LUCKY YOU Carl Hiaasen novel translated into slick madcap romp em

If redneck losers Chub and Bode are going to fund their confederate militia they need JoLayne's winning Lotto ticket. But nature-loving JoLayne (who happens to be black) needs it to save local woodland. The church needs her help to legitimise their phoney miracles and bored reporter Tom needs a story. Carl Hiaasen's novel, a cultural dissection of Grange, Florida. translates onto the stage as a madcap romp through conspiracy theories. double-dealings and divergent agendas against a backdrop of racial tension.

The physical elements are spot on. A vast swathe of society is evoked by eight accomplished actors who are constantly on stage. The slickly evocative staging is by turns simple, hi-tech and kitsch (a weeping Madonna), creating a backdrop for the actors to mime everything else into existence. The script. too, is on the money with laughs aplenty keeping the comic caper proceeding at a fair clip.

Any faults present are not with the experience of or enjoyment derived from the play but with the age-old problem of comedic polemics. A lampooning of the American right wing should be a cutting work of satire but the proseletysing is sacrificed to laughs, which makes for great entertainment but nothing you can get your teeth into. (Suzanne Black)

I Assembly Hall, 623 3030, until 25 Aug (not 11), 2.75pm, 21750—220 (275-21 7.50).

THE SPACE BETWEEN MY HEAD AND MY BODY Sophisticated drama from a young company no

Seven people take a plane journey. but something has gone wrong. Has the plane landed? Is the journey still underway? Is it real or imagined? Flitting between dreams, memories, and future visions. the characters are followed by the ominous sense that their plane has crashed , or may be

about to.

Royal Court Young Writer Catie O’Keefe sets her ill-fated flight high above the physical reality of the world below. Her characters are on a recurring voyage of their own imaginations in which they attempt to build new bonds with their loved ones while holding on to their emotional baggage.

In the dank and dripping caverns of the Baby Belly the play's strange world briefly draws the audience in, but the frequency of costume changes in the

small space distracts from otherwise convincing performances by the four-

strong cast. In order to enjoy the atmosphere of confusion (rather than simply feeling confused). attention has to be focused fully on what the characters are saying and not the mechanics of the performance. This flaw aside. the show is a rewarding hour of theatre. capable of sweeping up its audience in the dark dreams of

a clever and imaginative script.

(Jonny Ensall)

g I Underbelly ’3 Baby Bel/y, 0844 545 i 8252, until 24 Aug (not 72), 2.20pm, 28.50—29.50 ($750—$850).


Tales of ordinary terrorism COCO

THE EXPERT AT THE CARD TABLE Biographical trickery 0000

Never play cards with Guy Hollingworth. Concentrate as you may, those hands are too darned quick. As the crafty conjurer exhibits his prodigious talent at card chicanery, he employs an affable Englishness Hugh Grant would be proud of to relay the life stories of childhood friends Milton Andrews and Samuel Erdnase. pioneers of card-sharping, and writers of the book upon which this show is based.

On a simple turn-of—the-century set, which resembles a Baker Street front room, Hollingworth sets about etching a permanent, and frankly painful, grin of disbelief and awe on the faces of his audience as he performs card tricks that would stump even the great Holmes. Weaving the stories of Andrews and Erdnase through his act with amiable humour and Biography Channel-style delivery is commendable. but it's Hollingworth's tremendous skill and application that truly holds the attention. Each move of the hand is scrutinised via the close-

We hear a lot about the banality of evil, but what of the evil of banality? In Simon Stephens' new play the build up of the everyday detritus of contemporary mass culture, from coffee brands to the disposable, detached sexuality of pornography, is insidious.

In the three days leading up to the 7/7 bombings, we encounter a schoolboy with a tendency for stalking and neo-Nazism, a foul-mouthed retired academic who has learned to enjoy her loneliness, two siblings exploring their incestuous desires and a surprisingly likeable suicide


In Sean Holmes’ spare and direct production, this is ultimately less a play about terrorism than human alienation in the city, with London as the morally ambivalent star. There is a gorgeous moment where a profoundly disaffected old lady knocks on the door of a stranger to ask for some of the barbequed chicken she smells from his garden. She is rewarded, and somehow a moment of optimism amid despair occurs on this bare stage, filled by Stephens’ language with a myriad of consumer objects, from pop

music to the Metro. (Steve Cramer)

I Traverse Theatre, 228 7404, until 24 Aug (not 7 7), times vary, 276—177 8

(£7 7—E72).



up displayed on the hanging television, allowing the chance to marvel at the level of devotion required to achieve such proficiency. If cards were a religion then Hollingworth would undoubtedly be the Zen master, inspiring those who see him to attain a level of excellence that few will ever reach. (David Laing)

I Assembly Rooms, 623 3030, until 25 Aug, (not 77, 78), 3.35pm,

£7 l—El2 (870—27 7).

ANOTHER PARADISE Preaching to the converted ee

There is an annoying tendency among political theatre-makers to be so convinced of their arguments that they neglect to present them in an interesting way. Such unreflective laziness cripples this debut production of Sayan Kent‘s Another Paradise which, in the quest to drive home its message, forgets the need for good theatre to stand on its own merits.

In a dystopian future in which Britain has adopted a complicated and faulty system of biometric ID cards, citizens run the risk of having their identities snatched away, bought or lost. In an age of social networking sites. supermarket consumer databases and. of course, the current governments proposals for a biometric database, it is an interesting premise.

Sadly, some decent performances fail to lift a script that is remarkable in the crashing crudity of its message. By taking the form of a quaint farce. the play struggles to allow its themes to emerge in any interesting way. This is a great shame, as, ultimately, Kent does a disservice to the important cause she attempts to promote.

(Miles Johnson)

I club WES T @ Ouincentenary Hall, 527 7562, until 25 Aug, 4.45pm, £72 (£9).

Telephone king Fringe 0131 226 0000

International Festival 0131 473 2000 Book Festival 0845 373 5888 Art Festival 07500461332