Reviews Edinburgh Published 11 August 2012

Molly Wobbly’s Tit Factory

Assembly Rooms ⋄ 3rd - 26th August 2012

A bloodless smut fest.

Stewart Pringle

The more pseudo-sexy self-declared cult musicals that appear, the more firmly the brilliance of The Rocky Horror Show is confirmed. Richard O’Brien’s enduring tribute to midnight movies, sexual fluidity and carpe diem hedonism has never been bettered, and the latest contender to its crown, the cringe-worthy Molly Wobbly’s Tit Factory, is a cut below the rest. Musically uninteresting, conceptually vapid and with ill-considered sexual politics, Paul Boyd’s first musical for adults barely raises a chuckle.

We open in the town of Little Happening as an angry mob appears to chase a turf-headed, cleaver wielding spiv out of town: a hunch-back Riff-Raff-alike who has the power to stop watches and casts an eerie spell over the dysfunctional inhabitants of Mammary Lane (boom boom!). He brings a strange glowing potion, and as it works its confusing magic, three dissatisfied wives rediscover their suppressed sexualities and soon start craving self-expression through surgery. The oily shock-monkey (played like a creepy-camp Robby Rotten by Russell Morton) is revealed to be the servant of mad beautician Molly Wobbly, charged with luring women into her titular Tit Factory.

The potential for a sleazy satire of the beauty industry is buried somewhere beneath the derivative kitschy detritus, but Boyd has missed the mark by a considerable distance. The characters are so thin you can see the backcloth through them, which wouldn’t matter if either the jokes or the music kept the energy and goodwill high enough. As it is the jokes are weak as water and only a couple of the songs come together. Boyd, known for a string of successful children’s musicals at the Lyric Theatre Belfast, has failed to advance his writing above the level of pantomime, and his work lacks the wit and confidence to live up to its shocktacular ambitions.

There are saving graces. ‘Fuck in the Manse’, which its chorus of sweary vicars, is deliciously weird and Critics’ Circle award winner Leanne Jones outclasses the production by several degrees of magnitude. Jones dominates the stage with a roaring solo, but as frumpy haberdasher Margaret she is also saddled with a bundle of wonky puns about polishing her clit.

For all of its seaside bawdiness, Boyd’s production is also strangely prudish. When the women strip off on a drug-fuelled naturist impulse the actresses don pink sequinned bikinis and feathery head-dresses. The glowing potion seems to offer a pseudo-emancipation, in which the women finally see the inadequacies of their relationships while simultaneously reckoning their own bodies as inadequate. Whether Molly Wobbly and her drugs represent the body-fascism of the media, the oppressive objectification of the patriarchy or a kind of liberation through liposuction is totally obscure.

Perhaps it’s just not worth worrying about. Rocky Horror succeeds by riffing on a series of existing generic tropes and blending them with genuinely subversive gender politics, Boyd has hacked off aspects of it and thrown them roughly together with a fistful of sniggering schoolboy smut.

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Stewart Pringle

Writer of this and that and critic for here and there. Artistic director of the Old Red Lion Theatre.

Molly Wobbly’s Tit Factory Show Info


Produced by Lyric Theatre Belfast

Written by Paul Boyd

Cast includes Leanne Jones, Russell Morton

Link http://www.arfringe.com/

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