Monthly Archives: August 2016

How to cope with being offended – a handy guide

Lionel Shriver

Lionel Shriver. Completely unrelated to this questionnaire. Especially Q10.

One of things that makes the Edinburgh Fringe so successful, especially the comedy, is the convention that anything goes. Television comedy often shies away from more cutting edge stuff, fearful of all the complaints they’ll get. At the fringe, you get the chance to see something bolder. However, one side-effect of this anything-goes mentality is that you might take exception to something somebody says. This happens on television too, but it’s more likely to happen in the fringe environment. Which begs the question – how can you possibly cope with someone offending you this way?

Painful though it is for some people to contemplate, the Fringe organisers are dominated by people who cannot, or will not, instruct people to not say anything that might upset someone’s delicate sensibilities. But fear not. Inspired by this wonderful flowchart by the legendary John Robertson of The Dark Room fame (and adapted with his kind permission), this extended list of questions should cover any situation that may arise in any kind of comedy, be it stand-up, sitcom, satire or any other form you can imagine.

(And, okay, this list doesn’t cover every situation and shouldn’t be taken 100% literally, but you get the idea. I suspect the people who’d benefit the most from this list are the people who are most likely to miss the point, but I can try.)

No prizes for spotting the references to real events. I may well add to this list as future incidents arise, but this will do for now. Are you ready, here we go …

(UPDATE: I’ve expanded the list in light of recent events. I suspect I may be doing this quite a lot.)

Q1: Are you offended?

No: Get on with your life.
Yes: Go to Q2.

Q2: Do you know why you’re offended?

No: Get on with your life.
Yes: Go to Q3. Continue reading

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10 rules to make sense of reviews at the fringe

All the different fringe publications logos

Edinburgh Fringe is getting underway, which means that reviews of shows are starting to come in. And if you’re new to all of this, this might seem like an easy way of sorting out the good shows from the dross. After all, if you’re doing this properly you should know that – in theory at least – anyone who wants to take part in the fringe can do so. Inevitably, some of them are going to be good and some of them are going to be crap. Surely the reviews can ensure you see the good stuff and avoid the turkeys?

Not quite. Making sense of star ratings and reviews is a lot more complicated than most people realise. A play you loved might be getting two-star reviews, and a play you hate might be getting four- and five-star reviews; that’s happened to me on many occasions. Performers and venues, meanwhile, naturally do their utmost to promote the good reviews and bury the bad ones. Such are the intricacies of reviews, one might be tempted to give up on using them altogether and go back to guessing. But there are ways of making the most of reviews; some are difficult to master, but others are tips every novice should know. Continue reading

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What’s Worth Watching: Edinburgh Fringe 2016

Yeek. Fringe officially starts tomorrow. Better get a move on with this. I’ve done my usual scan through the fringe programme and picked out things that grabbed my attention. And to keep to size down to something manageable, I am restricting my list to acts I’ve seen before (with one exception that I couldn’t resist). Even so, the list is getting longer, and I may struggle to see all of these in the time I have in Edinburgh.

As usual, please treat this as a cross-section of the good stuff out there, not a comprehensive top 25 of the entire fringe or whatever. The vast majority of things in the programme are people I’ve never heard of who could be great, good, mediocre or shit. There are quite a few plays I’ve heard good things about from other reviewers, but they won’t come on to this list until I see it for myself. If you want to see a list that gives fair consideration to all plays across the whole programme, there are arts publications that aim to do that, but for me it’s down to what I’ve happened to see, and in a festival of this size, this largely comes down to chance.

Enough disclaimers though. What have I got for you? Continue reading

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Odds and sods: July 2016

Just before we go headlong into Edinburgh Fringe coverage, there’s just time for a quick roundup on things that happened in July. For some reason, July’s been a pretty quiet month so there’s not been a lot to report, but let’s do a catch-up.

Stuff that happened in July

No turning back at the Gala

No turning back publicity imageLast month I reported on an arguably successful launch of scratch night Next Up … but they’re not stopping there. A very big push is going on right now the get the Gala back into being a producing theatre, like it was in the Stallworthy era.

So there are two productions coming up, both of which are related to the 100-year commemoration of The Battle of the Somme. Running right now is something called No Turning Back. I’m honestly not sure what this is, but the main auditorium has been reconstructed into the trenches for the summer. I’ll be seeing this tomorrow to give you my own verdict. Whatever the verdict, it is unprecedented for post-Stallworthy Gala to do anything on this scale. Continue reading

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Edinburgh Fringe 2016 – as it happened

REVIEWS: Skip to: Bite-Size Lunch HourStack, Waves, Swansong, The Jungle Book, Le Bossu, Cosmic Fear, The Trunk, Sacre Blue, The Steampunk Tempest, ‘Tis a Pity She’s a Whore, Made in Cumbria, Boris & Sergey, Ruby and the Vinyl, Boris: World King, BEASTS, Police Cops, Adventures of a Redheaded Coffee Shop Girl, The Life and Crimes and Reverend Raccoon, Communicate, The Unknown Soldier, Bite-Size Breakfast, E15, Northanger Abbey, Unnatural Selection, Notflix, Unveiled, The Club, Overshadowed

This was my coverage of the 2016 Edinburgh Fringe as it happened, featuring snap reviews with my instant impressions of shows. For the more measured reviews written at a more leisurely pace, see my Roundup.  Here, however, you can see what I was thinking at the time. Continue reading

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