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Bottleneck (Edinburgh Fringe)

Luke Barnes' play, which premiered at HighTide, is set in the build up to the Hillsborough disaster

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

It's an odd thing that misogyny, crude sexual innuendo and good honest filth are okay in new writing - in this case, Luke Barnes' scatological memoir of a teenage Liverpool football fan who comes of age in the Hillsborough disaster of 1989 - but not in Jim Davidson.

Davidson's a working class Tory, whereas Barnes' character, Greg, is a Scouse scallywag, and therefore lovable for all his awfulness. And he's half black and increasingly susceptible to the friendship of a lisping friend who supports Everton but still gets him a ticket for that fateful FA Cup semi-final in Sheffield.

James Cooney gives a clever, virtuso performance as Greg in Steve Atkinson's production from the HighTide Festival; this is like a Willy Russell version of one of those white-knuckle rides through the Cork underworld written by Enda Walsh.

One or two of Greg's references to Jimmy Savile and Rolf Harris are gratuitously anachronistic. Otherwise, it's a world of moustaches (Tom Sellick), badly behaved goalkeepers (Neville Southall and Bruce Grobbelaar), an oddly named friend, Jenny Bulger (no relation of Jamie, we hope), John Barnes and Eusebio (Greg's middle name).

As in many solo shows, we have good writing but not great theatre, and the horrendous climax on the terraces is the only instance of dramatic momentum. Even so, it feels like an add-on, and a curious sort of redemption for one of life's unlucky losers.

Bottleneck runs at the Underbelly, Bristo Square, until 24 August