Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Julie Burchill Absolute Cult *****

There are very few things in this life I have any credible authority to comment on, among what remains are these: Speed Cameras located between W1 and Hertsmere; writing/ producing/watching Comedy plays at Edinburgh Fringe (specifically at ...The Gilded Balloon), having a laugh, farting about, pets, Ice cream and my friends.

Last night I was lucky enough to enjoy an embarrassment of riches concerning and involving some favourite folk on rare night off from reclusive snuggling. I went Tim Fountain's play ABSOLUTE CULT, about Julie Burchill. It being the London preview (often a Beta test performance) Julie herself was told not to go (telling Julie not to leave Brighton in the summer is a bit like telling George Galloway to miss a Barmitzvah at The King David Suite).

What a treat. First of all I already knew Lizzie Rroper, her play Peccadillo Circus was in the next theatre to my play Clinically Famous in Edinburgh 2006. We had a sort of 'sonic war' over sound systems (Her show began after mine with the grand march from Aida, just as my character, in The Priory got to the sad bit). Like all the best Hollywood movies, such beginnings lead to great respect and friendship, happy endings and lovely frocks.

I have never been to see a play about someone I actually know in real life (nor about events that I witnessed) I never met Hamlet, but had I met him, I think it would be irrelevant to ignore the words and point out that he actually spoke in Danish. This is a play, not an impersonation. Nobody can really get the bizarre 'Evil Toy Cat' timbre of the eponymous one's actual voice. Astoundingly for someone who has not met her (I said to Lizzie 'oh come on you must have studied lots of film', she had not) Lizzie was brilliant, she got the essence of Julie, there is a reason for this. Despite the actors professional talent there is something similar about the two women themselves, a naughty, honest impish, this-is-me, sense of fun and working class, ideas above their station, outrageous smartarse talent and go-for-it confidence. Both have a wicked sense of humour, can laugh like drains and I feel like I would have smoked with either (or both) in the loos at school. This is not something I can say of all the artists and writers one meets. Both of them bring out the worst in me. I found myself making an audacious and dangerous joke to Lizzie about a dead friend, it was a test, she passed. She knew I did it I irreverent love They both love animals too. What Lizzie (and the direction) managed to achieve was to portray a 'reckless parody' without it being a parody. Julie is always in control, lizzie as Julie was always in control (unlike the Big Brother product discussed in the play, it is all on their own terms.

Julie is very comfortable in her own skin, similarly lizzie after so much experience, and much of it, self deprecatingly as herself is up close comfortable on stage. This intimacy and relaxed atmosphere made it all feel less stagey and we all felt guests in Julies flat. Julies own rhetorical little devices involve the audience as she does her friends. this is a person who criticises the awful but loves the ordinary. Woman of the people, the audience. The theatre in The Gilded Balloon it will be in should be perfect for this. It is my own personal favourite venue in Edinburgh, Having put on two plays there I think it is perfect for intimate theatre and not just stand-up, comfy and three BARS. Go and see this show and make a day of it

The play itself was about very recent events I was privy to and I have decided to leave the reviewing to the reviewers in Edinburgh. I do not wish to spoil anything by sharing any content or details, if you want to know what it is like, what happens, pay and go and see it, it is all in the script, the direction, the performance and all that happens LIVE. This is something that one person will love and another might hate, bit like Julie really. Some reviewers will be opinionated, some will have agenda's. Edinburgh isn't about safe, it's about sampling and snorting lines, even if they are of dialogue.

For myself, I had a wonderful evening of warm weather and company, hanging out with Jim Owen and my beloved buddy Amelia Ayewan who donated a headdress to the production (like the one she gave Julie) Tim Fountain even put her name in the script, which is fitting as Julie would give credit in person if we were really there and it was actually her with that hat; the playwright knows his subject. Still it's a feather in Amelia's cap (I HAD to say that) It will be some true glamour in a festival of low production values...oh and a lovely frock too, as I said at the outset.

Along with 'us lot' were Peter York, finally meeting lovely Julian Corckle and seeing after ages Jenny Éclair, who is another one of those people who is just the same person always and a great bird. I noticed she and I laughing at the same bits and to the same extent. She knows Lizzie like I know Julie. There is much crossover it seems.

Finally, and this I did say to the eponymous cult in a private message "Lovely night, great people, and a line that will offend and alienate the oh-so-serious Scots in EDINBURGH - which I think would delight you" Yup...there's gonna be kerfuffle and offence - BRING IT ON!

Hate it, love it, see it. Then have an argument in the bar afterwards xxx

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