Wild Bore, Soho Theatre
It’s going to be tough writing this review. Wild Bore, the self-referential spectacular, a show that will one day evolve into three people winking in silence at assembled perverts and fringe comedy connoisseurs, is a trap. The target is criticism, the subject – the show. You don’t see a theatrical queef structured from its own notices every day. It’s a bit like thinking about the big bang. Sure, you can reverse engineer it to a point, but how did it start? Did Zoe Coombs Marr, Ursula Martinez and Adrienne Truscott (feminoids) begin with their favourite hatchet jobs, some earned, some the pretentious ejaculations of entitled no marks, incorporating the critical effluent in response to their own work as they went? Well, yes. Stupid question really.
My learn’d predecessors, my fellow hacks, are now part of the script. Knowing I could be too one day prompts me to note that Ed Whitfield’s a great critic, one of our favourites, and you should all check him out – no really, look him up when you leave the theatre. I suppose that’s the dramaturgical design we hear so much about. Suffice to say a design can be poor – look at modern rail carriages, and a structure can prop up a thin idea, but we’ll explore that in later paragraphs. Right now, let’s talk about nudity.
This is billed in some quarters as a feminist show, I suppose because it features three women; three women who use their bare bodies and lacerating self-deprecation to pre-empt and mock the laziest thought terminating clichés found in response to many all-women gag-a-bouts. What are they? The implicit if rarely open assumption that women aren’t funny © the late Christopher Hitchens, so any laughs can either be attributed to appropriating masculine modes of humour, or sympathy from a benevolent crowd, and the lewd objectification of the performers (more of that to come). Well, here they are – peach arses, bestubbled clefts and mams, prostrating themselves at the altar of comic ineptitude, inviting the scorn of both audience member and critic alike (though not really, obv).
Oh man, the sheer fucking horror of it; the burden that comes with being a straight white male critic who’s sexually retarded. How do you Crayola this shit? My predatory gaze has been my imaginary friend all my life and now it has rendered my critical faculty both redundant and obtuse. Yes, there was stuff in the show about the relative value of art and dearth of literate criticism in an age where any monkey with an opinion and the temerity to funnel it into their word processor can presume to pontificate on what constitutes good work and bad. Yet my psychical avatar, my thought proxy, was adorned in Lake District walking holiday attire, carefully traversing the contours of Coombs Marr’s feminine topography, only occasionally pausing to clutch its knees, catch its breath and ask if its imaginary companion had brought any water.
I can only apologise to Ms Marr for this, but I don’t get to see a naked woman very often these days; I usually have to make do with sculptures. But that gross misappropriation of thought and focus aside, does this mirror to theatrical criticism show us anything worth seeing? Well, it reminds us that it’s always easier for a hack to find inventive insults and project their incomprehension onto the makers than it is to write interrogative, thoughtful reviews. And it’s a further reminder that this is worth being reminded about. And further to that, it’s a reminder that a show about a lack of substance can accrue some with the right symbiotic relationship. All the while Wild Bore’s absurdist and joyful. It is funny? Is the craft as big as the target? I won’t be drawn. Do you think I’m stupid or something?