Edinburgh Diary: Lewinskying us off our brunch

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The Independent Online

On Thursday morning the Pleasance had its press launch, an opportunity for some of the acts performing at the super-venue to present chunks of their shows to the media. The company that got tongues wagging was La Fura dels Baus, a Spanish theatre group inspired by the Marquis de Sade. Touchingly concerned lest they accidentally sell any tickets to the easily offended, the group has entitled its production XXX and advertised it with the slogan, "The most sexually explicit show ever to be staged in Britain!" And just in case there were still any danger of the narrow-minded wandering in, the company let us know what to expect. Their performance involved a woman dragging a reluctant man from the audience, unzipping him, pulling out his xxx and ministering to it in Monica Lewinsky fashion. The audience member, for want of a better term, turned out to be one of the actors, and the Lewinskying was faked, but the media in attendance were put off their brunch none the less. "Disgusting," said one onlooker. "Stomach-turning," said another. And a friend of mine was even more appalled by La Fura dels Baus's choice of excerpt. "That's the most boring bit of the show," she snorted.

Speaking of male private parts, at the Assembly Rooms' press launch on Friday, Mike McShane mentioned that his wife had compared a part of his anatomy to The Guardian newspaper: "It leans to the left and it seems to have lost some of its circulation." McShane, by the way, has lost such a vast amount of weight since his Whose Line Is it Anyway? days that he was barely recognisable as he strode around the Assembly in a sleek blue suit. Obviously not a method actor, he's in Edinburgh to star in a play called Fat Boy.

The award for the most generous man at the Fringe goes to Christian Slater, still in bed with chicken pox. During rehearsals for One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, the junior Jack Nicholson took the entire cast and crew out to dinner, and even left a £100 tip. The award for the least generous man at the Fringe goes to Stephen K Amos, a fellow cast member, who pinched the £100. "It's just so that the next time we go out, I'll be able to buy dinner for Christian," he claimed.

The cuckoo's nest may have been stricken by chicken pox, but the actors in Freedumb have had an even more dramatic medical emergency. Starring alongside Janice Phayre and Phil Nicol in the comedy show is a snail named Martin Luther King. On the train from London to Edinburgh on Wednesday, Martin gave birth to 400 offspring. Mother - renamed Martha Luther King - and babies are doing fine. Except for a few of them, which Phayre squashed by mistake.

Congratulations are due to Laurence and Gus, the IoS's favourite brainy sketch duo, who received the ultimate comedy accolade at their first preview show on Wednesday. Someone in the audience was laughing so hard he wet himself. Although, to be scrupulously accurate, he might not have been laughing. "I think he was just infirm," Gus admitted. A triumph, all the same.