Pleasance Cabaret Bar ***

"Imagine they are a birthday party and you are the cake," advises club manager Marco to new girl Veronica, who has just taken up a position as a table dancer in a Soho club. The next news is that there is no basic wage. "We found this system works better for you."

Rebecca Lenkiewicz hasn't so much written a play as come up with the treatment for an entire TV series. But if this is no great shakes as drama, it is still an enormously enjoyable 90 minutes that is enlivened by delicate characterisation, great one-liners and some exceptionally good performances.

Lenkiewicz packs too much incident and history - drug-taking, pregnancy, self-loathing and lesbianism - into a single month in the life of Club Venus, and it is hard to imagine how the impossibly naive Veronica ever found her way into Soho, let alone a table dancing club in the first place. Yet the great thing about the piece is that it never judges or preaches. It's a job, after all, and it pays better than waitressing.

The balance between sweet and sour is just right and if I didn't quite believe in the level of camaraderie between the girls, I would like to. The achievement is to have written a play that captures the seediness of the subject but isn't seedy itself.

Ends tonight. Box office: 0131-556 6550.


Lyn Gardner

The GuardianTramp

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