Molly Stewart


Molly-StewartMolly Stewart has only reviewed two Fringe shows so far, and one of them during its preview, so apologies if we’re going off half-cock. But we are were very excited to have a Gigglebeater to reviewer-review; they don’t come around very often.

Stewart is a generous reviewer, always ready to temper a comment that may otherwise sound a little harsh. She’s nice enough to call the audience of an almost cancelled gig ‘petite’; while Tiernan Douieb makes “jokes made about subjects that the Fringe will be awash with” – but not, she insists, in a predictable way. In fact she makes the criticism and then rubs Savlon on it a second time: “Some jokes perhaps used obvious subjects and predictable routes, but this didn’t stop them being enjoyably successful with the audience.” It’s a bit like stabbing someone, apologising and then stabbing them again.

Stewart’s thoughts can come out a little tangled, and there are times when she tries to pack too many words into a sentence, throwing us off before we get to the end. She writes of shows that “present almost more as an emotionally intellectual discussion”, while Glenn Moore’s small audience was “not necessarily an overtly bad thing”. When she wrote that Douieb “seems to modestly contemplate in a very small manner”, I wondered if the review had been translated from the original Czech or something. What is a small manner?

With a little tightening up on the grammar and a whittling down of the prose (she could stand to lose at least 50 words in each of these reviews), Stewart’s obvious enthusiasm and open-handedness will doubtless become more apparent. Even when her intention isn’t 100 per cent clear, as when she tells us that “perhaps a larger audience would allow more room for awkward tailing off”, anyone who knows comedy will get the idea.

Derwent Cyzinski

Lorenzo Pacitti

lorenzopacittiYou can’t help but be drawn into Lorenzo Pacitti’s reviews. He makes no effort at all to impress us with big words or elaborate sentence structure. He never once pauses to expound on the bigger ideas that are put forward by the show he’s watching. He’s a ground-level reviewer who allows himself to get caught up in the excitement of the audience, and he’s all the better for it.

“Despite significant technical problems which result in her performing without a mic for 90% of the show, Luisa strolls through an hour of girl-power fuelled, bombastic comedy,” he explains of Luisa Omielan in a review not short of bombast in itself. And although he concedes that “occasionally the show can descend into men-bashing”, Pacitti is happy to side with the audience’s approval.

Indeed, it’s astonishing how many reviewers neglect to mention the audience at all. Perhaps they think it’s unprofessional, somehow, to let a show’s environment impinge on a review. It’s a mistake, I think, and a self-deception. Acknowledging the challenges or benefits surrounding a show can only make a review better, and Pacitti seems to be cogniscent of this.

“Despite the single digit crowd, there’s a pleasant atmosphere in Bar 50 as the few punters here tonight hang on Harriet Dyer’s every word,” he tells us, in a nice review that quickly plummets into words like ‘hackneyed’ and ‘stretched’ but still maintains that “It’s impossible to deny how fascinating Dyer is as an individual.” I was a bit confused by this review and wished that Pacitti had taken more time to explain himself.

There are no such problems in John Robertson’s Nifty History of Evil, where he explains the nature of the show just enough not to spoil it. He tells us “He can be telling you about what exactly the Marquis De Sade did with his penis or exotic torture techniques, and do so with the same charm and glint in his eye as the pleasant Aussie who watched with a big grin as his queue filled up.” Pacitti has an endearing lightness of touch.

Sadly he goes on to talk about “the chaotic nature of the show” which, in my experience, usually means that the reviewer just couldn’t keep track of it. But Pacitti is very much a reviewer who sets out with the intention of enjoying himself.

Jemyma C Noevil


John-Paul Stephenson


john-paulstephensonJohn-Paul Stephenson had his work cut out at last year’s Fringe, where he was keeping the Gigglebeats reviewing boat afloat by himself. With that in mind he did a pretty good job all in all.

Taking himself to some things that were off the beaten track, and several of the Free Fringe/Free Festival offerings, he reported what he saw with a measured and kindly tone. Yes, I think ‘kindly’ is the word for it. For even where he concludes that the entertainment isn’t up to scratch, he mentions the environmental factors that have worked against it, such as an unhelpful audience, or even another audience. At Quiz in My Pants he reveals that “The guffaws from next door were an intermittent reminder that other people were having a better time”.

Stephenson notes that Kate Smurthwaite’s The News At Kate: World Inaction is enjoyable, and it’s clear that he sympathises with the politics. But he adds the caveat: “The debate is not exactly balanced; it’s the left-wing equivalent of being driven around Hampshire in a taxi by Nigel Farage.”

He throws in quite a few bons mots. Noting that the Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppets “certainly know how to pun,” he adds that after all these years “there are still more groans than BabeStation”.

There are quite a few typos which, funnily enough, take the edge off the witticisms as surely as when a comic fluffs a punchline. But Stephenson is a balanced reviewer who in 2013 took his one-man mission to heart. Here’s hoping that in 2014 he does the same again – with a little help, maybe.

Becky Walker’s Panda


Becca Gill


beccagillBecca Gill wrote only one review for Gigglebeats this year, choosing a PBH Free Fringe Show at Cabaret Voltaire. Fringe Pig is always somewhat suspicious of these one-off reviewers as their solo offerings are usually acts of arrant vandalism or unmitigated praise for a mate. And we’re not saying that’s what this is, but it IS a review of unmitigated praise, from someone with no track record reviewing anything else, ever, since time began.

It’s difficult, therefore, to grade Becca Gill as a reviewer. Perhaps she did start out with the intention of reviewing lots of things, but got run over by a bus on North Bridge. Perhaps she was attacked by seagulls outside the bus terminus. In which case we can only express our sorrow. But then, as this review is dated August 22nd, Becca Gill started reviewing just as the Fringe was wiping its tears away and putting its undistributed flyers into the recycling bin. We’d like to run an independent steward’s enquiry into Becca Gill and the mystery of the one review, but until we can command those sort of resources we’ll just have to give her a single pig point and advise the public to be wary.

In the meantime, let Becca Gill, and her memory, and her one gushing review, stand – like the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier – as a monument to the catastrophic folly we commit when we trust in reviews without regard to who wrote them.

Business Leopard