Edinburgh review: Wild Bore (Traverse Theatre)

Ursula Martinez, Adrienne Truscott and Zoe Coombs Marr are bummed out by critics – here’s our review

© David Monteith-Hodge

People said We Will Rock You was critic-proof. No matter how bad the reviews, it still made piles. Wild Bore goes one further. It’s designed to be unreviewable; a riposte to critics that makes itself impervious to criticism. Whatever we throw at it, whatever sh*t we might sling, the show’s always one step ahead with its ass out in front.

Ursula Martinez, Adrienne Truscott and Zoe Coombs Marr, all cabaret-comediennes, have had their share of bad crits – many of them from (boo, hiss) white men. They’ve been judged on their appearances and misunderstood. They’ve had vicious hatchet jobs and pompous mansplainers. They’ve even been dismissed as artists altogether. Wild Bore gets its own back – and in some style too.

The trio start stood behind a trestle table, trousers down, bottoms up, ‘lipsyncing’ along to their worst reviews. "Kill me, kill me now," parps one old fart. There’s no missing the point: critics spout crap. We talk out of our arses, while artists are up on stage, you know, "baring our souls."

Wild Bore reserves its ire for those write-ups that write artists off – and rightly so. Martinez returns to one one-star crit on repeat that dismissed her central conceit as having "no apparent reason." Guess what, Whatsonstagers? That was little old us. Bummer.

This time, though, that’s precisely the point. Wild Bore rattles its way towards randomness. The three women wear bum masks – yep, they stick their heads between their buttocks – clatter around dressed as anchovies, run around naked, dress up as Hamlet and hand over the stage to an Asian transgender artist. Is there any rhyme or apparent reason behind it? Well, yes and no.

The whole show dares us to take it seriously even as it dares us to dismiss it. It throws down a gauntlet: Review this, chaps. Either we blow smoke up their bottoms or we dump on them from on high. We’re damned either way and by harvesting a script from its own reviews, Wild Bore can absorb any critical response. Whatever we write, it’s just fuel for the fire. It’s a case of artists setting their own parameters, reclaiming artistic control.

But what if you’ve not got skin in the game? Your asses, dear readers, aren’t on the line, and for all you might delight in the barefaced cheek, the show doesn’t demand a response from you. The artists know that too. The show ridicules its own self-indulgence, checks its own privilege and then promptly sticks its head back up its bum.

It’s said if you can’t beat ‘em, then join ‘em, and since Wild Bore leaves me up sh*t creek with no paddle, what else can I do? I can’t offer penetrating analysis; I can’t point out its cracks. I mean, I’m quoted in it; I spotted my own semi-colon. The whole show exists to get our haunches up and kick criticism up the backside. We’re the butt of its joke and whatever we do, it comes up trumps. The best I can hope for is a writing credit – and maybe some payment in arrears.

Wild Bore runs at Traverse Theatre until 27 August, times vary.

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