Edinburgh Festival '99: Fringe - Theatre

THEATRE 5 O'Clock Angel Cafe Royal, Venue 47 (0131-556 2549) 11.15am till 30 Aug
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The Independent Culture
It was a harsh but inspirational observation. Lady Maria St Just looked across the hotel's dining-room and said: "My God, she's completely square. She has no neck. She's a no-neck monster."

Sitting opposite her, Tennessee Williams - the great unconsummated love of her life - laughed, and took note. Before long, the shard of bitchiness was immortalised in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.

Kit Hesketh-Harvey's play enfolds the audience in the tantalising intimacy that shaped the playwright and the Russian actress's lives, in a production glowing with the wit and warmth of their exchanges.

While Nichola McAuliffe glitters wickedly with Lady Maria's mordant humour, the shimmering depths in her performance also reveal how easily she could be caught by the heartstrings. Stefan Bednarczyk complements her perfectly as the artist, both defined and tortured by his sensitivity. Delightful.