Edinburgh Festival Day 5: Reviews

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The Independent Culture
CYRANO DE BERGERAC

Communicado is on top form with this superb, energetic production, transposing Rostand's classic play about the big-nosed, big-hearted poet to Scotland. Edwin Morgan's rhyming Scots translation revels in the swings from lyricism to farce ('Think of hoo this neb / Renders any hope of love stone dead' complains Cyrano), while creating a context for the play's nationalist themes. Tom Mannion's Cyrano sweeps about the stage in traditional cape while Sandy McDade's pale Roxanne wears tangerine satin and Doc Martens. Gerry Mulgrew's upbeat production steers away from the story's darker elements, but moves forward at full throttle. And, amid all the bustle, moving passages - the famous balcony scene, Cyrano's death - are staged with great restraint. Sarah Hemming

Traverse, Cambridge Street (venue 15), 031-228 1404. 1pm to 23 Aug; 4.30pm 25-30 Aug; 8pm 1-5 Sept.

THE DIG

Former archaeologist Mary is a mass of disturbing quirks of compulsive behaviour. Gradually she 'digs down to hell': her childhood games and songs grow darker, uncovering a history of sexual abuse by her father. Her guilty obsession with religious rituals grows into a perverted Virgin Mary complex; reality and fantasy blur as a backstreet abortion becomes a harrowing satanic ceremony. Carran Waterfield avoids melodrama in her compelling performance, building each repetitive task or simple song into a frenzy. James Lantsbery's eerie score is an integral part of this unsettling work. Ian Shuttleworth

The Roxy (venue 27), Roxburgh Place, 031-650 8499. 7pm. To 5 Sept.

KEPLER

'Geometry is God]' proclaims a rhapsodic Kepler, believing that his astronomical findings can be squared with his faith. The Church, however, thought otherwise, impeding his work and persecuting him to death in 1630. The figurehead for generations of sceptics and heretics, Kepler himself remained confusedly devout; although a man of science, he allowed his research to be led by his imagination - such are the paradoxes explored in Robert Forrest's play. The narrative spills beyond the lodging house where the elderly astronomer lies dying while his delirious dream-memories crowd the stage. Sandy Neilson has Gothicky fun with a fertile text. He approaches the play with the same bombastic and wilfully anachronistic style that he used for Carlucco at last year's festival. Clare Bayley

The Netherbow (venue 30), 43 High St, 031-556 9579. 8.30pm. To 5 Sept.

YOUTH WITHOUT OLD AGE

AND LIFE WITHOUT DEATH

The pick of Bucharest's drama students perform the Romanian folk- tale of the empress's child, his marvellous horse Murgu, and their quest to escape Death. The growth of the child from a scrunch-faced baby into 'the man who yearns' is the core of a winning lead performance by Iulian Baltatescu. Around him, the other actors switch characters with perfect clarity and control, creating a series of distinct magical worlds. Nona Ciobanu's voice and movement direction are beautifully orchestrated to generate fresh atmosphere for each scene. Although the play is performed in Romanian, the frank performance style and limpid story-telling will charm the stubbornest audience. Tom Morris

Richard Demarco Gallery, 17-21 Blackfriars St (venue 22), 031-557 0707. 11.30pm to 22 Aug.

MARRIAGE: A HEALTH WARNING

Women are out for one thing: to snare a man; they have broken the bonds of subjugation and now all they want is to tie their man down. Ranjit Bolt has dragged Juvenal's satire into the 20th century, where women spend their husbands' money in Selfridges and have affairs with tight-jeaned hairdressers. Craig Crosbie's performance gives the satire its teeth, his spitting humour unable to hide his bitter inferiority complex. This play isn't so much a health warning, more a nuclear alert. Jamie Donald

The Pleasance (venue 33), 60 The Pleasance, 031-556 6550. 5.30pm. To 5 Sept (not 25 Aug, 1 Sept)

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