Festival Theatre


PAPERWEIGHT seat: you have the choice of a box Flawed peek into daily office life against the back wall, a plusher 0. computer chair with the back removed

or a foot-resting high stool. Whatever you choose. you'll only be an arm's reach from the action.

More a slice of life than a story. Paperweight takes a peek into daily office life as two young professionals fight mindless monotony and personal

Squeezing into one of the tiniest Fringe venues a modest office in the Assembly Rooms this two-man show is about as up close and personal as you can get to what's happening onstage. Arrive early for a

ESOTERICA No ordinary card .0000

The paradox of a culture that loves to see magic and the sixth sense at work, while refusing to believe in either of them, becomes particularly apparent when, sitting in a darkened room watching one man appear to read another man’s mind, your brain desperately tries to rationalise what it has just seen. Going beyond magic tricks to take in telepathy and the mysterious ‘third eye’, the term ‘esoterica’ literally means ‘that which is reserved for the understanding of a select few’.

Written and performed by Eric Walton, this show blends card skills and people-reading, demonstrating just what an intensely-trained intellect can achieve. Walton has created a strong, clearly defined character for himself: the sharp, flashy suit, coupled with his air of having swallowed several encyclopaedias, could have been intimidating for the audience, were it not for his charming, cheeky delivery, and determined attempts to learn the name of every audience member before the show’s end.

Walton’s is an act that belongs to a much bigger stage. Here he has only the bare essentials: a table, a mysterious envelope and, of course, a deck of cards. He conducts us through a kind of poetic, mystic, philosophical history lesson while moving smoothly from trick to impressive trick, his polished routine still allowing for moments of humour as he refuses to take himself too seriously.

The illusions themselves all build to gasp-inducing crescendos, each trick astounding the already baffled crowd with its combination of maths and memory. The audience, pressed to volunteer and trying, as always, to wrong-foot a performer who is clearly smarter than everyone else in the room, does not stand a chance. A master of his art, Walton’s Esoterica is highly recommended to all at this Fringe. (Sarah Redhead)

I Underbelly Baby Bel/y, 0844 545 8252. until 24 Aug, 9.05pm, E 70—2 7 l.


crises with childish pranks and tea making. Unafraid of silence. and tempering the pace to match that of a real-life clock-watching day in front of a computer. Paperweight ebbs and flows through moments of tedium and brief periods of keener viewing.

Brilliantly choreographed around shrewd SOUnd effects and an array of props which include fiddly boiled eggs. homemade mixed tapes. collapsing shelves and a draWing pin- sucking carpet sweeper half the fun comes from watching the audience. In such close confines the atmosphere can change dramatically according to each person's reaction. Sadly. on the occasion I was there. it all felt rather muted and undenrvhelming.

As it represents a valiant attempt at doing something a bit different. l wanted to enjoy Paperweight more than I actually did. Of course. that sentiment could reflect many a person's Opinion of their job.

(Susan Wright)

I Assembly Rooms. 623 3030. until 24 Aug (not 78). times vary. BIO—£72 (£84710).


A Swedish sexagenarian’s exploits O...

‘Who is Britt Ekland?‘ So the former Bond girl and one-time wife of Peter Sellers begins her frank and surprisingly funny whistle stop tour of her enchantingly colourful life. Offering glimpses of the young starlet who entranced the likes of Rod Stewart and Lou Adler. Ekland is endearing precisely because she refuses to take herself too seriously. She's a captivating stage presence too.

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Clearly a woman with a strong awareness of her limitations. Ekland formerly plain old Britt-Marie Eklund candidly acknowledges that few people have heard of the more than 100 feature films she's starred in. It's this sense of self-awareness that could persuade even someone who isn’t particularly a fan of the Swedish siren's work to root for her. As images of Britts through the ages flash on to the giant screen that forms the centrepiece of the simple set. the show pleasantly teeters between the star's self-effacing take on wedding day footage and old movies. and a veritable Who ’3 Who of familiar names. as a life of almost incomparable star acquaintances is revealed. (David Laing)

I Assembly Rooms. 623 3030, until 25 Aug (not 20), 6.30pm, 27050—81 7.50 (89.50—00.50).


Tales of love and abuse 00

It almost goes without saying that abusive behaviour visited upon a person in childhood can lead to dysfunction later in life. This idea is explored in this second part of successive companion pieces at the Fringe from Kandinsky. whose earlier work includes such exceptional dramas as Eno/a.

A teenage boy speaks to his mother. a Russian emigre prostitute. of his first love. after both mother and son have endured a life of great travail. much of it confined to the cramped brothel they inhabit. Here. the forms of love that emerge from appalling circumstance create a child without emotional structure. whose mathematical gifts are employed to malicious and eventually sadly ironic ends.

For all its dark introspection. AI Smith's four-hander fails to bring enough originality or insight into its story to convince. while at times its poetic. metaphorical language gets trodden underfoot. The performances too are a little uneven in places. and. by the end. it's difficult to care for these characters. (Steve Cramer)

I Underbelly. 0844 545 8252, until 24 Aug. 5.40pm, f9—flO5O (CB—£9.50).