Skip to main content

Gym Party

Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh
Four stars
In the post Sochi Winter Olympics fall-out, it's clear that winning and losing are about a lot more than medals. The Made in China company's hour-long dissection of competition and the need for affirmation by coming out on top may be an infinitely more intimate affair than the circuses and bread of any international sporting event, but the end result is the same hollow victory.

Christopher Brett Bailey, Jess Latowicki and Ira Brand already have their names in lights as they warm up with an opening lap of honour while dressed in shorts, vest and dayglo wigs before things get too serious. Over three rounds, the trio try to prove who's best via a series of tests worthy of reality TV. These range from getting the audience to hurl sweets at them so they can try and catch them, to seeing how many marshmallows they can stuff into their mouths. Finally, the audience are asked to vote on the perceived attributes of those onstage, until there is a winner.

In terms of endurance alone, the three performers are heroic, but by opening up their private demons and insecurities in such a well choreographed fashion, they deserve hugs as much as public plaudits. Because for all the self-lacerating wit on show, it's what happens to the losers inbetween each round that really counts in what becomes the cruellest of confessionals. In this respect, Made in China have constructed a wilfully singular indictment of a society in which survival of the fittest is all, and where going for gold is always applauded, whether you happen to be running scared or not.

The Herald, March 6th 2014


ends

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

The Maids

Dundee Rep

Two sisters sit in glass cases either side of the stage at the start of Eve Jamieson's production of Jean Genet's nasty little study of warped aspiration and abuse of power. Bathed in red light, the women look like artefacts in some cheap thrill waxworks horror-show, or else exhibits in a human zoo. Either way, they are both trapped, immortalised in a freak-show possibly of their own making.

Once the sisters come to life and drape themselves in the sumptuous bedroom of their absent mistress, they raid her bulging wardrobe to try on otherwise untouchable glad-rags and jewellery. As they do, the grotesque parody of the high-life they aspire to turns uglier by the second. When the Mistress returns, as played with daring abandon by Emily Winter as a glamour-chasing narcissist who gets her kicks from drooling over the criminal classes, you can't really blame the sisters for their fantasy of killing her.

Slabs of sound slice the air to punctuate each scene of Mart…

Phoebe Waller-Bridge - Fleabag

Phoebe Waller-Bridge is a busy woman. The thirty-two year old actress who burst onto our TV screens as writer and star of Fleabag, the tragi-comic sort of sit-com about a supposedly independent woman on the verge is currently overseeing Killing Eve, her new TV drama which she's written for BBC America. As an actress, Waller-Bridge is also filming a big screen project which we can't talk about, but which has already been outed as being part of the ongoing Star Wars franchise.

These are both pretty good reasons why Waller-Bridge won't be appearing in the brief Edinburgh Festival Fringe revival of the original stage play of Fleabag, when it opens next week at the Underbelly, where it was first unleashed to the world in 2013. In her place, Maddie Rice will take on the role of the potty-mouthed anti-heroine after touring Vickie Jones' production for Waller-Bridge and Jones' DryWrite company in association with Soho Theatre. This doesn't mean Waller-Bridge has turned…

The Divide

King's Theatre
Four stars

Everything is black and white in Alan Ayckbourn's new play, a six hour two part epic set in a dystopian future where men and women are segregated from each other following the aftermath of an unspecified plague. Into this landscape, the secret diaries of brother and sister Elihu and Soween are brought to life by Jake Davies and Erin Doherty with a wide-eyed lightness of touch as their hormones get the better of them when they both hit puberty.
Annabel Bolton's production for the Old Vic, EIF and Karl Sydow begins with a TED Talk type lecture that reveals the back story to how things turned out this way. It ends with a sentimental love story designed to tug the heart-strings. Inbetween, there is teenage rebellion aplenty against the regime's institutionalised repression. Liberation comes through art and sex, which, in such extreme circumstances become even greater life forces.

With both plays told through the siblings' diaries alongside ass…