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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


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