Spoken Word review: Rose McGowan: Planet 9, Assembly Hall, Edinburgh

Rose McGowan is at the Assembly Hall (Venue 35) until Sunday. Picture: Contributed
Rose McGowan is at the Assembly Hall (Venue 35) until Sunday. Picture: Contributed
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Rose McGowan has balls. This much we know from her decision to accuse all-powerful Hollywood movie mogul Harvey Weinstein of sexual assault and to weather the storm which blew in around her and her fellow #MeToo whistleblowers.

Rose McGowan: Planet 9, Assembly Hall, Edinburgh * *

But it also takes balls to renounce Hollywood, create your own work and make your stage debut at the world’s biggest arts festival. This self-styled “f*cker-upper” was one of the star attractions at last year’s Book Festival. Now she takes a shot at the Fringe with this disjointed multi-media performance, featuring her own words and music, films and projections.

The naturally charismatic McGowan glides onstage for the first performance of a short run, looking like a sci-fi goddess, and proceeds to slowly pace the stage, palms upwards, coming in peace. But not before running a glossy advert for her autobiography, Brave.

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The music in Planet 9, to be recorded at some point as a concept album, was written at the same time as the book as an escape from its painful recollections. Perhaps this is why McGowan favours ethereal electronica and tasteful trip-hop tones. Her voice is pretty and pure – but more out of tune than in during her first performance.

Planet 9 was her go-to imaginary world as a child but Planet 9 the show doesn’t quite join the dots between its constituent elements – the elegant music, gauzy projections and hippyish thesis - resulting in a nebulous, bewildering experience.

By far the most satisfying moments are the simplest, when she addresses the audience directly as if delivering a cosmic TED talk. McGowan is an eloquent, magnetic speaker on cultish control structures and the liberating power of creativity.

But there is also a wry mischief to some of her asides which, unlike her music, suggests she doesn’t take herself too seriously. This refreshing Rose, rather than the solemn guru, is the one who connects with the crowd.

Until 18 August

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