Edinburgh Festival Day 2: Reviews

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The Independent Culture

Isaac Bashevis Singer's story tells of the millennial frenzy caused in Poland's 17th-century Jewish community by the appearance of would-be Messiah Sabbatai Sevi. Katie London's adaptation for Tottering Bipeds will draw comparisons with Katie Mitchell's RSC Dybbuk, in that it evokes the world of the story in detail at the expense of narrative drive. An odd, fragmented bridging passage and coda sit awkwardly next to the brooding atmosphere of major scenes. Impressive, but unsure of its destination. Ian Shuttleworth

Stepping Stones Theatre (venue 51), West Bow, Grassmarket (031-225 6520). 3pm to 22 Aug.


Glenda Brassington's High 'Rise' Society makes its point - that life could be better if we didn't blind ourselves to each other so completely - in simple character portraits. Dennis Potter and Alan Bennett are clear influences - tenants in a block of flats move from sharp monologues into grotesquely-cheerful musical numbers. Dressed in ballgowns and tails, the conflict between reality and fantasy is superbly evoked, while Brassington's sense of play blossoms into several impressive dance routines. Yet it is the gentle ebbing of the characters' dreams that gives the play its substance (the script is first-class), culminating in the final, irredeemable act of violence. Aaron Hicklin

The Calton (venue 71), 24-26 Calton Road (031-558 3758). 12.30pm to 28 Aug.


Sleeping with You, from the Starving Artists Theatre Company of Hawaii, is a one-man love lament for a Hawaiian rent boy who dies of Aids. The elfin Mark Pinkosh plays both the victim and his timid widower. Godfrey Hamilton's writing is an odd mixture of winning sentimentalism and desperate political urgency. It is, none the less, an unusually well-turned script and easily carries Pinkosh's performance between extremes of delicacy and passion. If you go and see this and don't care about the love shared by its two characters, you have a heart of iron. Tom Morris

Traverse (venue 15), Cambridge St (031-228 1404). 4.30pm 18, 21 Aug; 1pm 17, 20 Aug; 8pm 19, 22 Aug


Adam Long, from the Reduced Shakespeare Company, takes a break from the Bard to recall a journey from his native Los Angeles to Ecuador and back again. Accompanied by atmospheric live music from Jeff Stott, Long's enchanting odyssey kicks off in the capital, Quito, where he stumbled across the Second King of the Incas: 'What a dood] I thought he'd be 400 years old.' In Otavalo Long carried a chicken under his arm to avoid being labelled a tourist. Long conjures up a mesmeric portrait of the Andean landscape and jungle, interspersed with humorous backpacking anecdotes. Among his travelling companions: an Irish eskimo called Kevin, and Fleming, a linguist with bowel problems. Long asserts that the whole experience was as profound and meaningful as his first Peter Gabriel concert. Some concert. Siobhan Dolan

Pleasance (venue 33), 60 The Pleasance (031-556 6550). 10.45pm to 30 Aug (not 18, 24, 25 Aug).


Owen's dad has buried himself in the garden and no one really knows why; not even Arthur Smith, whose latest play this is. Frank's self-interring is the cue for self-examination among his family and friends, which brings some nice jokes and classic Smithian observation, but the play has a half- made air and parts of it just don't make sense. The production, too, is downbeat and inert, lacking the energy to make the material spark. With the actors revolving around Frank's air pipe but failing to exploit the possibilities of the device, the dramatic potential is buried. Nick Curtis

Pleasance (venue 33), 60 The Pleasance (031-556 6550). 6.40pm to 4 Sept (not 23, 31 Aug).

(Photograph omitted)