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How does one criticise a production that criticises the critics by pre-empting every criticism they could – and have – made before they can make it?

Wild Bore opens to three bare backsides perched atop a trestle table. One smokes a cigarette, the other chews a pen as all three recite some of the best worst reviewers that their upper halves – feminist performers Adrienne Truscott, Ursula Martinez and Zoe Coombs Marr – have received. So, maybe this visual metaphor is a bit on the nose, but at least you couldn’t say the cheeks were bared for ‘no apparent reason’.

Critics whose reviews reveal more about themselves than they do about the production itself fare the worst in this piece of meta-theatre. Those critics whose words contain thinly veiled prejudices and whose gendered language makes clear that what is really being commented on is the performers themselves – a judgement on their bodies, rather than their work – are held up to the light.

Such writers are spared no mercy as Truscott, Martinez and Coombs Marr name names in an intelligent and fearless satire that mocks the same people who lazily lambasted their art without taking the time to truly think about it. One of the clearest examples of such journalism comes from a review of an earlier production of Coombs Marr’s, where the critic questioned whether a 7 minute choreographed scene could possibly be ‘dramaturgical design’. An arse did seem to be the only acceptable vehicle to repeat that comment from.

Developing into first class farce, featuring the back ends feasting, absurdly literal visual metaphors and some naked dancing, the second half gets sped up and frenetic. However, never for a second is the scathing self-awareness lost in this theatrical satire. The performers know exactly how clever they are as they present the show that is the catch 22 of all reviewers this Fringe, but they also keep us laughing right on through. Also worth a special mention is the surprise performer, whose outstanding monologue brings forth a new level of depth to the production, lifting it out of the limited realms of just three white women and into a new comment on theatre as a whole. Not just a token brown face, this sharp standalone moment won’t be easily forgotten.

Words: Chiara Margiotta

Picture: Tim Grey

Wild Bore, Traverse Theatre, Aug 15-27 (not 21), times vary

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