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Mark Fisher
Edinburgh, Scotland, United Kingdom
Follow me @markffisher and @writeabouttheat I am an Edinburgh-based freelance journalist and critic specialising in theatre and the arts. Publications I write for include the Guardian, Scotland on Sunday and the Scotsman. I am the author of The Edinburgh Fringe Survival Guide: how to make your show a success, published in February 2012 and How to Write About Theatre: A Manual for Critics, Students and Bloggers published in July 2015. From 2000-2003, I was the editor of The List magazine, Glasgow and Edinburgh's arts and events guide. See my website for more information and comprehensive Scottish theatre links.
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Thursday, August 14, 2008

Slick

© Mark Fisher - published in Northings, Hi-Arts


SLICK
(Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh, 13 August 2008)

14 August 2008

MARK FISHER admires the imagination and inventiveness behind Vox Motus’s combination of puppetry and live actors.

SLICK IS a show that arrives in Inverness after opening in the midst of an Edinburgh Fringe that has been dominated by misery. Theatregoers in the capital have endured scenes involving gas chambers, exploding passenger jets, suicide bombers, mass executions and accidental death. After that lot, you'd expect to be more than ready for the cartoon capers of a daft satire on cruelty, greed and casual violence.

Yet, much as I'm impressed by the visual inventiveness and sophistication of this show by Glasgow's Vox Motus in a Tron Theatre co-production – half-Punch and Judy, half-Biffa Bacon – I find myself wishing that such a talented team of actors and technicians had put their skills to something with more depth.

Call me a killjoy – and judging by the warmth of the show's opening night reception, there are those who will – but Slick strikes me as a show that's high on comic exuberance and low on purpose.

Yet it needn't be so. The story of a hard-up Glasgow family who discover oil spouting from their toilet, setting in motion a plot involving big money and bigger guns, has the potential to parody the politics of everywhere from Texas to the Middle East and – right now – Georgia.

But such is the superficial nature of the plot – in which nine-year-old Malcolm Biggar (Jordan Young) struggles free of his tyrannical parents only to face his duplicitous neighbours in a life-and-death shoot out – that such political resonances are merely cosmetic.

Where the production does score, however, is in a clutch of superb performances, a smattering of funny gags and a novel presentation in which the actors' heads and hands poke out from puppet bodies, allowing them a cartoon-like freedom of movement.

Expertly synchronised with Graham Sutherland's soundtrack, the show takes imaginative journeys to places a regular performance could not, whether it be a high-speed skate-board journey or an intimate operation on an elderly lady's nether regions. For this, it is well worth seeing, even if there's more concept than content.

Slick is at the OneTouch Theatre, Eden Court, on 29-30 August 2008.

© Mark Fisher, 2008

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