Review: Wild Bore (The Traverse)
Updated: Jun 10
Bravo. Well done. Top job. Zoe Coombs Marr, Ursula Martinez, Adrienne Truscott, I would like to hand in my notice. I am defeated. Their collaborative show, “Wild Bore”, takes a look at the negative reviews the three artists have received over the years, and some especially humorously written ones for other shows, and turns them into a comedy that simultaneously has a deeper meaning about the nature of culture, class and art, whilst poking fun at people trying to find deeper meaning in anything.
This is primarily done through toilet humour, as the performance begins with the bare bottoms of the main cast appearing at the table and appearing to read lines from negative reviews (some real, some not). What you immediately get a sense of is that you are being trolled, the audience and the critics. Marr, Martinez and Truscott are obviously incredibly intelligent and articulate women, to the point where there is little point in praising their performances for fear of being condescending, and they evidently take delight in being crude, childish, and obscene. Their joyous buoyancy is totally infectious. You get the feeling that because they have nothing to lose from the show – seeing as they couldn’t care either way from the critic response – they have allowed themselves to do whatever the hell they want. There’s barely a narrative, additional cast are introduced late (amusingly a self-referential transsexual non-binary individual of colour), they milk jokes to the nth degree, but their self-awareness about all of this makes it nearly impossible to dislike.
Despite their mockery of critics over examining theatre, they do play with some really interesting themes. The idea of critics asserting themselves as cultural gatekeepers, descending from above to grant praise and criticism to artists and provide them with validity without ever creating anything themselves, is the main one. It is used, seemingly, as both a kind of therapy for the artists rising above such gatekeepers, as what they have created is something that is both difficult to review objectively and won’t care what response it gets anyway. It is also used to provide insightful commentary on the arts industry and its hierarchy. By extension, it points to the patriarchy and white privilege as being regarded as and allowed to act as though they are the defining voice on art, enforcing norms and expectations, especially with regards to female nudity on stage.
My only issue with the show’s themes is that for all the scrutiny of the current system of theatre criticism it offers no alternatives, nor any kind of agenda to change the way theatre is reviewed. For that reason, it’s almost worth not trying to find the deeper meaning, but letting go a little and laugh at incredibly immature humour performed in such a way as to make it both acceptable and side-achingly funny. Whether you think you would enjoy “Wild Bore” depends on your reaction to the description of a “crass, mocking comedy featuring jokes about bodily fluids and gratuitous nudity”. If that on its own sounds like your kind of thing, this show is not for you. If it doesn’t, then it’s definitely something you should go and see. Four Stars.