The Old College Quad is on fire again! Two years ago Carmen Funebre were blazing about, now comes te POOKa, undeterred by an aborted performance in the mud of Glastonbury. Producer Cthe Dear is looking fonivard to the more civilised surroundings of the Quad. ‘Autocrat is a promenade piece, so the audience needs to be readily able to move usually to get out of the way of fire. The arches and steps of the Quad will be wonderful as a dramatic backdrop.’

Well-known from their fiery exploits at Beltane and clubs such as Joy and Rezerection, the company now takes on an adaptation of an Qrcadian myth. ’The stOry’s about a sick land ruled by an impotent Lord and a scheming Minister.‘ Not to be confused with any present-day political goings-on, then. Add a techno-mediaeval dragon, hope for a rare dry night and wait for surprises! (Don Morris)

e Autocrat (Fringe) Scottish International Presents te POOKa, The Quad (Venue 7 92) 220 5606, 7, 9, 12—76, 78—20 Aug, 10pm, £8 (£5).


Yeah, you can stay out all night, boozing and upping the notches on your bedpost, but it really isn't much fun being 30 and single. Having found themselves being snubbed by their spoken-for mates, Juliet Leith and Angela O'Reilly decided to turn their real-life tragedy into the comedy cabaret Ballistic.

Attempting to cheat nature, the duo, as in-yer-face Glaswegians the Pineapple Girls, find themselves treating teen magazines like the bible, buying all their clothes in Miss Selly’s and spending a fortune on anti-ageing products. Meanwhile their mums harp on about the arrival of their grandchildren and some religious freaks and clueless blokes add to the confusion.

As part of a growing breed, they’re sure to arouse a familiar chuckle but Leith is still holding out for a happy

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ending. 'Hopefully, if nothing else, we‘ll get a few offers out of it.’

(Claire Prentice)

a Ballistic (Fringe) The Purple Pineapple Show, C, Over-Seas House (Venue 79) 225 5 705, unti/3l Aug (not 18) 70pm, £5. 50 (£4. 50).


Brand X, the company that brought you Invasion of the Cathode Rays and Gawk return to the Fringe this year with Gawk-A-Go-Go. ‘It’s about two sleazoid low budget movie makers,‘ explains writer/performer/Brand X co- founder Sarah Nield. ’One is Spink Fink who does everything himself on a shoestring and then there's Vixen Van Voom, his muse and star. The show is populated by trashy film icons of the past like Bela Lugosi and Shirley Temple. Carmen Miranda turns up and Elvis is there for the finale.‘

Realising human performers are more hassle than they’re worth, Brand X just got good at making puppets instead. ‘We create this live cartoon on stage,’ continues Nield, ‘which heightens the outlandish reality thing so that the edges between what’s real, what’s cardboard and what‘s fabric start to blur.’ (Stephanie Noblett)

a Gawk-A-Go-Go (Fringe) Brand X, Pleasance (Venue 33) 556 6550, until 37 Aug (not 11, 25) 71.35pm, £6.50/£6 (£5.50/f5).


If you're looking for words of wisdom among the usual babble of the Fringe, London-based performance poetry organisation Apples And Snakes Is offering a rotating roster of hip young poets displaying their jazz and hip-hop influenced rhyming skills.

At least three, and occasionally as many as seven, poets a night will participate in ’an all-star jam' with a vibrancy that should banish any lingering memories of Pam Ayres. ’There’s a renewed fervour about what spoken word can do in terms of entertainment, that it shouldn't be an apologetic little brother of theatre or hyped-up community show,’ says programmer Roger Robinson.

’Coming up to the millennium, people are starting to assess their lives and their stories and what point they are at in their life. I think spoken word has become more and more popular because that's exactly what poems are about an assessment, looking at people’s lives.’ (Fiona Shepherd)

Apples And Snakes (Fringe) Pleasance (Venue 33) 556 6550, 7—31 Aug (not 11, 18) 11.40pm, [6/f5 (£5/f4).

COMEDY PREVIEW Sean Meo: Catch 23

Freshly jet-lagged from the Montreal Comedy Festival, Sean Meo's cookin' up a storm. Described as a cruel Jack Dee, he‘s been bubbling under ever

“'ii‘PPPWEYIEW gfiicaifiéfllllalntenance, Explosives And Love _ figwill' blow; up this show. myself, *the' car," declares Donna Jackson.

'l'll ftickin’ do it!’ The sturdily-built. platinum-haired Australian is talking about the degree of risk she hopes to convey in her sexy. semi-autobiographical solo show. Car Maintenance, Explosives And Love.

‘Cars are easier to deal with than people,‘ is the first line uttered by Jackson's onstage alter ego whose dirty fingernails. hairy armpits and grease-stained cleavage make her the epitome of butch-dyke swagger. But inside lies a dark core of angry vulnerability, exposed to a journey bringing a whole new meaning to the term auto-eroticism. ‘The play is really about violence.‘ Jackson claims, 'and when is the right time to take action personally and politically.’

Jackson's family all supposed she would 'marry a nice truck driver and have a lotta children who'd play on

Donna Jackson: the wheel thing

the football team.‘ Instead she's made a living setting off fireworks. fronting an all-girl glamorock band. and directing the Melbourne Women's


lackson believes her show is ideal viewing for theatre people, those interested in women's issues, and petrol-heads —- 'guys who wanna hear about tools and see a chick in a bra.‘ (Donald Hutera) Q Car Maintenance, Explosives And Love (Fringe) Donna Jackson, Pleasance (Venue 33) 556 6550, 8—37 Aug (not 1 l, 25) 17pm, f7.50/£6.50 (£6/f5). Preview

7Aug, 17pm, f4.

since he gave up snooker for stand-up nine years ago. His acerbic deadpan style of observational humour just won him the coveted Time Out Comedy Award. After previous visits, this year sees his first solo one-man show in Edinburgh. At last, Meo’s buzzing.

The secret to his surreal, sardonic, slick wit is simple boring hard work. ‘Sit down with papers, make notes, carry notebooks. Keep your ears and eyes open. You have to put your time in,’ he insists. A keen runner four to six miles each day round Arthur's Seat - it appears the adage about success being the result of as much perspiration as inspiration is, quite literally, true in Sean Meo’s case. (Gabe Stewart)

% Sean Meo: Catch 23 (Fringe) Sean Meo, Pleasance (Venue 33) 556 6550, 7-31 Aug (not If, 78) 10.15pm,

£8. 50/£ 7.50 (f 7.50/15 6.50). Preview 6 Aug, 10. 75pm, [3.

COMEDY PREVIEW Ben Norris: Sitting Room Only

Cheeky, curious, honest. Three words sum up Ben Norris' new show in which he explores the comic potential in showing a little vulnerability. ’Most of the set is autobiographical - either completely true or totally ridiculous.’ Indeed, anything and everything provides fodder for this experienced stand-up who made his debut Fringe

appearance last year. Covering all topics from childhood reminiscences to Britpop parody with a dash of gratuitous sex, Norris is bold without being abrasive and upfront without causing offence. 'I have respect for my audience some like you to be arrogant but that’s just not me.’ Nevertheless, one suspects there is a frustrated hard-man beneath this gentle exterior. Come and see his impersonation of Noddy and Big Ears as gangsta rappers for evidence. (Caroline Brown) a Ben Norris: Sitting Room Only (Fringe) Ben Norris, Calder’s Gilded Balloon (Venue 38) 226 2 75 7, 7-37 Aug (not 17) 70.15pm, £8 (£7).

Ben Norris: chair nonsense