Attachment: The Leech Show
  • By Mel Evans
  • |
  • 18th Aug 2023
  • |
  • ★★★★

The premise of Attachment: The Leech Show is very simple: it’s a play devised and performed for the sole benefit of impressing a single specific audience member; a prominent theatre critic, amusingly named Bob the Leech.

A broad satire of actors, writers, directors, producers and of course, theatre critics

Two of the cast members are so keen on impressing Bob that they have undertaken research to find out what he likes with a view to including his favourite things in the play. The list is quite diverse – blood, Les Miserables, meta-theatre, Gandhi – and the actors are determined to include all of these in their performance.

Unfortunately, the theatre critic is late arriving, so the actors delay the start of the play - not much point performing it without him - even though the rest of us are all waiting. In fact, we ordinary audience members are rudely neglected by the actors in their eagerness to please Bob. When Bob the Leech finally does arrive, the actors greet him with obsequiousness, then finally begin the play. And of course, things don’t go according to plan: props are misplaced; furniture is lost; lines are forgotten. There are technical difficulties, physical clumsiness and whispered recriminations. Also, attempting to crow-bar Les Mis and Gandhi into the narrative creates an additional layer of chaos and hilarity.

But will Bob be impressed? As with all theatre critics, it’s impossible to second-guess what he is thinking, or what he's scribbling in his notebook, but there are high stakes at play here – the future of the production, the actors’ careers, life itself even. The suspense makes the actors anxious and their behaviour becomes increasingly desperate.

Attachment: The Leech Show is great fun. The cast is talented, funny and enthusiastic. The conceit is so amusing that the real audience revels in its poor treatment - we get told off, dismissed, and climbed over as the lead male launches an attack on the tech guy in charge of sound and lighting.

There’s a tendency to overplay some of the gags that are a little repetitive and to unnecessarily signal the deliberate errors, but the concept - creating an entire piece of theatre in order to satisfy the opinion of one person - takes, in extremis, what many artists might privately struggle with: should we ever create art in order to please a critic? Or, for that matter, to further our careers; to give us critical acclaim or even, to please an audience? And if that is the starting point for our work, how could we possibly second-guess what might be required?

It's impossible to achieve, of course, and at best leads to mediocre work; at worse – as we see in this show – to arguments, chaos and a wholesale compromising of artistic integrity. The play works as a broad satire of actors, writers, directors, producers and of course, theatre critics – ideal for a theatre festival audience.

This is an emerging and talented company, with a comedy written by 18-year-old James Allen (who also plays the largely silent role of Bob) and an energetic cast of similarly aged actors, including his brother, Matthew Allen, in a closing moments cameo role. Margaret Saunderson gives her all to the eccentric portrayal of Bertha and Mace Maynard follows suit as her daughter and the sound-effect creator of doors opening and closing. The script places Ollie Painter in a commanding role as the doctor and he rises to every opportunity to give a performance of physicality combined with carefully measured delivery, asides and a commanding presence. Meanwhile, Emma Chandler consummately operates the demanding technical aspects of the show.

Kitsch Theatre is undoubtedly a company to look out for.

Visit Show Website

Reviews by Mel Evans

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Helios

★★★★
Greenside @ Infirmary Street

Burnt Lavender

★★★
Greenside @ Infirmary Street

Attachment: The Leech Show

★★★★
Assembly George Square

Shortlist

★★★★★
theSpace on the Mile

Graveyard of the Outcast Dead

★★★
Assembly George Square Studios

DARLING BOY

★★★

Since you’re here…

… we have a small favour to ask. We don't want your money to support a hack's bar bill at Abattoir, but if you have a pound or two spare, we really encourage you to support a good cause. If this review has either helped you discover a gem or avoid a turkey, consider doing some good that will really make a difference.

You can donate to the charity of your choice, but if you're looking for inspiration, there are three charities we really like.

Mama Biashara
Kate Copstick’s charity, Mama Biashara, works with the poorest and most marginalised people in Kenya. They give grants to set up small, sustainable businesses that bring financial independence and security. That five quid you spend on a large glass of House White? They can save someone’s life with that. And the money for a pair of Air Jordans? Will take four women and their fifteen children away from a man who is raping them and into a new life with a moneymaking business for Mum and happiness for the kids.
Donate to Mama Biashara now

Theatre MAD
The Make A Difference Trust fights HIV & AIDS one stage at a time. Their UK and International grant-making strategy is based on five criteria that raise awareness, educate, and provide care and support for the most vulnerable in society. A host of fundraising events, including Bucket Collections, Late Night Cabarets, West End Eurovision, West End Bares and A West End Christmas continue to raise funds for projects both in the UK and Sub-Saharan Africa.
Donate to Theatre MAD now

Acting For Others
Acting for Others provides financial and emotional support to all theatre workers in times of need through the 14 member charities. During the COVID-19 crisis Acting for Others have raised over £1.7m to support theatre workers affected by the pandemic.
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Performances

Location

The Blurb

Are all theatre critics bloodsucking parasites? This one is. Meet Bob the Leech. Join three actors as they desperately attempt to gain a five star review from the most distinguished (and slimy) theatre critic on the planet. Expect craziness and plenty of blood in this wacky satire about the journey to success in theatre. 'One of the funniest theatre shows at EdFringe... it's ***** from us' (Audience review). 'This is what the Fringe is all about... hilarious show' (Audience review). 'The perfect comic foils... the fast-paced action, the youthful charm... makes this a winning production' (ContempPuppetry.eu).

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