Rebonjour Ben'n'Arn! The two British comedians make a garlic-scented return to the Fringe as the French pop stars Didier and Jean-François. As self-styled cultural ambassadors, the characters do their best, in English and French, to confound the notions that the French never wash, smoke like cheminées, and that the national diet is restricted to frogs' legs and snails.
The act is nicely observed; the whole routine, with its Gallic shrugs, over-pronounced vowels and casual French badinage, is endearingly funny. But after the fabulous opening chanson and the enlightening Frenchman's guide to pulling – a different sort of French cheese – the show started to falter and lose pace. Jokes seemed misplaced and the running sex-change gag and intimations of bizarre sexual peccadillos jarred with the other, comparatively sophisticated, satirisation.
Which is not to say it wasn't funny. At times it was. Very. But the act was stretched too thin over the course of an hour. There is a finite number of times that you can laugh at franglais jokes, and 'Allo 'Allo exhausted that quota a long time ago. The Priorité à Gauche twosome work extremely well in five-minute bursts as MCs, but to translate into a solid hour-long show, Ben'n'Arn are going to need some stronger material.
Venue 23, 0131-556 6550, to 27 August, 19.25 (20.20)
Last year, Spymonkey made a huge splash with Stiff, a fabulously silly farce set in a funeral parlour. Now they have returned with Cal McCrystal's Gothic thriller, a strange yet perfectly paced hybrid of The Pink Panther and Psycho. The story begins with a young girl, Laura du Lay, arriving at a secluded mansion to work as a secretary for the reclusive aristocrat Forbes Murdston. But, as she discovers, her employer has a fiendishly cruel alter ego.
The actors' enthusiasm is utterly infectious. Petre Massey radiates charisma as the vulnerable (and flatulent) Du Lay. But the stage really comes alive with the presence of Stefan Kreiss, whose sadistic butler Klaus makes Rocky Horror's Riff Raff look sane by comparison. McCrystal has opted for out-and-out silliness here, drawing inspiration from Sixties comedy thrillers. The plot is full of surreal twists and turns, and punctuated by plinky-plonky sound effects, pregnant pauses and sidelong winks at the audience.
And there's nothing this lot won't do in the name of entertainment. There's singing, there's dancing, and even a bit of nudity. One dream sequence sees Laura transformed into the high-kicking warrior à la Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. Irrelevant? Absolutely. But who cares when you're having this much fun?
Venue 33 (0131-556 6550), to 27 August, 19.25 (20.35)
Foley's Art, for the uninitiated, is the skill of simultaneously putting sound to moving pictures. Named after the American, Jack Donovan Foley, it has its roots in the first talkies of the 1920s, but it is back, honking and hooting, for the latest offering from The Table Show.
Led by the physical-theatre impresario Toby Jones, this is Jones's own story about how he ended up on the cutting-room floor of the movie Notting Hill. With the aid of some ingenious Foley artistry, elegantly executed by the dancer Ayse Tashkiran, who chases sounds around the stage with feline agility, this prosaic fare comes to clamorous life. A street fight, for example, is conveyed by Ayse punching a bunch of celery, and a pigeon being shooed out of a shop by the flapping of a pair of leather gloves.
The stage is littered with differently textured floor surfaces, variously soled shoes, and a table-top of cacophonous equipment. That the subject matter itself is less than scintillating proves no obstacle (Jones has, after all, previously written a play set in a potting- shed). The where and how of the next sound-effect is the hook. Once again, Jones has lost his spot in the limelight, but this time the culprit isn't Julia Roberts, it's a set-full of silly noises.
Venue 15 (0131-228 1404), to 25 August (various times, except Mondays)
Despite the Old Firm's efforts to destroy Scottish football by joining the English Premiership, nothing can prevent Bob Doolally, "close personal friend" of the game's movers and shakers, from holding court. But this year, he has turned over a new leaf. "Lucky I'm no drinkin'," he says, as he once again tests the laws of slander, along the way hosting a low-rent game show, like a funny They Think It's All Over.
As well as informing us of the deaths of Mike Yarwood (on stage, impersonating Tommy Cooper) and Gail Porter (executed on doorstep by a maniac who thinks she's too talented to live) and discussing his 26 marriages (including to Ann Widdecombe "before she let herself go"), this monster falls heavily off the wagon after half an hour. More worryingly, his query to a Celtic-supporter – "How d'ye think Hartson will do for us, I mean, you?" – suggests that the urbane Bob has been a secret Tim all along. Sublime.
Venue 5, 0131-558 7272, to 26 August, 19.45 (20.45)Reuse content