The gloves – and all the rest – are off as Adrienne Truscott, Zoe Coombs Marr and Ursula Martinez bare their behinds to the critics in absurdist satire, Wild Bore
Don’t talk about your reviews and don’t be boring – this is received wisdom in theatre.
But when three of the most talented, avant-garde and mischievous females in comedy work together, received wisdom flies out of the window.
Comedy Award nominee Zoe Coombs Marr, Panel Prize winner Adrienne Truscott and Olivier winning Ursula Martinez have decided to rip up the rule book in their first ever collaboration, Wild Bore. Truscott says: “The script is all taken from some of our favourite bad reviews of our shows.” The poster for the show features the performers sitting on open backed chairs with naked behinds. As a visual metaphor for theatre criticism it is strikingly transparent. And being dull is part of the plan. Coombs Marr says: “It is a mixture of wildness and wilful boringness.”
Truscott, whose award-winning show, Asking For It, saw her dissect the culture of rape jokes while wearing no knickers, explains it is about revealing the meaning disguised beneath the trickery of performance.
“We all make a lot of big bold choices in our shows about how we perform. We all use tricks to get over ideas. But what if we just got up on stage and gave a boring lecture about feminism.”
Coombs Marr, whose Barry Award-winning show Trigger Warning saw her performing as a hopeless unreconstructed male comic called Dave said: “It is also about looking at our political agendas and ourselves as performers.”
Wild Bore questions the assumptions made by critics – particularly those whose opinions betray condescending attitudes towards women. It also looks at the function of criticism in relation to the artistic process. Truscott says: “I was reviewed incredibly well one year, and then the next year I was pummelled with bad reviews. Both were shows that challenged people, and that challenged the stand-up comedy trope. Critics say a lot about the show but they also say a lot about themselves at the same time. There is some great language in reviews, and we thought how great would it be to explore that.”
Part of the idea is also to pull critics up on stereotypical language. Coombs Marr says: “There is often a gendered response in reviews. Words like: ‘girl’, ‘silly’, ’whimsical’, ‘quirky’, as opposed to ‘absurdist’, or ‘avant -garde’.” But why attack critics when coverage of the arts is dwindling around the world? Coombs Marr says that is not the intention. “I think we have a lot in common with critics. They are not the enemy.”
Martinez, an original member of La Clique, who moved into performance art and avant-garde theatre and who helped create the Olivier Award winning show C’est Duckie, says that “comedy is at the core of all our work and we made each other laugh in rehearsals a lot.”
Nakedness and gymnastics are also part of what unites this trio, all known for their physicality, frankness and daring. Truscott, who is one half of slutty trapeze act The Wau Wau Sisters says: “I have had guys say: ‘I hope you don’t mind but I actually forgot you were naked.’ And I say: ‘That’s the point’.”
Having thrown down the gauntlet, they can’t wait to hear what the critics will have to say. Coombs Marr says: “Whether we get a good review or whether we get a bad review, it will be funny.”
Bring it on, says Truscott: “I wouldn’t mind a bit of outrage.”
WORDS Claire Smith
PHOTO Tim Grey Photography
WHERE & WHEN
Wild Bore, Traverse Theatre, 8-27 August (not 14, 21), times vary, from £21.50 Tel: 0131 228 1404