There’s not much to say about Performers. Nothing really happens, the dialogue is uninspired and the jokes generally fall flat. Who knew Edinburgh’s most infamous raconteur would ever end up being called boring?
Irvine Welsh’s play is based around the audition process undergone by the real life gangsters Donald Camell and Nicolas Roeg recruited for their cult 1970 film, Performance. Our two hard men, the plodding and unintimidating Alf and the uptight, suited and booted Bert, come into the casting room to wait for Camell – who never appears. Instead, they get caught up with runner Crispin, a cringy satire of middle class hippies with ideas above his station, who takes the audition into his own hands. A beehived receptionist – who is Alf’s niece and Bert’s recent one night stand – also dips in and out of the equation.
It opens like a poor rip off of a Guy Ritchie film and doesn’t really go anywhere else from this point. The characters are underdeveloped and stereotypical, and despite being marketed as a black comedy, it’s neither particularly dark or funny. Perry Benson as Alf has some likable moments, but is outshadowed by obvious, cliched jokes.
There is nothing revolutionary or even especially interesting about Performers. Ultimately it’s an unsatisfying hour with writing that feels like it didn’t even try.
Words: Chiara Margiotta
Performers, Assembly Rooms, Aug 26-27, 4.45pm