Edinburgh round-up:<br/> Hammerklavier<br/> Bob Doolally - The World Cup is Not Enough<br/> Rob Rouse<br/> Tim Clarke - Talking to Ted

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The Independent Culture

This loosely autobiographical drama from Yasmina Reza, the playwright behind the West End hit Art, chronicles her efforts to cope with her father's illness and subsequent death. With his gradual decline comes a heightened awareness of her own relationships and the grim inevitability of our existence. She finds her emotions at sixes and sevens, having to suppress laughter when she should be weeping and weeping when she might feel joy.

Theatre: Hammerklavier, Assembly Rooms

By Fiona Sturges

This loosely autobiographical drama from Yasmina Reza, the playwright behind the West End hit Art, chronicles her efforts to cope with her father's illness and subsequent death. With his gradual decline comes a heightened awareness of her own relationships and the grim inevitability of our existence. She finds her emotions at sixes and sevens, having to suppress laughter when she should be weeping and weeping when she might feel joy.

Reza, played here with elegant intensity by Susie Lindeman, doesn't paint a flattering picture of herself, though this clearly isn't deliberate. Her capricious nature leads her to break off a friendship with a man because he didn't like her necklace, despite the fact that she had taken against the thing herself. Elsewhere, she frets about what she'll wear to visit the dying. But even if we haven't warmed towards the writer by the end, Hammerklavier remains an open, honest and acute portrayal of one woman's grief.

Venue 3: 15.30 (1hr), to 26 Aug (not 20), 0131-226 2428

Comedy: Bob Doolally – The World Cup is Not Enough, The Stand

By Steve Jelbert

Thank God for Scotland's greatest ever fictional alcoholic football pundit. Just as current affairs will always provide a year's worth of material for even the laziest stand-ups, the beautiful game never stops throwing up comic gold. In this World Cup year, Doolally just can't miss, though as ever it's his ad-libs that stun. Whether describing Graeme Souness as the hardest man ever to play the game ("He wasn't even ill and he had open heart surgery – now that's a tough man") or pointing out the inadequacies of George W. Bush, Doolally is spot on. His splenetic demonstration of how he used psychology to get George Best back on track in the Seventies while working for Man United selling programmes is as filthy as it is funny. Bob's Q&A section is as sharp as ever, while the Zelig-esque slides of his greatest moments are a new delight. Honestly, this long running show is nearly better than football.

Venue 5: 19.45 (1hr 10), to 26 Aug, 0131-558 7272

Comedy: Rob Rouse, Gilded Balloon, Teviot Dining Room

By Steve Jelbert

Previously present as part of Big and Daft, the hyperactive Rouse makes his solo debut with an incoherent, though frequently entertaining hour. Once you get over his ghastly resemblance to Chris Evans, and have stopped cringing at him calling punters "buddy", there is plenty to enjoy. Spurred by the presence of some middle-aged tax dodgers from Jersey, he persuades them to reveal their sexual fantasies (surprisingly not involving car key swapping), offers some scurrilous thoughts on Robot Wars and pays tribute to the uncontrollable hunk of love that is Tom Jones. When he grabs a guitar the results are predictably appalling, especially his excruciating take on Eric Clapton's "Wonderful Tonight", and the show could easily discard 20 minutes with no loss of impact. But, contact lenses permitting, children's TV must beckon for this 28-year old kid. His closing teabagging of the audience is simply spectacular.

Venue 14: 21.30 (1hr), to 26 Aug (not 13), 0131-226 2151

Comedy: Tim Clarke – Talking to Ted, Assembly Rooms Drawing Room

By Fiona Sturges

Anyone in the market for knock-about humour should steer clear of Tim Clark's one-man show. It may have its funny moments, but for the most part it's a well-written and superbly acted drama that wears its heart on its sleeve. Clark plays an emotionally retarded, middle-aged, second-rate comedian heading for a fall. Juggling a coke habit and two families, he's having a hard time keeping track of his lies. His wife and young daughter know nothing of Bronwyn, the Welsh lass with a penchant for heavy metal who recently bore him a son. One evening he finds himself in a Manchester hotel room before a gig, talking to the teddy bear which his daughter had left in his car. A sense of doomed inevitability haunts the stage as he rallies between arrogance ("I'm a quality act – I've been on Channel 5") and anguish.

This erroneously billed show seems to promise wall-to-wall laughter, and many left disappointed. For me, however, it was a revelation. Clark has a strong feel for human frailty and performs with acute intelligence. For that, he shouldn't be overlooked.

Venue 3: 21.05 (1hr), to 26 Aug, 0131-226 2428

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