Chris Dugdale

Edfest Bouquets 2017


It was another fantastic three weeks at the Fringe for us. We crammed in as many shows as we possibly could – and still barely managed to scratch the surface. Here’s our pick of the best we saw this year. Congratulations to everyone mentioned.


Seagulls – Volcano Theatre

Peer Gynt – Gruffdog Theatre

The Power Behind the Crone – Alison Skilbeck

Safe Place – Clara Glynn

Pike Street – Nilaja Sun



The Darkness of Robins – John Robins

Kinabalu – Phil Wang

Dominant – John Robertson

Mistress & Misfit – Shappi Khorsandi

Oh Frig, I’m 50! – Richard Herring


Story Telling

One Seventeen – Sarah Kendall

These Trees the Autumn Leaves Alone – Will Greenway

The Man on the Moor – Max Dickins

Eggsistentialism – Joanne Ryan

Blank Tiles – Dylan Cole


Special Mentions

The Toxic Avenger: The Musical – Aria Entertainment & Flying Music

Up Close – Chris Dugdale

The Cat Man Curse – Pelican Theatre

Cathy – Cardboard Citizen Theatre

Well Meaning, but Right Leaning – Geoff Norcott


Chris Dugdale: Up Close


Assembly Rooms, George Street, Edinburgh

There’s no other explanation: Chris Dugdale is actually a sorcerer. He’s not a performer who’s learned a load of tricks; he can’t be, because some of what he’s doing is simply impossible. Okay, so he’s a showman and he plays along with the schtick, delivering a few crowd-pleasers that we’ve seen elsewhere and can conceive of what the trickery might be (although we still don’t know how, but we can’t have everything), but there are elements here that simply don’t make any sense – unless we accept that he’s a wizard of some sort.

I mean, I don’t know how he does that stuff with the Rubik’s cubes, but I can go along with the idea that it’s a relatively simple blend of maths or dexterity – or, indeed, trick cubes of some sort. But the tiny tin of Altoids that never leaves the table… I won’t give any spoilers, but THERE’S NO WAY A MERE HUMAN CAN ACHIEVE WHAT HE DOES HERE! 

This is the third time we’ve seen Dugdale perform, and he gets better every time (or maybe he’s just making us think that with his mind control techniques?). This year’s show, Up Close, is much more dazzling and show-bizzy; there’s an energy and pace that has us buzzing from the start. He’s clearly enjoying himself, and his enthusiasm is infectious: the crowd is lapping up his act.

If you’ve had a busy day and are feeling tired or lethargic, get yourself along to the Assembly Rooms and see Chris Dugdale if you can. He’ll have you pepped up and grinning within a few minutes – although he may leave you doubting everything you think you know…

5 stars

Susan Singfield


Edfest Bouquets 2016




It’s been another amazing August for us at Bouquets & Brickbats. We’re exhausted after a month of non-stop theatre and comedy! We have seen some absolutely fantastic stuff, covering a huge range of ideas. Here’s our pick of the best we’ve seen at this year’s Fringe:

Drama Bouquets

  1. Neontopia / Wales Millennium Centre – A Good Clean Heart by Alun Saunders
  2. Aurora Nova – The Blind Date Project by Bojana Novakovic
  3. Rainbow Class by Vivienne Acheampong
  4. Gaggle Babble / National Theatre Wales – Wonderman by Daf James
  5. Something for the Weekend – Royal Vauxhall by Desmond O’Connor

Monologue Bouquets

  1. NJC Productions – The Way the City Ate the Stars by Will Greenway
  2. George Dillon – Stunning the Punters (& Other Stories) by Berkoff, Sproat and Dostoevsky
  3. Lorenzo Novani – Cracked Tiles by Lorenzo Novani
  4. Impi Theatre Company – The South Afreakins by Robyn Paterson
  5. Berk’s Nest – Vaudeville by Tom Neenan

Stand-up Comedy Bouquets

  1. Bridget Christie – Mortal
  2. Sarah Kendall – Shaken 
  3. Loyiso Gola – Dude, Where’s My Lion?
  4. Garrett Millerick – The Dreams Stuff is Made Of
  5. John Robertson – Arena Spectacular

‘Ones to Watch Out For’ Bouquets

  1. Phosporos Theatre – Dear Home Office
  2. Chris Dugdale – Full Circle
  3. Flabbergast Theatre – Tatterdemalion
  4. Teateri – Evil by Jesper Arin
  5. Amy Howerska – Smashcat

Chris Dugdale: Full Circle




Assembly George Square, Edinburgh

‘I don’t believe it!’

I seem to be turning into Victor Meldrew. Those words have just tumbled, unbidden, from my lips. Because on a small stage, just a few feet in front of me, magician Chris Dugdale has made something impossible happen. And it’s just one of a whole series of impossible things. As I watch, entranced, objects vanish and reappear, cards mysteriously change suit, a scrambled Rubik’s cube appears to solve itself right in front of me. And it doesn’t stop there. There are also the mind control elements. One poor woman is manipulated into a state where she is unable to read a simple word on a card. A brief gesture from Chris and she can read it. Another flourish and once again, she’s tongue-tied. Don’t even ask about the bottle of wine…

We first encountered Chris Dugdale at last year’s fringe and were impressed by his show, but Full Circle is even better. Chris is a likable chap with a roguish air who has an easy rapport with his audience. He charms us, he baffles us and he sends us on our way asking each other, ‘How did he do that?’ Tricks appear to go wrong, but then he reveals that the illusion was way more complicated than we supposed. You thought we were doing this but… it was actually THIS! Cue the gasps of astonishment from everyone watching. ‘No way!’ I hear somebody whisper and I agree one hundred percent.

For a final close up magic routine, Chris invites a whole bunch of us onto the stage to witness his incredible sleight of hand techniques. I watch intently, determined to spot something… anything that will give me a clue as to how he is doing these unbelievable things. But there’s nothing. He must be made of magic. There’s simply no other explanation. One hundred years ago he’d have been burned as a witch.

If you see only one magic show at the fringe this year, go for Full Circle. Trust me, you won’t be disappointed.

5 stars

Philip Caveney

Chris Dugdale: Sleightly Dishonest



Assembly George Square Studio 2, Edinburgh

There’s something distinctly old school about magician Chris Dugdale: the sharp suit, the comic patter, the cheeky persona… and many of his tricks are well-worn too. The opening routine where he swallows razorblades was popularised by Harry Houdini, while the bullet-catch is the same one that so tragically finished the career of Chung Ling Soo (William Ellsworth Robinson) in 1918, even if Dugdale has adapted it slightly, substituting a paintball gun for a revolver. But actually it’s great to see these classic routines done with such style and aplomb.

However, it’s his sleight-of-hand routines with playing cards that are (if you’ll forgive the pun) his strongest suit. These are conducted at a small table with a member of the audience sitting right beside him and a video camera projecting the whole thing onto a big screen behind. As you watch mesmerised, the cards appear to change suit every time he turns them over. It’s an accomplished piece of close up magic, one of the best I’ve seen.

Another routine, which he spins out through the show has a jaw-dropping payoff as Dugdale appears to undo all traces of everything we’ve seen during his act; and there’s a ‘mind-reading’ trick that had us wracking our brains in a ‘how did he do that?’ sort of way. It’s accomplished stuff, and his invitation to play cards for money with anyone from the audience later on is wisely ignored.

Maybe he might think of doing something bigger, more flamboyant next time out, but for now, this will do nicely. Oh yes, I just remembered. The trick with the Rubik’s cube. How on earth did he do that?

4 stars

Philip Caveney