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Performance takes place in Edinburgh Festival Fringe, 180 High Street, Edinburgh, EH1 1QS, Scotland

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      29.08.2008 11:27
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      C Venues.

      The Edinburgh Fringe preview of Moira Buffini's dark comedy 'Dinner' is performed by an elite cast of the Cambridge University Players, braving the traditional class hatred of Auld Reekie to act the part of the rich, famous and tragic, serving a tongue-in-cheek stab at the middle class alongside serious drama.

      Presided over by a silent and dutiful waiter, this gathering is hosted by Paige in celebration of her husband's best-seller, a book she confesses to not having read with just a little too much pride. The courses and party games Paige has prepared show no mercy in exposing each guest's personal tragedies, and as the night escalates, each cast member is required to skilfully display a range of feelings, from whimsical nostalgia to frenzy.

      Buffini's characters make the most of their stereotypical natures, from ditzy hippie artist Wynne to emotionally repressed scientist Hal and working class Mike, who was unfortunate enough to be stranded in the area after his van broke down. Paige wastes no time in bestowing Mike the role of spokesperson for the lower classes, and although he feels like he belongs in a 1970s Michael Caine film, Mike's proud defence of his background serves to both expose the arrogance of the upper class, and to reveal that they ultimately suffer from the same problems. The only real difference is that a rich heiress with time on her hands can afford to take care of her problems through more inventive means.

      The obligatory twist in the final scene is a little abrupt, but by this point the performers have been so convincing that it's hard to remain detached. The natural scripting and fine acting make this an involving show, enhanced by the late-night performance and bizarre gimmick of live lobsters in the main course, and this is one show that would doubtless make for a more disturbing experience from the front row.

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