Edinburgh Fringe 2013
A work of part lecture, part stand-up, Speed…Mating… is a humorous look at the mating habits of man and animal. Taking a decidedly German approach and armed with an encyclopaedic knowledge of all things zoo-sex-ological, IMMACULATECONCEPTS warns its audience: ‘Advisory – Evolutionary Truths’.
ReviewSpeed…Mating… is a one-man show; a sometimes uneasy marriage of stand-up and lecture. The final performance of the Edinburgh run for the show is a bit of a bumpy ride because the performer, Dr. Marco Maggio (we are informed our host has a doctorate in Ethology, the study of animal mating), is keen to video the show and we are obliged to take in repeat performances of a couple of bits towards this end. Nevertheless, the performance is engaging, funny, and informative, and one gets the impression that (on occasions when the video camera is turned off) it’s normally a much smoother show. Dr. Maggio is a tall, craggy mix of German and Italian bloodlines, and he makes free use of his heritage throughout the performance to lighten the (potentially dry) material and keep us laughing.
Dr. Maggio’s area of interest is sex: animal sex, human sex, sex for procreation, and sex for pleasure. And the performance, which incorporated mild audience interaction, takes place across three segments all detailing different stages in the mating process. Through a performance that is largely direct address, we are informed about the various stages in the mating cycle and then invited to play in short rounds of light-hearted game-show-style competition to test our knowledge and transition from one segment to the next. The good doctor drives his points home through (occasionally uncomfortable) moments of fixation on one (usually female) audience member or another, demonstrating a potential mating tactic here, suggesting a heightened sexual response there.
Despite flirting with the danger of slipping into outright sexism at points, Dr. Maggio’s tactics work well in reinforcing his points. We are all animals. The layers of social protocol we have developed (and which bind us in mutual contracts of behaviour) are artificial constructs that are (sometimes) counterproductive to the ultimate purpose we serve as organisms: to spread our genetic code. All is delivered with charm and panache and utter commitment.
Part of the PBH Free Fringe, Speed…Mating… is performed in one of the upstairs spaces at Cowgatehead, and there are certain difficulties inherent to the venue: sound bleed from other performances, and various technical limitations that could be liabilities to the performance were it not for Dr. Maggio’s flawless ability to play with them to his advantage, encouraging us to shout back at a particularly vociferous neighbouring show, rolling the pitfalls into jokes and getting us to laugh along with his at the more ridiculous shortcomings of the space. He never apologizes for his material or the circumstances of its delivery. We are carried through the experience at all times by his authority and likeability. Less stand-up with some lecture thrown in and more lesson with humorous overtones, Speed…Mating… is an interesting experience that offers a very different outcome from other shows on the fringe that deal with similar material.