Tag Archives: The Free Festival

Abbie Murphy – Eat Sleep Shit Shag: A Review

Bunbury Magazine – ⭐⭐

When Abbie Murphy  greets the audience in perhaps the most joyously flamboyant head-wear you could see at the Fringe, one might be forgiven for expecting a high-octane show. In perfect juxtapostion to the energy of her feathered adornment, Abbie’s performance has a great low-key rumbling to it, a conversational style that creates an intimate atmosphere between her and the audience.

Abbie brings an hour of comedy about getting older, the intrusiveness of technology in modern life and about her time working as a performer on a cruise ship. All the time, there is an undercurrent to these stories – a powerful tone of feminism upon which the narrative hangs. Abbie wonderfully flips the conventions that desperately need flipping with hard-line and jet black humour, not afraid to cut through the stereotypes with sharp teeth.

All the while, this is a show about always being who you are and chasing your dreams. Abbie has a tremendous talant for finding the sideways perspective, bringing a different view to some very important themes.

Written by Christopher Moriarty.

Abbie Murphy – Eat Sleep Shit Shag

Laughing Horse @ City Cafe, 1345

Part of The Free Festival

2nd – 23th August

Zahra Barri – Zahra Warrior (Not Princess): A Review

Bunbury Magazine – 

Zahra moves on to the stage with the confidence of a warrior – she has never wanted to be a princess, despite what society has told her. This is a show about facing up to the stereotypes that women face in society, standing up to them and saying ‘no’. From the very start, Zahra has a strong confidence in her material and a great command of the room.

Her show takes in a whole host of topics – from growing up as a female in Saudi Arabia, to dating, the #MeToo movement and Repeal the 8th – there are plenty of hard-hitting moments in this show, and many dark jokes to go alongside them, but Barri has an instant charm that always makes the audience feel at ease, that this is a safe space in which to explore powerful concepts and ideas. Zahra also has plenty to say about the pitfalls of social media. There is a great structure to the narrative of this show, coupled with her self-assured delivery, brings a fantastic energy into the room.

Zahra is not a princess; this show proves she is a warrior of comedy.

Written by Christopher Moriarty.

Zahra Barri – Zahra Warrior (Not Princess)

Laughing Horse @ Cabaret Voltaire, 1515

Part of The Free Festival

2nd – 26th August

Trev Tokabi – Cool Story Bro: A Review

Bunbury Magazine – 

Trev Tokabi welcomes his audience to the room with perhaps the most relaxed and easy-going style I have seen from a performer, taking a seat along with the comedy-goers to present an hour of relaxed but high-energy comedy.

This is a show about the awkwardness of growing up – through his parents’ divorce, growing up at army boarding school, the trials and successes of living with a dual identity both in the UK and the Ivory Coast. He has a great story-telling style, which builds his own narrative throughout the show and leaves room for big, silly jokes while still moving round dark corners. When his does meander away from the light, his warmth and friendliness reassures the audience that everything is still OK, and that there is a big, daft laugh right around the corner.

He has a good talent for bringing the crowd along with him on his journey. His relaxed style is the perfect night-cap to a day at the Fringe, easy-going comedy with an edge that will round off your day in the right way.

Written by Christopher Moriarty.

Trev Tokabi – Cool Story Bro

Laughing Horse @ City Cafe, 0025

Part of The Free Festival

2nd – 26th August (except 15th)

Holt & Talbot – Mansplaining Feminism: A Review

Bunbury Magazine – ⭐⭐

Talbot is a great feminist. From the very start of the show, to the vox pops from well-known faces that are dotted throughout this hour of sharply-written sketch comedy, this is never in doubt. However, both his and the audience’s  beliefs and expectations are challenged by well-observed and daring sketches that seek to both exaggerate and the flip the stereotypes of conventional relationships between male and female partnerships.

One very strong narrative that runs through this show is that Rosie Holt just wants a compliment on her physical appearance – one compliment in particular. Both simmering beneath this show and in full plain view are many important lessons that everybody needs to learn – about judging people on physical appearances, about how to fundamentally act around other people, about treating each other with respect. All of these lessons are presented by two performers whose energy, chemistry and passion radiates from the stage.

The sketches themselves are perfectly written and timed, ranging from a beautiful parody of periods, original sin in the garden of Eden to how social media can draw out and blow up the smallest of disagreements.

There is no doubt that this is a very important show, absolutely on point with the long-overdue movements sweeping society today. Holt and Talbot bring all of this to their show with amazing craft, wisdom and intelligence.

Written by Christopher Moriarty.

Holt & Talbot – Mansplaining Feminism

Laughing Horse @ City Cafe, 2000

Part of The Free Festival

2nd – 26th August

Bunbury Magazine at Edinburgh Fringe – why, what, how? and other questions.

So this year, while the Bunbury team was up in Edinburgh for the Fringe, we got posed quite a few questions by performers and other reviewers alike. Questions like ‘who are you guys, I’ve never heard of you’ or ‘were you at Meet the Press the other day?’ This blog is an attempt to clear up some of the things we get asked.

Who is Bunbury? I’ve never heard of you.

Bunbury is an arts-and-lit magazine dedicated to showcasing the best in art and writing from around the world. We have a wide remit. We will feature poetry, short stories, art, photography and interviews with all manner of creatives. We do not choose what to feature based on arbitrary parameters – basically, if it is something that has been created with a passion and love for the craft, we will feature it.

We have also been up reviewing shows and interviewing performers for the past five years. We know a good show when we experience one. The team at Bunbury is comprised of writers and performers with a passion for what is happening is Edinburgh during August so we know what to look for and how to put this across to readers of reviews.

What we sometimes like to do is make ourselves known to performers before the show we are about to see to try and build something of a rapport. This can help put both us and the performer at ease and dissipate any tensions. In one show (not naming names or giving years), one of us was in a show where the performer pointed out that we were in reviewing, asked who we were reviewing for, and then pointed out that our marketing was shit as they had never heard of us. This created an unprofessional tension in the room that was really beyond the pale.

This year, we also had a few performers reject a review as they had never heard of us. That is absolutely fine – it is the prerogative of the performer but why would you reject free publicity?

Why are you not accredited with the official Fringe Media? Maybe more performers would have heard of you?

Maybe they would, yes, but that is not a route we want to go down. We are proudly independent and free from obligations to write, say and see particular things. When we set off each morning we are in Edinburgh to see shows, yes, we have something of an itinerary but we are more or less free to see whatever we want. This leaves us open to taking a punt on a show for which we have just been flyered, meaning we see things we would not expect to see, which has lead us to seeing some of the most exciting things at the Fringe. Essentially, we are not there to see particular things to fulfil an arbitrary quota of seeing x amount of comedy, y amount of theatre and z amount of comedians that the wider public have heard of to draw more readers to the magazine to satisfy advertisers.

Once again, we are proudly independent, operating on the outskirts of the mainstream and the norm, helping to showcase and promote performers that want and need a spotlight, in a way that is alternative to the norm and more accessible to people, which is the very essence of the Fringe in the first place, is it not?

Why do you not stay for the entire Fringe?

Yes, we do not stay for the entire 3-ish weeks that the Fringe is on for. That is because, essentially, we can’t afford it. We do not have the luxury of being able to take a lump sum from an advertising contract payment – we are non-profit after all –  and pump it in to accommodation, travel, food and all the other costs that the Fringe incurs. Our team pays for it out of their own pocket which means we can only stay for a limited amount of time. However, while we ARE there, we work and work hard. For example, this year, 2018, in 5 full days one of our reviewers saw 45 shows.

So yes, we may arrive later on some years, or leave early other years, but we stay for exactly as long as we can and cover as much as we feasibly can. We do it on our own for as many people as possible and we never, ever need a lift to the station at the end.

Did you go to Meet The Press?

No, as I said, we’re not officially Fringe-accredited media, and even if we were, we wouldn’t go. No interest whatsoever in getting involved in the politics of the circus. We’re there to enjoy ourselves, not dance to someone else’s beat. We don’t go merely to sit in judgement of hard-working performers – we are there to make friends, join an ever-widening family and help promote and publicise excellent shows. We give support, stop for a chat – put money in the buckets which, from what we hear, most reviewers also do not do. We also have our own thing – the Bunbury Interview packs, a little present to the performers for all their hard work.

And we are aware of whisperings that other reviewers talk about us behind our backs and we’re glad. It means we’re doing something right and we don’t care for the negativity of others.

Peter Michael Marino – Show Up.


Bunbury Magazine – ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐


The first and most important thing to say about Show Up, Peter Michael Marino’s  latest one-man show, is that it is not written by nor is it about Peter Michael Marino. This show, as made clear on the flyer, is about the ‘shite life’ of the audience. This is a show that is completely new and fresh every day, written off the back of suggestions from the audience. Because of this, the show is brand new every day.


It would take a brave performer indeed to improvise an entire hour every day on their own. It would take an incredibly funny and intelligent performer to be able to do this. Luckily, Peter Michael Marino is a performer of great intelligence, wit and enough energy to light up the entirety of The Counting House (I think. I’m not an electrician but that seems about right).


The first half of the show is that set up for the improvisation. Peter has eight post-it notes with categories written on them such as ‘Family’, ‘Addiction’ and ‘Childhood’. He takes suggestions from the audience based on these categories, segueing into his own tales then back to the people in the room. This helps draw the crowd in on an immediately personal level.  All of these suggestions build towards the second-half, which is a traditional ‘one-man show’, which perfectly parodies the melo-drama of the form. The inclusive feel in the room is extended when he choose audience members to direct the play and the sound-scaping.


Peter is a deeply engaging performer who always leaves the crowd with a message. This will be the same message I will leave you with here. Just Show Up. You will never see this show again, and you don’t want to miss out!


Peter Michael Marino – Show Up.

Part of The Free Festival.

The Counting House.


Until 27th August.

Written by Christopher Moriarty.

Henry Churniavsky & Joe Bains: 2 Religions, 1 Comedy Show Review


Bunbury Magazine: ⭐⭐⭐


Comedy shows about religion can sometimes divide the audience’s expectations. Half of the audience may be predicting comedy that is a little close to the knuckle, and this can create a tension in the room.


Henry and Joe made sure that everyone in the room felt at ease, each performer delivering 30 minutes of solid comedy from the points of view of their respective religions – Henry being of the Jewish faith and Joe following Sikhism.


Joe and Henry each used their charm to disarm the audience in the room as they poked fun at their own religions and traditions – Joe’s jokes exploring cultural differences between India and the UK, such as the outsourcing of call centres and where Indian people in the UK can go for an authentic Indian experience. Again, Henry’s comedy explores what it was like growing up Jewish in Liverpool, with a great story about being excluded in a bar warming us up for what was to follow. All of the comedy from both performers subverted traditional jokes and stereotypes in a pleasing way.


I would have perhaps liked to see this exploration go a little deeper and it would have been great to see the performers on stage together, comparing and contrasting their own religions against each other’s and highlighting some absurdities and common ground. All in all though, it was an enjoyable hour of comedy which sought to challenge expectations and shed new light on and have fun with what could have been tense subject matter.

2 Religions, 1 Comedy Show.

Part of The Free Festival.

The Pear Tree.

Run now finished.

Written by Christopher Moriarty.

Editor Christopher’s Fringe Day 2 – 15/08/17

Yesterday was a long day. A looooong day indeed. And highly enjoyable.
I spent the large part of the day at The Counting House, a venue used by the Free Festival, seeing a mix of straigh stand-up comedy, improvised theatre and improvised sketches & poetry. 
Once again, this year I have been blown away already by the wealth and variety of talent on offer in Edinburgh. I’ve only seen 12 shows so I’ve not even scratched the surface but what I have seen has been amazing.
I do think the Fringe is doing strange things to my brain though. (I know I’ve only been here for a day and a half and there are plenty of people that have been here for far longer!) Last night, I had a dream that I was approached by a tam consisting of Katherine Ryan, Wil Hodgson and Phil Jupitus to steal the original scroll upon which Tom Parry wrote his ‘Red Sky at Night’ joke in a Mission-Impossible-style heist. I’m looking forward to tonight’s dream
Being up here feels like being part of the best community in the world. This is our fourth year up here, we have made so many good friends and it feels like such a safe space in which to do what we do.
Enough of all that now! Here’s a round up of what I saw yesterday.
John Porter – 5 Years Later

The Rat Pack Presents…

Henry Churniawsky & Joe Bains – 2 Religions, 1 Comedy Show

Peter Michael Marino – Show Up

Virginie Fortin – A Sad Joke About Life

Dave Chawner – C’est La Vegan

Poetic Jesstice

Total shows so far – 12
See you tomorrow!

CSI: Crime Scene Improvisation – A Review

Bunbury Magazine Review – ★★★★★

The show we saw of Crime Scene Improvisation was a one-off, in more than one sense of the word. This intelligent group of actors work an entire murder mystery solely based on suggestions from the audience, meaning each performance is unique, never to be seen again.

Each and every person involved demonstrated a phenomenal skill in building an increasingly bizarre and hilarious story, filled with wonderfully 3-dimensional characters.

Our was the story of a young, world-leading shrew tamer who was force-fed a Lego statue of a shrew. Yes, we told you it was bizarre. The detective superbly lead the audience through the narrative as each of the characters interacted, unraveling revelations that eventually built to revealing the culprit.

This troupe of performers cannot be praised highly enough for their quick-thinking, interaction, both with each other and the audience and we cannot more strongly recommend seeing them if they should be in a town near you. It is of utter testament to them that the demand to see the show was so high that people were being asked to come back the next day.

CSI: Crime Scene Improvisation was on in Cabaret Voltaire at 1515 as part of The Free Festival.