Alan Bissett: The Red Hourglass, National Library of Scotland, Edinburgh
Here's a Spider-Man reboot with a difference. Over the course of a hypnotic hour, Scottish Writer of the Year Alan Bissett weaves together a series of compelling, odd little monologues, performed in character as various species of spider.
There's the common house spider, a Glaswegian scamp, skulking in a hoodie with a giant chip on his shoulder (or the spider equivalent thereof); the fiery Venezuelan Tarantula ("the spider you think about when you think of a spider") who harbours ideas of revolution; and, my favourite, the neurotic Woody Allen-style recluse spider.
The climax comes with the appearance of the Black Widow (from whose deadly red stomach the show draws its title), a drawling femme fatale in kneehigh boots, who reminds us that the female of the species really is more deadly than the male.
Bissett has real presence as a performer; his writing glitters with unusual erudition and deft wit. Here he has skilfully marshalled his research into something at once informative, touching and, well, rather human. It's not quite spiders have feelings too but a final segment which posits a time when arachnids will rule the earth is particularly rich, drawing genetic engineering, riots and exploitation into its web. The world's current set of manmade problems are nothing, it suggests, when compared with nature on the hunt for revenge.
Who knew it could be so enjoyable to spend an evening trapped in a room with a gang of man-sized spiders? A real Fringe gem.
To 25 August (0131 226 0000)
musicReview: Culture Club performs live for first time in 12 years
Children's bookseller wins The Independent's new author search
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 This 'woman calls police to order pizza' story isn't going where you're expecting
- 2 Axe wielding man shot dead after attacking four New York policemen on busy street
- 3 Watch what happened when food critics were unknowingly served McDonald's
- 4 Jimmy Carr's Oscar Pistorius joke goes a bit too far at the Q Awards
- 5 Ottawa shootings: Bruce MacKinnon's cartoon is the perfect tribute to soldier Nathan Cirillo
Interstellar: What we know about Christopher Nolan's new film so far
The Apprentice 2014: Nurun Ahmed and Lindsay Booth sent home in double firing
JK Rowling to publish new Harry Potter story online for Halloween
Fury, film review: Brad Pitt stars in visceral and brutally ugly drama that reminds us war is hell
Benedict Cumberbatch reignites Star Wars 7 rumours: 'I probably shouldn't be saying this'
Of course, teenage girls need role models – but not like beauty vlogger Zoella
Cameron is warned 'no possibility' of UK reducing immigration and that bid to bring in quota on migrant workers would be illegal
Support for EU membership 'at highest level since 1991' with most Brits wanting to stay 'in'
Thousands with degenerative conditions classified as 'fit to work in future' – despite no possibility of improvement
Attacks on 'Ukip Calypso' show how skewed people’s priorities are
London bus driver 'kicks gay couple off for kissing'