Friday, 9 May 2014

Mercury Fur

Assembly Roxy, Edinburgh
Three stars
Like Brit Pop, the resurgence of interest in the 1990s wave of
'in-yer-face' theatre among a new generation perhaps points up a lack
of anything else to grab hold of, however much some of the originals
might have faked it. If playwright Philip Ridley was at the vanguard of
that Thatcher-sired storming of the barricades, this revival of his
most controversial work from 2005 by the St Andrew's University sired
Riot Productions in association with Edinburgh's Black Dingo company
makes clear that its brutal mix of gangster movie iconography and
dystopian future-shock has lost none of its edge.

Twenty-something Elliot bursts into an abandoned flat at the play's
start like he's seeking sanctuary from a war zone. In fact, Elliot is
pushing a rare and transformative drug that comes in the form of
butterflies, and he and his brother Darren are alternative party
planners for adrenaline-junky city boys who want to live out Vietnam
fantasies. In this case, that includes raping and killing young boys
dressed as Las Vegas era Elvis. Throw into the mix the baroque
sentimentalism of gangster Spinks, who tends to a blind grande dame who
believes she's in The Sound of Music, and an entire society seems to be
living a bad dream.

Director Jocelyn Cox draws a nuanced set of performances from her cast
of eight. From the way Elliot and Darren play wild west games to the
way they put their hands on each other's chests to hear them pound with
life, this is a heartbreaking dispatch from broken Britain, where a
collective yearning for something better is as desperate as they come.

The Herald, May 8th 2014

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