“I’m not all that interested in identity politics,” admits Dusty Limits, “because it requires thinking about other people.”
Dusty Limits: Mandrogyny, The Voodoo Rooms (Venue 68) ****
There’s certainly a wide streak of tongue-in-cheek narcissism running through this latest show from one of the Fringe’s masters of cabaret.
But in unpacking Limits’ own distinctive and peculiar sensibility in witty, provocative detail, Mandrogyny effectively gestures toward the limitations of the kind of one-size-fits-all identity categories that we are all nudged into, even when that means neglecting the things that make us most ourselves.
The show is based on Limits’ latest album of original songs, delivered to elegantly arranged multi-instrumental backing tracks.
There’s a considerable range here, from wry opener Life and I to an unsettling tribute to a dead lover to a gag song about autofellatio. There are some neat pastiches: A Lovely Day makes hay music-hall style with an incident highlighting the peculiar precarities of life as a performer, while Don’t Help the Aged is a biting social interjection in the tradition of Swift and Coward.
Some numbers jauntily highlight quirks, slippages and hypocrisies around gay sex while others offer affecting musings on breakups, depression and mortality.
In between numbers, Limits strikes a relatively relaxed and casual pose. He riffs on childhood experiences and influences, from anxiety disorders to superhero obsessions, dinosaurs to Aids rhetoric, and offers a guide to the stages of mandrogyny – Limits’s own definition of his own identity – through clothing styles. It’s the trajectory of a life less ordinary, from goth to kaftan, and an encouragement to the audience to cherish their own peculiarities that little bit more.
• Until 12 August, 7:50pm