Returning after last year’s triumphant and acclaimed ‘Big Sean, Mikey and Me’ Ruaraidh Murray brings a new one man play to the Gilded Balloon to try and replicate that amazing production’s success. Thankfully he manages this and if anything this years show is even more intense and powerful than that extraordinary work.
Returning to the streets of Edinburgh – being an Edinburgh native himself he explores the city’s underbelly not usually seen on the bus tours- Murray again shifts between a triumvirate of characters: the central protagonist Spike, the unstable Joe Joe and the more grounded Billy armed with only facial nuance, an array of tonal accents and a swift change of clothes as props to convey each one’s personality. With this arsenal he successfully manages to imbue each of his characters with a sense of individuality so that the audience is constantly aware who is driving the narrative at any given time.
Beginning by proving that Spike can actually fight his way out of a cardboard box we are off on a journey that involves visiting the sexual disease clinic where preventing unwanted erections by thinking of Margaret Thatcher whilst being examined by an attractive female nurse is of major traumatic concern continuing by describing love at first fight with girlfriend Lois, a relationship which clearly means a lot to him. In fact it was only male braggadocio which necessitated a visit to the clinic in the first place as boasting of non–existent sexual conquests convinced Lois he was some kind of stud when in fact the truth was far from that.
The journey then includes an early morning gym session and a night at the city’s legendary Venue where Tribal Funktion is in full swing and the sound of Jay Dee’s ‘Plastic Dreams’ confirm our whereabouts quite accurately; so much so that I found myself subconsciously swigging from my bottle of water as memories of many nights there flooded back to me. Following this there are dodgy drug deals at train stations, arrests, then further crimes involving computer hardware thefts. Somewhere along the way there is time for the hilarious recounting of a first-ten second- sexual encounter.
This is an intensely taut powerhouse corporeal performance with depth and throughout its hour long duration Murray never loses the audience or his verve. It is a novelty at the Fringe to have a show about Edinburgh and even more novel when it is written and performed by someone who actually knows something of the city other than the regular tourist traps. This enables Murray to capture many of the different well honed characteristics of its inhabitants. Pink Floyd’s ‘Wish You Were Here’ is a recurring theme throughout and the only way I can conclude is by stating don’t wish you had been there and instead go see this show!
Bath Time is on at the Gilded Balloon every day at 3.15 until August 26th.