This could have been awful but it wasn’t.

It opens with ‘musician pushed into cell‘.

‘Take away her violin.‘ snaps oppressive communist regime-type guard.

‘No! No!’ screams girl.

This, and the rest of the drama, is performed with I such a faultlessly high I level of histrionics that every other line ends in either tears or violence.

Yet, in spite ofall. the 5 relationship between dissident and captor is an intriguing one, skilfully mapped out by a script only a draft away from being very good.

A few dud notes on out-of-tune instruments, but otherwise a play which deserves its title. (Stephen Chester)

I Double Concerto (Fringe) The Festival Club (Venue 36) 6502395. 21—24, 26, 28, 29 Aug. 6.10pm, £4.50 (£4).


‘Who the flip do you think put the money up for this?‘ asks Deirdre Lush, chanteuse and star.

And why? You might respond.

if you‘re into tacky costumes and badly sung showbiz classics then you might shriek. ‘Oh, isn‘t it awful‘ and giggle in the course of this expensive 50 minutes. However, if you like your humour funny then this is not the show for you, as the fertile comic ground provided by fame's lower echelons is doused with the Agent . Orange of Lush‘s replicated vacuity.

McNulty is a committed performer and Nigel Carrivick has written some good material. The sooner they start work on the Lush Memorial Performance the better. (Stephen Chester) I Gerry McNully (Fringe) Gilded Balloon (Venue ; 38) 226 2151 , until 5 Sept. 5 7.30pm,£6,(£5). !


As the name of the company Gallus Stage Productions - suggests, this is a thoroughly Scottish play. In lowland Scots, it traces the life and times of Billy Marshall, an 18th century Borders

So larthls Festival I've received a toy camera and a dehydrated meal-in-a-

bag as bribes lrom eager Fringe

? groups, so when the Grassmarket Project's Jade massaged my lace into : her ample bosom it was no small

challenge to my otherwise

unimpeachable editorial standards. A serious bid indeed, and I did at least learn how embarrassing it leels to be a



s Fisher)


single man in a go-go bar, but there‘s little of substance (other than the lleshy kind) in this strip-show drama once the point has been made that, hey, go-go girls are people too.

It's a nice touch to set the show in a real bar, and the voice-overs during the neatly-choreographed dance routines add a perspective that cancels the charge of voyeurism, but there’s little I? here that a reasonable TV documentary wouldn’t do in its llrst live minutes. And such a programme would do away with the largely lacklustre passages oi j improvised dialogue that are : sandwiched awkwardly between

, See it torthe thrill of something

: different (like its stablemate, Mad, it has curiosity-appeal) or just for the

llesh, but don’t expect the kind of

enlightenment that only a properly constructed play could provide. (Mark

The Big Tease (Fringe) Grassmarket Project, Calton Studios, 24 Calton Road, 558 5381, until 29 Aug (not Suns), 7pm, £7 (£5). (NB NOT The Vaults as printed in the Fringe

brigand and gypsy chief

i who spent his 120 years

fighting, drinking and womanising.

Marshall is humorously played by Michael Mackenzie as a sort of olden days Rab C. Nesbitt

I with the two other

members of the cast as

. shadow-like sprites that ‘haunt'hisimagination. J udicious use is made of

language and traditional music to add atmosphere to Marshall‘s memories. but the production as a whole fails to provide enough impetus to hold the narrative together.

' The play hints at

psychological reasons for Marshall‘s lawlessness

his father was hanged and his mother imprisoned as

i a witch but these are

never fully developed. What results is a series of sketches that need more powerful acting and direction to become a coherent piece. (Frances

Cornford) - I The Haunting of Billy

Marshall (Fringe) Gallus Stage Productions. The Netherbow (Venue 30) 556 9579. until 5 Sept (not Suns), 6pm. £5 (£3.50).



Maybe these people aren‘t personally responsible for the high level saturation bombing of Iraqi conscripts. but they are

guilty of the same massive

cultural arrogance which underpinned that act. America. not content with having won the Cold War. is now re-writing the history of the conquered. And so Gelman‘s concerns with the struggles of a building site worker are refracted through an image of America. by Californian students. to create a Russia of rampant individualism where

' everyone looks sexy.

The set too is as sexy and slick as any wealthy nation could wish for. but the acting is as abysmal as it is sincere.

Hands off Zinal? Hands of Nicaragua, Grenada. Cuba. . .(Stephen Chester)

I Hands Oll Zinal (Fringe) Pepperdine University, Adam House Theatre (Venue 34) 225 3744. until 22 Aug. 7pm. £4 (£3).




This is the sort of production which causes a reviewer no end of dilemmas. On one hand. it is the expression ofvalid

community activity, a new

company which is exploring local culture and obviously enjoying itselfimmenscly.

On the other hand. In

James’es House is disastrous theatre. uncomfortably perched between kitchen-sink realism and wacky absurdity with none ofthe. benefits ofeithcr. Working on a slap-dash cramped set. where a television is represented by a cardboard box with a picture taped to it. the company doesn‘t really stand a chance.

Ghosts are people with net curtains over their heads. The understudy for a teenage woman who fell ill on opening night was inexplicably a large man wearing a curly blond wig. blue eyeshadow and combat boots. forced to read his lines from behind a magazine. I cannot recommend this play to a Fringe audience. but I‘m loathe to say it doesn‘t deserve support. (Roberta Mock)

I In James'es Hoose (Fringe) Doon the Dunny Theatre Co. Bonnington Resource Centre (Venue 48) 555 0920. until 22 August. 7.30pm. £3 (£2).



One of the few stand-ups who get the audience on their side just by giving them a big. friendly smile. Dave Cohen middle- class. English. not as fat as

i he used to be and. oddly

' enough. Jewish wins bonus sympathy points at his first performance by having to entertain a meagre crowd ofless than ten. two ofwhom have inexplicably chosen back-row seats.

He‘s not the slickest comedian on the circuit (which one can hardly put down to inexperience). and his guitar-playing and singing register marginally above crap on the Bert Weedon scale. But there‘s something so endearing about this man‘s irrepressible jollity that his hour-long set generates a noticeable improvement in everyone's mood. We all know how hard it isto warm up a small audience. so why not really give the boy something to smile about and go in your droves? (Andrew Burnet) I Cohen the Barbarian (Fringe) Dave Cohen. Chaplaincy Centre (Venue 23) 650 8201 . until 5 Sept (not 25 Aug. 1 Sept). 6.30pm. £5 (£3).



This is the intriguing story of the long-lost double act of Tommy Cooper and Frankie Lyons formed when both worked for ENSA during the war. Lyons is portrayed as an ordinary bloke while Cooper is a deranged

perfectionist who lives for

comedy. Lyons goes back to lead'a normal life and Cooper goes on to fame and fortune. The play cleverly works

on two levels -- a double-act about the story of a double-act. The part of Cooper is a gift and Stephen Speirs plays it brilliantly. Like the original. he has the audience laughing even before he goes into his routines and has them under his spell

. throughout. The production skilfully plays

i one character off against

I the other. While the

audience‘s sympathy is for the narrator Lyons and his suffering at the hands of Cooper‘s ego. Cooper's comic genius still shines through—just like that. (Frances Cornford)

I Frankie and Tommy (Fringe) Hull Truck Theatre Company. Assembly Rooms (Venue 3) 2262428. until SSept (not Suns). 7.40pm. prices vary.



The familiar face ofJim Tavare is about as fresh as you‘d expect when he‘s just returned from a gruelling tour ofthe USA particularly after a (probably apocryphal) LA jamming session with Nirvana. The familiar bass ofJim Tavarc. however. is showing telltale signs of rock'n‘roll wear‘n‘tear. with ingrained cracks in dangerous proximity to her f-holes.

Frankly. though. you'd expect the experience to have sharpened-up their act. After a support slot from Mitchell Zeidwig. the concert pianist who makes grandmasters of mouth-painting look like Cro-Magnon cave-daubers, Jim and Bassie take the stage with confidence. The deadpan humour which follows works superbly when it‘s slick Bassie being a great one for a humorous sound effect but some sections of the show (particularly those involving guest compcre/human synthesizer Al Murray) are decidedly shambolic. which is a swizz when the tickets are £7.50. The Aled Jones send-up is crap. and one sketch collapses owing to under-rehearsal. Which is sad. because when Jim and Bassie are good. they‘re very. very good. (Andrew Burnet)

I His Master's Bass (Fringe)Jim Tavare. Pleasance (Venue 33) 556 6550, unjtil 5 Sept (not 27 Aug), 7. 15pm. £7.50 (£6.50).

JOThe List 21 - 27 August 1992