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Last Updated: Thursday, 28 August, 2003, 11:38 GMT 12:38 UK
Fringe 2003: Your reviews
Derevo return following last year's success
This year's Edinburgh Fringe Festival is running from 3 to 25 August, with more than 1,500 shows on offer.

Things to look out for are comedy terrorist Aaron Barschak performing Osama Likes it Hot, Jo Brand in a dramatic role in Mental and award-winning performance theatre from international troupes Derevo and Materiali Resistenti.

But with many more performances in so many genres taking place around the town, it is difficult to know what - and what not - to see.

So did you go to the Fringe?

This debate is now closed. Please see below for a slection of your short reviews of some Fringe productions.

I went to The Fringe for the first time at the beginning of the month and saw Nina Conti and Mikey Flannagin - absolutely fantastic!!! Nowhere else on the planet do you get to see hundreds of thousands of people in one place and all enjoying themselves. One great big studenty-type party atmosphere - I will be back next year for another dose.
Mike Nicholls, England

Simon Munnery at the Stand was by far the best thing I saw in Edinburgh.
Danielle Ward, UK

Men in Coats is a throwback to altogether happier era, where comedy is clever and the obscenities are conspicious by their absence. Absolutely brilliant, and totally different.
GZC, Scotland

I went to see Leceistershire Youth Arts perform Bouncers on 23/08/03. Not really knowing what to expect, I was very pleasantly surprised at the professionalism of the young performers. All four actors were slick and the changes in characters had me in stitches from start to finish! Well done on an excellent performance - roll on Fringe 2004 for, hopefully, their return visit...
MIke Judge, Scotland

Dark Earth by David Harrower at the Traverse was a gem, unfairly patronised by the reviewers, it's a very funny character study that turns into a dark theatrical handling of the tensions between country and town. The critics all raved about The Straits, which mystified me. Cardboard cut-out characters, predictable and melodramatic plot twists; there was a nice movement sequence to the Pistols's God Save The Queen though. The play of the festival was San Diego by Dabid Greig in the International Festival, with Billy Boyd. Complex, funny, dark, moving, experimental in a wholly enjoyable way, fellow Glaswegians note it's coming to the Tron next month. I'll be seeing it again. And maybe again.
Simon Waters, Glasgow, UK

Nice Mum's show at the Metro Guilded Balloon was the most promising new act that I've seen since the Trap - who are also destined for TV. Catching new comedians like this before they hit the big time is what the Fringe is about. You must see them if intelligent, goon-like, energetic hilarity is what you like!
Elle Baum, UK

An original refreshing approach to the dating game, Revolving Door is a play I thoroughly enjoyed for it's balance of humour with naivety and sexuality. I liked the way that the characters seemed to smoothly swap their original partners. Played by very professional young actors, I found myself living their roles until the very end.
Alan Sandy, United Kingdom

If you are interested in serious theatre, Ghosts at Venue 40 is worth catching. It's Ibsen and pretty dark, but the cast and director have caught the lighter moments which make it a play about real people, not just a play about family crisis.
Maggie Turner, UK

Go and see Tommy Tiernan and Keiran Bulter for some really good comedy. Both men are very funny and very entertaining!
Anna Neale, UK

I saw Mel and Sue at Pleasance One last night, and I have to say that it has to be one of the funniest shows I have seen in a long time, very quick, witty and a laugh from start to finish, this show is a sell out and it is no surprise, the talents of Mel and Sue are definitely wasted advertising bread!!! Thanks for a great evening's entertainment.
Bryan Longmuir, Scotland, UK

I have been at the festival for six days as a representative of the French newspaper, Midi Libre. I have seen many productions but the best by far was Lewis in Wonderland that I saw three times (two at my own expense). Please bring this production to France, I am sure it will be a hit.
Genevieve Behlouli, France

I went to see Guts at the Theatre Workshop on Saturday night. It's a fantastic play focusing on the emotional trauma of a young schoolboy struggling to deal with his sexuality, bullying and a tough home life. It's tragic, funny and well acted by all the cast; a play that will keep you enthralled from start to finish.

I chatted with Lisa Sharpe (who plays the amusing lush Libby) after the show, and she told me that Guts is being made into a low-budget film. It's easy to see why producers are interested in a story which is both original and refreshingly told. Definitely worth checking out.
Chris Mullen, England

12 Angry Men was a Tour De Force! I'd seen Owen O'Neill 2 weeks ago at the Wharf Comedy Night in Cardiff and was astounded and delighted to see him as the protagonist in this evocative and moving play. I want to compliment the focus of these actors. Not one lost concentration all the way through and remained true to their character. Special Mention to Owen O'Neill, Stephen Frost, Russell Hunter, Bill Bailey and Andy Smart. My first visit to the Fringe. After seeing this, I'll be back every year, God willing!
Dafydd Williams, Galles/Wales

Call me old fashioned - but I still think that for laughs per minute it is hard to beat Fascinating Aida with their last ever show...the FA Final at the Assembly Rooms. There is something of the music hall about their act - but it is always topical, hugely cynical and beautifully performed.

Other recommendations include Jason Byrne, Ross Noble and 12 Angry Men. Steer clear of Daniel Kitson - not only do you have to endure the most boring and least funny hour of your life - you have to do it in a noisy tent at a temperature which would roast a chicken in 20 minutes.

Nicholas Parsons is also exceptionally dull with his one man show about W.S Gilbert - although he usually perks up when he switches to doing his Happy Hour show around the middle of the month - something I have really enjoyed in previous years.
Paul, UK

I broke with my usual comedy-only routine this year and went to see a one-man play called MacNaughton, on in Great King Street. Despite there only being a few in the audience, the actor didn't stint and gave a really compelling performance. I'd recommend this play to anyone wanting to try something new - and for those complaining there's nothing Scottish at the Fringe.
Sara D, Edinburgh, Scotland

Saw Live Ghost Hunt at The Pleasance, a must see show. I have never laughed so hard, it's silly, it's daft, yet intelligent, well done Dan and Danny for getting my festival off to a brilliant start!

A few recommendations: of the theatre, Pugilist Specialist and Those Eyes, that Mouth are the gems, The Straits is predictably excellent, and 12 Angry Men is very well put together (Bill Bailey is surprisingly good - I had expected it to be impossible to take him seriously).

Of the comedy, Ross Noble is his usual rambling but brilliant self, Adam Hills is very likeable, and look out for David Crowe next year (once his act is refined a little more, he'll be a big star).
Andrew Fenton, Scotland

I have only been up in Edinburgh for a few days but I have already seen quite a few shows, one in particular was The Audition at the Pleasance Dome, all I can say is fab entertainment. I loved the way that the audience gets involved whether they like it not - made the whole thing very funny. In a nutshell, the people who are pitting on the play are looking for cast members out of the audience to perform in a play that they want to put on in the 16th, all I can say is good luck to them.
Philip Lovell, UK

If you want to see a truly moving story then go and see High Brave Boy at the Gilded Balloon. It's a piece of work that will make you want to reach out and take the actors home with you. They expose the vulnerability in all of us, through the eyes of children, and if you don't have a tear in your eye at the end then you should seriously reconsider your emotional health!
Melanie Bradley, UK

Natalie Haynes in Troubled Enough at The Pleasance Hut Although resigned to performing in a portacabin (which she makes some fab jokes out of) her performance was quick paced and upbeat providing a good measure of pit of the stomach (yes, even better than belly) laughs. You have to go just to hear about Natalie's novel use of her loving grandmother.

The majority of the routine is based on simple, everyday topics and judging by the audience response it seems to be the simplicity which is key. The paying public were as keen to lap up her humour as she was eager to hand it out.

Definitely a hugely recommended show to all of the comedy fans trying to sift through the rubbish to find what could possibly be the next big thing. Oh, and whatever you do just don't take a teenager with you.........there are two reasons for this and to find out what they are you'll just have to get yourself a ticket.
Leigha Sangster, Scotland

Saw Lewis in Wonderland at the Smirnoff Underbelly. By far the best show I saw over my weekend at the Fringe. Would recommend it to anyone. Also Adolf is good too.
Jimmy, Scotland

Lewis In Wonderland 12pm Underbelly - physical theatre at its best. An intriguing interpretation of Lewis's life and thoughts. An absolute corker, a must see whilst in Edinburgh.
Peter Williamson, UK

We saw six shows at the weekend and can thoroughly recommend Blowing It which is showing at the Assembly Rooms. This is a tale of an undercover cop's slide into the seamier side of life as he attempts to pull off a drugs bust. Stephen Papps plays all 15 characters, including a rottweiler, and it is a very powerful performance.
Maureen Heddle, Scotland

Exposure at The Pleasance. The slow-motion depiction of a stage coach crash which we got to see twice is brilliant! I couldn't take my eyes of the different elements and it's worth the entrance fee just to see it! The production is smart, well paced and packed with events. Though simply presented, the story is told extremely well and I came out informed and entertained.

Directors Ben Barnes and Frank Whately should be pleased with the result. As the festival progresses, Exposure should sharpen up but that will only turn an excellent performance into a better one. History lovers will really enjoy this and if you are looking for a digestible good-post lunch show this is for you.
Max Blinkhorn, Edinburgh, UK

Saw Emulator at the Pleasance Dome yesterday. One of those "fusion of physical dance and film" pieces that can so easily go horrible unless done extremely well. Fortunately this one is done extremely well! It's a full-on experience, well worth the money.
Duncan Hothersall, Scotland, UK

My favourite shows are:

Honk! - at Ctoo (not the American kids one!). It was really fantastic fun - lots of tears and laughter. The night I was there the cast got a standing ovation.

Now That's What I Call A Karaoke Musical - virtually on the floor with laughter. At Pleasance Dome.

Songs For A New World/Schwartz It All About - cast of West end performers alternate the show and it's fab.

Lewis In Wonderland - Underbelly. Very, very clever.
Steve, UK

I saw Topping & Butch - Take it up the Octave at the Pleasance courtyard. I was aching from laughing so much, very topical, very witty, very camp... Apparently they usually perform for gay audiences, well all I can say is I'm glad they are opening the show up to us all now... Comedy as good as this should not be reserved for the few!.. I hope the next act I see will be as funny!..
Paul, UK

I saw The Illusion Brothers tonight at the Gilded Balloon. This is surely the start of great things for them; funny, moving, entertaining - I would definitely recommend this as a must see of 2003.
Emma Sanders, UK

The Straits by Gregory Burke, Traverse Theatre, Friday 1st August.

Dark, shocking and funny, this is another well written piece from Dunfermline's finest. Enthusiastic and talented young actors gave us an insight into teenage life on the Rock as historic events unfolding in the faraway Falklands touched their lives. Fascinating.
N Anderson, Scotland

This Lime Tree Bower, an early play by Conor McPhearson, is on at the Assembly Rooms each day at 4.45pm - it's a wonderful 3 man show full of the signature McPhearson wit and at only one and a half hours - it's perfect for fitting before dinner and a later comedy show. I can't recommend it enough.
Marie-Louise Hogan, UK

We saw Pluck yesterday. A very very lively trio on violin and viola. Well worth a visit. International quality music, comedy and drama.
Steve Petrie, Ireland

Went and saw the play Finding Bin Laden at the Gilded Balloon. Was absolutely fantastic, has Nina Conti in it and Dave Lamb from Goodness Gracious Me, and is written by Henry Naylor from Parsons and Naylor on Radio 2.

It is about a journalist working in Afghanistan who keeps getting beaten to the big stories by John Simpson. It is very funny for the first half, and then turns into quite a dark comedy which really makes you think.

The writer and a photographer went to Afghanistan to research the play. The images they took are used as the backdrop, and they are also on display as an exhibition in the Gilded Balloon.

I'd really recommend this, especially as it is quite unusual for comedy theatre. Plus the jokes about Rageh Omaar's small head are very good.
Jane, UK

I saw Rosie Millard's Coat at the Gilded Balloon press review and was mildly impressed. Made of plastic and looking vaguely retro, it is actually much more recent, having been bought in a fashionable (some would say) shop in London - I've no idea which - the owner did say - meant nothing to me.

However the coat clearly has a message - something like "Look at who's wearing me. They're not a performer but would love to be one or a celeb at least and they have a sense of humour."

The coat's owner's footwear was similarly fake retro although I'm not sure they were bought as such. Looking like Dorothy's shoes as they would at the far end of the Yellow Brick Road, they went with the mad coat.... quite well even though they are apparently, only about a year old.

The coat, teamed with Rosie's act seems to be part reporter and part performer and even without the help of the wearer, certainly eclipsed many of the more well known people at the Gilded Balloon's press launch including Karen Koren, the Gilded Balloon's amazing founder, the excellent Mitch Ben with his wonderful, sexy-and-virtuoso band and Kids T.V. veteran Toni Arthur.

But one has to question the coat's artistic integrity choosing Rosie as her straight man and for me the act really didn't gel. Perhaps it will come to Edinburgh with a different wearer and better shoes next year - I for one watch with interest.
Max Blinkhorn, Edinburgh

Aaron Barschak was absolutely awful - believe him when he says he is not funny.
Taras Young, UK

Having seen preview shows of both of Rattlesnake Theatre Company's shows - The Cripple of Inishmaan and What the Butler Saw - I can honestly say that they will be among the top shows at the Fringe this year - it's definitely a pity that they could not raise enough money to bring their popular show Closer up as well.

Although performing two established hits, the students from Southampton University breathe a wonderful energy into their pieces - the old adage that "time flies when you're having fun" has never seemed more appropriate. From the madcap slapstick of Butler to the dark comedy and deep emotion of Cripple, these students really know the right strings to pull to bring their audiences into the action.

If there is one amateur group to see this year at the Fringe, this is it - selling out many of their shows last year, it would be a travesty for them not to repeat that success. I for one will be catching both plays in rep at Greyfriars Kirk House, starting from the 10th.
Christopher Hoult, UK


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