David Reed: Shamblehouse, Pleasance Courtyard, Edinburgh

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The Independent Culture

The name might not be instantly familiar, but if you're a Fringe regular the face will be: David Reed is one third of perennially popular sketch group, The Penny Dreadfuls.

Reed's one-man show rambles (rather than shambles) through a series of swiftly drawn characters, his malleable face and myriad accents shifting easily from a lisping, pouting schoolboy to a jowly, blustery old chap fallen on hard times to an Alan Bennett-esque antiques dealer faced with a sinister taxidermy task. His timing is tight, and each incarnation works quickly on its audience, drawing you in to the little stories, which are sprinkled with plenty of surreal or silly asides.

Reed is a master of the thrown-in detail that snags your sympathy for a character (as when the space-viking obsessed schoolboy reveals casually that the thing he's most scared of is not aliens but his mother dying: “again!”). A scene where he creates a - very rounded – character for a doughnut is brilliant: I'm by no means the only audience member who becomes overly invested in the life and times of Milo, a young doughnut who dreams of being an acrobat. His predictable sticky end is gut-wrenching.

To finish we're introduced to the last ghost, another inventive piece of heartstring-tugging daftness: the ghost is a falconer, tragically waiting in this world for a bird who will never return because “birds do not have souls; that's why they shit on statues”. There's no shortage of heart and soul Reed's work, however - and it's this that makes it soar.

To 28 Aug (0131 556 6550)