Edinburgh Festival Day 15: Reviews

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The Independent Culture
ARTHUR SMITH SINGS ANDY WILLIAMS

Arthur Smith wrote his new show very much with Arthur Smith in mind. Lasting just 33 minutes, including interval, and occupying a strategically-timed mid-afternoon slot, Smith's show sits perfectly in the post-hangover twilight zone. It's also the perfect recession beater. At 50p a ticket, Smith's practised art of getting away with it - he still includes his all-time favourite line 'whatever happened to white dog shit?' - has been packing them in all week. Intercutting the life story of Arthur Cravan, Oscar Wilde's dancing poet-boxer nephew, with lullabies from arch-crooner Andy Williams, Smith and Tony Hawks camp it up panto-style in the manner of a couple of overgrown schoolboys at a Christmas revue. Frighteningly, when Smith sings 'Moon River', he becomes Andy Williams. And, for 33 minutes, a couple of hundred punters know what it means to have been his very special 'Huckleberry Friend'. Mark Wareham

The Pleasance, 60 The Pleasance (venue 33), 031-556 6550. 4.30pm. To 31 Aug.

FRANKIE AND TOMMY

'The ugliest bloke you ever saw' is how Frank, Tommy Cooper's forgotten partner in an ENSA double- act, remembers the shambling comedian. Author Garry Lyons (Frank's son) refuses to cosmeticise Tommy, presenting him in all his temperamental, egotistical glory. The show unfolds like a classic double act, with Charlie Dickinson's Frank acting as straight-man narrator to Steven Speirs' accurate impersonation of the fez-wearing giant. Since the play only follows the pair's brief post-war association, however, it makes for a thin evening. The portrait of Tommy is one-sided, filtered through Frank's resentment and smelling faintly of sour grapes. As a showbiz expose this is strictly lightweight. Nick Curtis

Assembly Rooms (venue 3), 54 George St (031-226 2428). 7.40pm. To 5 Sept.

THREE ACTORS AND THEIR DRAMA AND THE BLIND MEN

This adaptation of Michel de Ghelderode's classic texts, over- complicates the author's arguments and stifles his humour. In the first act, three characters tear apart a drama in which they are forced to play themselves. The comedy of the situation is lost because the dramatic world the actors destroy and the world to which they are returned are equally surreal. The second act, in which the three perform a fruitless quest inspired by Bruegel's painting The Blind Men also sets off on the wrong foot. The audience is diverted by striking tableaux, but never carried away. Tom Morris

Richard Demarco Gallery (venue 22), 17-21 Blackfriars Street (031-557 0707). 7.30pm. To 5 Sept.

HATCHET PLAN

In a hardware store, a vengeful ex- employee prowls, two trainees blunder and tools take on a life of their own. Parti-Pris creates an unstable world ruled by Mr Wilks, played by Tristan Sharps as a lunatic cross between Rowan Atkinson and Captain Mainwaring. The company labours with slapstick humour, but it triumphs in moments of precisely choreographed chaos. Clare Bayley

The Pleasance (venue 33), 60 The Pleasance (031-556 6550). 12.30pm. To 5 September (not 1 Sept).

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