King of Scotland

4 Stars ****

King of Scotland, written and directed by Ian Heggie, with the Glasgow Actors in association with the Tron Theatre, is a one man monologue of great character comedy and political bite.

Jonathan Watson is Tommy McMillan, who after 28 years of unemployment, which he believes is the work of a lifetime, becomes part of a Government training scheme which becomes a chance to ascend above  the overbearing housing association and big Jackie complaining about the mould.

Jonathan Watson, brings out the humour of such an over opinionated Scotsman and his presence and detailed story telling is engaging. Towards the end of the piece when the character is too far gone he maintains the characters conviction and we get a fascinating insight to his mentality.

Scot’s should pride themselves on political theatre as Heggie’s piece is evidence that Scottish theatre can be politically relevant without forcing a point down an audience’s throat but instead using Scot’s themselves to highlight issues.

Scot’s and Non-Scot’s will have something to say about this, especially in light of the Scottish elections earlier this year.

Reviewed by Andrew Gourlay

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The School of Night

4 Stars ****

From the creators of Showstopper! The Improvised Musical, comes the improv show which gives Shakespeare and other literary forms the same treatment.

Ken Campbell leads the troupe with confidence through Chaucer, Shakespeare and anything else the audience has at hand revealing a bold skill which is a pleasure to watch.

We were treated to The Lamentable History of King Henry the Seventh-Part Two and the ancient elements got a makeover after being assigned music artists, Earth(Eminem/Leonard Cohen)Water(Enya)Air(S Club 7)Fire(Prodigy/Linkin Park), which then harmonised into a hysterical soundscape.

The Company work fantastically together, the improvisation is excellent and the connection that they build with the audience is brilliant. The detail of the improvisations is outstanding, being able to stay within the literary meter of verse and make it accessible comedy without being over indulgent.

If you love Shakespeare or struggle with it, it’s worth a trip to see. What it shares with Showstopper is being able to improvise within the genre and make great comedy and entertainment out of it rather than mock it and try to tell people how irrelevant it is.

For fans of improvised comedy, this is a must see.

Reviewed by Andrew Gourlay

Andrew Maxwell: The Lights are On

4 Stars ****

Diminutive Irish comic Andrew Maxwell is always a welcome addition to any Edinburgh Fringe and he is back as only he can, entertaining one and all in the large George Square Theatre.

Maxwell is as always topical and the first part of his hour is spent on theLondonriots and how it was unlikely that it would spread toScotland. The politicians of the day do not escape, especially UKIP spokesmen.

Maxwell is a craftsman and a raconteur extraordinaire. He talks on many, many subjects Irish mammies, the Queen’s visit toIreland, the Bible belt in the States, Murdoch and the tabloids treatment of the Middleton sisters are just a selection of the subjects that he opines about.

For some perhaps he may have a strange set of people who inspire him and a strange way of ‘knowing’ he is inEdinburgh, but then this is part of Maxwell’s appeal together with his undoubted ability to write very funny material.

The whole hour goes far too quickly for most, especially the man in front of me with the ‘Pirate laugh’ I was quite convinced he was going to have an accident he was laughing so much, as to be fair were the rest of us too.

Reviewed by Geoff

Assembly George Square Theatre V 3

3 to 29 August ( not 16)

21:00 to 22:00

Fringe Brochure P 38

Barry and Stuart – The Show

4 Stars ****

If you don’t want to be chosen to go up on stage in this show, don’t sit in the first few rows. Equally, don’t look too closely if you don’t want some clues to how it’s done (for that, you can watch their partner show, The Tell, but it’s a whole other ticket).

That said, this show was lots of fun. The magic wasn’t so much tricks as really really clever ways of playing with your brain – but impressive none the less. The humour and panache with which it was delivered, while not seamless, was entertaining, with some of the jokes worthy of many of the better comedians. Messrs Barry and Stuart seem very down to earth, but, for me, (appear to be) perhaps too willing to cause harm – either to innocent goldfish or to themselves.

Special mention to the tech staff, who do an excellent job co-ordinating the numerous audio-visual aspects of the show.

All in all, a hour’s good entertainment, with comfy seats too.

Reviewed by Laura

E4 Cowbarn, 22:15 (1hr)

Until 28th Aug

Little Matter

5 stars *****

Whatever I say about this show will not do it justice. It’s got (custom made!) puppets, live music, vocal harmonies, a beautiful set, philosophy, smatterings of science, a dark and hopeful story and entrancing characters (both the puppets and the people). It’s performed in a makeshift tent (the company’s travelling theatre) lit by candles and fairy lights in a car park round the back of Chambers Street, and the audience sits on mismatched cushions on benches crammed together with a few chairs.

You’ll want to sit near the front, so you can be close to the action, and you might want to take a blanket for your knees if you’re near the edge of a row. But mostly, you won’t notice the cold or the swaying sides of the tent or the silly tattoo fireworks because you’ll be so engaged with the story – of a young man who gives up something precious and his attempt to get it back – and maybe even more so after the show when they invite you to play with the puppets and talk to the cast.

A wonderful, wonder-full experience.

Reviewed by Laura

Bedlam Chambers, 19:00 (and 13:00 Sat and Sun) (1.5 hrs)

Until 28th Aug

Zoe Lyons: Clown Busting

4 Stars ****

It has been a while sine I have see Zoe Lyons perform live, okay she makes the occasional TV appearance, but that is not the same as the real thing.

She takes to the stage wearing a leopard print ‘Snuggie’ one of these blankets with sleeves prior to warming the audience up with some topical material occasionally illustrating points with slides.

Now Zoe is a engaging comic in my opinion and a keen observer of life, who has the ability to make everyday events sound funny and her set is packed with such material.

‘Come dine with me’ comes under her scrutiny as do Brighton naturists, Australian souvenirs, people watching in cafes and on holiday airports. Living to old age and working longer together with a Justin Beiber opinion are just a few of the subjects tackled by this eloquent performer.

As to the show title, well there is a reason behind this, but I’ll leave you to find out what for yourselves.

Like the Snuggie that opened and closed the show, Ms Lyons has the ability to make you feel warm and cosy and good about yourself, and there is a definite feeling of pleasure through out the entire hour.

Reviewed by Geoff

Pleasance Beside V33

3 to 29 August   

19:30 to 20:30

Fringe Brochure P167

The Last Days of Gilda

3 Stars

***

Gilda played by Gael Le Cornec is a single, attractive young woman living in a Brazilian favela in this tragicomedy written by Rodrigo de Roure who lives in Rio de Janeiro. She makes a living by raising chickens and pigs. Killing and cooking her animals dominate her solitary existence. However, she may be living alone but she does not lack for male company from the visits she is paid by a number of the local married men.

Gael le Cornec plays her role with vibrancy and a kind of innocent sexiness. Gilda is an enticing woman. Naturally, her behaviour does not go down well with the women of the neighbourhood.

She dreams of escape from her situation and she makes a costume change from a simple short skirt to a glamorous red dress, but the harsh realities of her life are never far away and she will not have her looks for ever. What is the saddest feature of her life is that she does not appear to have any close relationships with other women.

The play has a good pacing with the generally humorous approach punctuated with moments of reflection. One slightly annoying aspect is the excessive use of towels to depict the killing of the chickens and the cooking activity. Good idea at the beginning but it is overdone and becomes a distraction. Despite this, Gael le Cornec’s performance is most polished and assured.

Reviewed by Ben

New Town Theatre: 7

4 to 2 August 2011 (not 9, 16, 23)

14.50 – 15.50

Fringe Programme Page Number: 274