Saturday, 27 August 2016

Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2016 Theatre Reviews 8 - Lucy McCormick: Triple Threat - Underbelly, Four stars / Letters To Windsor House - Summerhall, Four stars / Revolt. She Said. Revolt Again - Traverse Theatre, Three stars

When Lucy McCormick opens her somewhat singular take on the life and death of Jesus in Triple Threat dancing with a purple dildo in hand alongside a pair of butch male angels (though sadly not Herald ones) in pants who look like they've stepped off the set of Eurotrash, it sets the tone for an eye-popping hour of dramatic salvation.

With McCormick casting herself in all the main parts in Ursula Martinez' Soho Theatre/Underbelly production, she brings the bible to life with all the boring bits left out. The Three Kings dance to camp disco, Judas betrays McCormick's leotard-clad messiah with considerably more than a kiss, while come ressurrection time there is a decidedly liberal interpretation of what constitutes stigmata. All opf this comes complete with power ballad karaoke in a blissfully blasphemous take on the greatest story ever told that flings wilfully ridiculous concepts of power, glory, agony and Ecstacy around with gay abandon. For a grand finale, a massed ascension to Heaven might just leave you coming out with sticky fingers in a riotously messy and genuinely subversive theatrical halleluhah.

Runs until August 29

Rebecca Biscuit and Louise Mothersole are real life flatmates in Letters To Windsor House, the duo's very personal look at the London housing crisis for their Sh!t Theatre company. When the pair start opening the pile of mail sent to previous tenants that's piled up, their obsessive researches into each of their predecessors builds up a socio-economic jigsaw of a strata of society which may never be able to afford to buy. More startlingly, they discover that the tiny flat they're sharing close to where luxury new builds are planned is actually a council flat being illegally sub-let to them.

In an hour-long DIY-style collage of songs, projections and out-front address, they by turns rip up, bulldoze and topple the idea that all-encroaching gentrification is in any way a good thing. That they do this in such an amusing and entertaining fashion makes for a politically illuminating and at times joyful experience. Because beyond Biscuit and Mothersole's deceptively serious line of enquiry, they've created a show that is also about friendship, and how living and working on top of each other can sometimes damage that friendship. In this way, it's both love letter to their living together and a damning expose of how the notion of housing for all went so very wrong.

Runs until August 28

One is reminded of a short poem by Adrian Mitchell watching Revolt. She Said. Revolt Again, Alice Birch's call to arms, legs and pretty much everything else besides as it attempts to not just reclaim women's language and behaviour from the male gaze, but spark it into revolution too. In the poem, a theatre director tells his actors that in rehearsals that they are to be as free as they like, only for one actress to leave the room and never come back. In Birch's play, directed by Erica Whyman for the Royal Shakespeare Company, three women and one man argue the toss about life, love and pretty much everything else besides in a war on patriarchy where words themselves become a weapon.

Each scene reclaims language in everyday acts of defiance and revolt, with an umbilical link between each an ongoing series of references to flowers and foods – all born, significantly, from mother earth rather than anything processed.

All of this more resembles a rad-fem Dadaist cabaret than a play per se, and while it may not be nearly as badly behaved as it likes to think it is, as a provocation it makes its point in a way that never minds its language.

Runs until August 28.

The Herald, August 25th 2016

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