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Pulse 2012: The second weekend. Day two

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Denied the opportunity to review Sham’s Thin Ice and Molly Naylor & The Middle Ones’ My Robot Heart by the ever-present shadow of the Edinburgh Fringe, this second Sunday’s sole offering available for review was a post-lunch soliloquy by a man in a wraparound pinafore dress.

That Tom Wainwright’s creation, Buttercup, is a humorous construct is undeniable but like Barry Humphries’ Dame Edna Everage, Buttercup has a much darker edge that truly chills at times.

Wainwright’s sizeable talents have already been evident this week with Psychodrama but he really comes into his own with Buttercup. She’s an odd creation, this Lancastrian housewife-cow-superstar; a television addict who gets snogged by chef Jamie Oliver and subsequently finds herself thrust into the limelight, courted by the red-top press and TV executives looking for the next big thing.

However, she’s no oil painting, overweight, and short of a few IQ points. Yet before she knows it, she’s on MasterChef roasting and garnishing her own stillborn baby for the judges. Yes, you read that correctly. Buttercup’s is not an easy tale to witness and there are a few breathtaking moments where the audience doubts their own ears.

To disorient further, Wainwright adds some alarming body spasms that are more bovine than human but reflect perfectly the play-on-words insult that Buttercup is a “fat cow”. There has been a hefty diet of self-indulgence at this year’s Pulse and the festival is a poorer platform for it. However, while Wainright may take his career seriously, his performances come with tongue firmly in cheek. One of several really tasty titbits on what might have been a smörgåsbord of mediocrity.

Does Buttercup have a life beyond the festival circuit? Quite possibly so. After all, Dame Edna Everage started out as an occasional grotesque on the Australian comedy circuit. With Edna now in her dotage, there just might be room on the planet for another monstrous housewife.


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