It’s the morning after the Brexit vote, and Chris Thorpe is up on the roof of the London block of flats where he lives, wondering where he is, and how much he knows – or really cares – about the country he calls home. I was initially hopeful but this was the most pretentious faux intellectual show I’ve ever seen. In Rachel Chavkin’s rock-solid production backed by Andrzej Goulding’s excellent video design, Thorpe alternates between monologue and song, thrashing out raw electric guitar chords like a philosophical Billy Bragg. A meandering, overlong self-indulgent monologue interspersed with shouty songs.
A couple of thousand years ago, the phrase “civis Romanus sum” guaranteed safety across the Roman Empire. When Chris finds himself in a situation with a violent policeman in Serbia, the phrase “I’m British” has the same effect. Self-love masquerading as self-loathing peppered with the most banal language. He journeys to Monument Valley on a quest to bury his passport, where a First Nation guide rebukes him for littering, and a talking Coyote seemingly claims to be from East Berlin. Deeply pretentious. Wherever he is, he attempts to get rid of his two passports, believing that relieving himself of his Brit identity might go some way to separate him from the toxicity of the actions of his fellow countrymen.
For a plot which reported to go all around the world it went nowhere. In the end, though, shocked by a strange encounter with the voice of those who die while trying to cross the world’s borders, he comes to some kind of accommodation with his own identity as a white British man, and with the fact that even as he speaks, that identity is perhaps beginning to lose much of its former status. I don’t normally write reviews but this show was so diabolical I am trying to protect others. He wants to reject Theresa May’s claim that “if you believe you’re a citizen of the world, you’re a citizen of nowhere”, even as the evidence piles up that all of us are shaped by our environment. Pseudo intellectualising is never pretty but this was possibly the most grisly evening I’ve ever spent at a theatre.
At the time of writing, Status has just won a Fringe First at this year’s festival.
This review is entirely comprised of sentences taken from reviews of Status in The Guardian, The Stage, The Scotsman, WhatsOnStage, FringeReview and Total Theatre. Lines in italics are taken from audience reviews on tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/status
Status is on at Summerhall until 26th August. Click here for more details.