Edinburgh Festival / Day 18: Reviews

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THE RIME OF THE ANCIENT MARINER

This dazzlingly produced version of Coleridge's poem adopts the window-dressing approach to physical theatre. The formidable skills of the international cast, the sinister lighting and the bouncy choreography all decorate the relationship between the Mariner and the Wedding Guest rather than (in any sense) growing out of it. Who is this chorus of six, and why are they here? Richard Hill's skeletal score is closer to the piece's dramatic soul, but doesn't prevent it resembling a showcase of theatrical skills more than an integrated ensemble piece.

Tom Morris

Southbridge Centre (venue 123), Infirmary St (031-557 5445). 7pm. To 3 Sept

FRENCH KISS

It begins as a standard two-handed comedy play, making up in energy and invention what it lacks in polish. Dowdy Barbara enlists in an oral French evening-class and conceives a passion both for the language and for her teacher. Scenes of awkward courtship are interspersed with mimed pastiches of French films, and an amusing if undistinguished show is in prospect. However, the tone darkens with shocking rapidity during the couple's climactic dinner-date, as unpleasant drunken truths are revealed in a manner quite at odds with the earlier humour. The downbeat ending leaves the audience battered after their initial comic seduction. A welcome theatrical Trojan horse.

Ian Shuttleworth

Gilded Balloon (venue 38), 233 Cowgate (031-226 2151). 1pm. To 3 Sept.

WILL DURST -

ONLY IN AMERICA

The arch political satirist, Will Durst will simultaneously delight and dismay anyone with anti- American leanings. His merciless lampooning of his fellow countrymen proves him the exception to all the prejudicial rules. He has made good mileage in his time out of presidents Nixon, Carter, Bush, Reagan and even Kennedy; the trouble with Clinton is that Durst actually likes the guy. Not that that stops him. For the rest of his technically faultless, laid-back, intelligent set, the shenanigans of the US legal system provide ample ammunition.

Clare Bayley

Assembly Rooms (venue 3), 54 George St (031-226 2428). 8.15pm. To 3 Sept.

PARROT

The Greenock comic Parrot is stretching himself by using his time-slot to deliver three different shows. One day he declaims on the subject of pain, the next passion, the next perversion. Parrot's hard- boy delivery belies an ever-increasing sophistication of material. He is quick to point out that only a small portion of his perversion routine deals with sexuality. Punctuated with visual aids, he convinces us that a fascination with Evel Knievel is as perverse as asking one's partner to dress up as a Viking. Roberta Mock

Gilded Balloon II (venue 51), West Bow, Grassmarket (031-225 6520). 8.30pm. To 3 Sept.

TONY HAWKS ENTERTAINS

When Tony Hawks was eight, his first comic double-act split up. The dog went solo. It's an apt opening gag for this, The Brain Drain panellist's first solo outing. It's a forgettably entertaining act with roots in the sort of family show where the back of the sofa is the Green Room and parents make up the audience. In fact, the audience couldn't have been more indulgent if they had been family. What Hawks offers is some dancing, some golf, some snappy analysis of Kraftwerk's lyrics - the 'new variety' in spades. What he can't provide - and to be fair, doesn't try to - is anything to tie it together, beyond his own low- magnitude, New Laddish stardom. Adrian Turpin

Pleasance (venue 33), 60 The Pleasance (031-556 6550). 9.20pm. To 3 Sept.

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