The Deluge, Hill Street Theatre <!-- none onestar twostar fourstar fivestar -->

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The Independent Culture

After a sighting in a vegetarian café, only a scouring of Fringe literature identified Susannah York as being in town to act rather than eat. Glaringly unpublicised, in a tiny venue, she's starring in The Deluge, one of seven "Gothic Tales" by Isak Dinesen, better known as Karen Blixen, author of Out of Africa and Babette's Feast.

Clunky though Robert Wynne-Simmons's adaptation and direction sometimes are, The Deluge deserves more than a six-strong audience, including this reviewer, in attendance.

York is ideally cast as one of four aristocratic vacationers trapped in a hayloft by a flood on the Danish coast in the 18th century. Each of the doomed characters talks into the night, journeying from innocence to philosophical maturity, their true identities gradually unwrapped through the power of their stories.

As the elderly Miss Malin - whose only sins seem to have involved living in her own imagination and never having been kissed - York conveys her enigmatic role with mesmerising clarity.

The so-called Cardinal is robustly played by Tim Woodward. After a young couple have laid themselves bare, mentally and physically, he relates a biblical tale. "I have lived long enough, by now," he declares, ripping off his bandage and revealing his identity, "to have learned, when the devil grins at me, to grin back." At that final moment, according to Malin: "Scheherazade saw the sun rise, and discreetly fell silent."

To 28 August, except 16 (0131-226 6522)

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