Arts: EDINBURGH FESTIVAL '99: Fringe: Comedy

Johnny Vegas
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The Independent Culture
Johnny Vegas

George Square Theatre, Venue 37 (0131-662 8740), run finished

With , it's all in the voice. He starts off in a whisper, coaxing us into submission with his tender tones. "Get up out of your seats and go for a wander," he says, as if we are engaging in some sort of group therapy. But it's not long before his voice starts to waver and the simmering psychosis bobs to the surface: "Don't get me angry. I don't want to go down that road again." And before we know it, Vegas is bemoaning his lack of talent - "I'm the Eleanor Rigby of light entertainment" - and reliving childhood horrors in a pitifully scorched rasp.

There is more tragedy than comedy in the air when he remembers discovering his mother en flagrante with his uncle on Christmas Day and being forced to eat his pet rabbit for tea. But Vegas is also unremittingly cruel, cackling triumphantly as he reminds the women in the audience that they will have to grow personalities before their looks start to fade.

You may want to sit back and laugh at Vegas's inadequacies, but be warned. This man will do everything in his powers to drag you down with him.

Fiona Sturges