The Waiting Room Assembly George Square

Renegade Theatre Company is a Nigerian company who have won numerous awards in their home country and who were invited to perform A Winter’s Tale at the Globe Theatre’s World Shakespeare Festival in 2012. Apparently this is the first time a Nigerian theatre company has appeared at the Edinburgh Fringe and I do hope they start to attract more people than they did on the day I saw this production as they certainly merit a wider audience.

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Kiss Me Honey, Honey Gilded Balloon

Grant Stott and Andy Gray are well known for their comic partnership in the annual Christmas panto at the Kings and this new play, written by Phillip Meek, is tailor made for them and their comedic style. It’s an hilarious farce which will make you laugh out loud and send you home with a smile on your face. There are some moments of pathos but it’s not particularly thought provoking or deep and the comedy far outweighs any tragedy in the piece.

Gray and Stott play Ross and Graham, two very different middle aged men, brought together by circumstances of divorce and bereavement to live in adjoining rooms in a grim lodging house run by the formidable Mrs Docherty.

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How to Make a Killing in Bollywood Gilded Balloon

NLP Theatre Group had great success last year with their Fringe production of Des Dillon’s “Singin’ I’m No a Billy He’s a Tim” which dealt with sectarianism in Scottish football. This year, they have brought us “How To Make a Killing in Bollywood”, which is written and directed by Umar Ahmed and Manjot Sumal who also play the main characters. It tells the story of best friends, Raza and Gurjit, Scottish Asians who have been unable to find success as actors and are now reduced to serving up chips and cheese in their dead end jobs in a takeaway restaurant. Convinced that they will never overcome the racial prejudice that stereotypes them as “Asian actors” rather than “actors who are Asian”, Raza persuades Gurjit to quit their jobs and go to India to follow their acting dreams in Bollywood.

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Adam and Eve: The Musical Gilded Balloon

This new musical comedy is the world premiere and first original production by this talented young company. Adam and Eve wake up the day after the Fall, with no recollection of how they got there and why they are wearing these strange leaves. Archangel Oliver enlightens them as to why God has thrown them out of the Garden of Eden and tells them they must now fend for themselves. The stage is set for a journey of growth and self-discovery as the young couple learn to live with themselves and all the strange new sensations and experiences that face them.

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Out of His Skin Zoo Southside

2Faced Dance Company started life as a youth dance company and is now a professional touring company as well as offering a community and education programme. This is a real high energy show, the six young male dancers performing in a style that they themselves describe as “urban contemporary”. This production, “Out of His Skin”, is choreographed by Tamsin Fitzgerald and is about a man trying to break free from the monotony of his life and pushing the boundaries to find excitement and fulfilment.

The show starts in darkness, the stage is bare but for a tower-like construction on three levels at the side. Suddenly the pounding techno score by Anthony Murphy explodes into existence and a light illuminates a single dancer confined within one level of the tower. He writhes and twists trying to find an escape and ultimately falls from the top of the tower (thankfully onto a strategically placed mattress). The other five dancers then enter and join him on stage and they would appear to represent different facets of his character and personality. They are all dressed in dark boiler suits with shorn heads and the music is relentlessly loud and pounding which produces a bleak, dystopian effect but at the same time exuding a feeling of power and energy.

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Paul Foot: Words Underbelly

The Sold Out sign was displayed the night I went to this show, always a welcome sign for performers and promoters at the Fringe. Paul Foot has gained quite a cult following over the past couple of years through his live shows, and has attracted a wider audience with his increasingly regular appearances on TV shows such as Never Mind the Buzzcocks. Check out his website or websyte as he calls it and you can sign up to join, not his fan club, but The Guild of Paul Foot Connoisseurs. I’ve been a “connoisseur” of Paul’s humour for a few years now and this show did not disappoint.

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Oh My Darling Assembly Ballroom

I’m having difficulty writing a review of this band that doesn’t read like it was written by their PR people, because quite frankly, it’s pretty much impossible to find any fault at all with them.

Leave aside the fact that the sound was a little underpowered at the start of the gig, this was a set that set a very high bar for everything else I’m going to see and hear at this year’s Fringe. An exquisite blend of bluegrass, old-time and French Canadian folk with a heavy Metis influence, all played with skill, style and charm by Winnipeg residents Vanessa Kuzina (voice, guitar), Allison De Groot (banjo, vocals) and Marie-Josee Dandeneau (bass, vocals) with latest recruit Illinois fiddler – and briefly Edinburgh resident – Rachel Baiman fitting right in like she’d been there all along.

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Liam Mullone: Game Over

This was the first night of Liam Mullone’s show and unfortunately things weren’t going his way. He had broken his foot two days before coming to Edinburgh which hadn’t helped his confidence or preparation for the show and he had to clamber on stage with his leg in plaster. Undaunted, he began his set and, buoyed up by the good reaction from the audience, he soon settled in to his material.

I hadn’t seen or heard of Mullone before but it turns out he has been on the comedy scene for the last ten years, both as a standup in his own right and also as writer for a number of well- known TV and Radio 4 comedy shows, including Russell Howard’s Good News, as well as writing material for Henning Wehn. Before turning to comedy, Mullone worked as a gravedigger and then as a journalist for the Times, where he specialised in writing obituaries.

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Milo McCabe; Schiz

This is Milo’s third visit to the Edinburgh Fringe and he just keeps getting better and better. His 2011 show was a finalist in the Amused Moose Laughter Awards and in 2012 he earned praise from, among others, Scotsman comedy reviewer Kate Copstick as being “ridiculously talented”, a description I heartily agree with. This year is no exception and he once again displays his talent by introducing us to no less than five completely different characters, each one a product of the “real” Milo’s vivid imagination and each one surreally wackier than the last. We meet Troy Hawke, would be actor, the boring Facebook friend, Q10 the demented docker from Hull and my personal favourite, the Glaswegian trainspotter who thinks he is Adele (you have to see and hear it to believe it!) Milo’s characters are well drawn and the accents and mannerisms are excellent. His humour is very clever with some fairly obscure references thrown in and great use of language and wordplay. Don’t worry if you don’t get all the references, there is enough slapstick and just plain daftness to keep everyone happy. There is some audience interaction but very mild, you don’t have to fear sitting in the front row at this show.

All delightfully mad and hysterically funny, I haven’t laughed so much in ages. All in all, a great start to my Fringe going experience this year.

Irene Brownlee

Dreamboats and Petticoats

If a night of nostalgia for the days before the Beatles conquered the world of music and the voices of Roy Orbison, Del Shannon and their ilk came to us via Radio Luxembourg sounds like your idea of a night out, get yourself down to the Playhouse this week.

Starring Mark Wynter, a man who really did have hit records in those days – Venus in Blue Jeans, It’s Almost Tomorrow and a whole lot more – and who has had a career as both actor and singer ever since, as a man recounting tales of his youth club music days to his granddaughter, this somewhat underwritten show is really a framework on which to hang some great songs.

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