ENGLAND (4 stars)

This article is from 2007.

Transplanting ideas

Tim Crouch, who has built a strong reputation at the Fringe with his shows My Arm and An Oak Tree has seemed a guaranteed banker in the months since this year’s show was announced. And this piece is worth the wait.

It involves Crouch and performer Hannah Ringham, who we meet in the Fruitmarket art gallery, both playing the same character, deciding instinctively who should say which line at every performance. And a pretty unprepossessing personality it is. The voice they iterate through alternate lines is a kind of smug metropolitan bourgeois, bringing its art collection casually into conversations, as well as a boyfriend of enormous wealth and international connections. But this internationalism belongs exclusively to the world of visual arts, showing little knowledge of any other existence than that of the snobbish hyper-affluent. We begin to feel a little sympathy when it is announced, through the fixed, ultimately pretty punchable smiles of the performers, that a heart ailment has been diagnosed, and a transplant has become necessary. Yet just as we begin to feel sympathy, a final scene occurs, which displays the shocking ignorance and disconnection from history of the protagonist.

Ultimately, Crouch’s story piles the usual postmoderrn complexities onto a personality, rendering our response to the figure ambivalent, then strips all this away to display a simple moral fable on which we must take a position. All the cool surfaces of simple observation, such as the comments on the working class origins of the Fruitmarket building, without any further meaning or nuance, become something we must respond to with feeling and politicise. If we miss this on the way to the play’s final confrontation with a victim of a global colonialist adventure, the denouement leaves us no escape. The peculiar blankness of Crouch and Ringham’s performance style complements the way in which this cleverly traduces several well established attitudes within the visual, and other arts.

Traverse@The Fruitmarket Gallery, 228 1404, until 26 Aug (not 13, 20), times vary, £16 (£5–£11).


  • 4 stars

Tim Crouch, known for whimsical premises and furious improvisation, uses Alex Hartley's exhibition as the backdrop for this highly original performance. Preview 3 Aug. 'Part of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2007'.

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