Edinburgh Fringe 2019
“Essays about growing up a Texan cattle-raising milk-drinking gay baptist, to become a barefoot plant-based health coach. From zen monk, to theatre in Boulder, to grass-eating stand-up in Hollywood.”
In the bowels of an organic cafe and organic cafe, Larry Tadlock welcomes his audience as he eagerly anticipates sharing his wild new memoir exploring his 30 years of everything vegan and plant-based health through laughter. And he does not disappoint.
It takes me a while to workout and place his Texan accent and I have this visceral reaction as to what a stereotypical Texan is. And it’s not Larry.
Part comedy, part spoken word, part Q & A session, this wild vegan rollercoaster is Larry’s debut at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. With a collection of twelve stories on offer, Larry informs the audience that he will only tell four of these at the show.
Larry kicks things off with what evidently is his most important breakthrough in his wellbeing. He introduces us to his liver (who he has named Lucidia) and the long-term relationship the two of them have had. He extols her virtues and how he ultimately is in a permanent state of detox with her, and she with him. It’s a beautiful tango these two clearly dance.
Larry invites the audience to choose the next story, but we collectively decline and allow Larry to direct the narrative.
He introduces us to seven year old Larry on his seventh (and final) visit to hospital for chronic pneumonia. And his delight at the hospital dishing out ice cream sundaes to the paediatric patients to make them feel better. But, as Larry relates as son of a cattle rancher, it’s the consumption of the accessible daily gallon of milk that caused his chronic lung infection to begin with. And the hospital was simply perpetuating this vicious cycle.
Larry’s third story takes us to a time as a young adult when he was a sometimes employed western actor in Tokyo. As this story laments, it almost always takes a near death experience to enlighten the way. For Larry this came fainting on set and subsequently being convalesced on brown rice and cooked vegetables. For over thirty years subsequently, Larry still eats two pounds of vegetables a day. You can almost imagine Larry, lost in translation, awakening anew with every mouthful.
Larry’s final story is a delightful romp with him sharing how eating raw garlic and naked sunbathing dramatically improves his sex life. It’s a touching and wonderfully personal exploration into Larry’s sexuality.
Larry delivers each of the stories with the same enthusiasm as how they were written. Each story places you with him at at that point in time of his life. And you feel part of his ever evolving journey of discovery of his well being. And sure, he’s vegan, but it’s the journey that brought him here that is so compelling – in hilarious and heartfelt ways.
I left the show wondering what the other stories might be. No matter what combination of stories each show will deliver, I have no doubt that they will be as engaging as the ones I thoroughly enjoyed. This deserves a bigger vegan and non-vegan audience.
Disclaimer: this reviewer is vegan.