. Who do you think you are?

Exposing the imposters on this year’s Fringe.

Riding on the back of someone else's glory is one way of hopping aboard the entertainment express. For some performers, though, imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery for a personal hero. On a Fringe riddled with people pretending to be other people (some living, most dead), audiences can judge for themselves who falls into which category.

if you still mourn the memory of John Belushi, Steve Steen’s cunnineg titled The Blues Brother (Assembly Rooms) is

Vincent van Gogh knew all about cruelty. He lopped off his own lug, and had a tune written about him by Don


a fitting tribute to the high-octane, temperamental actor. If you hanker for a bit of Celtic nostalgia, The Chic Murray Story (Marco's) wrth Doug Healy could be just the ticket. The Carry On king of camp lives again as David Benson returns with his 1996

Fringe First hit, Think No Evil Of Us . . . My Life With Kenneth Williams (Assembly Rooms); while comic rivalry is at the centre of The Fun Factory’s Anything For Laughs (Moray House Theatre), which follows Stan Laurel and Charlie Chaplin through the mUSlC halls to Hollywood.

Jackie Clune must wake up wondering who she is of a morning. Last year she transformed herself into Audrey Hepburn’s vorce-double for her solo performance Showstopper; this year, she's back in Chicks With Flicks (Assembly Rooms), givmg it ’hairspray and harmony’ with her impersonations of 70s babes Olivia Newton John, Kiki Dee and the late-lamented Karen Carpenter a inuch-irriitated figure last year, who gets a further tribute this year from Sarah Davidson in Close To You (Assembly Rooms).

Less savoury is radical playwright Howard Barker’s Christie In Love (Asylum Theatre Company at The

Garage Theatre), which offers a glimpse into the face of evil as the notorious murderer attempts to justify his slaughter. There's more horror at The Laboratory, where Pip Utton portrays the great dictator in Adolf; and Steven Nemeth scrutinises the EVIdGnCe in JFK OD’d. A life of cruelty was something poor old Vincent van Gogh knew all about. Not only was he dotty enough to lop off his own lug, but he had a tune written abOut him by Don McLean. Misbegotten Son (Viewforth Centre) explores the Dutchman's final agony

Space to experiment H

Some people think you can do a Fringe show pretty much anywhere.

Know what? They’re right.

Where can you go on the Fringe if you can‘t stand another draughty church


This year, some managements are using non-traditional spaces in a bid to challenge the dominance of stand-up comedy and well-worn standards.

Rob Lines of the Southside Courtyard venues is one of many who feel the Fringe has become tired. ’There seems to be less experimentation,’ he says. ‘As the cost increases, there is pressure to do something less risky.’

His solution is The Laboratory, a venue where performers can stage their work free of overheads. ’A lot of people have worthwhile projects but can't get the funding together,’ he says. 'The Laboratory will give them the

chance at virtually no cost.’

Others are tired of the venues themselves. Grid Iron Theatre Company has secured the use of Mary King's Close beneath the High Street for its

production of The Bloody Chamber.

Better known as the Haunted Vaults, the medieval close was walled off to combat the plague. ‘The topography of the city is so dramatic,’ says director Ben Harrison. 'The Vaults is like a £15,000 set.’

Another challenge to Fringe orthodoxy comes from Arthrob, an umbrella organisation based in the old GPO on North Bridge. The programme includes

contemporary music and visual arts, clubs and theatre, all on the subject of communications.

’lt's sad that the Festival is becoming known for comedy alone,‘ says Arthrob director Louise McKinney. ‘We believe high and low art can co-exist.’

Comedy does have its place though. The Comedy Cafe Roadshow will bring its own venue - a lorry converted to contain a theatre. Other unusual venues include Craigmillar Castle, which hosts an open-air performance of Romeo And Juliet, and Tiny Mo’s Speakeasy, a new competitor for smallest venue: it boasts just ten seats. (Stephen Naysmith)

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Fare play: inside the Comedy Cafe Roadshow


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Might as well do the white line: Steve Sheen as John Belushi in The Blues Brother

thanks to Caveat Theatre Company. Agony was no stranger to Andy Warhol (or his audience) and Fireraisers Theatre Company relight his flame in Andy And Edie (Hill Street Theatre). The University of Southern California company brings a taste of Hollywood to Edinburgh, as Marcy Lafferty explores the tragic Ms Lergh in Vivien The Other Side Of Gone With The Wind; and Robert Machray raises Kane in Obedienrly Yours, Orson Welles (both at Drurnmond Community

Centre). Meanwhile, the life and innuendos of a sex symbol are revived in Mae West: All Of Me by Glasgow company Home Is Where The Art Is (Pleasance).

But final proof that British stars are as excrting and tormented as any of their transatlantic cousins comes from Richard Burton's hyperactive nephew Guy Masterson, who pays tribute to his uncle by directing Mark Jenkins in Josh Richards' biographical drama Playing Burton. (Brian Donaldson)

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Fringe Box Office: 0131 226 5138


25 Jul—7 Aug 1997 THE l|3T19