Edinburgh Festival Fringe

by Joanna Orland with Ruth Thomson, Katharine Fry & Ella Jean


Edinburgh Festival Fringe is a huge undertaking.  The longer you are there, the less meaning time has to your existence.  You fully immerse yourself in a summer camp for the arts, a playground filled with high school dramas, tears, broken dreams and shattered egos.  But it is also the place where dreams are realized, many acts often breaking at Edinburgh Fringe and starting lengthy and successful careers in the arts, comedy, theatre, cabaret, music, the possibilities are endless.  It is also the place where a group of 30-somethings end up partying like teenaged ravers in an underpass at two in the morning shouting, “Do I need a pass for the underpass party? You don’t need a pass for the underpass party!”.

Our bodies, minds and souls are still recovering from our brief stint at Edinburgh Festival Fringe, but we have managed to remain lucid long enough to gather our thoughts to review our fringe experience:

50 Shades! The Musical. The Original Parody

by Katharine Fry

My only foray into the 50 Shades franchise o’kink has been in the form of a critical ‘read-along’ with The Pervocracy blog and a former lover singing me the best worst bits to the tune of Christmas carols. The Assembly Main Hall, however, seemed packed with people who were very familiar with the source text and keen to laugh not only at it, but at themselves for revelling in this most guilty of pleasures. It was all there for them, the virgin Anastasia Steele, the horny roommate, the over-the-top would-be Latin lover and one overweight Asian Christian Grey… read more

Alexis Dubus: Cars and Girls

by Joanna Orland

Alexis Dubus is a very diverse and talented comedian. His show Cars and Girls falls into the spoken word category of the Edinburgh Fringe programme as it is much more of a poetic coming-of-age story than it is a work of comedy. Alexis himself describes it as “A romantic insight into a comedian’s head” where we learn that in terms of both cars and girls his “favourite is red”… read more


by Joanna Orland

BEASTS are a classic sketch trio who use slapstick, wit and old-fashioned fun to present their show Solo to the Edinburgh Fringe audience. BEASTS are far from unique, but somehow they stand out amongst sketch troupes who saturate the fringe. They are comprised of 3 sketch troupe stereotypes – The serious one who seems to be in charge in the form of Owen Roberts, the mischievous one who is up to no good in the form of James McNicholas, and the lovable bumbling idiot in the form of Ciarán Dowd who plays dumb to the height of his intelligence… read more

Ben Hart: The Vanishing Boy

by Joanna Orland

“Our experience and what we remember are two different things”, says magician Ben Hart. He may have weaved this line into his tales to heighten the drama of his narrative, or to slyly remind us that he is manipulating us to forget reality and remember only the illusion of reality that he presents to us this evening… read more

Camille O’Sullivan: 10

by Ruth Thomson

Cabaret Queen Camille O’Sullivan seems to be significantly more mental than the last time I saw her. Admittedly that was a good four or five years ago and a lot can happen in that time. The daughter of an Irish racing driver and French artist, she’s a former award-winning architect and has survived a near fatal car crash – she is also a unique and compelling performer and you are never going to be bored in her presence… read more

Carl Donnelly: Now That’s What I Carl Donnelly Vol. 6

by Ruth Thomson

Carl Donnelly arrives on stage to ACDC – a diminutive figure despite the bold Cuban heels, in a double denim combo featuring the skinniest jeans ever seen north of Shoreditch and a healthy amount of guyliner. A hasty google tells me he’s had quite the image change in recent years (plus his opening gambit is about his recent laser eye surgery) and it’s not long before it becomes apparent the life crisis he faced recently in his early thirties – the break-up of his marriage – is going to be the starting point for the show. More specifically, all the stupid stuff he did when coming off anti-depressants against medical advice post said break-up are going to be the focus… read more

EastEnd Cabaret: Sexual Tension

by Joanna Orland

From the moment EastEnd Cabaret enter the room, it is obvious that this is going to be one fun & sexy night.  EastEnd Cabaret’s new show Sexual Tension is on the right side of highly sexual without being overly perverse.  Bernadette Byrne is a force to be reckoned with as she approaches the stage on her mode of transport – the Manbeast.  Half-man half-woman Victor Victoria is as trusty as ever on the piano adding to the fiery chemistry of this show… read more

Listen to our interview with EastEnd Cabaret

Folie à Deux

by Ruth Thomson

Folie à Deux are the winning combination of Charlotte Gittins and Andrew Hunter Murray from the acclaimed group Austentatious who improvise an entire show in the style of Jane Austen based on a single word from the audience. In this context, hastily created to fill a vacant fringe slot caused by a cancellation (their Twitter account is barely 10 days old and you won’t find much of a presence online, though you will find an interesting Wikipedia article about the psychiatric syndrome of shared psychosis), Charlotte and Andrew use the same format. And so today in a stiflingly hot portacabin called Pleasance Courtyard, we were treated to an hour’s entertainment that springs forth from the word cheese… read more

Iain Stirling: Everything

by Joanna Orland

Iain Stirling is sweet, Scottish and safe. In fact, the comedian plays it so safe, that when submitting his show title to Edinburgh Fringe, he decided to call it “Everything” just to cover all of the bases… read more

In Vogue: Songs by Madonna

by Katharine Fry

Michael Griffiths held the Assembly Checkpoint captive for every second of his journey through the life and songs of Madonna from his piano stool. His adoration of the Queen of Pop is clear, but that doesn’t stop him poking fun at the poverty of her early song lyrics, revelling in her Queen Bitch reputation and exposing the deepest horrors of her film career… read more

Jonny & the Baptists: The Satiric Verses

by Joanna Orland

Jonny & the Baptists sing political satirical material mostly about UKIP, with a very lighthearted tone, good tunes and with frozen smiles on their faces.  While their material is solidly enjoyable and the duo’s personalities endearing, the show feels a bit on the light side, and I struggled to deeply connect to the performance as it unfolded on stage… read more

Mae Martin’s Workshop

by Joanna Orland

There’s something about Mae.  Canadian comedian Mae Martin did not bring a prepared show to this year’s Edinburgh Fringe but instead is using this opportunity of having a month-long audience to workshop new material.  Her WIP stories often focus on her family, in particular her mother.  Some material is literally hot off the press as Mae read to us an Email her mother had just sent to her that morning regarding Mae’s insomnia.  The letter did everything but put Mae’s mind to rest… read more

Marcel Lucont Is

by Joanna Orland

Marcel Lucont is a Frenchman with a penchant for red wine, bare feet, Gainsbourgian music and irreverent arrogance – Marcel has perfected his persona as a French raconteur.  Observational comedy of British culture from the superior French perspective is Marcel’s platform, and he does it so well that some may not even know that he’s not really French!  In fact, he’s not real at all as Marcel is the alterego of London-based comedian Alexis Dubus who has discovered that slowing down his pace and immersing in a French persona is a winning formula for comedy.  It is a simple idea for a character, but executed to comedic perfection… read more

Listen to our interview with Marcel Lucont

Massive Dad

by Joanna Orland

Artificially hailing from a non-descript Eastern European country and mockingly having formed the union of Massive Dad through a Hunger Games like comedy extravaganza in said country, the sketch trio definitely bring something unique to the stage. These hilarious segues as their Eastern European alter-egos glue their show of sketches together more tightly than the sketches themselves… read more

Nathan Penlington: Choose Your Own Documentary

by Joanna Orland

Nathan Penlington presents a documentary to his audience that puts both him and them at the heart of the story.  The audience is given devices which allow them to vote for each key decision Nathan needs to make in the narrative of the documentary.  The documentary plays out differently dependent on the audience’s choices.  I believe Nathan said that there were over 1500 versions of how this documentary could play out, some ending abruptly and some playing out further.  I was quite happy with the path my documentary took and feel very proud that I played a small part in this story unraveling as it did that day at the Edinburgh Fringe… read more


by Katharine Fry

Nymphonerdiac is a two-hander coming in your face nightly in a dark corner room of Bar 50. Sex-crazed pole dancer Carmen Ali meets Neanderthal Ella Murray in a collision of opposites. Switching leads depending on the night, both women laugh at themselves and their playmates in tales of hideous kinky and pick-ups gone hideously wrong… read more

(as seen on Saturday August 16th, 2014)

by Ella Jean

Prompter is a great concept, taking the beloved, revered Ted Talk structure and turning it on its head with lectures that are absurd, presented by ill-prepared speakers who have to partially improvise their lectures when the autocue goes on the fritz. Playing the roles of experts are various comedians taking part in the Fringe festival… read more

(as seen on Sunday August 17th, 2014)

by Ruth Thomson

Prompter is a new format from Troy Conrad, the creator of the late night fringe show Set List: Stand-up Without a Net which features 6 acts improvising on a sequence of words or phrases which appear on a screen by the stage. The two Setlists I caught included some great stuff – manic Aussie Wil Anderson on his family of farmers (and Sally Field); Josie Long on her shark/human negotiation skills; and best of all the master of the form Greg Proops as a smartass in the midst of a Jets and Sharks knife fight. Setlist works because the format couldn’t really get any simpler… read more

Red Bastard

by Katharine Fry

I’d heard of Red Bastard’s shock tactics from a friend and approached the Pleasance Forth with equal parts of fear and excitement. Choosing a seat in the second I row I was, almost, ready to be picked on or picked apart. Red Bastard burst through the stage, his grotesque misshapen red form like a pulsating Louise Bourgeois sculpture on legs, instantly demanding that we become ‘bigger’, pitting sections of the audience against each other and doling out punishment in the form of wet willies. Then he got down to serious stuff – who do we think we are and what do we really want? His sweaty sarcasm gave way to a seemingly sincere mission which demanded something even more frightening from his audience – honesty… read more

Set List: Stand-up Without a Net

by Joanna Orland

The premise of Set List: Stand-up Without a Net is simple – world class comedians take to the stage with nothing prepared.  Topics appear on television monitors either side of the stage and the comic has to improvise their set before the audience’s very eyes.  This is the concept of Set List and it works without fault as proven through the live show’s success and its evolution into a series on Sky Atlantic and the Nerdist Channel… read more

Simon Feilder All The Things I’m Not

by Ella Jean

All The Things I’m Not was only lacking one thing. Unfortunately that one thing was comedy. Simon Feilder is a comedian with lots of energy, great stage presence and a good eye for detail when it comes to making a one-man show look slick. All The Things I’m Not was a summation of Feilder’s flaws; a self-deprecating look at how uncool, strange, and single he is… read more

The Cold Clear Elsewhere

by Katharine Fry

The echoing chamber of Café Camino was the site of my encounter with Australian war bride Grace who dreams of an elsewhere in this exquisitely charming one-woman show written and performed by Jennifer Williams. Framed by a simple set of a washing line strung with sheets emblazoned with sections of a world map, Williams deftly switches through characters from Grace to suitor, via parents, sailors and in-laws as she charts Grace’s journey from Sydney telephone operator to young bride in Britain based on true accounts from the Australian war brides of the so-called ‘bridal ship’, HMS Victorious… read more

The God That Comes

by Joanna Orland

While The God That Comes is a narrative based on Greek Tragedy The Bacchae, the story is merely an undertone for the dark and raw emotion expressed through the music of Hawksley Workman.  The fact that I’ve now made an iTunes purchase of Songs from the God That Comes speaks volumes… read more

Read our interview with Hawksley Workman.

The Ruby Dolls: Fabulous Creatures

by Katharine Fry

Fabulous Creatures, in the intimate cabaret setting of the Assembly Checkpoint, is a riotous retelling of Mansfield Parks, with goats. Singing in divine four part harmony, the Dolls are certainly not your average sweethearts as they use Abigail Burdess’ sharply written lyrics to take a swing at the worst of the internet age and the global condition of goats, also known as women… read more

Tom Craine: Thoughts On Love (By a Man With None of the Answers)

by Ruth Thomson

Affable English comedian Tom Craine has titled his show ’Thoughts on Love by a Man with None of the Answers’. Needless to say he’s single, not very good at relationships, and even worse at the horrendous concept that is dating. In the small space that is the Pleasance Bunker No.1 (as roomy as it sounds) his sweaty well-meaning awkwardness is very much to the fore. He kicks off with some funny enough rumination about his extremely middle class parents (going so far as to playing the voicemail message he received on his last birthday – his dad having to be reminded of the purpose of the call) before getting to the pivotal moment when he unexpectedly becomes a dating columnist (‘Sex and the Single Guy’) for teen magazine Cosmopolitan… read more

Tony Law: Enter the Tonezone

by Ruth Thomson

Enter the Tone-Zone! Even at midday on four hours sleep you won’t regret it – in fact it might ease the journey. Alberta born surrealist Tony Law is a fine figure of a man, and aged 44 in a skin tight black onesie customised with red tassels he’s not afraid to show it – though he does confess to having forgotten that the audience would be to the side of the stage as well as in front. So they get an especially intimate view… read more

Vikki Stone: Instrumental

by Joanna Orland

Musical comedian Vikki Stone has “blagged, stolen and borrowed” twenty musical instruments for her show Instrumental.  The instruments become the score to her standup material which is often heartfelt and personal, and at other times falls a little flatter in this ambitious show… read more

Will Franken: The Stuff They Put In Sleep

by Joanna Orland

Will Franken is a surrealist character comedian with a cult following.  His absurdist character work and sketches wouldn’t be out of place on Saturday Night Live in its more adventurous era of “not ready for prime time players” with elements of Dan Aykroyd, Bill Murray, Will Ferrell and Robin Williams emanating from Will Franken’s personas… read more

Edinburgh Festival Fringe runs August 1st-25th, 2014


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