Tuesday 22 August 2017

Theatre Review: Filth at Etcetera Theatre

Filth, Etcetera Theatre London            Adapted by: Harry Gibson                Produced by: Skin & Bone                  Staring: Jake Francis

Review: I think the poster for this says it all. Based on the book of the same name by Irvine Welsh (and film adaptation staring James McAvoy), Filth follows bent copper Bruce Robertson as he investigate a murder. 

There was a disclaimer going into the theatre, this plays contains racism, sexism, violence...basically every ism you can think of and crosses most if not all the lines! But hey this is an Irvine Welsh book, you know what you expect going into it and the play should be no different. 

Last year I ranted and raved about the adaptation of Trainspotting I had seen ( and hope comes back to London again so I can relive it), which set the bar for this very high. They had a full cast and this was a one man show. THIS LIVED UP TO EVERY EXPECTATION and more. It embodied its name and then some to the fullest potential, cramming every nook and cranny ( cranny rhymes with) into an hour and forty five mins straight. Its a lot to take in but you're there lapping it up! 

Filth was the first Welsh book I read. I picked it from a list given to me by my school, who then when I'd got the book voted in at our sixth-form book club, vetoed the decision based on it's contents. Umm I'd already read it!?! It's a book that's stuck with me. Its rough and gritty, its dark and revels in its dark bawdy humour and this all came through in this production. From the very first brown sauce piling moment, I knew there was something in this. You could feel it in the air.  

I just want to stand up (metaphorically) and give Jake another round of applause. He took this one man show by the horns and made it a spectacle! Bruce is not supposed to be a likeable character, but he has this cocky charm, and he is your protagonist. Jake had it. The book and the play is a constant break of the 4th wall. He's talking at you, recounting and revelling in it. The pace is quick and he moves swiftly through it all, in that beautiful Scottish accent. But why stop at one accent or one persona. No Jake embodies every character, with smooth transitions. You're fully aware that he mimicking a person, and that makes it even more fun. The diversity in character and voices was fantastic, they all stood individually, you knew who was who,especially as he was often switching between multiple people at any given point. And the tape worm! I didn't think they'd do it but he did and it was fantastic. The life actors lead having to impersonate tapeworm! This is not an easy feat, I can only imagine how crazy he must have looked trying to memorise and rehearse these lines. It created the story, it made the drama and it was addictive to watch. 

The play isn't all booze sex and drugs sadly, there's a much darker undertone, and as much as we see Bruce in this light we also can't avoid his personal life. He's clearly an alcoholic, and his personal life has fallen apart around him. He's built up these walls to not confront these issues, but these walls violently break as the story unfold, and Bruce becomes more unwound and broken as a character. The Carol story line is i think my favourite. I love her narrative and the element of femininity it brings right up to that pivotal twist! It was a compelling show and I want more. I hope it comes back again, because i want enjoy it again. I'm now bumping Crime ( the sequel) up my TBR pile so I can go back to this world. 

Just take all my stars! This is the kind of Fringe theatre I want to be seeing! 


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