Every year, a few themes emerge as the most popular on the Festival. After what seems a lifetime buried in the Fringe programme, Andrew Burnet can now reveal the truth about . . .

Texts ’n’ drugs ’n’ bless my soul

here can‘t be anywhere better than Festival Edinburgh to study the flirtation of the arts with Zeitgeist. Thousands of creative young minds. devouring social trends and regurgitating them in a form designed to trap that elusive Fringe hit. In these days of post-trainspottism. it's unsurprising to find narcotics a widespread concern of Fringe companies. Last year. Poulter and Dtrff offered audiences free samples at The A-Z 0t Drugs. There must have been plenty of subscribers. because the show‘s back. with the offer reiterated in BLOCK CAPITALS. Another show promising such enticements is Brand X's Gawkl. whose entry in the Fringe programme cheerfully promises ‘Free hallucinogens suppliedl' Since mushrooms are out of season. peyote cactus doesn't grow in Scotland. and supplying LSD tends to invite prosecution. this promise may prove somewhat hollow. For authenticity. try Australian comedian Greg Fleet's show. Ten Years In A long-Sleeved Shirt. Fleet works directly from his own traumatic

experience in this case. a decade-long heroin habit bill also succeeds in being mordantly funny. Comic treatment of substance-related subjects also comes from Devon's P.A.F. Productions. whose show Pure takes a mind-altering look at the ecstasy/dance culture.

Knowing the score: Poulter and butt in The A-Z or Drugs

Some folk reckon the only true path to ecstasy is religious faith. and they won‘t be disappointed this year. The Gospels as dramatised by Giles l-lavergal of the Citizens‘ Theatre. Glasgow are presented by Chameleon Productions at Diverse Attractions; while the appropriately-named Carpentens Arms plays host to God In The Dock. a chance to debate those . . . er . . . thorny questions about Our Lord.

The premise for Soup ()f The Day‘s show Bad Omens is God‘s decision to take early retirement. which naturally leads to some disharmony in the divine domain: while King Alfred‘s Performing Arts Company's 00 Come Again described as a ‘mystery play for today' dramatiscs the long-awaited return of His Son in contemporary Britain.

An unusual perspective on heaven's royal family is offered by John Dowie. who plays Joseph. ‘tltc world's first virgin father" in Jesus My Boy. described as ‘a gentle. comic tale of domestic strife. inept carpentry and l'atherhood.‘ But if it‘s irreverence you‘re after. look no further than the three cheeky Californians of the Reduced

Shakespeare Company. After 90—minute version: of

The (bowie/e Works 0/ .S'ltakespeare and The Complete History (2/ America. they're now taking on the ultimate literary adaptation. The Bible: The Complete Word or God (Abridged).

Austen textures: Judith French in My Solitary Elegance

Talking of literature. in the absence of the Book Festival. the Fringe's biggest new venue has stepped in. Scottish International at the Famous Grouse House has a sparkling programme of literary events. featuring such names as Janice Galloway. Iain M. Banks. Robin Jenkins. A. L. Kennedy and Iain Crichton Smith. plus a special night for poet Norman McCaig. who died this year.

Victorian literature is a popular topic at the Assemny Rooms. where no less than three giants of the quill pen are celebrated: Dorothy Wordsworth in Exquisite Sister; Jane Austen in My Solitary Elegance; and Thomas Hardy in A Pair Of Blue Eyes.

Cynics might view this as a transparent attempt to

cash in on the TV ratings chart-toppers and Oscar nominations that attend on Viclit adaptations these days. Some of us know better. of course. having witnessed the explosive renaissance of fiction round these parts. Which brings us full circle to Trainspotting. and the news that the umpteenth revival of Harry Gibson's theatre version (also at the Assembly Rooms) is already selling ottt . . . Details o/‘a/l these shows (an lu’jound in the Fringe Programme. available free from the Fringe (If/ire. ISO High Street. Ifrlin/mtjq/t. and other locations around town.

Unholy trinity: neduced Shakespeare Company in The Bible

$069171 Eepagefr 8511720149.

0129 man. flit/11141229090.

Variations on Shakespeare’s Hamlet. Created, directed and

performed by ROBERT LEPAGE. Music composed and performed by ROBERT CAUX. '“te'na‘mna' FESTIVAL ‘a work of brilliance and unending imagination.’ Chicago Sun Times.

The British premiere of Shakespeare’s best known play distilled into a dazzling synthesis of cinema and theatre technology. Change your perspective, call 0131 225 5756 for programme and ticket details. Edinburgh International Festival, 21 Market Street, Edinburgh EH1 13w.

14 The List 26 Jul-8 Aug I996 1


11-31 August 1996.

Reg. Charity No.SC004694.