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Kim Noble: You're Not Alone (Edinburgh Fringe)

An ethically problematic but surprisingly moving new offering from Kim Noble

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Watching Kim Noble's latest show, you begin to wonder if there is anything this man wouldn't do. Bruised but brash, Noble goes to extraordinary, unsettling lengths to make his art. There are, it seems, no boundaries. Walls are drilled through, laws and ethics ignored. Anything goes.

Yet it is not the disturbing, provocative extremes of You're Not Alone that linger afterwards so much as the surprising tenderness and hurt that lurks beneath them. So many of the knotty themes that have been running through the Fringe this year – mental health, masculinity, death, gender politics, parental relationships – all mingle here.

Noble's tactic is to blindside his audience first with shock and then with emotion. He tells us about the spying he has conducted on his neighbours, the online relationships he has started in the guise of a woman, his attempts to stalk a man who works on the checkout at his local supermarket. This is all supported with often gasp-inducing video documentation, projected onto the screen at the back of the dimly lit stage.

But look again at Noble's series of shocks and what they all communicate in different ways is a deep, desperate yearning for intimacy – however fleeting and incomplete that intimacy might be. Strange and random acts of kindness sit alongside clumsy attempts at digital connection. And watching it, you begin to realise that somewhere amongst the crudeness and misanthropy there is the tiniest grain of optimism.

Yes it's funny, it's outrageous, it's definitely not ethical. But it's also incredibly, startlingly moving.

Kim Noble: You're Not Alone runs at the Traverse until 24 August.