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Edinburgh Fringe 2013

Pigmalion Zoo


Genre: Absurd Theatre

Venue: C Nova,


Low Down

Holy PG Tips enters onstage to a small studio theatre where a man who turns out to be her father, Pigmalion, is preparing her for the audition to become God. As part of the preparation she is taught to dance proactively to an x rated track in her father’s presence as he choreographs. The mother arrives and is disdainful of both. As God has been found dead in a car park in Sainsbury’s we have to struggle to find anchors in this vision of a future where auditions have even taken over from commercialism. The meals served up are full of sugar as this is a world where coca cola is cheaper than water. Eventually they behave like real animals having exhausted their animalistic human instincts.


The play has certainly got a lot to say about our world in general and the structure of it in particular. It has deconstructed the world to look at it through eyes we might struggle to see through as the family structure is highly violent – either through words or physically. We are barraged with this vision which is both relentless and lacks some structure. It is difficult at times to clear your ears and eyes to find a pathway but this is what Olta want. The brutality of hearing parents describe how they are preparing their daughter for rape gives you an indication of just how far the destruction of society has gone.

Olta claim to be working towards the artificial deformation of the stage. On this evidence they seem to want to find somewhere that Theatre of Cruelty, Sarah Kane and Samuel Beckett meet. As a form this does not quite manage to redefine theatrical languages but it does challenge us into thinking what theatre is relatively all about. I was very pleased to hear that even in this futuristic piece the idea that God is NOT dead and it is all a big conspiracy means we do not leave the 20th/21st Century completely behind.

All three performers give a tremendous account of themselves and at all times they are engaged and committed. It is a difficult piece to take off with some strange sweeping narrative developments alongside the metamorphosis of turning into dogs and horses which had they not been fully delivered would have seemed odder than they already sound.

The set is a table that stretches across the stage diagonally with an entrance that is like a futuristic cat flap made out of bare wood. The apocalyptic design adds to the feeling that we are in an uncomfortable place asking ourselves difficult questions.

This is an absolutely challenging piece and by no means should we sniff at that. Whilst I may not be convinced they have managed to reach their claims in the publicity I have to say I was seriously challenged by the theatricality of the piece. It asks some very serious questions and makes you stand up and take real notice of just how we are sleepwalking into commercialism as King whilst belief structures are likely to be lost in amongst our fight for a future – whatever that future may be.

Ultimately the question that has to be answered is a theatrical one. Does this production add to the cannon or is it over indulgent? I saw a young company vibrant enough to begin on the questions we need but slightly nervous about going the whole hog. I could see this style of theatre contributing hugely to the theatrical debate on style and language but it needs clearer definition and stronger voices. 


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