F*CKBOYS FOR FREEDOM – #EdFringe ★★★

In Edinburgh Festival, Festivals, Plays, Regional theatre, Reviews, Scotland by Thom DibdinLeave a Comment

★★★
Sweet Grassmarket (Venue 18), Edinburgh – until 27 August 2017
Guest reviewer: Hugh Simpson

Connoisseurs of bad taste comedy will be thoroughly satisfied by Pandorum Theatre Company’s F*ckboys For Freedom at Sweet Grassmarket.

The ‘f*ckboy’ of the title seems to be an unenlightened, snapback-wearing wannabe ladies’ man who is more of a mummy’s boy. He rambles through a cross between a play and a sketch show, in a shameless attempt to cast some light on sexism and 21st-century gender roles through comedy featuring anatomically correct costumes.

As the play’s title would imply, this is not for children or the faint-hearted. Anyone worried by the idea of seeing a literal rather than metaphorical dickhead on stage should steer clear.

Much of the knockabout comedy does have some serious intent, with a definite political edge behind the ribaldry. The piece was conceived by Pandorum artistic director Emma Lynne Harley and James Hughes, and created by them and Jack Midgley and Debi Pirie. It does have some of the bagginess of devised pieces, but is driven forward by sheer brass neck.

Hughes’s ‘f*ckboy’ is an oddly charming idiot, with Midgley, Pirie and Harley displaying versatility and verve in the other roles. Midgley has an obvious aptitude for comedy, while Pirie and Harley are convincing and authoritative in some of the most ludicrous roles you are likely to see.

Despite the mocking references to third-wave feminism, that is a pretty good summary of where the show is coming from. This does suggest one of the show’s shortcomings. Countless people from Johnny Speight through Al Murray and up to the present day have discovered a problem inherent in presenting offensive behaviour on stage as the subject of comedy. There is a real danger that audience will laugh with the sexist portrayals and language on display rather than at it, and that it ends up reinforcing attitudes rather than questioning them.

But that is more of a problem for us old people; those of the generation of this lively and talented company will probably just lap it up.

Running time 55 minutes (no interval)
Sweet Grassmarket (Venue 18), Apex Grassmarket Hotel, EH1 2HS
Thursday 3 – Sunday 27 August 2017
Daily (not Tues 15) at 9.30 pm
Book tickets on the Fringe website: https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/f-ckboys-for-freedom

Pandorum Theatre website: https://pandorumtheatrecompany.com/
Company Facebook: @pandorumtheatre
Company Twitter: @pandorumtheatre

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Thom Dibdin
Thom Dibdin has been reviewing and writing about theatre in Scotland since the last millennium. He is currently Scotland Correspondent for The Stage newspaper. In 2010, he founded AllEdinburghTheatre.com. The city's only dedicated theatre website, it covers all Edinburgh theatre year-round - and all theatre made in Edinburgh during EdFringe. Thom is passionate about quality in theatre criticism and is a member of the Critics' Awards for Theatre in Scotland. He tweets from @AllEdinTheatre and, personally, from @ThomDibdin.
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Thom Dibdin on FacebookThom Dibdin on RssThom Dibdin on Twitter
Thom Dibdin
Thom Dibdin has been reviewing and writing about theatre in Scotland since the last millennium. He is currently Scotland Correspondent for The Stage newspaper. In 2010, he founded AllEdinburghTheatre.com. The city's only dedicated theatre website, it covers all Edinburgh theatre year-round - and all theatre made in Edinburgh during EdFringe. Thom is passionate about quality in theatre criticism and is a member of the Critics' Awards for Theatre in Scotland. He tweets from @AllEdinTheatre and, personally, from @ThomDibdin.

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