Edinburgh 2013: Terence Blacker's My Village and Other Aliens is an accomplished Fringe debut


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The Independent Culture

For a writer to share his or her problems with writer's block is, says Terence Blacker, like bleeding into shark-infested waters. He has taken the plunge nonetheless and in this, an accomplished Fringe debut inspired by his struggles with ideas and wrangles with publishers, the risk pays off.

A novelist, comedy writer and Independent columnist, by his own admission, Blacker would normally be a shoo-in for a yurt down the road at the Book Festival. Instead he is perched on a stool in a makeshift cabaret bar beneath a church and the result is far more unexpected, illuminating and enjoyable than the average author Q&A.

The hour knits together anecdotes from his own career and witticisms from great authors, with tales of his neighbours and of the village writers' group he set up to help himself out of a creative slump. In between there are bittersweet songs about lost love and posh barbecues. This is no twee meander through rural life, though - there's a pleasing bite behind the melodies and for every song about a leylandii hedge, there's another about a neighbour's porn addiction.

Blacker - red scarf around neck, guitar on knee - is a natural raconteur, utterly at ease on stage. At the start of the show, he says that his village has few literary credentials other than the fact that Virginia Woolf once went for a bike ride near it. Now it can claim to have inspired a successful Edinburgh show, too. 

To 26 August (0131 662 6892)