COMEDY REVIEW A Star Is Tom sews

Servalan serves up delicious dish

Jacqueline Pearce was Servalan, the crop-headed, sexy baddie who lit up suburban TV screens each week in Blake ’5 Seven. In this one-woman show, the series barely gets a mention. Instead the 55-year—old and impossibly attractive Pearce fills us in on the missing years.

There's her trip to Hollywood; her failed affair with a chorus boy who chose ’to dance at the other end of the ballroom'; and her stint as Shirley Valentine. Pearce is arch, nostalgic, smutty~and sentimental she can tell a dirty joke with perfect diction. This show makes you realise just how much you've missed her. (Moira Jeffrey)

a A Star Is Tom (Fringe) jacqueline Pearce, Gilded Balloon ( Venue 38) 226 2157, until 30 Aug, 7pm, £8 (£6).


The Curse Of Iain Banks sink fiver Ian (without an I) Banks has a problem. Every time the prolific Scottish novelist Iain Banks brings out a new book, another member of his family dies, and The Business has just hit the stands. Maxton Walker's complex and ingenious plot has shades of comedy and tragedy, but is never self- referential enough to become pastiche. The audience were hooked from the start leaning forward en masse as the story reached its conclusion.

With fine acting, deft direction and a killer complementary soundtrack, Banks aficionados will love it. But don't


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be put off if the only Banks you've heard of is on your High Street; it's a fine piece of writing and acting in its own right too. (Gabe Stewart)

g The Curse Of Iain Banks (Fringe) Gilded Balloon (Venue 38) 226 2151, until 30 Aug, 2.30pm, £6.50 (£5.50).

THEATRE REVIEW Written Off ease

Two very different slices of prison life are served up in this production.

Suffering Skin, the first, traces the ill- fated relationship between Darren, a prisoner, and his social worker, Helen. Simon Melia convincingly depicts the anger, bewilderment and joy experienced by the emotionally scarred inmate, who tells his tale through monolgue.

In Verbatim, the second piece, all the words spoken come from interviews with prisoners and their families. ' Chained together and put into the mouth of a hard-bitten female lifer from the Deep South, these utterances produce powerful docu-drama.

(Dawn Kofie)

a Written Off (Fringe) Observer Assembly (Venue 3) 226 2428, until 30 Aug (not 27) 2.55pm, £9 (£7).


Romeo And Juliet

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Starting off its national tour, Shakespeare 4 Kidz' latest exercise in accessibilty will doubtless be on form soon, but there was no hiding the many technical problems and lack of preparedness evident on its first night.

The all-singing, all-dancing Bugsy Malone version of the classic love story, where an all-important letter gets lost in the post, uses a nice mix of unadulterated Shakespeare speeches and child-proof prose.

Featuring a Gracie Fields-like Nurse, a Frankie Howerdish Friar and a beautifully voiced Prince, the show has lots of promise, even if kids' lolly- sucking superimposed somewhat on the lovers' kiss. (Gabe Stewart)

Q Romeo And Juliet (Fringe) Shakespeare 4 Kidz, George Square Theatre (Venue 37) 662 8740, until 30 Aug, 7pm, £8.

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Child proof prose in Romeo And Juliet

KIDS REVIEW Arabian Nights


’Long, long ago . . .' starts this wonderfully complex story, within a story, within a story. Disappointed in love, Shahrayar (Nicholas Khan) decrees that no woman can be trusted with a man's love. Every woman he takes to his bed is executed the next day, until Shahrazad (Sharlene Whyte) saves

both her life, and the king’s soul. Her

storytelling keeps her alive for 1001, Arabian Nights until the king unlocks the gates to his heart.

The stories themselves are a lovely variety of morality tales and comic fables. but the Young Vic Theatre Company tells them with a fresh

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Bedtime stories: Arabian Nights

vibrancy and inventiveness that is enchanting. Gruesomer funny in parts, the play allows the ensemble company to display an astonishing physicality (Jonny Hoskins as the incredible tumbling 'dead' beggar deserves a special mention) and incorporates puppetry. singing, live music and percussion. The set consists of a sand-filled circle and the props range from simple rugs to the actors themselves. The lighting effects are as stunning as the luscious


It is perhaps a shade too long for young children, but everyone else will love this superny executed piece of theatre. (Gabe Stewart) a Arabian Nights (Fringe) The Young Vic, Observer Assembly (Venue 3) 226 2428,

until 30 Aug, 2pm, £ 73/£ 70 (E 70/£8).


Coffee With Dave Williams

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Williams lurks in cafes. He exists on caffeine and from that all-powerful drug, he draws the material for the follow-up to his 1997 Caffeine show.

Playing the perfect host, he shakily serves the whole audience with very welcome cups of coffee. With a bottomless cup of the aforementioned brew himself, Williams leaps from subject to subject with bizarre tangential bounds. Poking fun at stereotypical British repression and cafe etiquette, he also exposes five different cafe characters. He knows cafe culture. It almost seems incongruous that his humour is so mellow.

Unfortunately, the guest show in the

middle with secret comedian guests sadly interrupts the flow of an otherwise wonderful piece.(Tracy Griffen) m Coffee With Dave Williams (Fringe) Dave Williams, Gilded Balloon (Venue 36) 226 275 7, until 30 Aug, 7. 75pm. £6.50 (£5.50).


By rights, a production about making it in the world of comedy should be fairly amusing, but surprisingly there are few laughs in this show.

Granted, Kinnear and Davis put in energetic performances as a pair of aspiring stand ups who can't get a gig (and they do have a top quality prop - a space hopper, which is pretty amusing in itself).

But neither of the characters are particularly likeable, and as their egos

collide and the green-eyed monster tightens its vice grip, they just bellow at, and are facetious to, one another. Although funny at first, this ends up being a little wearing. (Dawn Kofie) a Huge (Fringe) Pleasance (Venue 33) 556 6550, until 30 Aug, 7. 75pm,

£ 7/£ 6 6/£ 5).


Face 2 Face

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In what should be called Reasons To Be Single, UK writer/performer Jane Bodie joins with four Australians in a series of short scenes about the nightmare of relationships.

Some people, including the woman here who says ’I love you, get out of my life, no sorry, I didn't mean that’ are clearly not cut out for companionship and Bodie writes them with searing WIt and honesty. Fear of commitment, paranoia, jealousy and simply growing apart it’s all here in voyeuristic theatre to show that love can be an ugly business. If you are single, you‘ll be even more thankful to be so after seeing this show. (Catherine Bromley) g Face 2 Face (Fringe) The Other Tongue, The Bongo Club (Venue 743) 556 5204, until 28 Aug, 2.45pm, £6 (£5).

THEATRE REVIEW The Zoo Story as:

Trudging up Calton Hill early afternoon to see a performance of this popular piece of American absurdism is just so . . . Fringe.

Thankfully the weather is fine and there are few fire engines blasting their