EVERYTHING MARKED WITH: 4 & 1/2 Stars


Martin Gray August 9th, 2017 by

When you work at the Scotsman, I guess, you don’t feel you need to impress anyone. I mean sure, the paper is going down the tubes faster than a KY-jellied eel poo at a waterpark but for the moment it’s still the grand dame of Scottish journalism. Or croque monsieur, since Scotsman is the most […]


Jonathan Holmes August 15th, 2016 by

What is going on at Fest Towers this year? Last year their average score – AVERAGE – was 2.3 stars. This year it’s like opening a box of glitter. Maybe they realised nobody likes them. Maybe it was starting to hit their bottom line (would you buy an ad in a magazine that had called […]


Tom Hackett August 20th, 2015 by

With so many Fest reviewers wanting to hunt down Fringe comedians, slaughter them in cold blood and wear their shrunken heads and genitals as voodoo fetishes, it’s perhaps refreshing to find one who just wants to inspect their private parts in a scientific way, pat their heads and release them back into the wild. By […]


Alan Morrison August 17th, 2015 by

You can tell that Alan Morrison writes for a newspaper: thanks to his journalistic training, the presence of a sub-editor and (quite possibly) the need to accommodate an advert for the Taj Mahal curry house just before his page goes off-stone, Morrison’s reviews are cut to the absolute quick. Not a word is wasted and, I’m […]


Andrew Allen August 20th, 2014 by

“…And this is an improv nerd speaking.” Says Allen at the end of his review for What Does The Title Matter Anyway?. It’s unnecessary, because we had all figured this out much earlier in the lengthy review that preceded it. Allen is, I might as well admit, a reviewer after my own heart. Not only […]


Joe Spurgeon August 17th, 2014 by

There’s not much wrong with Joe Spurgeon. So I’ll start with as much wrong as I can find. I disagree with his too-frequent two-star allocations. But then, I would. And I wish he would stop mithering on about shows that don’t have a message or a denouement. It’s almost funny when he complains that Chris […]


Joanna Alpern July 17th, 2014 by

Joanna Alpern writes long, carefully-considered reviews, and always gives the performer – famous or obscure – sufficient due. You might say that she is from the Julian Hall school of comedy reviewing, which is no bad thing. If anything, Alpern goes into too much detail. But it’s forgivable in her case as she tries not […]


Victoria Beardwood July 17th, 2014 by

Victoria Beardwood is very good. In fact, so good is she that I scoured every single one of her reviews looking for something to moan about and I pretty much came up empty. They’re concise, enthusiastic, witty without being condescending, and they fit perfectly into the Three Weeks slug format. If there’s one little quibble […]


Julian Hall July 17th, 2014 by

Julian Hall is kept busy by The Independent – which these days is about as popular as the Russians, who own it. He is probably better housed at The Stage, though, where he has a good length of chain and is allowed to discuss the Fringe once a week as he sees fit. He begins with […]


Andrew Pollard July 17th, 2014 by

“Serene, easy-going… delightful in a mellow, ticklish way… Delicate and exceptionally dry, occasionally reaching a curious threshold somewhere between amusement and bemusement”. Is this Jilly Goolden describing a Chilean merlot? No, it’s Andrew Pollard giving a critique of Norman Lovett. You can’t accuse Pollard of being insufficiently descriptive. Not only does he paint a picture […]


Jay Richardson July 17th, 2014 by

Jay Richardson writes for everyone who matters at the Fringe, and others that don’t particularly. The two things that define him are his constant recourse to reason and his deft turn of phrase. He employs a great economy with words, so that three paragraphs give as accurate a picture of a performance as four or […]


James Dolton July 17th, 2014 by

In his accompanying photograph James Dolton looks about 11, but don’t let this fool you. He writes with all the power and precision of someone three years older. In Broadway Baby terms, this makes Dolton an old man of letters, a veritable Venerable Bede. Of all the publications to take a butchers at Baconface (ie […]


Bernard O’Leary July 17th, 2014 by

Bernard O’Leary is the main man at the Skinny, and it’s interesting to see how his approach differs from that of the other review grandees. For example, while Chortlemeister Steve Bennett was furious with Ellis and Rose’s Jimmy Savile: The Punch and Judy Show – pretty much accusing the hapless duo of wasting his precious […]


Chris Tapley July 15th, 2014 by

Chris Tapley wrote five comedy reviews for The Skinny in 2013, all of them well-constructed, well-argued and grammatically tight. You have to wonder if The Skinny can’t squeeze a bit more comedy juice out of its more talented reviewers. Tapley isn’t one of those jack of all trades who is constantly being distracted by theatre […]


Good reviewers are harder to review. That’s because, in trying to get an angle on their body of work, you suddenly find that you’ve read everything they wrote at the 2013 Fringe as easily as if it was a pulp thriller, and you’ve reached the last one with barely a thought in your head. This […]


Tom Bateman July 13th, 2014 by

Tom Bateman’s reviews have a measured, precise quality pitched somewhere between politician and cricket commentator. But if his praise is always qualified his criticisms are even more so. He muses over one show he did not “fully connect with”, saying that it “may be that the show lacks ambition”. He isn’t sure. He’s wondering. Some […]