The Bastard Queen!
Naughty Corner Productions' unsettlingly dark comedy lacks bite
This article is from 2015.
Joint winner of the NSDF Edinburgh Award 2014, Naughty Corner Productions return to the Fringe for a second run of the unapologetically nihilistic The Bastard Queen!. It's unflinching in its portrayal of dystopian depravity, but shock humour fails to mask a thin and predictable plot.
Set in a post-apocalyptic dystopia, The Bastard Queen! depicts the struggle for survival among the last four humans on earth. It is a simple, if unoriginal, premise, but one that the script fails to fully establish; as a result, several key scenes fall flat. When a mysterious pregnant stranger suddenly enters the midst, the group's initial reaction is little more than mild irritance.
But this arrival is central to the action. Led by a coldly Machiavellian Kate Brady, the group concocts a plan to kill the woman after the birth of her child, who will be the first step in repopulation of the earth. It's the first of many brutally dark moments in a play that is uncompromising in its sudden shifts from humorous petty quarrels to Hobbesian amorality. A musical masturbation sequence is followed by an uncomfortable scene in which a woman is held down by two others and violently raped to the ironic strains of Joan Jett's 'Do You Wanna Touch Me'.
The Bastard Queen! is redeemed slightly by a host of strong performances – Phill Bulman, in particular, shines in the comic scenes. But the play's black humour often misses the mark, and its mix of the mundane and the monstrous offers little in the way of innovation or originality.
theSpace @ Surgeons Hall, 510 2384, until 29 Aug (not 16, 23), 8.40pm, £10 (£8).