F*ckboys For Freedom

August 17, 2017 | By More

★★★☆☆    Brazen

Sweet Grassmarket (Venue 18): Thurs 3 – Sun 27 Aug 2017
Review by Hugh Simpson

Connoisseurs of bad taste comedy will be thoroughly satisfied by Pandorum Theatre Company’s F*ckboys For Freedom at Sweet Grassmarket.

The ‘f*ckboy’ of the title seems to be an unenlightened, snapback-wearing wannabe ladies’ man who is more of a mummy’s boy. He rambles through a cross between a play and a sketch show, in a shameless attempt to cast some light on sexism and 21st century gender roles through comedy featuring anatomically correct costumes.

F*ckboys in a free rehearsal situation

As the play’s title would imply, this is not for children or the faint-hearted. Anyone worried by the idea of seeing a literal rather than metaphorical dickhead on stage should steer clear.

Much of the knockabout comedy does have some serious intent, with a definite political edge behind the ribaldry. The piece was conceived by Pandorum artistic director Emma Lynne Harley and James Hughes, and created by them and Jack Midgley and Debi Pirie. It does have some of the bagginess of devised pieces, but is driven forward by sheer brass neck.

oddly charming idiot

Hughes’s ‘f*ckboy’ is an oddly charming idiot, with Midgley, Pirie and Harley displaying versatility and verve in the other roles. Midgley has an obvious aptitude for comedy, while Pirie and Harley are convincing and authoritative in some of the most ludicrous roles you are likely to see.

Despite the mocking references to third-wave feminism, that is a pretty good summary of where the show is coming from. This does suggest one of the show’s shortcomings. Countless people from Johnny Speight through Al Murray and up to the present day have discovered a problem inherent in presenting offensive behaviour on stage as the subject of comedy. There is a real danger that audience will laugh with the sexist portrayals and language on display rather than at it, and that it ends up reinforcing attitudes rather than questioning them.

But that is more of a problem for us old people; those of the generation of this lively and talented company will probably just lap it up.

Running time 55 minutes (no interval)
Sweet Grassmarket (Venue 18), Apex Grassmarket Hotel, EH1 2HS
Thursday 3 – Sunday 27 August 2017
Daily (not Tues 15) at 9.30 pm
Book tickets on the Fringe website: https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/f-ckboys-for-freedom

Pandorum Theatre website: https://pandorumtheatrecompany.com/
Company Facebook: @pandorumtheatre
Company Twitter: @pandorumtheatre

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