Edinburgh Festival: Fringe round-up: A Pair of Blue Eyes

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The Independent Culture
Over the last few months, speculation as to what will happen when Austen-mania wanes has centred on the possibility of a Hardy revival, aided by the proliferation of versions of Jude the Obscure. Nice idea: but while Frank Stirling's staging of Hardy's most directly autobiographical novel suggests that, it won't work: Hardy is too close to melodrama, and it's too easy to fall into caricature.

The main problem is the miscasting of the excellent Kate Wilton as the beautiful and naive Elfride Swancourt, who is wooed first by the socially disadvantaged Stephen Smith (Paul Barnhill), and then by his mentor, Henry Knight (Stephen Elder). Innocent isn't in Wilton's vocabulary, so that she seems calculatingly flirtatious, her menfolk remarkably stupid; while Fiorella Ruas and Jonathan Pett's adaptation fatally abridges the emotional development, resulting in some inappropriately comic moments.

n Assembly Rooms. To 31 Aug (0131-226 2428)

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