have discovered that I have a penchant for true stories.  The comments are usually only three sentences long because I have little time between shows, and, after all, I am here for the shows.  You can also see my 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.

You can change the sorting column of the table below by first clicking anywhere in its header.  Each succeeding click in the header sorts the table by the column clicked.  Succeeding clicks of a column will reverse the previous sort order.  I have now added a Date column on the right so that returning viewers can sort by it to see my most recent reviews.

 

Fringe Festival Reviews

 

Rank

Review

Venue

Begins

Ends

Date

       1.        

Oedipus Electronica (*****)

A pregnant playwright with writer’s block is tasked with writing a contemporary “mythological” play.  She doesn’t set out to write Oedipus Rex, but this intense, occasionally loud, play revolves around it.  With its acting, writing, and production values of the highest caliber, this is the best play I have seen in years.  Arrive early so you can sit in the front row to experience its full intensity.

Pleasance Courtyard

15:30

16:45

22

       2.        

Eowyn Emerald and Dancers (*****)

This is a single, ingenious jazz pas de deux with an incredibly diverse mix of music and moves.  Even when there is sorrow, her love of life comes through.  Her extremely tall partner does an fine job of shadowing her quick, precise movements.

Greenside @ Nicholson Square

13:50

14:40

20

       3.        

Love, Loss and Chianti (*****)

This two hander is actually two pieces that have an older book editor in common.  In the first he morns his recently deceased wife, and in the second he arranges a dinner with an old flame. The lyrical prose and her sharp style make this an elegant piece with every word and move precisely conveying the subtlety (and lack of subtlety) of the two characters.

Assembly Rooms

12:55

14:30

24

       4.        

The Choir of Man (*****)

This musical is set in local tavern in which the men chose to sing rather than form sports teams.  This is classic revue that mixes upbeat singalong songs with dance with solo ballads with audience members invited on stage to be the center of attention.  I saw this show in 2019, and the vibe was just as great this time, as the audience joyfully joined the pub men.

Assembly Hall

20:40

21:40

4

       5.        

Mitch Benn: It's About Time (*****)

Benn mixes poignant stories from his life with observations about spending time wisely with well written, short songs in a way that I just loved.  Whether it is dealing with his dying mother during Covid, or railing against the politicians, his humanity and wit are always plainly evident.  I particularly appreciated his reminder that rather than repeating itself, events are often similar, but each is an opportunity for change.

Underbelly, Bristo Square

16:00

17:00

5

       6.        

Police Cops: The Musical (*****)

The energetic and talented cast of six young people smoothly perform the songs, choreography, and hi-jinx of this send-up of rookie cop movies.  Though I missed a few lines because of my poor hearing, what I did hear was clever and tuneful.  It was joy to watch each of them tackle their many roles so effectively.

Assembly George Square Studios

19:00

20:25

9

       7.        

Little Women (*****)

This musical adaptation of Alcott’s sentimental novel about four sisters growing up in the mid-19th century has everything you could ask for in a musical: strong voices, fun choreography, evocative well played music, and a story that pulls at your heart.  The show revolves around Jo, the oldest sister, and the actress nails the role with both her voice and spirited personality.  The various ways of presenting the signs to indicate the location and date were a delightful little way to start each scene.

Assembly Rooms

10:00

12:20

23

       8.        

Intelligence (*****)

In the basement of the United States State Department, three women take turns enacting meetings between an envoy and a leader of an Islamic terrorist organization.  The writing is taut, and the evolution of the three characters intriguing.  A date/time clock above the proceedings adds a subtle urgency to the proceedings.

Assembly Roxy

12:40

14:00

11

       9.        

Joshua (and Me) (*****)  A young woman relates the true story of how growing up with an autistic brother influenced her and her normal brother.  This is not a simple tale of an undervalued daughter, but rather of how her brother’s improvement impacted her over the years.  Though I found her looped background difficult to understand with my poor hearing, it was an effective way to convey the changing atmosphere of the house.

Pleasance Dome

10:55

11:55

11

      10.       

Feeling Afraid as if Something Terrible is Going to Happen (*****)

Samuel Barnett plays a 36-year old gay comedian who finally falls in love, but has trouble coming to terms with this new feeling and monogamy.  Barnett characterization and comic timing are so perfect that I thought he was really a comedian doing a Fringe show.  His loving but suspicious description of his American lover hones his confusion and self-doubt throughout the play.

Summerhall

19:00

20:00

22

      11.       

Camille O'Sullivan: Dreaming (*****)

I see Camille every time she comes to the Fringe.  Even though she was very loud at times, she was still great.  A force of nature in the mold of Janis Joplin but without the drugs.

Underbelly Bristo Square

19:20

20:35

16

      12.       

The Girl Who Was Very Good at Lying (*****)

A girl tells tall tales about her town to a handsome stranger.  Well structured, well acted, and just plain fun.  I was surprised how well the ending suited the story.

Summerhall

11:55

12:55

17

      13.       

Still Floating (*****)

Shon Dale-Jones combines a visit to his mother on the Isle of Anglesey with his tall tale of the island suddenly coming loose and literally sailing around the North Atlantic.  From a swimming vest of oranges to a demonstration of disorientation using a cardboard box this is a wonderful, whimsical story told by a master.  I gave the original “Floating” five stars in 2006, and this version didn’t let me down.

Summerhall

19:15

20:15

20

      14.       

Ruckus (*****)

Based on real stories, a woman tells of how her relationship with her lover very slowly evolves into one of abuse.  Him driving them at scary speeds was an example of how a lover can exert control over their spouse that I would never thought of, but Debbie had experienced.  Because of my hearing impairment, at times I could not understand the high pitched voice of the actress, and would give this four stars, but Debbie thought it was worth five.

Summerhall

15:30

16:30

21

      15.       

We are Traffic: An Uber Adventure (****)

A real Los Angeles Uber driver combines a tale of how ride sharing has changed over the years with that of his marriage and personal growth using photos and video.  This former New Yorker brings an openness and clarity to the subject that is at once disarming and fun.  His thesis about how his passengers have become less like friends over the years was thought provoking.

Assembly Rooms

17:15

18:15

18

      16.       

Out of the Blue (****)

The thirteen Oxford men are back with their smooth acapella and loose choreography.  I always make time to see them each year, and they again brought tears to my eyes with their harmonies and camaraderie.  Normally I give them five stars, but this year’s selection of songs had fewer songs that I knew than ever before.

Assembly George Square

15:00

16:00

10

      17.       

S.O.E. (****)

Based on a real spy, this two-hander has a woman officer of the World War II Special Operation Executive debrief a woman wireless operator after her assignment in occupied Paris.  The officer’s concern is palpable, and the spy’s tale is thrilling.  A description of the varied purposes of the four pills hidden in a matchbox highlights both the subtlety and danber of her mission.

Assembly Rooms

11:30

12:30

27

      18.       

Kevin Quantum: Dark Matter (****)

Kevin starts off successfully guessing drink an audience member is thinking of, and from then on continues with a polished show of patter and new magic.  I am reluctant to use the word “tricks”, because my cynicism took such a beating.  While Breck and I could figure out some of the magic, there were some that left us astounded.

Gilded Balloon Teviot

15:30

16:30

6

      19.       

Changing the Sheets (****)

Always standing six feet apart, and facing the audience, a man and woman repeatedly meet for sex, and maybe little else.  Though we little of their motivation, the few tidbits from their past we do hear is enough to explain their interactions.  Even during the scenes that took place in bed, the staging was remarkably effective.

Assembly Rooms

21:15

22:15

28

      20.       

Candy (****)

A fellow finally falls in love with someone but that person doesn’t fit with his vision of himself.  This story of coming to grips with his discovery of love and its attending internal conflicts is well written, and well acted.  The revelation about his aunt’s life proves to be an excellent device.

Underbelly Bristo Square

15:50

16:50

18

      21.       

Happy Meal (****)

Two people meet playing an online video game, and begin to share their lives through social media.  The story draws us in as they reveal more about their difficulties with their sexual identities.  Though the final scene has a meet-cute feel to it, the rest of the story feels real, and tender.

Traverse

10:30

11:45

14

      22.       

The Final Approach (****)

Through a combination of two webcams, an overhead projector, and a voice synthesizer a fellow presents a bizarre story of sleep deprivation and corruption in his high school.  We watched it all on a single screen while he masterfully switched between webcams and voices to create a unique, smooth presentation.  The way he was able to gather the offbeat threads of the story together into a coherent conclusion amazed me.

Underbelly Bristo Square

11:35

12:45

19

      23.       

Fanboy (****)

A thirty something nerd whose life revolves around Star Wars et al, interacts with his 8-year old self on a video cam, and a mysterious being who resembles the Emperor, as he deals with his own world view conflicts.  On the first day of the Fringe, with Breck choosing only comedy shows, only this piece brought tears to my eyes because of its sincerity and depth.  Despite the low budget, and maybe because of the low budget, the multi-media worked surprisingly well to convey the pureness of childhood.    

Pleasance Dome

12:15

13:15

3

      24.       

Card Ninja (****)

This is not a magic or sleight of hand show, a man who can throw cards with amazing speed and power.  Though he is a one trick pony, his skill, his Ninja persona, and his interaction with the audience were wonderful.  Breck stood out as a participant who finally caught a thrown card, and then counted how many cards were thrown at him in ten seconds.

Gilded Balloon Teviot

16:15

17:15

3

      25.       

Cassie and the Lights (****)

When their mother abandons her three daughters, her 16-year old daughter takes over rearing her two younger sisters until the system gets wind of it.  Debbie, who worked in Children Social Care, and I were very moved by the tale.  We did find the music accompaniment too loud though. 

Underbelly Cowgate

12:30

13:30

13

      26.       

Love Them to Death (****)

A mother and a school counselor battle over whether her young son is really as sick as she says, or is a victim of Fabricated or Induced Illness.  Like a good mystery, new evidence keeps us guessing while we pity the poor child throughout.  While the demanding mother is not likeable, it is a tribute to the play that I could not help but understand her supposed plight.

Underbelly Cowgate

15:30

16:30

14

      27.       

Fantastically Great Women Who Changed the World (****)

This very professional musical has an eleven-year old Black girl wander into a restricted part of museum dedicated to accomplished women of the past.  The cast, particularly the girl, are all top notch with strong, upbeat songs, and fun choreography.  As each famous woman, particularly Rosa Parks, comes alive, they serve to bolster the girl’s resolve to be special and her awareness of her own self-worth.

Pleasance Courtyard

13:30

14:50

22

      28.       

The Actress (****)

After Charles II decides to allow women to perform on stage, a surprisingly well educated common girl, and a renowned prostitute vie for the role of Desdemona.  The play clearly presents the producer/director’s dilemma between tutoring the sensitive commoner on how to act, and just accepting the marketable sexy woman.  The problem for this Fringe play is that actress playing the whore is just too tall to ever believe that she would be acceptable to the actors of that era.

Underbelly Bristo Square

16:40

17:40

19

      29.       

Starship Improvise (****)

With the audience only providing the title, initial emotion, and starting location on a starship, this show has a predefined structure that gives it a big leg-up on other improvised shows.  The pre-filmed credits and introductions tell us who their characters are within the Star Trek well defined command structure.  With this as a starting point, the actors easily slide into their well worn roles to exploit the seams of fun in the given premise of the day.

Pleasance Dome

15:00

16:00

7

      30.       

Ari Eldjárn: Saga Class (****)

Eldjarn populates his stand-up routine with comments about Covid, his native Iceland, and his two young daughters.  His gentle humor warmed my heart throughout his show.  Imagining an Icelandic man trying to cook some ham on a new lava flow only to see his expensive skillet melt is something I will never forget.

Monkey Barrel 4 Blair St.

17:00

18:00

8

      31.       

Sap (****)

This one woman show (with an occasional assist) has her telling the audience how her bisexuality proved troublesome for her, and both her male and female lovers.  The play is filled with evocative soliloquys with a touchstone of trees throughout.  I was surprised to find that because of the playwright’s heavy reliance on similes, I became conscious of their use.

Summerhall

12:50

14:00

21

      32.       

Something About Simon (****)

As a solo performer, Gary Edward Jones, gets close to matching Paul Simon’s voice and guitar skills.  His renditions of Simon’s classics and tales from Simon’s early career evoke fond memories.  I wish he had spent a little more time on Simon’s later life, and included “One Trick Pony” at the expense of another Simon and Garfunkel tune.

Assembly Rooms

13:00

14:00

15

      33.       

Christopher Bliss: Captain Words Eye (****)

Bliss assumes a character who is a confident author exploring different forms of writing.  Meanwhile he invites audience participation in a variety of literary exercises.  His reading of the first chapter of his sexy and comic novella had us all laughing after each paragraph.

Pleasance Courtyard

18:40

19:40

13

      34.       

Sandcastles (****)

When her best friend since childhood decides to move to New York City, a young woman lamenters her absence.  From their initial meeting in sandbox to their frequent misunderstandings, their emotional bond permeates the play.  It all resonated with my own relationship with my best friend of almost 50 years.

Assembly Rooms

12:50

13:50

27

      35.       

Eglantyne (****)

An actress suggests how her life paralleled that of Eglantyne Jeb who was the founder of Save the Children.  As we follow Eglantyne’s circuitous route to charity founder we learn how both she and her sister were a powerful team advancing many causes.  Hearing of the actress’ life added little to the play, but learning of Eglantyne’s life was worth it.

Gilded Balloon Teviot

11:05

12:20

29

      36.       

Rebel (****)

With a David Bowie imitator as ring master, an Australian group play Bowie songs while different musicians perform circus acts.  The acts range from juggling to aerial work with drapes suspended from the tent’s ceiling to a clown trying to extricate themselves from a chair.  The final act with a performer stacking chairs at odd angles and climbing on top of them was quite amazing.

Underbelly Circus Hub

17:30

18:30

24

      37.       

Are You Being Murdered? (****)

Arthur Bostrom beautifully executes this one hander about a murder that takes place on the set of the old Brit sitcom, “Are You Being Served?”  The acting, staging, pacing, and murder tale, are all top notch.  Besides Bostrom’s winning characterization, I appreciated how the playwright had given nicknames to the supporting characters so we could easily keep track of them.

Pleasance at EICC

12:00

13:00

6

      38.       

Pip Utton as Dylan (****)

As usual, Utton dons a character, and uses his research to allow us to present him as a real person rather than just a celebrity.  In this case, we are treated to a man who is first, and foremost a singer/songwriter who has no desire to be an icon of a generation.  I found it most telling, that he spent many days at Woody Guthrie’s bedside as he died of Huntington’s disease.

Pleasance Courtyard

13:30

14:30

7

      39.       

Pete Firman: Bag Of Tricks (****)

With his likable persona, and smooth patter, Firman makes the most of his bag of well-worn magic tricks.  Other than the first trick involving a chair in a carton that mysteriously turns upside down, I had seen all of the tricks before.  Nonetheless, even from the first row, his sleight-of-hand was top notch, and a joy to watch.

Gilded Balloon Teviot

20:00

21:00

3

      40.       

What the Heart Wants (****)

Woody Allen and Frank Sinatra try to collaborate to write a film treatment starring themselves.  Sinatra’s excellent singing combined with their discussions of possible plot variations combine for a unique exploration of relationships.  Unhappily, the last line of the play was so badly delivered that the power of its revelation was lost.

Gilded Balloon Patter Hoose

14:00

15:00

6

      41.       

In the Weeds (****)

A Japanese marine biologist comes to  Scotland to research a potential lake monster (not the Loch Ness monster).  As he gets to know a strange local woman, the story becomes darker and more complex.  The use of a small pool on stage emphasizes the unusual tie between the water and the woman.

Summerhall

13:10

14:10

26

      42.       

Foundations (****)

A sixteen-year old starts working at a factory, and her curiosity leads her to meet a naïve young robot living in a completely unknown underground world.  The robot puppets come alive nicely as the plot moves along at a good pace.  Except for the sections involving lamps in hands, the choreography served well to highlight the similarities of the two worlds.

Underbelly Cowgate

11:05

12:05

13

      43.       

Diary for a Nobody (****)

A mid-19th century senior clerk reads 18 months of entries from his diary.  While many are mundane, they gave a vivid depiction of life in the Victorian age when the bourgeoisie were ever aware of propriety and class.  His experiences at the Mayor’s Ball highlight his own shortcomings and the misplaced sense of self-importance of he and his wife.

at theSpace on the Mile

17:30

18:20

27

      44.       

Closure (****)

A couple arrive for dinner at one of her mates only to find that the man has a past with the cook.  The plot develops nicely as we are not sure who is in the wrong until quite late.  The cook’s presentation of the dinner does not match the keen plot though.

Pleasance Courtyard

15:10

16:10

19

      45.       

Wilf (****)

A jilted gay man finds solace in a used car that “talks” to him, and his long term driving instructor/counselor.  Much of the humor arises from his desire to fellate almost any man he meets.  Though he does seem to become more grounded, his rampant sexuality becomes tiresome.

Traverse

10:30

11:50

26

      46.       

Fiji (****)

A fellow secretly comes to a stranger’s flat for a weekend of sex, probing questions, and dining.  Their interactions are cryptic initially, but grow increasingly intense as the weekend progresses.  While the visitor has the right to keep his motives secret, such secrecy weakens the play.

Pleasance Courtyard

13:55

14:55

14

      47.       

An Audience with Stuart Bagcliffe (****)

This tale has a naïve, sickly teenager present an autobiographic Fringe show about his protective mother and his naivete.  The actor is perfect at conveying his awkward awakening to the opposite sex, while dealing with his offstage mother.  I loved his quiet, subtle performance until the director spoiled the atmosphere with a superfluous cacophony of light and sound to needlessly highlight the boys already traumatic experience.

Zoo Playgound

10:55

11:50

7

      48.       

Pip Utton is Adolf (****)

Utton performs as Adolf Hitler alternating between wishing his household staff farewell in the Berlin bunker, and advising us how to lead people.  The first section of the play was as great as ever.  However, the last section doesn’t have the punch of his 2003 version (through no fault of his own.)

The Stand's New Town Theatre

21:00

22:00

15

      49.       

ALOK (****)

ALOK covers a wide range of topics related to their transgender experience.  I found their poetry wonderful.  Their use of absolutes (“all”, “never”) when describing groups of people seemed hypocritical in the context of his message of acceptance.

Traverse

21:00

22:00

11

      50.       

Shelton on Sinatra (****)

Richard Shelton has a passion for Sinatra, and has the talent to sing his songs well.  His remarks about Sinatra’s life added a lot to the experience.  The sound tech had the piano so loud that it hid many of Shelton’s quieter phrases.

Le Monde Hotel

16:30

17:30

15

      51.       

Two Fingers Up (****)

Three young women review their own discovery of their sexuality, including education at school and masturbation.  Though one of the women was more adventurous, she is less a leader more an inquisitor of her friends for confirmation.  Despite its topic, the approach is more fun than sexy, with sexual pleasure portrayed with girlish wiggling rather than orgasmic moans.

Summerhall

18:30

19:25

17

      52.       

This is Paradise (****)

An Irish woman recounts the history of her lovers and childhood friends.  Her acting is superb throughout this long piece.  This probably would be given five stars by everyone else, but we couldn’t understand a lot because of her strong Irish accent.

Traverse

11:00

12:20

18

      53.       

Tim Crouch: Truth's a Dog Must to Kennel (****)

Crouch dons an inactive VR headset, and while blinded, acts as if he is seeing himself as the Fool in “King Lear” in front of a different audience.  I found his comments about the make believe audience quite funny, and those on the play thought provoking.  He provided lighter moments by breaking up his “viewing” by telling a few jokes.

Lyceum

20:15

21:25

25

      54.       

Boy (****)

Based on a true story, using stuffed animals as props, a Mennonite couple re-enacts events from their life with a child who was maimed at birth  The toys take the place of the various people depicted in the sometimes violent real and imagined encounters.   Since I fell asleep during a crucial short section,, I would have given the show three stars, but my wide awake companion thinks it deserves four.

Summerhall

11:30

12:30

21

      55.       

Bloody Harmony (***)

After their mother’s funeral three disparate sisters try to find her will in her attic.  This felt like a well written chick flick.  The three actresses create beautiful harmonies in the many songs in the piece, but the lyrics were difficult to understand and the tunes were too similar.

Traverse

16:30

18:00

25

      56.       

How to Build a Wax Figure (***)

A teenage girl start to work for a neighbor woman who creates wax sculptures of human body parts.  The play handles the slow evolution of their relationship well.  I found the tentative efforts at kissing by the teenager particularly touching.

Assembly George Square

12:55

13:55

25

      57.       

Carnegie (***)

Andrew Carnegie tells of his life from poor Scottish immigrant to the world to philanthropist.  As we hear of his humane treatment of his workers but murderous strike breaking he becomes a complicated, real person for us.  Later in life, when free from the doubtful morality of his business dealing, his efforts to bring peace to the world and education to his countries reveal how strong his underlying respect for workers was.

Penmure House

16:00

16:55

28

      58.       

Brown Boys Swim (***)

Two dissimilar Muslim high school pals set out to learn to swim before a pool party.  This mixes discrimination with two different approaches to life to explore many aspects of Islamic acculturation in the UK.  Though the scene changes seemed too frequent, they were ably assisted by a sliding table that served as a multitude of objects, including the edge of a swimming pool, and a wall for graffiti.

Pleasance Dome

14:30

15:30

27

      59.       

Winston and David (***)

The mistress of David Lloyd George narrates as two actors recreate the critical interactions between George and Churchill.  I knew little of the Liberal Prime Minister George, and found the information about him fascinating.  I’ve been to the Churchill Museum in London, and found his portrayal to be too self centered.

Underbelly Bristo Square

13:25

14:25

29

      60.       

Mark Watson: This Can't Be It (***)

Watson spends time interacting with the audience, and giving his take on the lockdown.  He uses a life expectancy table as starting point for assessing his progress in life.  He was often funny, but too scattered for me.

Pleasance Courtyard

21:00

22:00

14

      61.       

Bad Clowns: Invasion (***)

This delightful show has three agents using an alien detector gun to find an alien in the audience who will disarm a ticking time bomb on the stage that will destroy the Earth in less than hour.  Their frequent misuse of a memory washer straight out of “Men in Black” keeps the plot jerking along in a most amusing fashion.  I was really impressed the complex Rube Goldberg bomb with its moving lights and elevating whatever.

Gilded Balloon Teviot

13:30

14:30

4

      62.       

The Strange Undoing of Prudence Hall (***)

This ceilidh has a conference an expert in Scottish ballads gets lost in the snow on her way to her bed and breakfast.  The entertainment was immersive, intentionally low budget, fun, and professional.  The interactions with the devil lent a real Scottish feel to it.

Playfair Library

19:30

22:00

24

      63.       

9 Circles (***)

An uneducated, but surprisingly smart veteran is arrested after being honorably discharged for killing three Iraqis.  As he deals with his sergeant, a pastor, two defense attorneys, and an army psychiatrist, we learn of his turmoil and the complex politics of his situation.  While the acting was top notch throughout, his confusion and the ambiguity of his plight combined to make the play feel sterile.

Assembly George Square

13:30

14:35

23

      64.       

Arthur Smith: My 75 Years at the Edinburgh Fringe (***)

The well travelled comedian covers the Fringe from its beginnings, and his shows there from 1977.  His shows have varied from early zany comedy with plates crashed on people’s heads to Leonard Cohen homages.  His mix of laconic humor goes down well.  

Pleasance Courtyard

14:40

15:40

11

      65.       

The MP, Aunty Mandy & Me (***)

The only gay in the village goes to work for the campaign of his local MP.  From his fascination with trains his world view is changed with this new environment of politics and urban gay bars.  A dog mask, and simple echo well convey the radically different druggy gay culture.

Pleasance Dome

13:35

14:35

19

      66.       

Mustard (***)

This solo show has a young bar maid recounting her life after she ran away with a handsome, wealthy man.  Though the development of their relationship is predictable, her quirky reactions keep things interesting.  The later scenes with mustard have a wonderful cathartic feeling.

 

 

 

 

      67.       

Eh Up, Me Old Flowers! (***)

The 1970s TV comedian Charlie Williams talks about his life with an interviewer.  As he detailed his life from coal miner to professional football player to singer to club comedian to TV star, my attention never strayed.  As a man who lived through the 1970s as an adult, his defense against charges that he promoted racism rang true to me.

Pleasance Courtyard

15:10

16:10

29

      68.       

Afghanistan is Not Funny (***)

The comedian and playwright Henry Naylor starts with the success of play “Finding Bin-Laden”, and details trying to convert it to a film, and his trip to Afghanistan to verify its facts.  The portion about the film is tool and of little interest, but his trip to Afghanistan had many thrilling events and touching moments.  It was Naylor’s Afghani translator who seemed to finally impress the writer with the plight of the people after the allies withdrew their aid.

Gilded Balloon Teviot

16:00

17:00

27

      69.       

Godspell (***)

In a dystopian future, a leader emerges to restore their faith, and remind them of Christ’s teachings using parables from the Bible.  Everyone in the cast has a strong voice, and the dances are frequent and varied.  I just tired of the constant rejoicing.

Assembly Rooms

10:00

11:50

24

      70.       

Bloody Elle - A Gig Musical (***)

A working class singer tells of her teenage friendship with a female co-worker at a chip shop who was from a wealthy neighborhood.  Though the singer was personable and talented, this ends up feeling like a Traverse version of a Fringe show about a common teenage personal experience.  I liked he staging with its guitars at different locations that occasionally picked up, and played.

Traverse

15:30

17:00

24

      71.       

Dragons and Mystical Beasts (***)

A trainer of heroes asks the children for help at becoming a hero himself by completing six quests involving magical creatures.  The beautifully made puppet creatures vary from a tiny fairy to a three-person dragon.  The minions within the larger creatures made them come alive for the entire audience.

Underbelly Bristo Square

11:20

12:20

5

      72.       

Ode to Joy (How Gordon got to go to the Nasty Pig Party) (***)

This raucous comedy has a straight laced fellow delving into the gay world in an effort to find himself.  The big, both in personality and size, narrator keeps things moving along from one funny scenario to another.  Because of its reverberations, the Demonstration Room is a horrible venue, but despite missing many words, I found their antics great fun.

Summerhall

18:10

19:20

21

      73.       

Caligari (***)

This adaptation of the 1920 landmark horror film “The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari” has four musicians trying to deal with both the evil doctor, and their own tenuous grip on life.  The production, including an appropriately bizarre cabinet conveys the macabre feeling of the movie perfectly.  Their own ambivalence about their fate adds an extra dimension to the show.

Underbelly Cowgate

18:30

19:30

12

      74.       

Agent November: Indoor Escape Game – Murder Mr E (***)

Ten of us were tasked to determine who of six suspects had killed Mr. E by solving seven or eight multi-level puzzles.  Since the three of us worked on only one, I can only speak of it, and can say it required a mix of skills, and benefited from teamwork.  On the whole it was a very satisfying puzzle solving experience.

The Stand's New Town Theatre

15:00

16:00

8

      75.       

Mischief Movie Night (***)

Tasked with creating an action movie involving a grandma in a kitchen, the moon, and a dystopian future, the troupe created a story that was fun for the audience.  I found the professional improv group a vast improvement over the cringe worthy amateurs at the Fringe.  Nonetheless, I would only recommend this for people who can find ad hoc wit an acceptable substitute for a well written script.

Pleasance at EICC

18:30

19:30

4

      76.       

Pete Heat: Blimey (***)

The Wee Room seems like the perfect room for Pete’s casual, intimate approach to magic presentation.  Using only small props like dice, cards, and soda cans, he still explores a wide range of magic tricks including mind reading, object creation, and object transformation.  All in all, it was a lot of fun.

Gilded Balloon Teviot

20:40

21:40

6

      77.       

Flo & Joan: Sweet Release (***)

The musical pair combine witty songs, audience interactions, and humorous tales from their lives to create a delightful show for their audience.  Though their personas are strikingly different, the two sisters clearly enjoy working together to create a sharp show.  I must admit that I was too old for many of their pop culture references, but still had a fine time.

Assembly Roxy

20:10

21:10

10

      78.       

Matt Forde: Clowns to the Left of Me, Jokers to the Right (***)

Forde is a slick professional comedian who concentrates on politics.  His casual imitations of the various politicians were good enough to add to the humor of his critiques.  As a Yank, I only knew enough about the UK politicians to appreciate about half of his work.

Pleasance Courtyard

20:00

21:00

19

      79.       

Angela Barnes: Hot Mess (***)

Barnes is another well travelled English comedian who knows how to find the humorous side of life.  As expected, Debbie liked her better than I.

Pleasance Courtyard

19:00

20:00

11

      80.       

Tiff Stevenson: Sexy Brain (***)

Stevenson combines tales of her episodes of ADHD (Sexy) brain, with feminist observations.  Whether it was thwarting her partner’s marriage proposal with endless guesses, or society’s backhand negation of women’s concerns she keeps things light.  My favorite was her mind bending revelations after smoking marijuana during her mid-life “crisis” (“breakdown” for women) in Los Angeles.

Pleasance Courtyard

20:00

21:00

8

      81.       

Seann Walsh: Is Dead. Happy Now? (***)

The comedian tells of his life since the newspapers published a photo of him passionately kissing his married Strictly Come Dancing partner outside a club.  Whether it was dealing with the career crushing aftermath, the poop of his dog, or his heroin smoking father, he strove to create tales with an amazing mix of pathos and humor.   I found myself alternating between empathizing with his plight, and laughing out loud with him.

The Stad Comedy Club

22:00

23:00

3

      82.       

Kafka and Son (***)

The Czech author writes a letter to his overbearing father expressing his anguish.  His acting, the use of props, and only occasionally overloud music all impressed me.  However, the unrelenting dour tone needs an occasional uplifting moment—maybe from his courtships.

Pleasance Courtyard

10:30

11:30

4

      83.       

Tim Vine: Breeeep! (***)

The king of one-liners is still going strong after all these years mixing in in puns, visual gags, and ditties to create a  clever mélange of humor.   With my poor hearing, I did miss many of his quips, but those I heard were worth it all.   The rest of the audience had a great time;  like Laugh-In of the sixties, if you didn’t like that joke, just wait a few seconds, and there will be another.

Pleasance Courtyard

18:00

19:00

3

      84.       

Nic Sampson: Marathon, 1904 (***)

Combining facts with his a bit of fictionalized backstory, Sampson provides a lively account of an real, bizarre Olympic marathon.  He focuses on three racers, and their amazing obstacles including wild dogs, strychnine, and enforced dehydration.  My one complaint was that he chose Breck without warning to participate at several points in the show without instead of asking for a volunteer.  I should note that Breck acquitted himself admirably, and added a lot to the fun of the show. 

Pleasance Courtyard

16:40

17:40

7

      85.       

Shakespeare for Breakfast (***)

Three actors do a fair job of presenting a severely abridged version of “A Winter’s Tale” with a light touch.  Even people unfamiliar with the story (most of the audience) could follow it.  Two of the actors switched between characters easily, and often humoursly.

C Aquila

10:00

10:50

28

      86.       

The Transfiguration of Mrs Lamen (***)

An aging, hard drinking, drag clown forgot some lines last night, and tonight a young admirer has been assigned to get him ready to perform.  The juxta position of the jaded veteran, and the naïve young man powers the play.  I found the later actions by the drunken clown and disillusioned man spot on.

Gilded Balloon Teviot

11:15

12:15

28

      87.       

Caste-ing (***)

Three Black women singers bemoan a entertainment system that judges them based on their looks instead of their voices.  The singers had great voices, and even demonstrated their beatbox skill at times.  I found their solo singing enjoyable, but my poor hearing made their trio songs unintelligible. 

Summerhall

20:25

21:25

22

      88.       

The Queen's Cartoonists (***)

A piece band adds accompanying music to a wide range of cartoons with particular attention to Wallace and Gromit.  Both the zany music and the quieter melodic music work well for most of their cartoons.  However, there were some cartoons for which the music seemed inappropriate.

Assembly Roxy

17:00

18:00

17

      89.       

Richard Hardisty: Silly Boy (***)

A nice comedian with gentle humor, but nothing execeptional.

Pleasance Below

16:30

17:30

10

      90.       

Benjamin Alborough: Absolute Monopoly (***)

Alborough polls the audience for rule changes that would allow Monopoly to be completed in an hour.  I would expect this premise would rarely work as well as did this time.  The two volunteer players, one a big relaxed guy, and the other a small, effete fellow interacted in wonderfully unexpected ways, including dancing together, and threatening the host.

Gilded Balloon Patter Hoose

21:15

22:15

5

      91.       

Spoons (***)

A single marriage counselor tries to help couples while keeping detached from her own life.  This dramedy mines its situations well, but doesn’t cover any new ground.  The main couple’s portrayal has some nuance, but still seem like characters rather than real people.

Gilded Balloon Patter Hoose

18:00

19:15

19

      92.       

Silkworm (***)

Two Ugandan lesbian lovers work through their British immigration petitioning process in slightly different ways.  We are treated to both their loving interactions, and their repeated official interviews.  After a while, the play seems to just rehash previously presented material.

Assembly Roxy

18:50

20:05

14

      93.       

In PurSUEt (***)

An alcoholic twenty-six year old woman stalks the TV presenter Sue Perkins.  It in engrossing learning how she was able to worm her way into Sue’s presence, and then sabotage herself with drink.  Whether justifying herself or drunkenly interacting with the world, the actress was on top of her game.

Underbelly Cowgate

15:50

16:50

16

      94.       

Sex Tips for Straight Women from a Gay Man (***)

An exuberant gay man, with the help of a dowdy announcer and her studly assistant, gives graphic tips about how to touch a man’s body.  The whooping, drunk Saturday night crowd perfectly suited his hi-jinx, and the change of attire of the other two.  The highlight was him teaching three blind folded women how to give a proper hand job. 

Gilded Balloon Patter Hoose

21:30

22:35

27

      95.       

Helter Skelter (***)

We follow a 16-year old runaway from her first job in a Los Angeles strip joint to her attempt at finding refuge in the desert commune run by the cult leader Charles Manson.  Though there are most of the elements of the true story of Manson murderous cult, it lacks cohesion because the plight of the protagonist competes with the outsized personality of Manson.  Following the plight of the runaway’s female savior seems a red herring.

Assembly George Square

11:50

12:50

22

      96.       

The Trial (***)

This adaptation of Kafka’s novel of anonymous persecution is is set in a hospital with the protagonist being a patient.  Despite the change of venue, the play successfully conveys the feeling of hopelessness and frustration of the novel.  The large cast effectively obscured the persecution, but also made the tale chaotic, and more difficult to understand.

Pleasance Courtyard

15:00

16:00

12

      97.       

Dreamgun: Film Reads (***)

For this day, the invited actors read a re-worked “Breakfast Club”.  I found most of the edits amusing, and the occasional bloopers from the un-rehearsed readings by the capable cast to be fun.   The disjoint of a bearded undercover cop playing a high school girl didn’t work well, but the small woman playing a dumb brute had great lines throughout.

Underbelly, Bristo Square

18:50

19:50

7

      98.       

Half Empty Glasses (***)

Three sixteen-year old students of color decide to try to educate their fellow students about Black accomplishments.  The effects of the slow radicalization of the leader provide ample content for the play.  The lack of differentiation between the multiple characters each actor portrayed made the play difficult to understand. 

Summerhall

11:20

12:30

25

      99.       

Watson: The Final Problem (***)

Tim Marriott portrays Doctor Watson talking about his military career, how he met Sherlock, and the events leading up to Sherlock’s death.  Much of the text is straight out of Conan Doyle’s story, and is well told.  It does suffer from a lack of movement on the stage.

Assembly Rooms

13:10

14:10

9

     100.     

Psychodrama (***)

This solo An aging actress is hired by a renowned director to play the female lead in a remake of Hitchcock’s “Psycho”.  While the actress did an admiral job with the script,  I found that her just sitting in a chair for an hour quite dull.  I misunderstood a crucial plot twist because it seemed to me that she had been drugged by a bartender.

Traverse

16:00

17:00

23

     101.     

Richard Stott: After Party (***)

Stott tells of his personal experiences as both a person with a small, deformed hand, and a man in his mid-30s who is behind his advancing friends.  He presents an odd mix of woe-is-me, and guilt about achieving so little.  The best of his tales explored the definition of “disabled”, and how he was clearly hindered by his hand and the mental issues arising from his treatment, but is not disabled enough to be used as “disabled” in films.

Underbelly Bristo Square

16:15

17:15

9

     102.     

Period Dramas (***)

A very nice young woman walks us through the history of civilization’s treatment of female sexuality.  Whether being pelted with sanitary towels by the audience or demonstrating the boots and red petticoats used in Victorian times to hide the discharged she kept the presentation light and fun. 

Pleasance Courtyard

14:10

15:10

18

     103.     

The Last Return (***)

As the queue for returned tickets grows, the interactions amon the desperate waiting people become more and more bizarre.  What starts out as a enjoyable comedy of manners devolves into a misguided farce.  The latter section mistakenly relies on excess violence to be funny.

Traverse

16:30

17:50

26

     104.     

The Endling (***)

This two-hander explores the extinction of species, particularly ours, from a variety of viewpoints.  While they despair such extinctions, the tone is light , and usually humorous throughout.  One funny routine has them describing objects, from oceans to snakes, using over-generalized adjectives, e.g. “hot yellow curvy thing” for the sun.

Underbelly Cowgate

14:10

15:10

13

     105.     

How to be a Better Human (***)

A fellow tells of his father dying.  While it clearly affected him, this seemed to be just another Fringe show about a common personal experience that doesn’t merit a show. 

Summerhall

18:00

19:00

20

     106.     

Exodus (***)

Great acting, but too much of a mash up.  Killing a baby can never be funny.

Traverse

10:30

11:55

16

     107.     

Horse Country (***)

Two men sit at a table, and carry on a “conversation” consisting of following tangents and returning to previous topics like they both were on an LSD trip.  Both actors did a fine job with the dense script, but it went nowhere—and maybe that was the goal.  By the end we were both bored and tired of the endless incoherence.

Assembly George Square

16:45

17:50

29

     108.     

Anthony Devito My Dad Isn't Danny Devito (***)

After idolizing his father his whole life, when Devito was 18, he found that his father was a murderous member of the Mafia.  While Devito is a stand-up comedian by trade, and injects jokes when he can, this is much more a story of the disillusionment of a wife and son.  His stories about his two lovers did provide some levity and evidence of personal growth.

Just the Tonic: The Mash House

19:30

20:30

27

     109.     

Irvine Welsh's Porno (***)

Their Irish accent was too strong for me to understand in most cases.

Pleasance Courtyard

16:50

17:50

14

     110.     

Americana: A Murder Ballad (***)

This show relies on a large cast and some pre-recorded songs to present information about ten mass murders in America.  Much of the live music and speech wass too muddled for me to understand with my poor hearing so I left.  Debbie stayed, and thought this young American group did a good job.

Assembly Checkpoint

13:20

14:35

12

     111.     

Witch? Women in Shadow and Flame (***)

For this, we walked to a rocky storage room in a old house where a woman described the three witch panics in Scotland.  While the description of the tortures used were gruesome, in general the stories were informative.  Though the surroundings lent some sense of history, in general, this felt a little thin.

Old Police Box

16:00

16:50

20

     112.     

Any Suggestions, Doctor?  The Improvised Doctor Who Parody (***)

The audience suggestion of Tolkien’s Middle Earth really screwed up this improv.  An evil Gandalf time lord trying to kill the Doctor meant that the story was dominated by character’s from Tolkien at the expense of almost anything from the Doctor Who series.  It was further weakened by the Doctor actor who barely knew anything about the Tolkien stories.

Pleasance Dome

18:30

19:30

10

     113.     

Garrett Millerick: Just Trying to Help (***)

Millerick is a passionate, often angry man who wants to share his take on topics ranging from Margaret Thatcher to Covid to the Queen.  His slant on history is both funny and harsh.  Though he held a microphone, it was unneeded because he shouts almost all the time.

Monkey Barrel 4 Blair St.

18:25

19:25

8

     114.     

Kathy and Stella Solve a Murder (***)

Noisy, and of little interest to me.

Summerhall

21:50

23:00

22

     115.     

This Moment in America (***)

Collection of excerpt was good, but text had no drama.

Underbelly Cowgate

12:40

13:40

16

     116.     

Foil Arms and Hog – Hogwash (***)

Three fellows provided a few sketches interspersed with a lot of inconsequential audience interviews.  It just didn’t seem a good value for the high price we had to pay.  The running gag about re-uniting long lost people fell flat for me, but their routine of two suitcases on an airport carousel did work.

Underbelly, Bristo Square

21:15

22:15

7

     117.     

Paddy Young: Laugh, You Rats! (***)

Young presents stand-up comedy about a wide range of topics which were shortly forgotten by my two friends and me.  We could only remember his long discourse on how Northerners are always portrayed as simple, dumb people in commercials.  He just isn’t exceptional.

Gilded Balloon Patter House

17:40

18:25

5

     118.     

Character Building Experience (***)

Sasha acts as dungeon master for three fellows she invited to complete a quest in an hour.  Their quest this day was to deal with a town in which the humans have been replaced with intelligent cows.  As a weekly dungeon master, Breck offered many helpful suggestions to the novice adventurers as they whimsically journeyed through the weird world.

Laughing Horse@The Counting House

13:45

14:45

5

     119.     

Phaime Gow: Harp Originals (***)

Amplified harpist instead of acoustic which made it too loud for my weak ears.

Acoustic Music Center @ UCC

19:00

20:00

18

     120.     

NewsRevue (***)

Few laughs from us and the rest of the audience.

Pleasance at EICC

20:15

21:15

17

     121.     

Ellie MacPherson: Happy Birthday, Mr. President! (***)

Great voice, and interesting information about the presidents, but we couldn’t understand her lyrics most of the time, and when we did they were banal.

Underbelly Cowgate

21:30

22:30

19

     122.     

We Were Promised Honey (***)

The writer/actor repeatedly lets the audience decide whether we should continue with the story that is composed of vignettes from centuries in the future.  The vignettes are loosely connected and generally dystopian.  The idea of giving the audience the choice to continue is nove, but I object to asking for volunteers without first telling them what they are volunteering to do.l

Summerhall

10:00

11:00

25

     123.     

Beg for Me (***)

A January 6th insurrectionist explain his choices in life to an inquisitor.  We can understand the effects of his early life, but halfway through the play his explanation for his “awakening” made no sense.  The play conflates xenophobia with misogyny for no understandable reason.

Underbelly Bristo Square

13:00

14:00

28

     124.     

This is Not a Show about Hong Kong (***)

Too cryptic for me.

Underbelly Cowgate

14:00

15:00

17

     125.     

Boris the Third (***)

Sophmoric

Pleasance Courtyard

16:10

17:10

13

     126.     

Something About George (***)

Lounge act.

Assembly Rooms

14:30

15:30

15

     127.     

Independence (***)

In 2014, a family argues about the vote for the independence of Scotland with the two daughters for it, and the father and son against it.  Though both give lip service to the germane facts, most of the time is spent pontificating, particularly by the blustering autocratic father.  At the end of the play they asked us to vote on the issue, but the mindless bluster of the two men gave the play an obvious skew for independence.

Hill Street

18:30

19:30

28

     128.     

Muller's Last Tape (***)

Too little

Assembly Rooms

11:40

12:40

15

     129.     

Let's Talk About Philip (***)

Pleasance Courtyard

16:00

17:00

11

     130.     

1972: The Future of Sex (***)

theSpace on North Bridge

13:20

14:10

10

     131.     

Adults Only Magic Show (***)

After seeing eight magic shows, I am afraid that Breck and I had become jaded.  Other than their contrived escape routines, and one card trick, we had seen all of their tricks at the Fringe already, and many were better executed by others.  Their dialog was fun, and it did take me a while to figure out their new card selection trick which depends on some nifty shuffling.

Assembly George Square Studios

21:15

22:20

9

     132.     

Hamlet with Sir Ian McKellan (***)

From the poor management of the audience queue, this whole ballet production “narrated” by McKellan just doesn’t work in so many ways:  the open procession was too long and boring; without Shakespeare’s lines the silent characters are easily confused, and McKellan’s recitation of Hamlet’s famous lines were often not synchronous with the action.  The whole play was confusing, and boring.

St. Stephens

19:00

20:15

26

     133.     

Fire Signs (***)

Pleasance Courtyard

11:45

12:45

12

     134.     

Crybabies: Bagbeard (***)

If you like the idea of a fellow wearing a blue plastic shopping bag as a beard throughout a show, then this is for you.  It is zany, chaotic, and sophomoric.  Not my cup of tea, but Breck loved it. 

Pleasance Dome

17:50

18:50

6

     135.     

Mind Mangler: Member of the Tragic Circle (***)

This show has an obviously inept mind reader try unsuccessfully to convince the audience that he could read minds with the aid of an equally obvious planted assistant.  He did do some magic tricks, but his patter and less than deft execution didn’t help matters.  Even Breck found this shtick tedious. 

Pleasance Courtyard

21:30

22:30

8

     136.     

The Oxford Imps (***)

Six Oxford students and their keyboardist fed audience suggestions into their prescribed scenario blanks.  There were a few comedic gems, and, thankfully, no really weak actors, but floundering seem too prevalent.  It became all the more apparent as they would choose to repeat a good idea that had gotten a laugh until had worn desperately thin.

Gilded Balloon Patter House

13:40

14:40

3

     137.     

A Sudden Violent Burst of Rain (***)

In a small island country, a female shepherd must deal with an unsympathetic landlord, and bureaucratic government.  This has the cast as “Half Empty Glasses,” had suffers from the same lack of multiple character differentiation by each actor.  The plot bounces all over the place, and ends up an incoherent mess.

Summerhall

14:20

15:30

25

     138.     

Badass (***)

If you haven’t dealt with cancer, then this is informative.  I have, and there was nothing new here.

Pleasance Courtyard

14:05

15:05

16

     139.     

Handbook of Civilian Defense (What Every Loyal American Can Do To Help the United States Win the War)

Greenside Nicholson Square

20:50

21:40

12

     140.     

The Greatest Hits of Lily and John (***)

Pleasance Courtyard

16:30

17:30

12

     141.     

Hound of the Baskervilles (***)

theSpace on North Bridge

12:05

12:55

10

     142.     

Men With Coconuts (***)

This was another show that seemed to believe that louder is necessarily funnier.  With my hearing loss and their keyboard, I rarely could understand them, and left.

Gilded Balloon Patter House

19:45

20:45

5

     143.     

Richard Herring: RHLSTP (**)

Through no fault of the ever-engaging Herring, I thought this would be one of his stand-up gigs instead of an interview for his podcast.  His interviewees Flo and Joan from “Flo and Joan: Sweet Release” were nice enough, but it just wasn’t what we came to see.

Assembly Rooms

13:00

14:00

8

     144.     

Destiny (**)

Walked out because we couldn’t understand them through their thick Wiltshire accents.

Underbelly Cowgate

17:20

18:20

16

     145.     

Hey, That's My Wife! (**)

Sophmoric.

Hill Street

17:50

18:50

15

     146.     

This is Memorial Device (**)

This homage to a fictional 1980s band just never grabbed me.  Though he had worked to create a few historical fakes, most of the low budget ramshackle set seemed thrown together for its weirdness.  The final playing of a song from their album lasted way too long.

Wee Red Space

20:30

22:00

23

     147.     

Gash Theatre Needs Some Space (**)

Low budget weirdness.

Assembly Rooms

22:25

23:25

15

     148.     

Bloody Mary: Live! (**)

Gives some facts about Bloody Mary, but the audience participation falls flat.

Pleasance EICC

22:00

23:00

17

     149.     

Pauline (**)

Self centered Fringe trope.

Pleasance Courtyard

12:20

13:20

14

     150.     

Scottish Falsetto Socks: Eurovision Sock Contest (**)

The puppeteer presents places eight costumes on his socks to create signers from eight different countries.  This overloud show comes across as an improv show with its tuneless, witless songs.  It seemed that the puppeteer spent a day creating the eight sock sleeves, and then decided to just wing the rest of the show.

Gilded Balloon Teviot

16:30

17:30

4

     151.     

General Secretary (*)

For no apparent reason, two young women are made rulers of the entire world.  As they unsuccessfully deal with the problems of the world we can see that not only are they incompetent, but so was the playwright.  There is nothing here worth your time.

Gilded Balloon Patter House

15:00

16:00

4

     152.     

Chicago! Chicago~ (*)

Horrible directing.  The audience couldn’t see half of the action, the acting was stilted and lacked projection in many cases, and the lead couldn’t sing.

Greenside@Riddles Court

20:50

21:40

20

     153.     

Guide to Surviving Masculinist Territory (*)

All we did for this show is walk around the streets near Summerhall and listen to a pre-recorded stream of interviews about an incel mass killer and his copycats.   The guide of the walk did nothing but lead us around.  Worthless.

Summerhall

20:00

21:00

21

     154.     

Janeane Garofalo: Pardon My Tangent (*)

Janeane seems to have taken the title to heart, for she could not stay focused for the whole show.  She bounced from commenting on people’s hair to half told stories about talking with her brother to incomplete political diatribes.  Occasionally she would have a witty asides, but they were lost in her scatter brained show.  We came away guessing that she was on some medication that went horribly wrong.

Gilded Balloon Teviot

19:15

20:15

6

 

I am a 69-year old retired Computer Science lecturer from the University of California in Davis who thinks even a bad play is better than no play at all.  I have been to the Fringe fourteen times before.   In 2005, I fulfilled a dream of seeing an entire Fringe Festival.  Since then, I have been here for the whole Fringe every year except 2007, and 2020.  I have learned to devote most days to only venues that are close to each other to maximize the number of performances I can see.  I expect this year to be better than last—Covid is under control, more shows, and many new friends.

 

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

 

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