The Theatre of the Absurd had its apotheosis in the 1950s in the work of Eugène Ionesco, Jean Genet and Arthur Adamov. Suddenly it’s back, in Edinburgh 2011, in Give the Fig A Roll, a remarkable company devised piece that seeks existentially to deconstruct everyday actions and words, not so as to explain them, but rather with the intention of focusing on their lack of meaning, order or purpose.
It’s a willfully, perversely illogical, chaotic and disconnected series of scenes surrounding a young man whose name we never learn but whose chief interest seems to be in persuading everyone that it’s not his birthday. A dysfunctional and hilarious dinner party in which everyone is invited to eat desert for dessert is perhaps the centrepiece.
One of this show’s great strengths is its choreographed routines, from a slightly manic seated number with magazine mouths performed to some obscure yé-yé artist, to another based ironically on the Swingle Singers. Where this show scores heavily is in the fact that through all the absurdity and absurdism it treads the high-wire of credibility with the surest of feet. Astonishingly, inexplicably, it all works - until the very last routine, which is interminable and tiresome and should be almost entirely cut.
But it’s a small price to pay and I can thoroughly recommend this show. It’s original and entertaining and entirely barking; and also uncompromising in the best possible way. The product of a rather marvellous collective lunacy.