Arts councils and executives may enjoy applauding themselves for acts of empire-building benevolence, but, as The Arches Theatre Festival has already proved, the cutting edge has little to do with them. Now in its second week, these two shows prove once again how cash-strapped young Turks can succeed through creative will.

Glenn Neath's Romcom, produced by London's Rotozaza Company, is possibly the most deceptively titled experiment ever. Two actors wearing headphones - different performers every night - follow recorded instructions while a series of impressionistic images play out and punctuate their affair from first love to last rites and beyond. Talk about flying blind.

The result, last night bravely played by Paul Nolan and Alison Peebles, resembles one of Godard's 1960s movies, full of jump-cut montages between close-ups of blank-eyed lovers and excursions into heavily captioned symbolism. And, as well as comedy, it's a complex study of compatibility

and communication.

The fledgling Nomad Company are just daring as they take on the linguistics fripperies of Enda Walsh's Misterman. Here, saintly Thomas McGill is a man of beatific leanings, whose self-belief belies the doubts of his Christian name. With devils and angels on his shoulder, salvation comes through the seemingly untouchable Adele. Keeping one's head in the clouds, alas, can take you to dangerous places.

Graham Kerr's portrayal in Mark Westbrook's production is a textbook study of how seemingly innocent brooding can turn nasty. Rather than go for fire and brimstone overload Kerr sensitively underplays things in a work of gentle brutality which, like Romcom, still needs more flesh on its bones yet. If the powers that be pay attention, it could happen.