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Review: Tricky Second Album (Pleasance Dome, Edinburgh)

In Bed With My Brother returns to the Fringe

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
Tricky Second Album
© Matt Austin

There's some intense sh*t going on in In Bed With My Brother's newest piece Tricky Second Album (the follow up to their culty smash We Are Ian), which runs at the Edinburgh Fringe after an initial preview in Bristol. It starts with a performer emerging onto the stage – she's eight months pregnant, near-nude, and spelling out the show's name by writing it on her belly while throbbing music pulses. Water guns are brandished, the audience is soaked.

And a lot of what happens takes the audience/performer relationship and decides to rip it to complete shreds. Any sense of accord is discordant – microphones are thrust into the faces of punters, questions are asked, ridicule is dished out. We're sworn at, the cast makes every second simultaneously joke-laden and unpleasant.

Tricky Second Album is a reaction to KLF's widely remembered stunt where, for some abstract artistic notion, it was decided that £1 million would be burned on the Scottish island of Jura in 1994. The company wants to replicate this, taking all the profit they've made from each performance and burning the money in front of the audience. But here's the twist – the trio now tells us that they're not allowed to do this.

Later on, the cast of three confesses that the piece has had some major alterations after Pleasance was forced to cancel previews, saying that the wrong forms were filled in, and it was too dangerous. That's not hard to believe – water and beer is splashed across the space (and across electronic equipment) while speaker volumes are constantly ratcheted up. "And our venue manager is only 17", we're told, "so they're technically not even allowed to watch this."

That's what we were told: the confession could have all been part of the show. That's the thing with In Bed With My Brother – you never really know what to believe.

The conclusion of the hour-long show may perhaps be one of the most blistering and comprehensive attacks on the broken Fringe system out there, the three performers confess that they're financially crippling themselves just to be able to perform. The idea of wasting £1 million is ridiculous when even a night's accommodation is so grossly overpriced, when rail fare and venue fees are so high.

Or maybe that's what a lot of the Fringe is, they suggest: burning money for its own sake.

The money burning will be remembered as some kind of Schrodinger's act – has it ever really happened? Was it ever meant to happen? Does it really matter? Who knows.

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