Alice Jones' Arts Diary: Edinburgh acts' funny money offer could raise a smile on the Royal Mile


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Murky things are happening on the Edinburgh Fringe – and it's not even August yet. This year's fastest-emerging trend is for bribery with three acts offering cash in return for bums on seats. Nathan Cassidy is giving audiences £1 to see his show Free Pound on the Free Fringe (ticket cost: "minus £1". Donations welcome). Elsewhere, Mark MacNicol has gone for a money-back clause: if audiences don't like his "sexy, sensual, dark" theatrical take on Fatal Attraction, he will refund the £8 ticket price from his own pocket. And Irish comedian Caimh McDonnell has taken the most audacious route, promising to donate £100 to Macmillan Cancer Relief for every review published in a "recognised media source" before 20 August (only one review per outlet, sadly). Will any of these stunts work? Or will it emerge that these are, in fact, shows you couldn't pay a man, woman or Arts Diarist to see? And whatever happened to old-fashioned flyering on the Royal Mile in the rain?

George falls for Letts' Broadway smash

It is one of the best new plays to come out of America in recent memory. Now, August: Osage County, which had a sell-out run at the National Theatre in 2008, is to be made into a film – by George Clooney. Tracy Letts' play about a dysfunctional family in Oklahoma premiered at the Steppenwolf Theatre in Chicago in 2007 before transferring to Broadway and London. The film rights were snapped up in 2010 by the Weinstein company, who brought in ER producer John Wells to direct. Meryl Streep has signed up to play the overbearing matriarch and Julia Roberts her oldest daughter with the other parts yet to be cast. This week, Clooney and Grant Heslov, who worked together on Good Night and Good Luck and The Ides of March, announced their involvement. It's boom-time for the actor/playwright Letts – his 1993 play Killer Joe has also just been made into a film by William Friedkin.

A round-the-clock performance that's no laughing matter

Thought eight hours of Gatz was hard work? It's a cinch compared with the latest play from Berlin's avant-garde theatre Hebbel am Ufer who have just staged a 24-hour marathon based on David Foster Wallace's 1,104-page (plus 388 footnotes) magnum opus, Infinite Jest. Performances took place in eight locations across Berlin, from a tennis court to a hospital. "True to the novel, quite a few of the play's scenes have gone on far too long", ran Slate's review. "This isn't entertainment in the traditional sense. It's Wallace-style Entertainment, whose primary purpose isn't to bring enjoyment but to captivate, to incapacitate, like the novel's deadly eponymous film whose viewers are so entertained that they cease to eat, drink, sleep and, eventually, live." Can't wait for the West End run.

Carr's still not moving in the right direction

Who's the most influential person in comedy? Not a comedian, silly, but Off the Kerb super agent, Addison Cresswell. The website Such Small Portions revealed its list of the top 100 movers and shakers last week. More bad news for beleaguered stand-up, Jimmy Carr – he didn't even make the top half, limping in at No 60.