Telegraph / Dominic Cavendish

If you wanted to be harsh, you could say that – ranked against numerous well-heeled, tightly scripted shows on the fringe – Doglife, detailing the life of Scottish former gangland enforcer Thomas McCrudden, isn’t up to sniff. It’s sometimes hard to work out what’s being said, who it’s being said to, and what happened when. Yet engage simply with what is being offered, and you’ll be rewarded with something as compelling as anything you’ll see this year: cold, hard, dark truths about the toughest lives lived in the UK today.

McCrudden – following up last year’s acclaimed Doubting Thomas, again presented by Grassmarket Projects – is a muscular hard-man who revisits and even re-enacts violent moments from his feral, criminal past, the women in his life (the cast are untrained actors) dismayed at his volatile moods, but themselves swinging between being in thrall to his monosyllabic presence and rejecting him. He can take us right now to meet the kind of desperate people who’d have been Macbeth’s murderers-for-hire, McCrudden says, yearning to break the chains of his brutalising conditioning but aware also just how reluctant society is to let him move on.

A sobering, sometimes tension-filled hour.