Reviews Edinburgh Published 14 August 2014

Show Off

Pleasance Courtyard ⋄ until 25th August 2014

Smart silliness.

Catherine Love

Thank God for Figs in Wigs. This company of five funny women slice through the whimsy and white-face of the Fringe with their own brash, distinctive style. Foreheads printed with sparkling blue monobrows and heads topped with – you guessed it – bright pink wigs, in their latest show they turn their attention to social media and online narcissism.

Show Off is a variety show presented by Figs in Wigs, starring Figs in Wigs. In case you hadn’t worked it out, this is all about them. Company members take it in turns to play compere, introducing act after act in which the performers showcase their multiple talents at the same time as implicitly critiquing the ways in which we present ourselves on the internet. Imagine your own edited online existence as a surreal cabaret performance and you begin to get the idea.

There’s plenty of silliness, but of the smartest kind. A sequence in which all five performers hula hoop on the tiny stage, bashing repeatedly into one another, has something serious to say between laughs about the crowded competition of the internet. There’s a delicious attempt at skewering the contemporary art world, culminating in an invitation for us to snap and share “facies” (pun, as always, intended). And a dance in which the Figs are all glued to their phones throughout is as sharp a stage image of our attachment to social media as you’re likely to see.

The company’s influences are all recognisable enough, from pop culture to comedy to Forced Entertainment-esque performance of failure. Figs in Wigs’ achievement, however, lies in fusing these familiar elements into their own remarkably defined aesthetic. They also have a knack for the sublimely ridiculous, be it deadpan appropriation of jokes penned by children or the sort of puns that make you wince and guffaw all at once.

There are certainly criticisms that could be levelled at this new show – at its distractedness, its bitty structure, its occasional lack of depth – but the company have sneakily short-circuited them all. If it’s shallow, showy and built for a short attention span, then so is the self-advertising space of social media. And while they might not come up with any startling new insights about the ways in which we behave online, Figs in Wigs certainly make a strong case for being the centre of attention.

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Catherine Love

Catherine is a freelance arts journalist and theatre critic. She writes regularly for titles including The Guardian, The Stage and WhatsOnStage. She is also currently an AHRC funded PhD candidate at Royal Holloway, University of London, pursuing research into the relationship between text and performance in 21st century British theatre.

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Produced by Figs in Wigs

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