Two award-winning Edinburgh Festival hits open concurrent three-week seasons at London’s Soho Theatre this week prior to independent regional tours. Richard Dormer’s one-man show Hurricane, based on the life of snooker’s Alex Higgins, opens tonight (14 January, previews from 12 January) and is joined from Friday (16 January, previews from 14 January) by The Riot Group’s Pugilist Specialist.

Hurricane, written and performed by Dormer, traces the highs and lows of the Northern Irish snooker legend (See News, 24 Oct 2003). The "people's champion", Higgins left school at 15, won the Northern Ireland and All Ireland Snooker Championships at 17, turned professional at 20 and, in 1972, aged just 23, became the youngest person ever to win the world championship.

Higgins himself has endorsed Hurricane, originally produced in Belfast, saying that it accurately conveys his tortured life. Dormer won the Stage award for Best Actor at last year’s festival for his portrayal. The production is directed by Rachel O'Riordan and designed by Garry McCann, with lighting by John Riddell. It's presented by Martin Witts and Edward Snape.

Following its Soho engagement, Hurricane will continue to Nottingham, Croydon, Salford, Cardiff, Warwick, Norwich and Belfast, where it concludes on 12 March 2004.

Addressing the post-September 11th consequences, Pugilist Specialist (pictured) presents the drama of the American military on the hunt for evil in foreign lands (See News, 16 Sep 2003).

Winner of the coveted First of the Fringe Firsts at the 2003 festival, Pugilist Specialist follows The Riot Group's previous award-winning successes at the Edinburgh Fringe festival with Wreck the Airline Barrier and Victory at the Dirt Palace, a King Lear transplanted to the cut-throat world of broadcast journalism, which transferred at the start of 2003 to London's Riverside Studios.

Founded in 1997, The Riot Group was originally conceived as a site-specific protest against the theatre department of New York's Sarah Lawrence College. All of the group’s shows are written by 24-year-old Adriano Shaplin, who also directs and performs in them.

Following its London season, Pugilist Specialist will visit Belfast, Dublin, Glasgow, Oxford, Canterbury, Cambridge, Southampton, Nottingham, Cardiff, Liverpool, Plymouth, Leeds, Bradford, Selby, Manchester, Brighton, Birmingham, Swindon, Crawley, Tunbridge and Newbury, where the tour finishes on 29 May 2004. The production, presented by Louise Chantal, will then receive its New York premiere in September.

- by Terri Paddock

DON'T MISS our ticket offer catch Pugilist Specialist for only £12.50! Offer ends 31 January - click here for info! You can also WIN a chance to play snooker with real-life Hurricane, Alex Higgins!