Product (Edinburgh Fringe)
Mark Ravenhill's punchy Hollywood satire is revived starring Olivia Poulet
Mark Ravenhill's 2005 monologue, originally performed by the playwright himself, has been given a gender-swap twist in Robert Shaw's revival. And the change works well, with Olivia Poulet taking the role of a script executive pitching her distinctly dubious movie to a disinterested young starlet.
The 45-minute piece sees the executive describe the film, scene by scene, whilst attempting to flatter and manipulate the (unseen) actress into accepting the central role. So consumed is she with her mission that she seems utterly blind to the fact her project, Mohammed and Me, is the dodgiest script since Springtime for Hitler.
The role up for grabs is that of a young Western woman who falls for a suicide bomber after a chance meeting on a plane. Their increasingly unlikely affair culminates in graphic sex scenes and self-immolation, and is predicated on a foundation of gobsmacking racial stereotyping.
"You're living in an abattoir..." is a typical scene-setter from the executive, who Poulet paints as a woman venting her own frustrations as she describes the utterly freakish sexual scenarios, one of which takes place in a swimming pool with the characters' skin conjoined by 80 degree burns.
It's a punchy satire on both pop culture and Western attitudes to Islam, even if age has made it seem tame compared to much of the material on the Fringe this year. And it's a great chance to see Poulet - best known for her supporting role in TV comedy The Thick of It - showcase her impressive acting range.
Product runs at Assembly Hall until 20 August
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