Performers (3 stars)

This article is from 2017


credit: Alex Brenner

Irvine Welsh and Dean Cavanagh's play is an awkward late 60s comedy romp about exploitation

Irvine Welsh and Dean Cavanagh's play, directed by Nick Moran, sees London underworld and arthouse tangle uncomfortably. When iconoclastic filmmakers Donald Cammell and Nic Roeg were in production talks for classic hallucinatory drama Performance, they sought real gangsters to inject some grit into the film, capturing the fading hippy dream.

Alf (Perry Benson) and Bert (George Russo) are said thugs. Not the sharpest men, their conversation ping-pongs back and forth about nice cups of tea, knuckledusters and betting. There is a blackmail subplot, involving Bert and young 'dolly bird' Flo (Maya Gerber), secretary to the never-seen Cammell. When Cammell's bohemian runner Crispin (Lewis Kirk) arrives though, it's as if the more progressive side of the 60s has breezed in, as he attempts to encourage the duo to strip in the name of art, citing the influence of Francis Bacon's visceral artworks.

It could have been a thrilling exploration of masculinity and the rise of the working-class actor. Bert is clearly sexually repressed, as evinced in one scene where he breathlessly talks about gay sex. But it runs out of gas: for a play inspired by the wonderful film, there's not enough on that connection to bring context. Frustrating, as there is potential here, some pithy lines and fine acting from Perry and Russo, like a Cockney Morecambe and Wise with shooters.

Assembly Rooms, until 27 Aug, 4.45pm, £12–£15 (£10–£13).


  • 3 stars

Performers Ltd. Making its debut in Edinburgh, Performers is a black comedy from Irvine Welsh and Dean Cavanagh. The longtime collaborators have turned their attention to 1960s swinging London and the making of the film Performance, a violent and trippy cult film that starred Mick Jagger and James Fox. The play revolves…