Edinburgh Festival / Day 16: Reviews

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The Independent Culture

On a set bare but for a chair and disco ball, David Drake delivers a raunchy, brutally frank tour through the life of an American gay man, from first kiss ('Tim, the older man'), through hot nights and showtime ('There's a place for people like you.' 'Yes, New York.'), to the discovery of Aids ('. . . Andy, Bobby, Danny, Frank . . .') and so on. The script is witty, the pace vigorous, and the tone skips smartly from anger to tease in the space of a single joke. Nice buns, too.

Sabine Durrant

Traverse (venue 15), Cambridge St (031-228 1404). 10.30pm. To 3 Sept


Ichiro's company breaks with the tradition of Japanese taiko drumming in two significant ways: the dozen-strong troupe includes several women and, more startlingly, they actually grin while beating out their fiendish polyrhythms. The only melody is provided by a shakahachi flautist; the rest of the company batters out intricate patterns on everything from 10in floor drums to 6ft percussive field artillery. Simply exhilarating.

Ian Shuttleworth

Acropolis (venue 26), Calton Hill, Regent Road (031-557 6969). 5.30pm. To 31 Aug


One spontaneous gesture of compassion - kissing a man as he lies dying in the road - spells disaster for home-loving Arandira. A corrupt journalist and a bent copper contrive an accusation of homosexuality, and Arandira's life caves in. Nelson Rodrigues's 1960s play is a chilling indictment of corrupt Brazilian public life and a bitter exposure of the self-interested nature of love. Contraband Productions specialise in producing Brazilian work in Britain, but Fernando Villar's over-emphatic production masks the writing's strength.

Clare Bayley

Traverse (venue 15), Cambridge St (031-228 1404). 12.30pm 30 Aug, 3 Sept; 3pm 31 Aug; 5.30pm 1 Sept; 8pm 2 Sept


In the gentle God-struck character of Baby Palatine Ross, Marsha Hunt (of Hair fame) recalls the life of her adopted daughter Joy in a series of flashbacks triggered by the news of Joy's early rock'n'roll death. Hunt is a piping hot storyteller and she delivers a powerful climax to the piece, but the direction is absent-minded and allows the story's structure to sag.

Tom Morris

Assembly Rooms (venue 3), 54 George St (031-226 2428). 12noon to 3 Sept


Omid Djalili was (and is) all the title suggests, but inside him a luvvie screamed to get out. His first stand-up show finds its serious heart in the need to be accepted: his Iranian mother once tried to haggle in McDonald's, a formative experience. This is a sprawling, nervy mix of stand-up and caricature. But if ever nerves helped an act, it's here. The wince of pain when Djalili the stand-up fails to hit the mark is perfectly complemented by Djalili the character's embarrassed face shrivelling like a crisp packet under the grill. Even without his unmissable piston-hipped disco dancing this is a bravura, hilarious physical performance.

Adrian Turpin

Hill St Theatre (venue 41), 19 Hill St (031-226 6522). 10.35pm to 3 Sept (not Tue)


The Gilded Balloon's annual talent contest has, with the help of Channel 4 sponsorship, developed to the point where the acts now have a good few months' experience behind them. In years past, you were always guaranteed at least one horrible, squirming death but, alas, no more. Even compere Chris Evans, shedding his stand-up virginity, refused to die, abandoning his prepared 'jokes' for a spot of Big Breakfast larking, though he kept slipping into come-on-down game-show mode: 'Jason Freeman, ladies and gentlemen, playing for pounds 1,500.' As usual, the judges got it wrong and the audience right, giving first prize to Martin Trenaman (all style, no content) instead of John Butler, who carried off a rapturously received 10 minutes on daddy-long-legs. But then, what do punters know?

Mark Wareham