Festival film see page 59 0 Festival art see page 62

THEATRE Off Broadway *ttt

Five American short plays make for a powerful evening.

This compendium piece of five American short plays has the strength of some splendid playing and the particular flavour of its national origin, even if, as inevitably seems to occur with such work, not all the writing is of equal quality. The stories are varied, but each, with the exception of the last, which deals with love and loss, seems to hinge on themes of neurosis and breakdown. Early on, a middle- aged liberal couple explore their sexual repressions, with some increasingly bizarre gestalt narrative. Some wonderful playing with precisely timed wit between Ron Emslie and Janet Price is a highlight here. Later, a confused writer on a promotional tour experiences a breakdown live at the podium. Again, a forceful performance, this time by Stephen Frost, who we might normally associate with comedy, makes it work.

Slightly lesser pieces are the meeting of a couple with the son's mad mother and an unpleasant encounter between a dentist and his patient, but there's a real emotional crescendo in the final

piece. Here, four monologues by two

couples intertwine; one pair is

Externalise your aggressive emotions with Off Broadway

separated by health, the other by heterosexual orthodoxy. The grief associated with lost love is tangible, and some intelligent, restrained playing sets it off. Go see. (Steve Cramer) I Off Broadway (Fringe) edt, Gilded Balloon (Venue 36) 226 2 75 7, until 28 Aug, 6.30pm, E 8 (E 7).


Ecstasy **** Chemical-bonding in Edinburgh night-club

Irvine Welsh’s controversial and light— hearted social exploration of the party drug that defined a generation is brought energetically to life in Raven Productions’ adaptation of The Undefeated, from Welsh’s novel, Ecstasy. Expertly evoking the hypnotic pulse of a hardcore ’ecky- club’, Ecstasy follows the ups and downs of a group of drifters badly in need of a genuine good time, and thanks to a polished but irreverent performance, guarantees the audience one too. As long as you ’dinnae gie a shite aboot’ one or two slightly dodgy Scots accents, this is a buzz worth trying, whether you’re a ’sweetie-heed' or not. (Olly Lassman) 1...: Ecstasy (Fringe) Raven Productions, The Venue (Venue 758) 557 3073, until27 Aug, 7pm, [7. 50 (£6.50).

COMEDY Simply Barbra: Still On Honeymoon *‘k‘k

Streisand Meets Stars In Your Eyes Simply Barbra. Well, except it's not the real Streisand, but a guy dressed in a shimmering silver outfit wearing a blonde wig. But he does a pretty neat impersonation as he belts out a

dozen or so of her favourite hits, oh you know Evergreen, Memories etc. And there’s just enough over- accentuation so that you don't take it all too seriously. The show’s punctuated by some lame humour, but there’s a pretty impressive catalogue of assorted diva impersonations from Julie Andrews to Eartha Kitt. A pleasant enough way to spend an hour, but for Streisand fans and Stars In Their Eyes freaks, a definite must. (Davie Archibald)

l Simply Barbra: Still On Honeymoon (Fringe) Pleasance (Venue 33) 556 6550, 24 Aug, 70.40pm; until 28 Aug, 6.30pm, £8.50/f70 (£7.50/f9).


Count Arthur Strong And Terry Titter In You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet - Again! *‘k‘k‘k‘k

Hilarious has-beens

We don’t remember the showbiz personalities of yesteryear as being particularly funny, Bob Monkhouse is a case in point.

These has-beens, however are still going strong, fortified or " 3':

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pickled as they are by booze and after nigh on 39 years in the business, what Count Arthur Strong and Terry Titter can’t teach you about show business isn't worth knowing. As they sweat like ’pregnant nuns’ (to use Titter’s quaint comparison) under the stage lights, reading their fan letters and sharing their pearls of wisdom, the audience ripples with the wave of constant hilarity. Just make sure you wear your sides loose or they’ll split. (Catherine Bromley)

I Count Arthur Strong And Terry Titter In You Ain’t Seen Nothing

Yet Again! (Fringe) Gilded Balloon (Venue 36) 226 2757, until

28 Aug, ‘,. 7.45pm, £8 ([7).

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El Arbol y el Camino (The Tree and the Road) *hht Cuban dance pleases, both clad and unc/ad

This second Fringe production from Cuban choreographer-director Marianela Boan is even more complex and ambitious than its predecessor, Fish In Asphalt. Like that show, it could use some judicious pruning. It is also, at times, sincerely naive. But there's no gainsaying the six-strong cast's vibrant energy and conviction. This wonderful ensemble journeys from Garden of Eden to war zone to a contemporary high-tech hell. The major props are hatstand- like sculptures that cleverly symbolise trees. Boan is something of a clothes fetishist who understands the power of costume. Ironic, then, that one of the best passages finds the beautifully unselfconscious company dancing in the nude. (Donald Hutera) I El Arbol y e/ Cam/no (The Tree and the Road) (Fringe) DanzAbierta, Gateway Theatre (Venue 7) 377 3939, until 28 Aug, 7.30pm, £72 (£70).


Banging Bamboozles *****

Music from implausible places. Lelavision don’t quite pluck music from out of the air, but they do a damn fine job of finding it in the most unlikely of places. In a series of sequences synthesizing dance, music and mime, Ela Lamblin and Leah Mann create an intoxicating musical experience from a range of remarkable musical sculptures. Physically interacting with these industrial looking contraptions, including a stage sized harp and a tubular roundabout, results in an experience that is nothing short of sublime, yet produced with a comic, childlike touch. This show is so fresh that the music appears to be almost incidental to their clowning. (Judith Ho)

5 Banging Bamboozles (Fringe) Lelavision, Quaker Meeting House (Venue 40) 220 6 709, until 26 Aug, 6.30pm, £5 (£3.50).