• Things to do | Festivals

Pleasance Courtyard


Time Out says

Not to be mixed up with the Pleasance Dome about ten minutes away (or five if you're sprinting a for a show you're about to miss), this busy courtyard is probably the buzziest of the Big Four Fringe promoter venues (along with Underbelly, Gilded Balloon and Assembly Festival). The central beer garden is the ideal place to munch a slice of pizza and spot some harried Fringe performers, while the surrounding dozen or so venues are home to one of the most packed programmes of the festival.


Rail: Edinburgh Waverley

What’s on

The Smeds and The Smoos

3 out of 5 stars

This review is from London, July 2023. ‘The Smeds and the Smoos’ transfers to the 2024 Edinburgh Fringe. Kids’ theatre company Tall Stories has been touring its stage version of ‘The Gruffalo’ for over 20 years now – it’s almost the same age as Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler’s iconic picture book. Though the company has dipped its toes in other waters, there’s no denying that it has found a niche: the other shows in its current repertoire are a version of ‘Gruffalo’ sequel ‘The Gruffalo’s Child’ (returning to the West End this Christmas!), plus Donaldson and Scheffler’s much-loved ‘The Snail and the Whale’ and ‘The Smeds and the Smoos’. Directed by Toby Mitchell, latest show ‘The Smeds…’ has been knocking around in touring form for a year or so but finally makes its West End debut this summer. And it’s very charming, in a predictable way. Tall Stories is ruthlessly efficient at the whole ‘take a bedtime story that you can read in five minutes and stretch it to an hour’ thing. An opening reference to ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’ is a hoot, there are some nice songs from John Fiber and Andy Shaw, and Barney George’s sets and Yvonne Stone’s puppets do a decent job of channelling Scheffler’s eccentric, cuddly vision of space, as feuding tribes of aliens – the red Smeds and the blue Smoos – set out on a galactic odyssey to find their youngsters Bill and Janet, who have eloped together.  Though it can’t really compete in visual pizazz with the BBC’s recent animated version, it is pr

  • Children's

Gwyneth Goes Skiing

Queer mischief makers Awkward Productions turn in a very unconventional Christmas show.  ‘Gwyneth Goes Skiing’ is a tongue-in-cheek dramatisation/‘dramatisation’ of Gwyneth Paltrow’s 2016 ski slope collision with a retired optometrist from Utah, and the globally scrutinised court case that arose from it earlier this year. Linus Karp stars as Gwynnie, with Joseph Martin as the hapless optometrist Terry Sanderson. Expect extreme seasonal silliness. Strictly 18-plus.

  • Comedy

Ania Magliano: Forgive Me, Father

The still disgustingly young Ania Magliano has established herself as a Fringe powerhouse since she debuted in 2022, last year selling her entire run out in advance. Her slick, sardonic tales of Gen-Z life go down smooth but are disarmingly subversive. She returns with a new show that is possibly themed around her penchant for confessing her darkest secrets to strangers, but should be heaps of nonchalent fun regardless.

  • Stand-up

Sophie Duker: But Daddy I Love Her

The sharp-as-nails ‘Taskmaster’ champion returns to standup duties with this new show. Sophie Duker’s not telling us much about ‘But Daddy I Love You’, but it has a cute poster image and she describes it as ‘delusional’. Whatever the case, expect entertainment and provocation in roughly equal measures.

  • Stand-up

Patti Harrison: My Huge Tits Huge Because They Are Infected NOT FAKE!

Outlandish US comic Harrison performed an extensive work in progress run of this spicily-named show at last year’s Fringe, and while we weren’t able to review it, we can confirm that it was both hilarious and outrageous and that we’ll never look on the cartoon charcter Stewart Little the same ever again. Unless it’s gone dramatically downhill it’s a serious must see for 2024. 

  • Character

The Cat In The Hat

This revival of Katie Mitchell's National Theatre adaptation of Dr Seuss's 'The Cat In The Hat' has been doing the rounds as a touring shows for years, and is a delightfully zany fixture of the Edinburgh Fringe. It’s rather slimmed down since its NT days (and Mitchell hasn’t had anything to do with it for aeons) but it retains the wonderful looking flat sets and props of her original vision. Based on the madcap evocative children's books, the show follows Sally and her brother when they meet a mischievous cat. Ages three-plus.

  • Performance

Catherine Cohen: Come for Me

US comic Catherine Cohen scored a big buzzy breakthrough hit pre-pandemic with her hilariously ironic hit ‘The Twist…? She’s Gorgeous’ in which she cast herself as a deluded glamourpuss diva with amusing results. Follow up ‘Come for Me’ had a work-in-progress run at last year’s fringe and should be ready to debut officially as one of this year’s most anticipated shows. It’s being billed as ‘an openly glamorous, decidedly horny comedy cabaret exploration of what it means to enter your thirties as a woman online, in love, and freezing your eggs’.

  • Stand-up

Rose Matafeo: On and On and On

Winner of the 2018 comedy award and now rocking her own beloved sitcom ‘Starstruck’, Rose Matafeo is a pretty damn big deal these days. Nonetheless, the Kiwi comic remains a Fringe regular, performing last year with a work-in-progress and the year before than as part of New Zealand improv ensemble Snort. Now, finally, she makes a ‘proper’ return with finished show ‘On and On and On’, a show that comes with a solitary line of description: ‘Do you ever feel like you're meeting yourself again and again in a bad way?’.

  • Stand-up

Ahir Shah: Ends

Hugely acclaimed comic Shah was only supposed to be at the 2023 Edinburgh Fringe for a work-in-progress of his show ‘Ends’: but it went so well that it was reclassified as finished and took home the festival’s top comedy award. The by all accounts tour de force considers what his grandfather – who arrived in the UK in 1965 – would make of the UK today. Now it returns for a half-Fringe victory lap.

  • Stand-up
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