Wild Bore (5 stars)

This article is from 2017

Wild Bore

credit: Tim Grey

A battle cry against the legion of monstrous critics

Far more than a simplistic anarchic attack on criticism, Wild Bore is a relentlessly inventive exploration of the purpose of theatre. Taking the bad writing of reviewers more concerned with drawing attention to themselves than discussing a performance, it exposes the critics' dirty little secret: they are usually writing about themselves. Torn between a desire to entertain and educate, Zoe Coombs Marr, Ursula Martinez and Adrienne Truscott propose a new kind of theatre, one not based in reverence for Shakespeare – as their frequent references to Hamlet attest – and more self-conscious, fragmented and placing the female body centre stage.

The format is, as they admit, meta-theatrical, using the comments of reviewers as a foundation for a broad look at conventional narratives and exploding them with cabaret glee. The tableau is mocked, the naked body is paraded as a provocation and a surprise fourth performer arrives to challenge the trio's claims to feminism. The constantly shifting strategies – from monologue to fierce choreography to crude bum humour to a parody of the panel discussion – undermine the expectations of the theatre, while constantly reminding the audience that the apparent mayhem is the result of serious dramaturgical thought.

While the quotations from negative reviews provide a hook, it's the rejection of linear narratives and traditional structure that reveals Wild Bore's intentions. Alluding to the problems of a patriarchal system that defines criticism and performance, Marr, Martinez and Truscott replace it with a fluid, satirical and sensual series of episodes, building towards a finale that deconstructs itself even as it appeals for laughter and applause.

Such a wild adventure demands strong reactions, but this positive review not only praises its ambition, intelligence and wit: the five stars recognise the genius of Gareth K Vile, who can discern Wild Bore's revolutionary dramaturgy.

Traverse, until 27 Aug (not 14, 21), times vary, £21.50 (£9.50–£16.50).

Wild Bore

  • 5 stars

Soho Theatre and Malthouse Theatre The first rule of making art is don’t respond to your critics. Soho Theatre, London, and Malthouse Theatre, Melbourne, bring together three masters of smart, spiky, political performance in an international supergroup of Zoe Coombs Marr, Ursula Martinez and Adrienne Truscott, to prove…