Barflies, The Barony, Edinburgh

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The Independent Culture

In the glut of site-specific work at this year's Fringe, there is surely no finer match-up of site and subject than Barflies, a journey through Charles Bukowski's most liver-bruising drinking tales set in a boozer at the bottom end of Broughton Street.

It might be 3pm and sunny outside, but in the dimly lit Barony bar, it's always the drinking hour with a brawling, kissing, swilling and spilling cast of old lushes, steaming lowlifes, stool-based philosophers and a bar-room pianist (David Paul Jones) singing "Lilac Wine" and "Green Grow the Rashes" in a throbbing voice of malty richness.

Grid Iron – local heroes who have previously put on plays in the city's Debenhams and in the vaults under the Royal Mile – have taken three of Bukowski's short stories from The Most Beautiful Woman in Town, mixed them with a couple of his poems and served the whole thing up with a twist of Scots, which doesn't always quite ring true.

Still, the setting is fabulous, a 50-strong audience ranged on tiny pub stools and around the sticky mahogany tables, clutching their free drinks as Bukowski's fictional alter-ego, writer and drunk Henry Chinaski, conjures up the women he's known and loved; sliding and slithering with them around, behind and on top of the Barony's bar.

Keith Fleming, bearded, tousled and with a florid face to clash with his wine-soaked Hawaiian shirt, captures both the hopelessness and, in one literally visceral scene, passion of Henry.

Sharp-faced siren Gail Watson, as variously a messed-up alcoholic-turned-hooker, a nagging battered wife and a wicked enchantress doesn't have much range to play with though.

To 31 August, not 21, 22, 28 or 29 (0131-228 1404)

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