EDINBURGH FESTIVAL '98: Theatre: Charm of moonstruck jester

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The Independent Culture
"THIS IS so like being a kid up here," announces Jason Byrne, breathless and drenched in sweat. And what great toys to play with. You can chase a hapless member of the audience around the entire venue (twice) just because she really would quite like to make use of the facilities. You can tease a twentysomething man for having grey hair, feel a tiny twinge of guilt, give him a huge bear hug, drag him on stage and spin him around. You can make the entire audience pretend to be Superman, arms outstretched, fists clenched. And they'll love it.

This is look-at-me-mum petulance made art form. It's so good natured and exuberant that it would take an icy heart to resist its charms, but so quick to seize on a comic moment that it never feels like wading through lovingly crafted material. If there was any: Byrne's touch is so deft that it all seems improvised.

Whether it's the telling of his theory of Riverdance's true beginnings (there were some drunken Irish villagers whose fists were too big for their arms to move above their waists) or a barbed one-liner ("Where are you from?" "Edinburgh." "Lazy bastard."), there's no mistaking the mark of a court jester for the end of the millennium. And no-one can flirt with an audience using a latex hand on a stick quite like Jason Byrne can.

Mark Wilson

Runs until 31 Aug (0131-556 6550)