Lulu

3 stars

Lulu is about a wild young woman who is very attractive, but abused and lost. Her attraction is both her greatest strength and her biggest problem. Her past is murky and deprived; her father is cruel and vindictive, so she finds herself at a very young age alone in the world, not knowing who to trust or how to be a woman.

Review by Roz Scott published on Thursday 25 May | Read more

The Missing Special

4 stars

Early on in this intricately-constructed, time-shifting play, we hear two characters discussing movies: the kind of movies where they pull the rug out from under you, revealing that you've misunderstood what you've been seeing all along. There's a similar gambit waiting for you in The Missing Special, but there's more to this show than a clever trick. It's an interesting riddle, a rewarding character study… and a parable on the way we behave towards others too.

Review by Richard Stamp published on Tuesday 23 May | Read more

Richard III (a one-woman show)

4 stars

I was only expecting to review this show, not to play a part in it – but this is no ordinary production of Richard III. We the audience are each warmly greeted by Richard of Gloucester, hanging name-cards around our necks, thus assigning us roles and seats. Soon we are all assembled as the Royal Court of London, sitting horseshoed around Richard's wooden table. Stickers marked 'DEAD' are ominously arranged along the table's edge.

Review by Mike Lee published on Saturday 20 May | Read more

The Cocktail Pianist

4 stars

The Cocktail Pianist is one of those wonderfully sneaky shows you only find at the Fringe – one which tricks you into thinking that it's nothing particularly special, then slowly reveals the solid talent under a seemingly-flaky veneer. The talent in this case belongs to performer Mike Hatchard, who's not only a fine actor but an impressive pianist as well; the veneer is his character Bernard, who spends his life as a jobbing musician tinkling the ivories at the Luton Skyport Hotel.

Review by Richard Stamp published on Friday 19 May | Read more

PASSPAWT

5 stars

I'm not a cat person. I've never been a cat person. I can feel no affection for a haughty prima donna equipped with claws and fangs. So I sympathise with Helena, the protagonist of this hilarious one-woman show – whose life is invaded by a hellish creature determined to shred her carpets and drive away her friends. Yet that's just the starting-point for an unexpectedly touching story, which explores big questions of connectivity and identity under the cover of a lightweight comic tale.

Review by Richard Stamp published on Wednesday 17 May | Read more

Power Story

3 stars

Billed as a "theatre game", Power Story is one part political activism, one part Mad Hatter's Tea Party, and one part Sim City – all set inside the Crystal Maze. We enter the bare performance space to find an intriguing pile of boxes stacked on the floor; we're cast as guests at a country town's bicentennial celebrations, sometime in the middle of this century. But there's a problem. Electricity is rationed, the lights are going out… and worst of all, in the frenetic Mayor's eyes, runaway climate change means there's nowhere left to grow any tea.

Review by Richard Stamp published on Wednesday 17 May | Read more

Model Organisms

4 stars

A woman stands alone on the stage, under a stuttering light. She's dressed in a jumpsuit, labelled with a number; she's escaped from somewhere – a prison, or something else? She's a bereaved mother, a victim of abuse, the owner of an unbroken spirit. She's also, in a sense, a weapon. Model Organism is the story of how she got there.

Review by Richard Stamp published on Wednesday 17 May | Read more

All Cashed In

4 stars

I'll 'fess up right away: I've never been that interested in Johnny Cash. I do at least recognise the singer's name – which means I'm better-educated than Greg, the Glaswegian lead character in this engaging and spirited two-hander. But I've always assumed I wouldn't be a fan, and the biggest compliment I can pay this show is to say that within the first ten minutes it had changed my mind.

Review by Richard Stamp published on Monday 15 May | Read more

Poe's Last Night

4 stars

Pretty much everything I know about Edgar Allen Poe, I know from watching Fringe shows. The author's trademark combination of darkness and mystery is an irresistible draw for theatre-makers – and I've lost count of the number of times I've witnessed a re-mix of Poe's canon. But although Poe's Last Night does fall into that familiar pattern, it also offers something surprisingly rare: an opportunity to hear some of his work, abridged but unmolested, delivered by a consummate performer.

Review by Richard Stamp published on Monday 15 May | Read more

Open Sky present Scorched

5 stars

A red triangular handle hangs from a red pull-cord, dangling beside a chair. It can mean just one thing: we’re in a care home, and the man we see staring at the TV is nearing the end of his life. But it’s been quite a life. As he shares and acts out his reminiscences, we learn of lovers in Cairo and in Northumbria; of battles at the county fair, and among the desert sand; and of the escaped Luftwaffe pilot he tracked for two sleepless days, amidst the scorching heat of the Sahara.

Review by Richard Stamp published on Friday 12 May | Read more

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