Wild Bore

For a theatre piece to be perfect for some people, it has to be horrible for others. There is no way to create art that some find beautiful without others finding it offensive and lacking in merit. Wild Bore, the Edinburgh Festival Fringe show created by a super group of comedic performance artists, is keen to display just how loathed it can often be, based as it is around the reading of and response to negative reviews of the show. But in doing this, one could argue that it is also showing off just how unique a creation it is and how, conversely, it is the kind of show that some people will find to be absolutely flawless. Wild Bore is a show that is sometimes difficult to watch, frequently difficult to understand and almost constantly difficult to critique. What makes Wild Bore fascinating is that it is a show about all three of those things and how key they are to theatre, it is this nesting doll of metatextuality that makes Wild Bore such a unique, impossible experience.

The genius of Wild Bore is in the show pretending it is less than it is, but despite everything the publicity materials tell you, this show is far more than just three women talking out of their arses.

Wild Bore is advertised as a show in which three women tackle the criticism their work has received in a manner deemed puerile and offensive. As the show begins our expectations are satisfied quickly when we are presented with the rear ends of Adrienne Truscott, Ursula Martinez and Zoe Coombs-Marr. The publicity for the show intentionally doesn’t give any more information than this so it would do the show a disservice to go into more detail, but suffice to say Wild Bore has a lot more on its mind than jokes about bums (though there are a good four stars-worth of jokes about bums too).

The talent on-stage is incomparable in its field. There is no-one better to be delivering this material than Truscott, Martinez and Coombs-Marr, and not just because of the evidently personal critical abuse they are exposing to the public. All three performers are so self-assured and confident in their actions and stage presence that the audience never once feels uncomfortable unless it is the intention of the performers. Instead, the atmosphere in the room is usually that of mischievous glee as the trio take delight in subverting every expectation set up just minutes earlier. All three of them have excellent clowning abilities, as well as the ability to make a phrase seem simultaneously silly and deadly with intent. There is no po-faced pontificating on the nature of criticism here, but instead pure absurdist silliness with an array of valid points to make and jokes to tell. All three performers are far too smart to show their hand to the audience before they absolutely have to, meaning discussion of the show’s full merits is impossible without spoiling the journey of discovery for future viewers.

Wild Bore is not, despite the publicity materials suggestions, a show about why critics are bad. Instead, Wild Bore is about many other things. It is about the reward that comes with theatrical discourse and taking time to fully understand what one is watching when they are in a theatre. It is also about self-critique and the delicate balance between ego, self-loathing and self-obsession. It is also about feminism, representation and the eagerness with which people dismiss theatre created by those unlike them as novelty or cliché. The genius of Wild Bore is in the show pretending it is less than it is, but despite everything the publicity materials tell you, this show is far more than just three women talking out of their arses.

Reviews by Charlie Ralph

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The Blurb

The first rule of making art is don’t respond to your critics. Soho Theatre, London, and Malthouse Theatre, Melbourne, bring together three masters of smart, spiky, political performance in an international supergroup of Zoe Coombs Marr, Ursula Martinez and Adrienne Truscott, to prove they, too, are not afraid to talk out of their arses. ‘A postmodern tour de force’ **** (List on Zoe Coombs Marr, Barry Award winner). ‘Funny, tongue-in-cheek, heartfelt and emotional’ **** (Guardian on Ursula Martinez, Olivier Award winner). ‘Brilliantly bold’ **** (Times on Adrienne Truscott, Edinburgh Comedy Award winner).