A Strange Wild Song, Bedlam Theatre


Year on year, real-life stories provide a great source of Fringe material. Rhum and Clay Theatre Company has come across one of those "stranger that fiction" vignettes and used it as a springboard for irresistibly daft antics that build into a touching, if harrowing, salute to child's play. In 1915, a Belgian photographer came across some Parisian children who had formed their own "army". His pictures prompted Rhum and Clay to devise a Second World War scenario where three young French brothers resolutely guard the abandoned rubble of their bombed-out village, totally alone until an American soldier (with a camera) stumbles across them.

Lost, probably shell-shocked, he gets sucked into the war games that have kept the youngsters functioning in the face of the real fighting that is a constant threat. Decades later, his pictures are discovered: a twist that is needed for the storyline but isn't as persuasive or well-handled as the boys' own vivid fantasies or their rough-and-tumble togetherness. Their efforts to transform the debris of their home into a world where they are patriots and heroes are cunningly balanced between oddball comedy and genuine pathos. And the live music is strange, wild and affecting, too.

Until August 25

The Blind, Old College Quad


It's the stuff of nightmares. One moment, happy couples are dancing and flirting in the night air – the next, all (bar one woman) are stumbling about, struck suddenly blind. Teatr KTO, from Poland, don't waste time detailing why, but hazard-suited operatives and a swirling cloud of mist hint at something other than natural causes. In seconds all Hell is breaking loose. People are rounded up, stripped, allocated white metal bedsteads (on castors) and the scene is set for outbreaks of panic and mayhem.

Men turn brutish, and turn women into degraded sex slaves. Women turn the tables and become aggressors, no more civilised in their actions than the men. And what turn most of all are the bedsteads: whirled into formations, like crazy imitations of Busby Berkeley routines, they speak of enforced regimentation and the subsequent breaking down of social codes and shared humanity. The full-on energy of the cast, hurtling at reckless yet precise speed from one vehemently graphic episode to the next, makes for spectacular images on a scale that doesn't stoop to subtlety.

Until August 27

Knee Deep, Assembly George Square


Over the years, the Fringe has enjoyed some spectacular thrills courtesy of circus troupes from Australia. But Casus, pictured below, are breath-taking in a different way: four strong – with Emma Serjeant the only woman – they pack an hour of inventive acrobatics and risk-taking onto an unnervingly small stage at Spiegel-Teatro.

Watching Serjeant act as the ground support for a tower of guys bigger than her would be impressive anywhere. But at close quarters, when the concentration on her face is as visible as the effort rippling through her muscles, the feat is especially staggering (and she's not – she's as steady as Ayers Rock). While all four have various nifty aerial skills on silks, bungee ropes and trapeze, they're also into the low-tech expediency of using one another as trampettes or climbing frames.

If the prowess is remarkable, so too is the refreshing lack of histrionic glitz and scare tactics. There's no need for verbal hype –the calibre of what these performers do speaks for itself.

Until August 27