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COMEDY Norman Lovett be No need for Prozac, sadly. . .

Fans of the sadly defunct BBC series, Red Dwarf will remember Lovett as a manic-depressive, worryingly apathetic super-computer. Likewise, Lovett's stand-up career, which always involved playing the down—trodden neurotic with a dry, monotoned attitude, epitomised comic pessrmism. It's difficult to say whether his latest Fringe performance is a welcome surprise or a disappointing departure from past dysfunction. Melancholy has become mellow. Lovett’s sad man just isn’t very sad anymore. Like Victor Meldrew after a nice warm bath, Lovett seems a bit too contented to whinge; which, while nice for Norm, kind of makes you wonder what the point is anymore. (Olly Lassman)

; Norman Lovett (Fringe) Pleasance (Venue 33) 556 6550, until 28 Aug, 7.45pm, £8.50/f9 (£7/f8).

MUSIC Mika’s Tribal Hollywood ***

All-singing, all-dancing Maori drag act

Mika, the self-styled Maori Madonna, is a Fringe staple. It’s not this glitzy, switched-on song-and-dance artiste’s individual talents that matter, it's the total package. Or, as he self-mockineg puts it, ’I am the greatest. | just wish I knew what at.’ This solo cabaret is an improvement on his last two Fringe outings. It features a nifty pop songbook, from Bacharach tunes and imitations of Whitney and Streisand, to Aretha covers and Bond themes, plus several outrageously camp costume changes, including sexy a crotch fringe, shredded fetishist’s ballgown, and a Ziegfeld geisha girl get-

up via Star Wars. Essential

OPERA Das Rheingold *****

A golden offering from Scottish Opera

The one drawback to Scottish Opera's new Ring Cycle, launched with Das Rheingold in collaboration with the Edinburgh International Festival, is that we have to wait a whole year for the second opera in the series. And then it is not until 2003 that all four operas can be seen together.

In the hands of director Tim Albery and conductor Richard Armstrong, this 'Rheingold' is one firmly rooted in the integrity of Wagner's music and its inherent dramatic intensity. Stage design is big and bold, working with the score to illuminate and propel the forces of greed, lust and brutal desire for power that lie at its heart.

Opening with rhinemaidens in tight bodices, stockings and suspenders, it is as if the pathetic dwarf Alberich has his own living porn mag. His lust for their magic gold is strong, but not a match for Wotan’s, the king of the gods, who steals it and pays off the giants who have built his new palace of Valhalla.

Matthew Best's Wotan strikes a commanding presence, with his sidekick manipulator Loge brilliantly portrayed by tenor Peter Bronder. In the pit, the Scottish Opera Orchestra colour every shade of Wagner's

entertainment? No. But fun? Yes. Shaggy show, shaggable star. (Donald Hutera)

n Mika’s Tribal Hollywood (Fringe) Dynamic Earth (Venue 78) 530 3557, until 28 Aug,

FVENT H BI Word Pe ormance

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. Poetry **** .‘ Comic Poetry from beat versifiers

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Patching up their differences: Das Rheingold

5:; Das Rheingold (International) Scottish Opera, Festival Theatre, 473 2000, 26, 28 Aug, 7. 75pm, f5—f55.

leave unimpressed, you don’t even Theatre Events, Assembly Rooms have to pay. But considering just how (Venue 3) 226 2428, until 28 Aug, entertaining an hour this is, it's much 6.40pm, £70 (58).

more likely you’ll discover it was your _ kind of thing after all. DANCE/PHYSICALTHEATRE

(Olly Lassman) Hopeless Games **** Big Word Performance Poetry Games of celebration

(Fringe) W}. Christies (Venue 706) 227 Last year’s Fringe hit is a lovingly- 7099, until 27 Aug, 6.30pm, £5.50 constructed piece of dance/physical

(£3.50). theatre, and a starkly contrasting _-_____-__-._._ .____._ __ .__,-_._-__. companion-piece to Bertrand’s Toys THEATRE (see lOpm—late). Entrancingly

The Crooner ht performed by a cast of five, the

Chronic crooning misses the mark In this one-man show, Mike Ashcroft (ex DV8) plays a singer whose every performance ends in failure. And his vocal inadequacies are matched by his inability to keep Tracy, the love of his life. For 60 minutes he subjects the audience to his chronic crooning, punctuated by some exaggerated mime and a little movement around the stage with a champagne bottle. A simple study in fantasy and failure, the real problem is that there’s enough of it around at this time of year. Why part with good money to see someone act out the failed performer when the real thing is all too available? (Davie Archibald)

a; The Crooner (Fringe) Brighton

impressionistic Russian-German co- production is about the romance of a haunted European past. White—faced, bowler-hatted clowns and overcoat- wearing emigrants cavort and dance through Jewgenij Koslov’s seriously slapstick-inflected, often folk-based choreography. The mood is one of celebratory elegy while film footage IS selectively used. There are wonderful effects, such as the opening image of a headless, suitcase-toting midget who crosses downstage with a balloon attached. Worth catching. (Donald Hutera)

:5: Hopeless Games (Fringe) Do- Theatre/Fabrik, Komedia (Venue 82) 667 2272, until 26 Aug, 7pm; 25 8 27 Aug, 7.45pm, £8/f9 (£6/f7).