Theatre review: [Life] – An Everyman’s Tale
Edinburgh Festival Fringe Scotsman review: [Life] – An Everyman’s Tale at Laughing Horse @ Jekyll & Hyde (Venue 259), reviewed by Matt Trueman
You live. You learn. You breed. You die. Patrick Bailey takes us through life’s rites of passage in this nifty performance lecture that rushes from your first breath to your last words.
Delivered like an upbeat eulogy, Bailey’s text has ample verve and swagger to keep you interested despite its obvious form. He is a charismatic performer, adopting a gameshow American accent that gives normality a glossy finish. It’s like This Is Your Life, only with mega-stardom swapped for minutiae.
The best moments are either its most personal – the realisation that adults can have breakfast for dinner, for example – or those that stop the whole world. To glance off 11 September, 2001 so casually is a superb call. It is just one day – but it leaves a scar behind.
Yet the assumed male perspective and unquestioned heteronormativity is problematic. By framing events as approaching universality, the piece starts to look prescriptive. Nor has Bailey factored in the future. Come 2050, in fact, life looks much the same as ever. Perhaps that’s his point: as we morph into our parents and grandparents, nothing changes.
Until 17 August. Today 11:45pm