Laura Solon: The Owl of Steven, Pleasance Courtyard

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The Independent Culture

You need to have your wits about you at a Laura Solon show. The 2005 Perrier Award winner crams so many jokes, witticisms and observations into her rapidly delivered narratives, it can be all too easy to miss gems. Her writing is tight; in places, it glitters: “She’s not an expert”, runs one delightful epigram. “She has a brain capacity estate agents would call ‘cosy’”.

This year’s story is “an owl-based adventure set on an island called Steven”, a shaggy dog tale which crosses Enid Blyton with The League of Gentlemen. Really, though, it’s just an excuse for Solon to showcase her many characters and voices. As well as her highly strung, verging on shrill, narrator, we meet a salty old sea dog, a couple of hapless French spies, a page three girl, a television producer, bickering hoteliers and the cryptic German owlkeeper herself. There’s also a group of native islanders who, in a virtuoso scene, engage in a bout of insult-slinging so violent and sustained it leaves the audience helpless.

There’s no plot to speak of and it’s a little too cosily English eccentric to feel truly original; I preferred last year’s show set in a publishing house, which had more variety and sharper teeth. For memorable characters and storytelling with wit, though, there’s still nobody who does it better than Solon.

To 29 Aug (0131 556 6550)