Edinburgh Festival: Reviews

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The Independent Culture

In Brezhnev's Russia, 'All the honest men are drunk' and Venedikt Yerofeev's anti-hero is one of the most honest. Soothing his spiritual disquiet with cocktails of hunter's vodka, beer, distilled varnish and sock deodorant, Yerofeev is a gentle, philosophe manque, always on the way to, but never reaching paradise in Petushki. Ian Brown directs Tom Courtenay in Stephen Mulrine's adaptation, as he did to critical acclaim last year. Courtenay holds court on a grey steppe of a station platform in a spell-binding performance that grows from humble and sometimes hilarious pathos to majestic, tragic stature.

Richard Loup-Nolan

Traverse Theatre (venue 15), Cambridge St (031-228-1404). 7pm 20, 23, 26 Aug, 1 Sept; 3.30pm 25, 28, 31 Aug, 3 Sept; 12noon 21, 24, 27, 30 Aug, 2 Sept


In a Fringe packed with gimmick- saturated comedy, stand-up is fast becoming an endangered species. Bruce Morton's act contains no slide shows, no flip charts, no flow diagrams . . . just one man and his mike, pure and simple. Morton has progressed from his Seven Deadly Sins days into an accomplished all-rounder. From urban chip-shop culture to nonsense Scots poetry, he turns in an hour of reflection in the time-honoured 'Scottish tradition of talking shite'. About as close an heir to Billy Connolly as Glasgow has produced.

Mark Wareham

Assembly Rooms (venue 3), 54 George St (031-226 2428). 8.15pm to 27 Aug


The Estonian National Youth Theatre's reading of Shakespeare's play is largely textually conventional, but the staging is bright, lively and wonderfully inventive. Demarco's courtyard is used to full effect as Indrek Sammul and Katariina Lauk's star-crossed lovers negotiate a gymnastic balcony scene and a wedding night on a bed suspended in mid-air. Language is no barrier: the show's richness and verve carries all before it. A rewritten apotheosis-type ending departs from Shakespeare, but provides a climax in keeping with a captivating evening.

Ian Shuttleworth

Demarco's (venue 22), St Mary's School, York Lane (031-558 3371). 7.30pm to 27 Aug (not 21 Aug)


Dogman] has all the features of the best children's shows: enough fun for the most fractious of seven- year-olds, and enough knowing and surprisingly macabre humour for the adults. Indeed, the show appears to be something of a cult hit at the Pleasance, where half the crew watch it every day, singing along to 'The Skeleton Song' and 'Dogman]'. The play itself is a tale of friendship and loneliness - the characters' best friends becoming superheroes. Touching lightly on many difficult issues, Dogman] succeeds admirably, and not just because of the free lollies.

Richard Turner

Pleasance (venue 33), 60 The Pleasance (031-556-6550). 3pm to 28 Aug (not 23), 3.20pm 23 Aug, 29 Aug to 3 Sept (not 2)


Phelim Rowland's new play comes fresh from a showcase of youth theatre at the National, complete with an efficiently revolving set - just one sign of Sandbach School's high production values. The play is itself set in a public school whose sixth-formers ape 18th-century manners and dress on the night of the 1979 election. Rowland unravels a chilling, sustained dramatic metaphor, in which the rottweilers of the New Right emerge with a pedigree from the Age of Reason.

Richard Loup-Nolan

Square Centre (venue 77), Nicolson Square Methodist Church. 4pm and 7pm to 20 Aug