John Byrne

The Guardian 21 April 2021

If you were in Edinburgh during the 1977 festival there were two shows you couldn’t miss. One was the revue Beyond a Joke starring a young unknown called Rowan Atkinson. The other, down at the old Calton Studios, was a three-hander called Writer’s Cramp.

The exuberant comedy by first-time playwright John Byrne was one of those word-of-mouth hits that only the fringe could produce. The tiny venue was so packed that critic Michael Coveney had to crouch under a canvas chair occupied by a friend of the mother of actor Bill Paterson. “I have always retained a soft spot, and a bad back, for this wonderfully entertaining and freeform spoof revue,” he later wrote. [READ MORE]

By Mark Fisher

MARK FISHER is a freelance theatre critic and feature writer based in Edinburgh and has written about theatre in Scotland since the late-1980s. He is a theatre critic for The Guardian, a former editor of The List magazine and a frequent contributor to the Scotsman and other publications. He is the co-editor of the play anthology Made in Scotland (1995), and the author of The Edinburgh Fringe Survival Guide (2012) and How to Write About Theatre (2015) – all Bloomsbury Methuen Drama. He is also the editor of The XTC Bumper Book of Fun for Boys and Girls and What Do You Call That Noise? An XTC Discovery Book (both Mark Fisher Ltd).