Arthur is a Bradley Hardacre for the 1990s. a leaner. meaner and altogether blacker vision of the British entrepreneur. He uses the dirtiest of tricks to hang onto his business empire. but will he get away with it?

James Snodgrass has created a pinch-yourself surreal comedy out of delightfully absurd humour and vicious satirical comment. Ten fast-paced scenes are punctuated by the atmospheric music of the Virtual String Ensemble. playing Stephen Wolff's original score. The performers are energetic and sharp. and there‘s some not-too- embarrassing audience participation. Well worth missing the last bus for. (Jane Allison)

I Arthur’s Patents (Fringe) Virtual Theatre Company. Roman Eagle Lodge (Venue 21) 225 7995, 21/23/25/27 Aug. 10.30pm. £5 (£4).


Ellen lhrllrower: colic potential

Armed with a Hoover and a hand of bananas. Hulkower makes all the faces in this mock-up of a suburban NY childhood, pegging it to the trials and uibulations of Everywoman. Stripping to her jackboots. she lays into the winners-never- quit mantra of patriarchal America.


Characters and format i change at speed. Smother. delivering her } momologue. Farther { (Homer Simpson doing l Jimmy Stewart). Zel ! herself; slide shows, a i stand-up routine. and a ! snap the audience session. 5 Slick and sassy. Zel ; Rebels! is cleverly f observed. but its great : comic potential is ultimately blunted by its ! studied quirkiness. (Barry Didcock) : I Zel Rebels! (Fringe) . Ellen Hulkower. i Randolph Studio (Venue 7 55) 225 5366, until 4 Sept (not 22 Aug or 2 Sept). 10pm. £4 (£3.50).

unncocx’s LAsr HALF HOUR

} Heathcote Williams is a

unique writer. as those familiar with his prose poems Aurogeddtm and Whale Nation will be aware. Hancock ’5 Last Half Hour is an earlier work but just as powerful if performed well. and Pip Utton performs it exceptionally well.

In a grey and grey (as opposed to black and white) set. and himself swathed in grey greasepaint. Utton’s impersonation is nuance- perfect and that gives him the opportunity to exploit fully the comic and tragic possibilities of Williams“ writing. There‘s humour right up to the bitter end and Utton gets the laughs. through the tears. as skilfully as Hancock himself ever could. (Philip Parr)

I Hancock's Last lialf llour (Fringe) Company Theatre. Hill Street Theatre (Venue 4 l) 226 6522. until 4 Sept. 11.15pm. £4 (£3.50).


Three women discussing life. love and the pursuit of happiness in a bathroom . . . in their underwear. . . with a copy

llattie liayridge is a comic that has little fires burning in the hearts of reviewers everywhere. When we all started, iiattie was there looking pristine and blonde and beautiful and talking about tampons in the sweetest way possible. iler absent stares used to charm us and, in the days of angry young men comics picking a victim, her complete absence of audience

1 interaction used to relieve us.

Now we are in a different time but Hattie is the same, only less. What used to pass for ‘tlmlng’ now seems forgetfulness and while she never whipped an audience into a frenzy,

i even a pronounced chuckle is a rarity ; tirese days. It could lust be that she’s I out of practice; let’s hope so, for

g otherwise liattie could be written off 3 as just a phase we went through.

1 (Philip Parr)



lfattie Hayridge: a m Philip went mun? Out of Her Box (Fringe) Hattie Hayridge, Stepping Stones (Venue 51) 225 6520, until 24 Aug, 10.30pm, £6.50 (£5.50).

. of Escort for reading

j matter. This show could

i never succeed ifany

i punches were pulled, and g thankfully none are. The

l dialogue is either frank or profane depending on

! your point of view but the 1 issues touched upon the : vulnerability ofa lone

l woman on her way home i from Work. the dichotomy ? of wanting to look good

5 but not be treated as a sex object - are handled in a positive and entertaining

I way.

5 The major plus of the production is Clare Mclntyre's punchy script and the three performers deliver it well while never exactly enhancing it. Certainly a thought- provoking experience. especially for those of a male persuasion. (Philip Parr)

I low Level Panic (Fringe) Cambridge Bats. Hill Street Theatre (Venue 41) 226 6522, until 27

£4.50 (£4).



A child in prison screams and screams in frustration and rage. They are cries that echo down this play. charting one person‘s inexorable route from infancy through childhood to delinquency and eventual incarceration.

it is confrontational, physical theatre as each of the young cast takes on the role of the child. each


widow. is an

brave way of emphasising that the child could be anyone. but is also confusing at times.

._ I ,n W Although the play takes too long over the child’s early years. this is a challenging production. a disturbing reflection of our times. (Thom Dibdin) I The Hanging Tree (Fringe) Spotlites Theatre Company. Southside ’93 (Venue 82) 667 7365. until 22 Aug. 10.30pm.

v COMEDY ' VEnIrv noes

Aug. 12.10am, £4 (£3). verily lebs (Mrs) was nasdznl'y Bop th s don m used b U Y S 900‘ v e p cu y y Graveyard that warmed

Paul Jenkins for his undergraduate Henry Root letters: this show is the

Jenkins. who also plays the eponymous ageing

accomplished letter writer and knows how to spin out his once-bitten celeb replies with a few well placed Alan Bennettisms. The knowing chuckles do begin to curdle when the fictional death of Mr Trbbs is employed to elicit subsequently mocked responses from the likes

bringing a new and _ of Edward Heath and the dISlllfbmg Clemem- Tim Maxwell Brothers. Okay. sharing of characters 18 a they might not be

particularly nice people. but the death of close relatives being used as Fringe show material is

' tasteless to say the least. (Stephen Chester)

I Verity Tibbs (Mn) (Fringe) Z Theatre. Adam House Theatre (Venue 34) 650 8200. until 28 Aug. 12.30pm. £4 (53.50).


It‘s a skewed logic that motivates a comedian to berate his audience for not laughing do they choose not to see the connection between their material and punter response? Boothby Graffoe. compere of The Comedy Zone. clearly does not. In between his rambling whinges. the ‘acts’, Australian Matthew Hardy delivers routine gags. proving once again as if needed that toilet humour is really only for the desperate. Also appearing is the repellent Mr Buckstead and his lame poetry. lt

up the crowd. albeit in a heavy-handed. boo-hiss manner usually seen at kiddies’ parties. By turns weak. puerile and gimmicky. this is lowest common denominator comedy. (Grace Hodge) I The Comedy lone (Fringe). Pleasance (Venue 33) 556 6550. until 4 Sept (not 2 Sept). 10.45pm. £7.50 (£6).




‘This is the 90s and it's hip to be queer!‘ screams Lea De Laria as she stalks across the front of the stage at the start of her show. if this is true then she’s so damn hip it must hurt - queer. (very) loud and (most definitely) proud.

Her delivery is fast. razor sharp and often

' absolutely hilarious.

though there were one or two points where her material let her down badly. The show consists mainly of a barrage of stand-up material. has a rather lame sketch. and is interspersed with some cool jazz numbers. enabling her to show off her lesser-known talents at jazzjscat singing. Saying that. when she came on for an encore to sing another number you couldn‘t help but think. ‘ls this comedy or a session at Ronnie Scott's?‘ More gags would have been nicer. (Joe Lampard) I Muff Diva (Fringe) Lea De Laria. Assembly Rooms (Venue 3) 226 2428. until 4 Sept. 11.45pm. £6.50/£7.50 (£5/£6).


Lyrca’d hips wiggle to Sister Sledge. watched greedily by The Lads. as the Roman Eagle cafe is convened into a disco for this midnight production. Witty choreography and Gary Drabwell’s verse- dialogue combine in a show that’s as tight as a boob tube. Every word and move is timed right, and the cast are having a ball.

The comedy derives from the failure of men and women to communicate with each other. a failure which in this case leads to honific sexual violence in a rather melodramatic climax. That said. it's still an irresistibly sexy. funny. late night show. (Jane Allison)

I War Dance (Fringe) Mania Productions. Roman Eagle Lodge (Venue 2]) until 4 Sept (not Tue). midnight. £3