Review – Bath Time

Aug 1 2013 | By More

✭✭✭✩✩  Radge recollections

Gilded Balloon, Venue 14: 31 July-26 August
Review by Thom Dibdin

Sex, drugs and hands-in-the-air euphoric tunes are bangin’ away at the heart of Ruaraidh Murray’s cannily personalising tale of 90s Edinburgh gangland life.

Returning to similar streets as last year’s brilliant Big Sean, Mickey and Me, Murray once again introduces a trio of characters in a solo show. This time, though, the descent is less autobiographical and rather more brutal; the emotion less tearful and rather more tightly screwed.

Bath Time - Ruaraidh Murray. Photo © Mat Hay

Bath Time – Ruaraidh Murray. Photo © Mat Hay

Leaping out of Murray’s taped cardboard box, marked Edinburgh 1996, are Spike, Joe Joe and Billy. Spike about whom the events revolve and who plays it simple. The edgy Joe Joe who Edinburgh folk would recognise as a radge, and Billy, the big, lunk of a lad who just wants to get out of town and live it up like Hannibal.

The characters are well observed if not exactly rounded. Director Tim Stark has a tendency to bring them out as rather larger than life, which can be slightly overbearing in the intimate confines of the Wee Room, but Murray has no problem in making them stand up.

He is helped by the fact that, whichever character he is playing, it is his knack for the well-honed observation that really makes the show zing. Whether it is a drug deal gone wrong, a playground romance or an embarrassing moment at the sexual health clinic, it is these individual, observational scenes which carry the show itself.

And whichever direction the tale takes, Edinburgh is in full view. An ecstatic moment flying high to Plastic Dreams is recognisably Tribal Funktion at the much lamented Venue nightclub; a corner turned for a heart-stopping revelation is at the bottom of Broughton Street; a waterfront dispersing of the evidence is in Leith.

Murray has an excellent sense of humour and knows how to use surprise to great effect, as well as drawing his audience right out onto the edge of their seats. Less well honed is his ability to bring all these different scenes, these beautifully observed moments in life, together into a strong, co-ordinated narrative.

The structure is there, and you certainly get the full gist of the action, but it doesn’t hang together quite as it might. With a stronger focus on the narrative arc and less on the immediate payoff, this would unfold into an even more satisfying and explosive ending.

A show which captures a side to Edinburgh that fans of Trainspotting and Irvine Welsh will recognise with relish. As will anyone who was out and youthful in the city in the 90s. Great stuff.

Running time 1 hour.
Daily, 15.15, Gilded Balloon Teviot, EH8 9AJ. Venue 14.
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