Magazine article The Spectator

Theatre: Fringe Picks

Magazine article The Spectator

Theatre: Fringe Picks

Article excerpt

In the clammy shadows of Cowgate I was leafleted by a chubby beauty wearing all-leather fetish gear. 'Hi! Want to spend an hour with a prostitute for nothing?' Yes, please. Her show The Coin-Operated Girl (Liquid Room Annexe, until 30 August), part of the free fringe, deals with the seven years she spent servicing sex-starved men in swish London hotels. One of the commonest fantasies was 'GFE', which has nothing to do with threesomes or gimp-masks. 'The Girlfriend Experience' means sex, kissing, cuddling, chatting, bickering and everything involved in a normal relationship. Her story is warm, hilarious and extremely refreshing because it reveals the sex trade as a good-natured branch of social work rather than as a nightmare of drugs, misery and violence.

The Man Called Monkhouse (Assembly Hall, until 31 August) is a superb semi-success. Simon Cartwright's impersonation of the suntanned clown borders on the miraculous. He shows us Bob in many guises. Creative Bob works at home harvesting gags almost by accident from his internal monologue. Zoot-suited Bob charms the crowds at TV studios. Tortured Bob mourns his cold and undemonstrative mother. Nightclub Bob does private gigs, whisky in hand ('I never go on alone'), and uses surprisingly coarse material. 'Britain's first commercial sperm bank has gone into voluntary liquidation. There were only five donors. Two came on the bus. Three missed the tube.' But the play's structure is awry. The script opens with Bob's discovery that his jokebooks have been pinched and this leads to lengthy conversations over a speakerphone with a bumbling detective. It's tough for Cartwright to develop a credible relationship on-stage with an invisible audio tape. And the complex investigation means we lose the more potent emotional material from Bob's past. He had a depressive writing partner, Dennis Goodwin, who once quipped, 'I'd commit suicide but I'd live to regret it.' Goodwin took his own life, aged 45. And we should hear more about Bob's disabled son, Gary, who was photographed at his wedding by paps who published shots of him looking ugly and outlandish. When Bob deals with these stories the show is heartbreaking but it needs a rewrite or two. The dazzling Simon Cartwright is so good he's bound to get a second tilt at this terrific role.

John Lennon: In His Own Write (Voodoo Rooms, until 30 August) is a collection of insane but riveting short stories published by Lennon in 1964. The text has been reorganised as a set of wacky sketches performed by a likable trio. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.