Fringe round-up

Sean Lock
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The Independent Culture
Of all the chummy comedians in all the world, Sean Lock is the chummiest. It's nigh on impossible to dislike a man whose material is plain daft yet never resorts to the F-word. Lock has come to be regarded as the comedian's comedian for services to stand-up, without ever being fully recognised. And for one who died the most horrible of deaths when supporting Newman and Baddiel at their Wembley gig in 1993, Lock has fought his way back to become one the circuit's most adept performers. In bad shirt and flares, he looses off round after round of scattergun screwiness, to such effect that you forgive him an ill-advised song about balloons and the sort of laboured surreal stream-of-consciousness currently favoured by comedians such as Greg Proops and Dylan Moran. Lock is pedigree chum.

Pleasance. To 31 Aug


The secret of comedy is, of course, in the posture. Rich Hall just has a naturally funny stance - shoulders hunched over like a diagram in an orthopaedics textbook, buttocks clenched so that his legs move in a rigid shuffle, arms loose by his sides. He glowers from underneath shaggy eyebrows, veins bulging on his neck. The impression is of a nice man (his manners are immaculate) straining hard against inner demons. His scripted material is sharp enough - he compares America hosting the Olympics to inviting your friends round to watch you masturbate - but not always fresh. The show really comes alive when he cuts loose, picking on members of the audience and trying to hustle them into marrying each other, or improvising a mad riff on the names of chocolate bars. At these moments, you understand how close good comedy is to terror.

Gilded Balloon. To 31 Aug


The crazy world of site-specific, multi-media spectacle is an unpredictable beast. Transposing an ancient morality tale into a high-tech late-1990s setting, multi-cultural company Zaoum give things an added twist by performing across three floors of a car park. Clarity takes a back seat as we clatter through an automated wasteland awash with oblique end-of-the-century symbolism. En route to Paradise, Everyman encounters assorted representatives of the iniquities of consumer culture, but, despite the cast's energy, the whole thing doesn't really gel. Things weren't helped by the advertised video banks failing to appear owing to a last-minute discovery that there were only two plug-sockets in the building. As a contemporary pageant, it works by degrees, but it isn't the spectacle we were promised.

Edinburgh City Car Park. To 31 Aug


Glyn Maxwell's ambitious, eccentric verse-dramas make marvellous reading; but since stagings of his plays have been few and far between, it's an open question whether they work in the theatre.

Cambridge University Amateur Dramatic Club's production of Wolfpit, a re-telling of the legend of two green-skinned children who make a mysterious appearance in a 12th-century Suffolk village, demonstrates that it can work. Maxwell makes tremendous demands on the actors and the director - there are parts of the drama that have the complex choreography of farce; and the young cast are sometimes at sea. Yet, despite its flaws, the play's beautiful, terrifying vision of a primitive society coping with the unknown emerges intact and deeply impressive.

Garage Theatre. To 31 Aug