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Slick / Paperweight / Gilbert Or Death By Obituary / The Search For Sunshine - Edinburgh Fringe 2008

Slick – Traverse - 4 stars
Paperweight – Assembly – 4 stars
Gilbert Or Death By Obituary – The Space @ The Thistle – 3 stars
The Search For Sunshine – Underbelly – 3 stars

An obsession with money isn’t exactly an unknown quantity on the Fringe, but the Glasgow-based Vox Motus company have already taken it further than most. Having already dissected the allure of filthy lucre via a gold-centric trilogy of Gravel, Guts and Glamour which was later condensed into How To Steal A Diamond, directors Candice Edmunds and Jamie Harrison get even greedier in this grotesque fantasy in which 9 year old Malcolm Biggar strikes gold – in the toilet.

As a family, the Biggars are straight out of Viz comic by way of Harry Enfield’s The Slobs. Such an icky image is accentuated even further by the latex puppets an assorted ingenious wizardry that renders Malcolm and co as pint-sized fatties, with the only actual bodily parts on show their heads and hands. Given the flashing landlord who opens the show, this is just as well in a scabrous knockabout involving the landlord’s crotchety mother, a fistful of firearms and at least one superbly realised performance by Jordan Young as little Malcolm in one of the smartest stylistic sleights of hand in town. While Vox Motus are still finding out what they’re about, this is their strongest work to date. Slick both by name and by nature, this is one show that won’t go down the pan.

Also hoping to strike gold one way or another are Harold and Anthony, Tom Frankland and Sebastien Lawson’s office-bound creations in Paperweight. As co-devised with director Jamie Wood, Harold and Anthony work side by side, never quite growing out of being office boys as they spend the day attempting to alleviate the tedium with assorted japes, rituals and methods of avoidance.

Developed at Camden Peoples’ Theatre and in residence in a stationary cupboard size space at the front of the Assembly Rooms, Paprweight may take its moves from The Office, but it’s near to Tati-esque tragic-comedy in construction. In such a close-up environment, the audience are right in there with this hapless duo as they attempt to chat up receptionists take deliveries and bathe awhile in the Sisyphean ennui of their lot.

Our heroes might consider thinking about retraining as obituarists in the image of the would-be headline-grabbing protagonist of Gilbert – Or Death By Obituary. Gilbert lives in a city called Town where nobody dies and works for the Local Paper founded by a good citizen called Local. With Mayor Corrupt staying off the front page, Gilbert is determined to get the ultimate scoop of his first ever obituary, but winds up with an old lady scamming him and a foul-mouthed parrot who once ran a sex phone line.

If there’s one thing Michael Vukadinovich’s one-man play, performed by Kevin Broberg for the Los Angeles-based Red Tie Productions resembles, its eccentric singer-songwriter Thomas Truax’s chronicles of Wowtown, the imaginary back-woods enclave watched over by a dog called Al Camus and documented in assorted radio broadcasts. Vukadinovich’s piece is a charmingly laconic and off-beat affair that taps into the minutiae of some less explored column inches with a skew-whiff warmth that’s both affectionate and infectious.

An array of drip-dry containers save the auditorium from potentially biblical downpours in the all too aptly named The Search For Sunshine, a devised piece by the young Platform company. Death plays James Bond themes on an accordion before Mc-ing a series of love and death scenarios in a gosh-gee bumble that aspires to something somewhere between Hugh Grant, early Griff Rhys-Jones and Peter Cook in Bedazzzled, without ever making it to any of them.

Inbetween orchestrating a young woman attempting suicide on a bridge before she flash-backs to all her awkward party moments, a passable impression by two female lovers of the Marks and Spencer’s beach-wear ad and a Silent Witness autopsy routine, a telephone rings, it’s unheard caller moving the action along, deal or no deal.

Death certainly becomes this still half-formed little oddity, but it needs to move beyond its influences to a realm beyond the limbo it’s currently in danger of being stuck in.

The Herald, August 18th 2008



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