Penetrator (2 stars)

This article is from 2017


An updated adaptation of Anthony Neilson's 1994 dark look at urban masculinity, performed by Glasgow's Fear No Colours

Despite being 25 years since it was first performed at the Traverse, the issues explored in Anthony Neilson's Penetrator are still relevant today; as the piece takes a brutal look at men in their early 20s and their attitudes towards women, homosexuality, and military machismo.

The performance opens with Max alone in a cluttered flat, playing cards, taking drugs and masturbating to a porn magazine before his flatmate Alan arrives home. The two drink cups of tea and trade barbs, with Alan admonishing Max's casual misogyny and general cynicism. However, the atmosphere changes dramatically when Tadge, Max's old friend from primary school, arrives claiming to have been discharged from the military after being held by the 'the penetrators'.

Neilson's script makes it clear that the elephant in the room is repressed homosexuality, and unfortunately this is mishandled in this performance. At times, the show's rhythm is slightly stilted, with scenes where Alan and Max bond over music and dancing feeling awkward, belying what they say about the friendship.

Glasgow's Fear No Colours must be commended for their attempts to bring this show back to Edinburgh, realising the potential it has today. However, this piece falls unfortunately short of the razor-sharp commentary it aims for.

C cubed, run ended.


  • 2 stars

Staging of Anthony Neilson's darkly comic look at toxic masculinity by Fear No Colours, which follows a pair of flatmates whose life is disturbed by the sudden re-appearance of an old friend.