Johnny Depp: A Retrospective on Late-Stage Capitalism

Travelling to Edinburgh all the way from the US, Val Dunn and Jenna Kuerzi present a show managing to totally embody the spirit of this fringe festival. Although Johnny Depp: A Retrospective on Late Stage Capitalism steers a little clear of the latter part of its own title, remarkable amounts of research and charming impressions make for a wonderful, certainly unique, start to the Fringe.

Johnny Depp is worth a trip down from the mile into New Town

Delightfully calm throughout, Powerpoint artist Dunn provides the introduction to his lecture, asking the important questions he wishes to cover – about the titular Hollywood actor and his status as a lesbian icon. But there’s someone who isn’t happy about this presentation. Bursting in to take over and provide some alternative facts, Johnny Depp himself (played energetically by Kuerzi) delivers her own take on the 91 films of his career.

It really is as simple as that. In almost entirely chronological order, Depp outlines and comments on each of the entries in his filmography, the audience encouraged to throw their gold doubloons towards the stage for each film they have seen. Kuerzi creates an atmosphere of comfort, making even a small audience and the prospect of forced involvement seem positively enjoyable. With clear experience, Dunn and Kuerzi show off a slick back and forth dynamic, making it clear just how much research has gone into this passion project. Sifting through an entire life to pick out moments, Johnny Depp skilfully navigates past relationships using audience participatory games that break up the formula nicely.

The set-up is never fully circumvented, however, returning of course to the long movie list, and persistent jokes about alcoholism and abuse. These are valid comments, but they are made and subsequently shied away from. Clearly Kuerzi cannot speak for Depp to provide a response to these aspects of his life, but mentioning them at all only highlights their need to be addressed more formally. The same goes for late stage capitalism: if Dunn and Kuerzi felt it necessary to link Depp to this economic period, they never explain why they did so. In the end, Kuerzi’s attempts to force some sort of melancholic epiphany from Depp are short lived, with an absolute air of falsity.

Johnny Depp: A Retrospective on Late Stage Capitalism is in some ways the perfect show to see early on at the Fringe. The work-in-progress tone lowers the pressure in the room but indicates huge potential, and to watch a show like this recalls the sense of imagination that the Fringe is really all about. With a little more adventure away from what is perhaps obvious about the subject matter, and a bigger audience for Kuerzi to bounce off, this show could hit brilliant heights. Even as it is, for light entertainment value and Kuerzi’s committed performance, Johnny Depp is worth a trip down from the mile into New Town.

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The Blurb

Join Johnny Depp – pre-teen heart-throb turned wino forever – for a retrospective on every film in his entire career, even the ones we didn’t watch, in order to ask... what happened? Bring your Edward Scissorhand poems, your Gilbert Grape anecdotes and Jack Sparrow memorabilia to toss onto the shrine turned dumpster fire Depp has created for himself. Part ritual and part drunken singalong, Johnny Depp: A Retrospective features rum, promiscuity and $30,000 worth of candles which we can pay for to watch the rich consume us all.

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