Edinburgh Festival '97: Fringe

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The Independent Culture
Adam Bloom has a reputation for honing his comedy routines with a perfectionism that strides firmly into the realm of the obsessive. And yet he OK'd a publicity poster that shows him holding a flower over one eye... Bloom... flower... geddit? Groan.

Fortunately, Bloom leaves appalling puns to his PR machine and gets down to charming his audience with an infectious warmth and endearing self- conscious delivery.

He overflows with nervous energy and, although clearly improvising at times, neatly extricates himself from even the most claustrophobic of comedy cul-de-sacs.

His subjects, including the plague of Rock Cafe T-shirts, the moment when a child becomes an adult and the hypocrisy of the way people look at the handicapped, are treated more loosely than before. He genuinely enjoys himself instead of performing minutely re-engineered comedy clockwork contraptions that work well but occasionally lack heart.

This loosening up of style allows Adam Bloom confidently to take his place in the Premier League of comedy.

Venue 33, Pleasance, 6.45 pm to 30 Aug (exc 26) (0131-556 6550)

Anthony Thornton

Theatre Wasp

"Just kept typing and never stopped." So Steve Martin, former comic genius of films such as The Jerk and The Man with Two Brains quipped on the genesis of his play Wasp. But what he ended up with - 70 minutes later, presumably - was this confused satire on the American Dream.

Suffering the swipes of Martin's ire is that weary punchbag of transatlantic art, the spiritual malaise of 1950s white middle America, here represented by the eponymous Wasp and his cartoonishly dysfunctional family. Without a plot to speak of, Martin's script limps through various scenes of familial discord and breakdown, leaning on ponderously symbolic language, and placing far too much weight on the intriguing but slight presence of a house guardian angel to whom the spiritually stricken family admit their frustrations and dreams.

Despite Third Stage Productions' imaginative attempts to hitch a dramatic corset around this artistic corpulence, it's hard to tell exactly whom to blame for such crude metaphors as the soundtrack of pigs feeding that accompanies every family meal. To lose one brain is unfortunate, Mr Martin, but to lose two...?

Venue Three, Assembly Rooms, 3.15-4.25pm, to 30 Aug (exc 19). (0131-226 2428) Mike Higgins

Comedy Sean Lock

Sean Lock takes the normal world, gives it a karate chop and sets it spinning off its axis. Within an hour, he reveals the Pope's bizarre confectionery secrets, the horrors that can be brought to bear on imaginary birdlife, the only sure-fire way of dealing with annoying neighbours and the odyssey his pants undertook on their journey from China.

Dressed in a just-got-out-of-prison suit and a road accident of a shirt, his act sparkles with witty invention. There's no lazy mention of childhood memories or Seventies TV shows like other comedians.

His Pied Piper ability to drag the audience into another world, however crazy, makes him one of the finest and most original comedians around today. Definite Perrier Award material.

Venue 33, Pleasance, 9.25pm, to 30 Aug (exc 12, 26). (0131-556 6550) AT

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