Gabe Stewart saunters around the pre- lunch circuit looking for those early- bird wones.

I Seen Anything Good? Mervyn Stutter promises a variety of Fringe goodies. Can be a bit hit and miss, but some of the hits you might not want to miss, such as the spontaneous meeting of minds of Rolf Harris and the Doug Anthony Allstars. The show features one big name every day (eg. look out for Margi Clarke and Del Rubio Triplets) and eventually will be handing out ‘Spirit of the Fringe Awards’.

Seen Anything Good? (Fringe) Mervyn Stutter, Pleasance Cabaret Bar (Venue 33) 556 550. until 31 Aug, noon, £4.

I Brilliant The Olnosaur has already sold out some of its performances. Professional crew, 40 kids starring as a diplodocus, plus music and words by Richard Stilgoe. The kids will love it; you might too.

Brilliant The Dinosaur (Fringe) The National Youth Music Theatre, George Square Theatre (Venue 37) 650 2001. until 28 Aug, 9.45 and ll.30arn, £5 (£3) (No concessions on Sat 28 Aug). I Private Property Change the end of Streetcar Named Desire and you have the basis of this promising-sounding play, in which Blanche doesn’t get carted off to the loony bin.

Private Property (Fringe) Gilded Balloon Theatre Backstage (Venue 38) 226 2151, until 29 Aug (not 17, 24), 12.15pm. £5 (£4).

I See Marks Change the correspondents of 84 Charing Cross Road to an lrish fisherman and a girl from Liverpool and you have the basis of a bitter-sweet, award-winning romance.

Sea Marks (Fringe) One Theatre Company, Randolph Studio (Venue 55) 225 5366, until 4 Sept (not Sun 22, Tues 31 ), noon, £4 (£3.50).

I The Great Planetary Bake Show is a kids’ show based on the three Es: Entertainment, Education, Environment. The guide to Gaia joins Dex Dipper on his mission to save the planet.

The Great Planetary Cake Show (Fringe) Dex Dipper Theatre Company. Calton Centre (Venue 119) 661 9121. until 4 Sept, 10.30am, £3.50 (£1.75).

unmar- Oift with a price tag

Gabe Stewart talks to Bob Kingdom about genius and Truman Capote.

Truman Capote: born in New Orleans, 1924; educated in New York; nearly 60 when he died in 1984. Author of novels, short stories, essays. Two of his writings adapted for the screen. Appeared in Murder by Death . . . Enough of the biography. The important thing, says Bob Kingdom, writer and performer of The Truman Capote Talk Show. is that he was a tortured genius.

Bob Kingdom specialises in tortured geniuses. His Dylan Thomas was a smash off-Broadway. The two writers had more in common than physical stature. ’Both wrote very simply with great insight, but with a built-in self- destruct button. Writing is a gift.’ But as Kingdom says. it’s one you can’t count on keeping. Less of a gift and more of a loan. ‘There comes a time when you lose it.’

Geniuses don’t make things easy for themselves. ‘Capote believed being a writer was more important than being a friend.’ Capote’s book Answered Prayers revealed his friends’ innermost secrets. He thought they would love it. They dumped him. Hence he fulfilled another necessary characteristic for the tortured genius; despite sustaining a long-term relationship, ultimately he was alone.

is there something about geniuses that makes them inherently unlikeable? ‘Capote, as represented by his writing, is very simple, charming, insightful. kind.’ Kingdom believes the catty. bitchy Capote only used his infamous put-downs to keep people at bay.

The format of the show is very simple. Capote strolls on stage, says ‘Hi’ and just keeps talking directly to the audience. The first act deals with his early successes; the second delves into how it all went wrong. in his fifties, Capote suffered the most intense identity crisis. From one week to the next he would be fat or thin; have had a face lift or a hair transplant; turn up

Bob kingdom is human Capote

drunk and then deny his drunkenness. ‘He committed suicide on an instalment plan.’ says Kingdom. Even the lasting image of Capote, under some huge hat and wearing sunshades, denies him his identity. Any pint-sized falsetto-voiced person could be lurking under there. ‘Capote started writing when he was nine. He started as a gifted child and he ended up as a child really,’ Kingdom explains. But like a child heading for a party, poor Truman lost his gift along the way. I The Truman Capote Talk Show (Fringe) PW Productions, Assembly Rooms (Venue 3) 226 2428. until 4 Sept. noon, £7.50 (£6.50).

One man

One man stands dressed in black on an empty black stage, picked out of the blackness by a circle of light. One man is Steven Berkoif and his is the actor’s art. lie has his body and his voice and, give or take the odd lighting one and live musical accompaniment, that’s all he needs. At least that’s all he thinks he needs. There's no question that Berkoff is a brilliantly able performer. When he takes to the stage, every muscle, every limb, every part of his body is called into service. ilis physical control is exact, his movement precise, yet he is also responsive and spontaneous, playing to and feeding off the audience. Then there is his delivery. lie treats a script like a musical score, each syllable a note to

Steven Berke": actor's at

be interpreted, rasped, elongated, shrieked or muttered, almost irrespective of meaning.

I stress ‘almost’. There are moments in the first of his three monologues, Edgar Allen Poe’s Tell Tale lleart, when Berkoff veers perilously close to undermining the story’s substance

through an excess of mannered exaggeration. The line between realising Poe’s gothic nightmare vision and showing all how good he is at miming peering round a door is surprisingly thin. The threat of style usurping content is ever-present, though content just about wins out. ills second short piece, the self- written The Actor, is slight and in all- ied-familiar luvvie satire territory, so it strikes me that the final monologue, Dog, is the one that most successfully combines Berkoff’s skills of observation, social comment and detailed performance. Playing ill- mannered dog and ill-mannered owner equally convincingly, Berkoff is also at his funniest in this vision of the kind of well-meaning thug that a violent society produces. (Mark Fisher) One Man (Fringe) Steven Berkoff, Assembly llooms (Venue 3) 226 2428, until 4 Sept, various times, £8.50/£9.50 (£7.SO/£8.SO).

22 The List 27 August-9 September I993