The Edinburgh Festival

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Tap Dogs

Imagine Fred and Ginger in Shall We Dance, gaily tapping their dainty little hearts out under the stars at the rooftop nightclub when suddenly a downmarket version of the Chippendales bursts in through the tradesman's entrance, followed by a tatty Take That 10 years on, all whooping and clumping and yelling "Yo" at each other, and that's pretty much in a nutshell.

Dragging tap stomping and screaming into the Nineties was never going to be trouble-free. Occasionally this Australian sextet almost manage it, acrobatically clacking around a maze of precipitous ramps and, on one occasion, impressively tapping out a hip-hop backing track on drum sensors implanted into the dancefloor. But far too much of the show is inane cacophony, a little like synchronised swimming with sound effects. The grace of tap evaporates into the testosterone haze. Still, while the guys are just a little too wrinkly to draw hoards of teenage girls, they do sporadically please the crowd.

The Palladium (venue 26), Broughton Place (0131-556 6969) 7pm; to 2 Sept (not 15, 22 Aug)

John O'Mahony

Boothby Graffoe

Boothby Graffoe is a man of contrasts. He has the harmless appearance of a docile jester, yet there's more than a glint of lunacy in his shifting eyes; one minute he's coming on like a Playschool presenter, the next he's making jokes about melanoma and talking to rubbish bins; and then there's the clincher - he's a juggler, and yet he's funny... the first all-juggling Perrier contender, even. The laborious attention to detail brought to bear on his gimmick-laden kitchen-set results in some brilliant visual gags, but leaves you feeling that Graffoe should get out more. If he's the Heath Robinson of comedy, then there's also a touch of the Norman Bates. Clearly, there are voices inside his head. You wouldn't want to be his mother.

Pleasance (venue 33), 60 The Pleasance (0131-556 6550) 9.25pm; to 2 Sept (not 15, 21, 31 Aug)

Mark Wareham

Strange... But True

Southside prides itself as one of the best "real" Fringe venues, and its stock soared last year when Scott Capurro's Risk Gay became a hot ticket.

So here, trying to repeat the trick, is Eddie Strange, another American making his festival debut, who shares Capurro's promoter and his penchant for story-telling. That, however, is where comparisons end. Strange's stage persona is resolutely heterosexual, the small-town slob, a "big geeky white guy" with heavy-metal hair, who wouldn't look out of place bit-playing in Roseanne (Roseanne, as it happens, once supported his act). He has a nice line in quirky anecdotes. What's missing, though, is anything to tie them together: where Capurro had his awakening sexuality, Strange has his lovable oddball persona, and when you're trying to link subjects as diffuse as marsupials, dental floss and tobogganing, that's not quite enough.

Adrian Turpin

Southside (venue 82), Southside Community Centre, 117 Nicolson St (0131- 667 7365) 11.30pm; to 2 Sept

Disgracefully Yours

Richard O'Brien's new show has already secured a contingent of infernally high camp, whooping groupies. But The Rocky Horror Picture Show this ain't. O'Brien writes a damn fine tune (though he sometimes goes a chord change too far). The band are tight in a session-musician kind of way, and his trio of backing vocalists are assured and alluring in their tutus (even the guy, naturally). However, the patter that frames the songs is uneven and delivered with a surprising lack of panache. As Mephistopheles Smith, repositioning Hell as an eternal club for hipsters, O'Brien is resplendent in pointed tail and cloven hooves, but uneasy in his spiel; he fails miserably with the Bill Hicks device of using the "F" word like a comma. All right for a while, but you wouldn't want to be stuck there for ever.

Ian Shuttleworth

Pleasance (venue 33), 60 The Pleasance (0131-556 6550) 10.30pm; to 28 Aug (not 17, 21)

Feedback

In the peculiar logic of performer Andrew Buckland, hell hath no fury like an apple scorn'd. "You don't fuck with food!" screams the discarded core of a sour apple, and musters a rebellion of foodstuffs against humans. The fertile comic imagination of the award-winning South African twosome, Buckland and Lionel Newton, gives good yield, though this year Buckland rises magnificently to the necessity of performing solo.

He weaves a fantastical tale of a performer in the Food Consciousness Cabaret, who indulges in fish education in his spare time ("How many times have I told you," he scolds a much-caught fish, "don't take the bait!") and encounters characters such as the Blue Cheese Brothers (they've got the short shelf-life blues). But mixed in with all this is a hidden ingredient: a serious political concern for the follies of waste, profiteering and corruption in the food industry. A deliciously skilful folly.

Clare Bayley

Assembly Rooms (venue 3), 54 George St (0131-226 2428) 4pm; to 2 Sept (not 21, 29 Aug)

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