Entertainment & Arts

Edinburgh Festivals 2014: The hot tickets

As the crowds flock to the Edinburgh International Festival and the Fringe, some of this year's hit shows have already emerged.

There are 3,193 shows on the Fringe alone. Here are a selection of the plays and comedians that have been attracting acclaim from critics.

Bridget Christie: An Ungrateful Woman

Image copyright Rich Hardcastle

A year after she won the Foster's Edinburgh Comedy Award, Christie's latest show combines self-satire with an examination of gender equality and sexism.

Ranging from the advertising industry to female genital mutilation, Christie garnered four stars from the Guardian's Brian Logan, who said: "What makes her work exciting is that her anger at sexual inequality and her amusement at the absurdities around it seem equally authentic." Chortle and The Telegraph went one better, giving An Ungrateful Woman the full five stars.

Bridget Christie: An Ungrateful Woman is at the Stand comedy club until 25 August.

Circa: Beyond

Image copyright Andy Phillipson

The latest show from the internationally acclaimed Australian ensemble Circa has received five-star reviews from The Scotsman and The List and four stars from The Times and Fest. The List described Circa's performers as "the rock stars of the circus world; sharp, sexy, strong as a pack of turbo-powered oxen".

Writing in The Scotsman, Kelly Apter said: "After last year's equally brilliant Wunderkammer, it would seem watching Circa has become my new favourite Fringe pastime".

Circa Beyond is at Underbelly Bristo Square until 25 August.

City of the Blind

Image copyright city of the blind

From award-winning writer/director David Leddy, this interactive political thriller is not performed in a theatre - it is available to anyone online via smartphone or tablet.

Viewers follow UN investigator and whistleblower Cassie Al-Khatib in a series of six thirty-minute chapters containing voicemail, emails and CCTV. The Stage and British Theatre Guide gave the show five stars, while The List called it "a deeply unsettling, unforgettable experience".

City of the Blind is available via DavidLeddy.com.


Image copyright Mihaela Bodlovic

Mark Thomas stays true to form as campaigner-comedian with his exploration of corporate spying.

Bestowing four stars, The Stage wrote that it was "raised beyond the level of mere tirade or lecture by Thomas' theatrical sense and skills as a performer", while The Telegraph declared that he "manages to bring light and humour to even the most startling revelations of deceit".

Cuckooed is at the Traverse Theatre until 24 August.

Donald Robertson Is Not A Stand-Up Comedian

Image copyright Jeremy Abrahams

Gary McNair's show about using humour to combat bullies centres on the put-upon 15-year-old of the show's title. Despite failing to impress the British Theatre Guide (one star), Donald Robertson Is Not A Stand-Up Comedian wowed The Stage (five stars).

In The Scotsman (four stars), Joyce McMillan wrote: "McNair is at his brilliant best, as he brings to life the bus-top dialogues between the narrator and wee Donald, who eventually goes off to do brave battle at the school talent contest."

Donald Robertson Is Not a Stand-Up Comedian is at the Traverse Theatre until 24 August.

Exhibit B

Image copyright Sofie Knijff

Described by The Guardian as "Edinburgh's most controversial show", Exhibit B is part art installation, part live performance, which forces visitors to confront Europe's ugly colonial past and how it still shapes our perceptions of race.

The show, created by South African artist Brett Bailey in the university library, is a modern version of the "human zoo", in which Africans were put on show for the curiosity of the 19th and early 20th Century Westerners. In her five-star write-up, The Guardian's Lyn Gardner described the results as "both unbearable and essential", while The Edinburgh Reporter declared it "hugely powerful, deeply unsettling, but vital viewing".

Exhibit B is at the Playfair Library Hall until 25 August.


Image copyright Paul Watt

Huff is a walk-through theatrical experience for children aged eight and over that tells the story of The Three Little Pigs like never before. Audience members explore a series of curious chambers with a wolf lurking in the shadows.

The Stage & British Theatre Guide have given the show five stars, with the British Theatre Guide calling it "25 minutes of pure, unadulterated pleasure", adding: "The care lavished on the creation is remarkable and means that Huff is likely to be remembered as one of the highlights of the 2014 Fringe."

Huff is at the Traverse Theatre until 24 August.

The James Plays

Image copyright Robert Day

Part of the Edinburgh International Festival, The James Plays are a new cycle of history plays by award-winning playwright Rona Munro based on three generations of Stewart Kings who ruled Scotland in the 15th Century. James I, James II and James III stand alone as separate plays and viewed together they create a narrative on Scottish culture and nationhood.

The Telegraph gave the plays five stars, calling them "astonishing" and "a seven-and-a-half-hour feast of blistering drama, poetry and emotion". The Guardian called them "a resplendent feather in the joint caps of their co-producers, the National Theatres of Scotland and Great Britain."

The James Plays are at the Festival Theatre until 22 August.

So It Goes

Image copyright Richard Davenport

So it Goes is based on the personal experiences of Hannah Moss, whose father died when she was 17. Now 25, she has been unable to talk about him. Even in the show, she chooses not to speak about him. Instead, there is a silent performance with words written on white boards, with Moss and co-performer David Ralfe playing all the characters.

The Times & Threeweeks have given the show five stars. Threeweeks called it "a profoundly affecting experience", while Dominic Maxwell in The Times wrote: "I must have seen dozens of Fringe shows in which performers honour their dead dad, but I've never seen a depiction of grief that is quite as deft, daring, amusing and moving as this one."

So it Goes is at the Underbelly Cowgate until 24 August.

Among the many other shows attracting attention are Luisa Omielan's Am I Right, Ladies?, a follow-up to last year's cult hit What Would Beyonce Do?; Beowulf: The Blockbuster,a one-man show about a father's final chance to connect with his son; Chef,about how a woman went from a haute cuisine head chef to running a prison kitchen; Sara Pascoe's tour of her own love-life in Sara Pascoe Vs History; and Unfaithful,looking at whether relationships can withstand the brutality of betrayal.

For more reviews, entertainment site The List has produced a handy league table of the biggest festival hits.

Meanwhile, BBC Arts is providing extensive Edinburgh coverage with live streams, interviews and behind-the-scenes access.

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