FESTIVAL THEATRE | Reviews
E K R E L C L E A H C A R
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CUNCRETE Satirical punk-gig theatre attacks predictable targets ●●●●●
Even at a venue as eclectic as Summerhall, explicitly identifying as ‘performance art’ is a brave move. Unfairly condemned as self-indulgent, the fluidity of the form challenges audiences and refuses an easy sell. Rachael Clerke and the Great White Males, however, are fearless in a show that matches rudimentary musical skills with a single-minded satire on alpha-male masculinity and architecture.
Cuncrete struggles to escape the pull of one strong idea: a caricature of an entrepreneur condemns his own aspirational philosophy by being an obsessive idiot. Clerke’s Archibald Tactful bangs on about the wonders of brutalist architecture, snorts some concrete and rocks out to the growling punk of his band. There’s a righteous rage at the housing market and profiteering landlords beneath the bellowing, but that is sometimes lost in the noise and repetition.
Clerke has a point: contemporary capitalists have been playing the fool at the expense of the population for the past 30 years, but the combination of scrappy punk and hectoring rhetoric betrays a limited response to the situation.
Evoking punk rock by featuring a band who have only
recently picked up the instruments – even though Little Keith rocks it hard and tight on the drums – recalls bands like Bikini Kill who used the same aesthetic. Equally, the drag king is a fine way to mock masculine stereotypes, but it has been used to more incisive effect by Diane Torr.
Going for laughs with the bad moustache and suit (the patriarchy has long since changed its look) makes the revolutionary impulse seem nostalgic for a time when the enemy identified itself clearly. Still, Cuncrete is punchy and begins an argument about a serious social ill. (Gareth K Vile) ■ Summerhall, 560 1581, until 26 Aug (not 22), 10pm, £10 (£8).
FRANKENSTEIN A tense, atmospheric production of a classic ●●●●● DEAL WITH THE DRAGON Fairytale and gay confessional collide ●●●●●
Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein has found its way to the stage several times, not to mention its many film interpretations. This production by Canny Creatures Scotland is lifted above the majority thanks to fine ensemble performances and an atmospheric soundscape. Emphasising the plot over the motivations of the famous mad scientist, Canny Creatures conjure a dynamic variation on the theme of human hubris. Victor Frankenstein has created a monster; casting
the poor creature out, his creation drives him to the brink of madness. With the play beginning with the monster already being created, the story dives into the action a little quickly with limited explanation, ignoring the novel’s philosophical pondering. But, with effective sound producing a brooding sense of doom, the story is framed by a dark and sinister atmosphere. As with Canny Creature’s sister show, The Elephant Man, the star turn here is by Michael Roy Andrew as the tortured Dr Frankenstein, though the entire cast are strong. Exposing the sadness at the heart of the horror, there is also a sense of joy within the tragedy that comes from the creepy, unnatural air and the direction’s tense and exciting pacing. (Alex Eades) ■ Gilded Balloon Teviot, 622 6552, until 29 Aug, 2.30pm, £10.50–£13 (£8–£10).
78 THE LIST FESTIVAL 18–29 Aug 2016
Couldn’t we all do with a gay German shapeshifting dragon to help us out in those sticky moments? That’s the unlikely beast who has aided Hunter to achieve his so-far limited success as a visual artist. But when a prestigious appointment appears to be within reach – for which he battles fellow artist Gandhi, who has more than enough problems of his own – both man and dragon are forced to reconsider their fiery relationship. Blending and wittily subverting fairytale, coming- out story and sordid confessional, San Francisco actor / writer Kevin Rolston’s brilliant solo show is a sophisticated piece of work, full of belly laughs but with serious themes of addiction, dependence and delusion at its heart. His commanding performance propels us through all the magic realism and gay sex (not much of that, admittedly). His comic – and often tragic – timing is faultless,
in a hugely energetic, finely detailed performance that never shies away from unpicking gay stereotypes, and never gives us tidy answers. It’s a play that builds in ambition and complexity, until its riches have been fully unfurled in a surprising but inevitable conclusion. (David Kettle) ■ C nova, 0845 260 1234, until 29 Aug, £9.50–£10.50 (£7.50–£8.50).
PETER AND BAMBI HEAVEN: THE MAGIC INSIDE Careering from family-friendly to X-rated ●●●●●
Shows about putting on shows are hot property. Michael Frayn’s Noises Off proved years ago that audiences like to see backstage. This outrageous comedy duo base their cabaret on a similar premise. Peter and Bambi Heaven are cheesy cruise ship-
style entertainers – and Australian actors Asher Treleaven and Gypsy Wood are a real-life couple. Their show lovingly mocks the pearly white smiles and glistening catsuits of the variety shows of yesteryear with intentionally dubious magic tricks and lukewarm routines.
The pair have seemingly limitless energy, lending the show a boundless, nostalgic fun. Treleaven opens by leaping about the audience, flirting outrageously. The skits that follow career from X-rated to family-friendly.
In the shocking finale, it’s Bambi's time of the month and blood gushes everywhere in a surreal and gruesome ballet dancing sketch that gets the biggest laugh. For Bambi, who used to be a cage dancer, old habits also die hard and she never resists the temptation to undress.
Seeing this show is like accelerating at full speed with the car roof down. (Adam Bloodworth) ■ Assembly George Square Gardens, 623 3030, until 28 Aug, 10.30pm, £12–£13 (£10–£11).