Wretch

Written, directed and performed by Gari Jones, Wretch is clearly a deeply personal project. It professes to be an examination of the human condition, asking if we all have an inner wretch, some dark shadow within us that drives us to depravity and evil. It also promises to examine the question of personal autonomy and our desire for transcendence, apparently, but instead is nothing more than a series of rambling monologues with occasional karaoke numbers and offensiveness.Wretch is, quite frankly, deliberately unpleasant. It contains drug use, self-harm, two instances of auto-erotic asphyxiation and interminable soliloquising. Any of these could have been a dramatic moment in a better-written play, but the vulgarity of this performance and the unsympathetic mess that is our protagonist strips them of emotional significance and makes them feel like self-conscious attempts to be shocking. The performance is clearly not meant to be taken entirely at face value; there are moments of comedy perhaps intended to contrast with the sheer ugliness of it all. Two of the more egregious examples would be when Jones mimes along to a death metal cover of Britney Spears’ ‘Everytime’ and later when he dons a dress and warbles ‘You Are Beautiful’. With moments like these I wondered if the performance was in fact nothing more than a strange joke, but there is a horrible sincerity to Wretch that makes it only more painful to watch. The monologues do have a kind of lyricism to them, mumbled and rushed as they are, and there’s even a hint of metre and rhyme, but all the attempts at wit or profundity are drowned in a sea of florid prose.The show opens with Jones pressing his face against a wall of cellophane before he tears this apart, awkwardly, with a kitchen knife. The set revealed behind it is a filthy, mouldering flat with a filthy window and mirror which he speaks to and through respectively. The lighting is more impressive than the show deserves, pulsing in time to rather obvious music choices; it seems almost needless to mention that Nine Inch Nails played quite a large part in the soundtrack. There are projections, pictures and animations that are often well-made but their only real triumph is that they offer a brief distraction from the performance itself.I considered it my duty as a reviewer to stay until the end. I recommend potential audiences skip it from the start.

Since you’re here…

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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.
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The Blurb

Fringe First winners bring a bit of punk to the Point with a disarming exploration of the hard-core inner devil within us. One man’s attempt to purge his past, destroy his future and to live fully in the present.

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