Edinburgh University Medical School
22-31 August, 19.30
A tall, strong, tuxedoed character strides smoothly and silently past me and into the backlit doorway in front of a gasping audience.
Shaw’s enigmatic, swaggering entrance and her warm, easy stare as she approaches individual audience members with good humoured quips about her pre-historic parenthood (she is framed by two impressive skeletons) suggest a performer of rare experience and self-awareness. Shaw is one of the Fringe’s more senior artists and she wears her initially indeterminable age with charming pride. Sincere, knowing and somehow suffering; she is utterly captivating.
‘If you look at me from the front you’ll find there’s a part of my body that you can’t put your finger on.’ Here is a performer who is mesmerising to observe. Her unusually natural androgyny is quite stunning and Shaw exudes an intense honesty and wisdom that is very, very hard to find in a Fringe act. ‘No more guts or flesh.’- Shaw’s obsession with bones, with origins and what lies at our core is what drives a powerful hour of deeply personal probing.
Any initial discomfort created by the cold, clinical format of microscopic cell slides projected overhead was allayed almost instantly by Paul Clark’s mellow and exquisite jazz . Set against Shaw’s memories of ‘70s New York’s sex shops, blood, graffiti and youthful abandon, Clark’s smooth score is perfectly prescribed to sooth the audience as they are pulled forcefully through tales of innumerable scrapes, scars and life-threatening injuries.
Peggy Shaw has the necessary frenetic energy (belonging only to the insane and the enlightened) to simply eclipse every other performer out there. I sincerely urge you to spend an hour in the hands of a genius.