Theatre review: Tricky Second Album, Pleasance Dome, Edinburgh

Don’t expect to enjoy yourself at In Bed with My Brother’s Tricky Second Album.

Tricky Second Album, Pleasance Dome (Venue 23)
Tricky Second Album, Pleasance Dome (Venue 23)

Tricky Second Album, Pleasance Dome, Edinburgh * * * *

Don’t expect to have fun, be uplifted or sit comfortably. Don’t expect to learn anything, particularly about art/pop group the KLF, upon whose 1994 burning of one million pounds on the Scottish island of Jura the concept rests. Instead, this is an hour of angry, abrasive and seethingly full-of-energy pushing at the boundaries.

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One of the boundaries being pushed is between performers and audience. First, in near-total darkness, Kat Cory shuffles across the stage, her eight-months-pregnant stomach bare, and then the rest of the ensemble (Nora Alexander and Dora Lynn) appear with an hilariously odd dance routine which involves blasting the audience with supersoakers. They demand to know individuals’ names, and where the reviewer is (staying silent earns you a barbed “coward!”), before shoutily riffing on the KLF – to paraphrase: “WHY did they burn a million quid?” – and announcing their plan to set fire to their own takings from this show live onstage.

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Except they can’t, because right at the start of the run they were apparently told by their venue it would be a health and safety hazard, and so aren’t allowed to. By the end of the show, what has appeared to be a kind of snotty, performed anger has transferred into something more honest and visceral, as Cory demands to know why the hell she’s doing this – as in the Fringe – to herself, when she has no money and will have a child in a month’s time.

In reviews of this show which have already emerged, Tricky Second Album is being read as a barbed comment upon the cost and commercialism of the Fringe itself, which seems quite a superficial reading in the face of Cory’s closing tirade. Instead, it feels like a millennial scream of rage at a society where even raising a child or making art demands that you prove your own monetary value – and an exquisitely performed one, if we accept that good performance doesn’t mean your audience have to warm to you.

Until 18 August