- Gareth K Vile
- 10 August 2017
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).