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Beating McEnroe

Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh
Three stars

What happens when your heroes lose, proving themselves to be not as invincible as you once thought they were? At an impressionable age the effects can be traumatic enough to last a life-time, as was clearly the case when a six year old Jamie Wood watched a brattish John McEnroe beat Swedish demi-god Bjorn Borg in the 1981 Wimbledon men's singles final, robbing Bjorg of a sixth victory. As Wood's hour-long solo show isn't ashamed to confess, he's been dealing with the emotional fall-out of such a tragedy ever since.

It begins with Wood sitting cross-legged on the floor playing catch with the audience and some tennis balls that match his green attire. Such meditations usher in Wood's very personal psycho-drama, which he gets the audience to act out in order to purge it from his being. Investing his performance with a mix of pathos and self-deprecatory humour, Wood manages to transform his inner turmoil into a comic ballet that takes in sibling rivalry, a quest for freedom and a very hippyish way of letting it all hang out as the origins of Love-All are revealed inbetween throwing eggs around the room.

This is all good, clean touchy-feely fun with a deeper edge that looks to expose a few emotional scars in as entertaining a way as possible. Oh, and audiences should probably be aware that as well as tennis, there is wrestling, and that, should they be the chosen one, their evening might end with them rolling around the floor with with a half-naked man while sporting a curly black wig and head-band. And yes, dear reader, I was that soldier. What a racquet.
 
The Herald, March 16th 2015

ends

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