Edinburgh Festival Day 9: Reviews

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It looks unpromising on paper: an it's-grim-up-north story of family tribulations in a dying Teeside shipbuilding town. However, Gordon Steel and his Stockton Youth Theatre cast tackle the subject with straightforward commitment, largely escaping the perils of formula joys 'n' tears and quickly establishing a rapport with their audience despite the bad misjudgement of writing interior monologues in doggerel verse. Ian Shuttleworth

Celtic Lodge (venue 6), Brodie's Close, Lawnmarket (031-225 7097). 5.15pm to 28 Aug.


Aids Positive Underground are no sissies. Easy is uncomfortable viewing, often disturbing, and ugly to watch, considerably more than a safe-sex message. It is about love and dignity, loss and anger. John Roman Baker's sincerely felt script doesn't mince words. The details of death are painful and laboured, while Christopher Godsiff as Frank compounds the sense of isolation that the dying feel. His lover, Jim, and his nurse try their hardest, but in the end can only watch. 'Despite me, despite you, despite all of his friends, he is alone,' Jim screams at the nurse in frustration and despair. Strong sentiment from a valuable company. Aaron Hicklin

The Calton (venue 71), 24-26 Calton Rd (031-558 3758). 4.30pm to 28 Aug.


Believing he had a telepathetic transmitter inside his brain and describing himself as a 'mining engineer in the mental systems, a nuclear housebreaker', Fernando Nannetti was locked up in a mental institution for 12 years. Undaunted, he continued his experiments into a new, personal cosmology and covered metres of wall-space with graffiti engravings, carved with the only implement available - his belt buckle. Experimental Italian theatre company Aenigma uses slides, music and Chinese shadow-dancing in ground-breaking ways to explore Nannetti's predicament. Rough but invigorating. Clare Bayley

FEAST, Edinburgh College of Art (venue 73), Lauriston Place (031-228 9666). 2pm to Aug 26.


What do Britons miss most when they're abroad? Pete McCarthy has no need of gags. He merely offers verbatim responses to an Independent survey to make his point: loo doors that reach the floor, instant coffee and proper bread. McCarthy's scathing and erudite put-down of this country is achieved merely by holding a mirror up to our cultural foibles and making us laugh till it hurts. From our horrible identikit High Streets to monosodium-glutamate-impregnated snacks, McCarthy bangs home with genial bemusement his state-of-the-nation message. A Europhile's delight. Graham Hassell

Assembly Rooms (venue 3), 54 George St (031-226 2428). 6pm to 29 Aug.


Theatre Pkf (for 'peace keeping force') are out to change the way people watch theatre. Playwright George Byatt introduces his work with a teacherly monologue about its Noh-inspired dramatic style and expects his audience to stay behind afterwards to share their impressions of the play. Sandwiched in between is a delicate dialogue between a struggling writer and a dying director, dedicated to the memory of dramaturge Verity Bargate. The play is top-heavy with New Age wisdom, but Byatt's gentle presentation of both play and discussion is touching. Tom Morris

Chaplaincy Centre (venue 23), Bristo Square (031-650 8201). 6pm to 28 Aug.


This shambolic abstraction of the rude bits of the Marquis de Sade is occasionally offensive, occasionally sexy but mostly risible, thanks to the Brazilian company's laughable accents. Stuffed with sodomy, masturbation and rape, this is more a display of orgiastic theatrical brinkmanship than a serious show, asking the uptight British public quite how much (and how many) absurd cobblers they can take in the name of art. Nick Curtis

Theatre Workshop (venue 20), 34 Hamilton Place (031-226 5425). 11.30pm to 28 Aug; 10pm 30 Aug-4 Sept.