Skip to main content

Never Try This At Home

Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh
Three stars
Now the 1970s have been tarnished forever by the behaviour, alleged or otherwise, of some of the era's biggest show-business stars, it's as hard to satirise its excesses as it is to know how to replace all the endless retro Bank Holiday telly shows it spawned. Yet that's exactly what the Told By An Idiot company attempt to do in a show that reimagines the custard pie throwing anarchy of Saturday morning children's TV as the accident waiting to happen it probably was.

It starts with our host Niall Ashdown setting up a student union vibe with the framing device of gathering the surviving presenters of a Tiswas-like show called Shushi, which came to an abrupt end in 1979 when its sole female presenter attempted suicide live on air. As a series of live rewinds reveal a culture of casual misogyny, cultural stereotyping and egomania, Ashdown interviews each of Shushi's alumni in turn, including its female survivor.

As a comment on the unseen indulgences of a seemingly untouchable mass media, there are some deliberately discomforting moments in Paul Hunter's production of Carl Grose's script devised in part with the company. The trouble is, for all the kitsch recreations on show, there are too many mixed messages being sent out. Any serious points being made are partly undermined by the sheer fun the cast of six are so clearly having. It's a tricky balancing act, but if Told By An Idiot's observations are to matter as much as The Day Today, Alan Partridge and new BBC mock doc W1A do, they need to go deeper and get much, much messier.

The Herald, March 28th 2014


ends  

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Kieran Hurley – Mouthpiece

Things have changed since Kieran Hurley first began writing the play that would become Mouthpiece, which opens at the Traverse Theatre in Edinburgh this weekend. At the time, Hurley was, in his own words, “quite new on the scene.” As a writer and performer, he had already scored hits with Beats and Chalk Farm, two pieces that put him on the map with a new generation of theatre-makers steeped in an equally new wave of grassroots opposition that drew from the iconography of revolutions past. Where Beats looked at the politicisation of 1990s club culture, Chalk Farm, co-written with AJ Taudevin, focused on a teenage boy caught up in the 2011 London riots.
More plays followed. Some, like Heads Up used the same solo story-telling aesthetic to look at an everyday apocalypse. More recently, Square Go, written with Gary McNair, dissected toxic masculinity through a school playground fight.
All the while as Hurley developed as a writer, from new kid on the block to established provocateur, this…

Suzy Glass – Message from the Skies

Freedom of movement matters to Suzy Glass, the arts and events producer currently overseeing the second edition of Message from the Skies.This animated literary derive around the city forms part of this year’s Edinburgh’s Hogmanay programme, and runs right through till Burns’ Night. Glass’ concerns are inherent in the event itself, which has commissioned six writers from different disciplines and experiences to each pen a love letter to Europe. Each writer has then paired up with a composer and visual artist or film-maker, with the results of each collaboration projected in monumental fashion on the walls of one of half a dozen of the capital’s most iconic buildings.
With venues stretching from the south side of Edinburgh to Leith, and with one city centre stop requiring a walk up Calton Hill, there is considerable legwork required to complete the circuit. It shouldn’t be considered a race, however, and audiences are free to move between venues at their leisure, visiting each site on d…

Rob Drummond – The Mack

Rob Drummond was at home in England when he looked at the news feed on his phone, and saw a post about the fire at Glasgow School of Art. It was June 2018, and the writer and performer behind such hits as Grain in the Blood, Bullet Catch and Our Fathers initially presumed the post was to mark the fourth anniversary of the 2014 blaze in GSA’s Mackintosh Building, which was undergoing a major restoration after much of it was destroyed.
As it turned out, the news was far worse, as reports of a second fire were beamed across the world. As someone who had taken Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s iconic construction for granted while living in Glasgow, Drummond was as stunned as anyone else with even a passing relationship with the Mack.
While emotions continue to run high in response to the disaster, Drummond channelled his thoughts on all this into what he does best. The result is The Mack, a new play that forms part of Oran Mor’s A Play, A Pie and a Pint lunchtime theatre season in Glasgow prior …