Edinburgh Festival Day 1: Reviews


Teatr Wierszalin, the Polish theatre company, launches an oblique attack on the clash in the East between socialism and growing commercialism by creating shows that draw on ancient folklore and orthodox beliefs. A poor peasant couple sell their son to a pedlar who proves to be the devil in disguise. But the son is rescued by a saintly old woman, who gives him a pea he has to roll home on his knees as penance. Once he arrives home, the pea grows into a golden plant. The cast laces the production with folk songs, dances and rich old hymns. The simple wooden set lends this curious parable the fascination of a sepia photograph come to life. Sarah Hemming

Theatre Workshop (venue 20), 34 Hamilton Place (031-226 5425). 8.30pm to 4 Sept.


Ralf Ralf is a double-act which ridicules the way people talk. Performers Jonathan and Barnaby Stone use precise body language to recreate situations in which people are known to lie through their teeth (in their 1987 hit, The Summit, it was an international peace conference) and expose the speakers by making them talk minutely detailed gibberish. It isn't what you say that makes you insincere, argue the Stone brothers, but the way that you say it. In this latest work, Ralf Ralf attack the bogusness of TV presenters and include a brilliant Late Show-style interview in pure drivel. But Ralf Ralf's theatrical plotting is so convoluted that some members of the audience watched the entire show without realising that TV was its target. Tom Morris

Pleasance (venue 33), 60 The Pleasance (031-556 6550). 5.15pm to 4 Sept.


Three years ago Eddie Izzard ambled into Edinburgh and, despite consistently brilliant performances, had trouble even filling out the front row for his first few shows. Yet here was Dominic Holland, an Izzard protege, on his first night in Edinburgh (and practically his first full-length show ever) playing to a packed house. The publicity drive had created expectations which he largely succeeded in matching. Strongest on gentle comic observation and the idiosyncrasies of life, he also favours sport and music. Since Freddie Mercury's death, he says, the drive to cure Aids has become ever more urgent . . . if only to stop Brian May playing solo. A buff and polish here and there, scrap the crap Ratners jokes and he might just have what it takes. Mark Wareham

Pleasance (venue 33), 60 The Pleasance (031-556 6550). 8pm to 4 Sept (not Tues).