The Dirty Pint Pub Crawl

Thu 4th – Fri 26th August 2011

reviews

Lise McNally

at 10:04 on 20th Aug 2011

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In a confused daze which seems to have been the ultimate aim of the cast and crew of this production, I find myself wondering “What on earth happened last night?” Granted I didn’t exactly know what to expect from a performance which pitched itself as “The thousand faces of love, sex and masculinity wrapping their lips around the dirtiest pint of all, P.S. we now have a gorilla”, but the evening certainly wasn’t going to be dull. And if the cast and crew of the Dirty Pint didn’t exactly put on a play, they certainly put on a show.

Meandering along a string of pubs on Leith’s Elm Row, the audience are led by the lovely M and Ally (Harriet Scopes and Amanda Litherland) as they unpack their changing relationships with men, booze, and sex. Interspersed with this are the in-pub sketches led by a Byron-esque Ken and an absurdly hairy Rupert (Chris Connell and Noah Ohringer), whose repertoire revolves around eating phallic bananas and indulging in the proverbial “women, eh?” talk. All four performances are lively and funny, with the cast utterly committed to making a fool of themselves in what is still somebody’s local. Having said that, at times the script was a little bit tired, with the cringing encounter between Ken and his transvestite Dad/Mum (Quay Roberts) being particularly difficult to watch, filled with a sentiment which was incompatible with the light hearted tone of the rest of the evening.

However, the cast and the play truly come into their own when unrestricted by anything as commonplace as a script. As far as I could make out, audience members are given some kind of character too. Consequently, the evening is spent trying to separate the actors from the viewers from the simply drunk. Praise is certainly due to The Gay Couple (played by Lewis Harding and Peter Von Zahnd), who kept the audience guessing throughout the evening as the source of numerous bets and arguments. Their entirely natural conversation with us vs. the messily awkward fight they staged was a perfectly pitched performance, and when anxious producer Lilian Schiffer attempted to bundle a paralytic Harding into a cab, I smugly exclaimed to my companion “I knew it! He’s a real person!”…only to see him get back out of said cab to take part in a curtain call.

And this is the true beauty of the show: even when you think you’ve got it cracked, something always crops up to surprise you. The gorilla springs to mind. Also watching the manic, “defiantly-acting” Gareth (Joseph Cunnigham) sinking numerous shots of some clear liquid, I strode up to him and was offered one. In an attempt to call his bluff, I knocked it back with all the bravado of someone who fully expects to be met with a shot of water. It was vodka. He was drinking about 12 shots of vodka. Genuinely getting drunk for the sake of quality theatre? Clever sleight of hand? We shall never know…. (Except we do know- sleight of hand. The bastard).

Bizarre but a little bit brilliant, The Dirty Pint Pub Crawl is the perfect way to see a different side of the fringe, as well as have a jolly good time. Don’t go grumpy, be prepared to join in, and know that the karaoke is non-optional. While I do think you have to drink at least a little bit to appreciate the show in the spirit it requires, try to keep your wits about you. There’s a lot going on, and the dastardly cast are more than prepared to have as much fun with you as you are trying to have from them.

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Fen Greatley

at 14:34 on 27th Aug 2011

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Immersive theatre is usually either done remarkably well or fantastically shoddily. In this case, I'm not entirely sure. On a pub crawl spanning four pubs over two-and-a-half hours, various confrontational and scandalous scenes played out, including misogynistic, sexist views on women, reflections on sexual body type preferences and a male to female transexual father..

In addition to this scripted drama, invdividual participants were assigned parts to play, too – although one can't be too sure what they were. Certainly we EFR reviewers had to feign a long-standing romance, only to break up on cue at some point in the proceedings.

What was especially clever about the production was that there were different levels of acting; between the obvious speakers and us, 'the punters', there were planted actors playing the roles of other punters. Clearly this proved more effective in the experience than the acting 'proper', as a series of text exchanges between me and my fellow reviewer afterwards found her to have been fully taken in by a gay couple whom we'd initially suspected were participants like us but whom I'd soon after labelled as actors. (They did later turn out to be part of the cast)

That was a large problem – it was massively obvious, besides these two, when most people weren't being genuine. Unless you'd bought the 'Lad' experience (inflated ticket price guaranteeing inebriety) or were somewhat slow anyway, you'd just be a little miffed as to why everyone was so intense.

What we also saw, however, was the presence of the Pub Crawl's creative team, including director, producer, writer and various others, all sporting lurid t-shirts. I assume that, besides for safety reasons (there were disclaimers and several notices about this), these were deliberately to draw attention away from the planted and organic (yours truly) actors in the group.

If I'm honest, I've seen much tighter and better acted immersive theatre from students back at university. The actors' speeches, where memorised, felt rehearsed; when improvised, you could recognise the slight desparation in one or two characters' eyes as they grabbed at words in the ether to express themselves. Yet as an overall experience, though truly unusual, it worked on some level.

Everyone kind of knew that people were acting (I think), so people behaved in certain ways and said things that they mighn't always say. It was interesting, trying to deconfigure people and their motivations, and the whole evening was slightly surreal. I'd recommend this for those of you who like experimental immersive theatre – you'll have a field day.

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