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I Promise You Sex And Violence
A Series Of Increasingly Impossible Acts
Was the holocaust real? Some say not, despite all sensible evidence to the contrary. This is one of the uncomfortable questions Chris Thorpe squared up to in Confirmation, his investigation into something called confirmation bias, a behavioural tic which effectively allows us to justify any belief system we care to align ourselves with.
The answers Thorpe gets from the white supremacist he makes contact with may be predictably shocking, but, as he restlessly paces the floor dressed in respectable white shirt and grey trousers, microphone in hand, he too runs the risk of becoming a demagogue in this blisteringly physical production directed by The Team's Rachel Chavkin.
Thorpe is a charismatic performer, unafraid of looking us in the eye as he plays the part of his charming nemesis while we are tasked to ask the awkward questions in a series of head to head exchanges that might make believers of us yet.
In a co-production by Warwick Arts Centre and China Plate, commissioned by King's Hall resident company Northern Stage and Battersea Arts Centre, Thorpe has created a fiercely intelligent and relentlessly curious piece that strives for he truth, even as it acts as a warning to the easily led.
Identity issues of a more libido-led kind spill out all over in Northern Stage's own production at the King's Hall.
I Promise You Sex And Violence is the audience-baiting title of David Ireland's taboo-poking sex comedy, which, in a parody of bad taste, puts a racist, a homophobe and a misogynist in the sack together to find out what tickles their fancy.
While gay Bunny masturbates over Will Smith, his friend Charlie tries to ease the pain of giving blow-jobs to Tories by seeking out some black friends, which Bunny duly provides her with. There's an increasingly desperate edge to Lorne Campbell's production, as actors Esther McAuley, Reuben Johnson and Keith Fleming run riot like a gang of Mike Leigh grotesques in a manic Sam Shepherd short. In the end, Ireland's play is an old-fashioned tale about three lonely people trying to be someone they're not, en route to a gloriously dysfunctional form of domestic bliss.
The Secret Theatre Company are an ad hoc ensemble put together by the Lyric Hammersmith's director, Sean Holmes, to devise a sequence of exploratory works.
The first of their Edinburgh shows, A Series Of Increasingly Impossible Acts, has Holmes put a youthful 10-strong ensemble through their paces in what initially looks like a series of theatre games, but which by the end has become a breathless emotional assault course that suggests a little help from their friends is a good thing.
With the name of the evening's protagonist pulled out of a hat, the winner must take an hour-long leap into the void that becomes a post-modern getting of wisdom.
On the first night, Katherine Pearce was the chosen one, and was duly sanctioned to bend iron bars, lock herself in a suitcase, move a tyre with her mind, keep her hands in a bucket of icy water and suck a lemon ad nauseum.
In between she wrestled with her colleagues while answering a series of truth or dare style questions about her real life hopes and fears, which she delivered with charm and self-deprecating wit.
There was also a pitch-perfect scene from Romeo and Juliet just to remind us she's an actress in a show that gets to the profound heart of what play can be.