Edinburgh Festival / Day 15: Reviews

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The Independent Culture
INDUSTRIAL STRENGTH QUEER

'I'm not cruel or unkind or out to embarrass you,' says Mark Davis, and it's true. He's a nice boy, the seventh child of a Washington State mortician, who wears gold lame and whose take on gay San Francisco life ingratiates rather than hectors. It's a bit of a ragbag, snapping between whimsical stand-up ('My gaydar isn't working. All the British men look gay to me') and some sharp character sketches, notably his gloriously OTT Edna Everage-style mother, Mavis. Fans of Armisted Maupin's Tales of the City will love this show: it may not scratch deep, but this is gently entertaining early-evening camp.

Adrian Turpin

Assembly Rooms (venue 33), 54 George St (031-226 2428). 6pm. To 3 Sept (not Tues)

FEVER PITCH

A one-man adaptation of an Arsenal fan's memoirs sounds at best dubious, at worst purgatorial. Thankfully, Paul Hodson's version of Nick Hornby's book buzzes with a self-deprecation that wins over the most hardened soccer- hater. Stephen North's affable but hopeless narrator confesses, 'For alarmingly large chunks of an average day, I am a moron]' before spreading out his portfolio of terrace rituals and relationships that were away defeats. A Desmond Lynam voice-over adds support from the touchlines to a show that regularly hits the back of the net.

Ian Shuttleworth

Assembly Rooms (venue 3), 54 George St (031-226 2428). 2pm. To 3 Sept

ACING SONYA

There must be an easier way to beat sibling rivalry than to accidentally sleep with your sister's intended, inadvertently cause his death and then walk down the aisle in her wedding-dress. If there is, it would not be as amusing as Ann Bryson's one-woman show. It opens with Bryson, resplendent in peach bridesmaid's dress, crawling on stage with the kind of hangover that makes you dissolve pain-killers in last night's half-empty can of Red Stripe. From there on in, she out-lads the lads with style, and joyously plumbs the depths. Good, dirty fun.

Clare Bayley

Assembly Rooms (venue 3), 54 George St (031-226 2428). 8pm. To 3 Sept (not 30 Aug)

A MEETING IN ROME

In Michael Meyer's fictional encounter, a nervous, admiring Strindberg and his wife chat over lunch with a wary Ibsen and spouse. It's really an extended sketch, not a play, but Meyer's biographical knowledge makes for rounded characters. Andy McEwan plays a marvellously intense Strindberg to Brett Usher's wry Ibsen, but Jill Graham and Joanna Myers create the most poignant moments, revealing the sacrifices they've made to be Mrs Ibsen and Mrs Strindberg.

Richard Loup-Nolan

Pleasance (venue 33), 60 The Pleasance (031-556-6550). 4pm. Ends today

THE LORRAINE BOWEN EXPERIENCE

The stage is dressed with an ironing-board, a clarinet and a blow-up beefburger, but these oddities are nothing compared to Lorraine Bowen's own strangeness. Dressed in a satin skirt with huge applique flowers, she holds forth in a peculiarly arresting way on spinach, big knickers and cooking crumble. Kitsch is never far away as Bowen, the Jimmy Hendrix of the Casio keyboard, sings quirkily to a bossanova backbeat. A cross between Woody Allen and Bjork, she's as close to cult as you'll find.

Richard Turner

Marco's (venue 98), 51 Grove St (031- 228-9116). 10pm. To 3 Sept

LEA DE LARIA

The American comic Lea de Laria tears on to the stage and for 20 minutes unleashes a storm of queer agitprop. Having forced the outnumbered male part of the audience to stand up and declare their lesbianism, she plays spot- the-dyke with the front row: 'Pierced nose, huh. That's an extra hole to breathe through during cunnilingus.' But after several acute observations ('Brits,' she snarls. 'You people come like you cough') and a gay counselling session, the comedy express comes off the rails as she bursts into song for the climax. The lesbian terrorist belting out slinky jazz songs? Wrong turn, Lea.

Mark Wareham

Acropolis (venue 26), Calton Hill (031-557 6969). 8.15pm. Ends today

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