Strong Arm (3 stars)

Thought-provoking look at transformation and self-betterment

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This article is from 2012.

Strong Arm

Alex Brenner

At the age of 13, Roland Poland weighs 20 stone. In his early 20s, he’s a muscle god, pumped up on four-hour gym sessions, hourly protein shakes and arcane shark’s fin supplements. But in breaking himself so that he can grow even stronger, has he lost sight of the reasons behind his transformation?

Finlay Robertson’s solo show – which he writes and performs – is a brave, no-holds-barred examination of just how far we’ll go to better ourselves, slickly directed by Kate Budgen and with a pacing that’s swift and sure. Robertson’s performance is strong throughout, and his language is a pleasure to hear. At times it approaches a kind of magical poetry – especially as he translates himself into a toxic superman firing off noble gases at the audience. But we feel so little emotional connection with his enigmatic central character – and we’re never really clear on his motivation – that it’s hard to fathom what Robertson’s underlying message is. Nevertheless, it’s a fine and thought-provoking show.

Underbelly Cowgate, 0844 545 8252, until 26 Aug, 4.10pm, £10--£11 (£9--£10).

This article is from 2012.

Strong Arm

  • 3 stars

Roland Poland is fat by name and fat by nature. A lifetime since anyone noticed him, everything will change when he wins Mr Britain. Using supplements and science, he discovers an unknown strength and even meets a girl. But beneath the muscle, there’s a buzzing in his head that won’t go away. How far must he go to fit in?

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