way through town, as this adaptation of this perennial Fringe favourite is not particularly gripping. Freakish people coming up and blathering at a complete stranger relaxing on a park bench is the stuff that the Fringe is made of, although somehow this production of the script isn't attention- grabbing, given the outdoor space. The audience's attention wanders to passing motorists and even the clouds above. An admirable and fun idea, although lacking in passion.

(Tracy Griffen)

I The Zoo Story (Fringe) Double Edge Drama, various benches around Edinburgh (check Fringe Daily Diary or visit http://www. doub/eedge. co. uk). until 28 Aug, 2pm. free.



** ‘k t

This Faustus for a modern era builds in contemporary references as it creates an anarchic blend of music, puppetry and masked acting. Rejecting theatrical convention, the actors expertly break down the fourth wall to heighten audience involvement as they act out this story of the thirst for knowledge and the selling of souls. An ingenious use of props is best exemplified by a full-scale war waged with parsnips, apples and corn on the cob that climaxes with the deadly fall-out from an atomic aubergine. A riotous assembly of comic acting, it concentrates more on humour than the darker side of the text. An ideal way to start the afternoon. (Davie Archibald) I Faustus (Fringe) Ophaboom Theatre, Hill Street Theatre Nenue

4 T) 226 6522, until 30 Aug, 7.15pm. £6 (£4).


This self-billed urban fairytale from Belfast-based Shibboleth starts out as a charming, silly romance, thanks to the playing of Emily Mytton and especially the sweet Paolo Villa. They're a loving couple whose world goes into a tailspin when he gets too near a literal roof edge. Cue her grief and his transformation into a bird. Worse, up on the roof of the afterlife he meets a lame character called Birdman. The mix of melancholy, metaphor and absurdism makes nothing like magic. It's theatrical birdfeed, like Truly Madly Deeply or Ghost wanting to be both meaningful and featherweight but going down like a lead balloon. (Donald Hutera)

I Square (Fringe) Shibboleth, Pleasance (Venue 33) 556 6550. until 30 Aug, 2. 50pm, £ 7/£ 6 (£6/E 5).


No, not the Blaxploitation movie, this is a comedy drama about a lift shaft. When Shelley, a well-meaning but self-

deluding wedding organiser gets stuck in a lift with obsessive uptight Adrian overnight, then anything might happen. In fact very little does, but both character's imaginations run riot. Shelley imagines what it might be like to retell her story on Oprah or Blind Date, while Adrian recalls his sad obsessive life. Gradually, the two characters reveal themselves as the night draws on. There's a dramatic ending but the real highlight of the show is the touching performance from Gillian Jephcott. (Moira Jeffrey) I Shaft (Fringe) Flying Pig Theatre Company. Gilded Balloon ll (Venue 36) 226 2151, until 30 Aug, 7pm, £6 (£5).


’As close to pornography as theatre can get' screamed Time Out of this one-woman show. ’Great’ thought I, joining the queue of plastic macs. Pornographic it may be but there's nothing terribly cutting edge about the play or its heroine. On the surface, Beverley is smart, independent and suspiciously frank about her sexual promiscuity. But as she blunders from one drug-fuelled encounter to the next, her unedited monologue reveals her to be confused, lonely and vulnerable. It's a familiar tale, graphically told and the relentless sucking, licking and slurping gets a bit wearisome eventually. We're saved from tedium by Valerie Frances’ charismatic performance. Wiry as a grasshopper with presence to spare, Frances elicits our interest and sympathy for the hopeless heroine. (Allan Radcliffe)

I Beverley (Fringe) Utopia’s Whores, Gilded Balloon II (Venue 35) 226 2757. until 30 Aug, 1.75pm, £6.50 (£5.50).


In this play within a play, the United Players Guild, India, is putting on a production of Othello. However, unexpected decisions made with regard to casting throw the actors involved into turmoil. Their everyday lives become infused with the jealousy and hatred of the tragedy which they are staging.

A successful fusion of the contemporary and the classical is enriched by the use of four languages. In addition to studying the rankings in the company, this unusual production also challenges perceptions of how Shakespeare's works should be staged.

An hour and a half of truly engaging theatre. (Dawn Kofie)

I Othello (Fringe) Augustine's (Venue 152) 225 65 75. until 30 Aug, 70.45am, £5 (£3).


*ttit Unrmssable *ikfi Very good

iii Worth seeing ink B(}IO‘.‘.’ aveiatje * You've been warned


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7-39 AUGUST 1999 TICKETS 0131 682 8740 f,

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26 Aug-9 Sep 1999 THE usr 31