A frayed Fringe

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The Independent Online

At last. Is it us, or has Edinburgh become rather dull these past few summers? Too many career-driven embryo celebrities eyeing potential BBC series; too many ironic comics; too many television executives; too much of a sense of being part of the same sanitised alternative season that has seen such a creditable improvement in the lavatory facilities at Glastonbury; not nearly enough shock and outrage. A frayed Fringe.

At last. Is it us, or has Edinburgh become rather dull these past few summers? Too many career-driven embryo celebrities eyeing potential BBC series; too many ironic comics; too many television executives; too much of a sense of being part of the same sanitised alternative season that has seen such a creditable improvement in the lavatory facilities at Glastonbury; not nearly enough shock and outrage. A frayed Fringe.

Thank goodness, then, for the official festival, which has chosen to liven things up with a good, old-fashioned audience-storms-out sex shocker. And it has to be said that the Barbaric Comedies, Ramón del Valle-Inclán's Spanish masterpiece, staged by the Dublin Abbey Theatre under the direction of Calixto Bieito at the King's Theatre, does have some distinctly promising ingredients: feuds, sexual jealousy and murder in a noble Spanish family, graphic depictions of copulation, masturbating monks and a perverted novice boiling the flesh off a female corpse in a tub prior to achieving simultaneous orgasm with his brother and a whore. All this, and, apparently, some tremendous overacting, too.

Invaluable publicity and the firm smack of a hit, we should have said, although we will probably wait for the London transfer, once the casting of the obligatory blonde American has been arranged.

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