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Published on Saturday, 14 August 2010

4 stars

theSpaces on the Mile @ The Radisson (venue website)
6 - 21 Aug (not 8, 15), 9:10pm (9:55pm)
Reviewed by Craig Thomson

Dildon't is a strange and twisted fantasy, a freakshow tale of sex shops, bitter rivalries and murder by rubber phallus.  If that much information puts you off, you probably don't need to read on: this show is not for you.  If these words do arouse your attention – and this, after all, is the Edinburgh Fringe, so there will be plenty of you around – then Dildon't is worthy of your consideration.

The story, such as it is, is set in a sex shop newly opened in Reading.  Owners Glen and Mimi take delivery of a consignment of sex toys from a rival sex shop owner; but one of the dildos, a colossal black rubber number, is stolen from them, and is soon implicated in a series of grisly murders that Thames Valley Police are helpless to solve.  A hard-ass detective from thfe streets of Baltimore, MD (someone's been watching The Wire) is therefore despatched to track the killer down.

There is obviously a great amount of squeamishness in the audience about sex toys in general, and Dildon't features a prodigious and ominipresent selection, including a strap-on worn as a hat by the keyboardist as he performs incidental music.  The props alone are enough to induce nervous laughter from the crowd, but it's the bizarre range of characters which makes Dildon't a unique grotesquery: the necrophiliac with a heart and the porn star with a pension are two which seemed to spark especially well.

The performance highlight, though, is undoubtedly Luke Booys' sex toy dealer Axl, a psychotic vision of blond hair and bovver boots, who is, not to put too fine a point on it, howl-at-the-moon mental.  He is a physical and vocal assault from the get-go, possessed of a wild energy and a jacket full of dildos like a comic book criminal would fence watches.  After such a dynamic introduction, the show flagged a little when he left the stage, but does pick up again (notably with a hilariously distasteful sing-song about sleeping with the dead).

Casual Violence describe themselves as primarily a sketch-based comedy group, and it does show, in some ways.  I felt that some of the minor characters were a little superfluous, seemingly written to satisfy the players rather than the play; had it not been written specifically for this group, several could easily have been cut or doubled up.

And much like a lengthy sketch, the play doesn't really end, it simply stops.  I would guess that some people might see it as a daring, Holy Grail-style undercutting of convention... but that most would just be a bit confused.  For my part, I thought it worked quite well, particularly with Axl barking manically at his friend James to clear off: “if you wanted a happy ending, you should have gone to see the Railway Children” was one, presumably ad-libbed, line growled as he shooed us out. 

I also wondered idly why the MacGuffin dildo was given the title Exocet (that of the French missile famously used by Argentina during the Falklands War).  I can't think of a satisfactory answer (there's no HMS Reading to have been sunk by it, for instance), but at least it's a more dynamic visual than, say, the scud.  Either way, Dildon't succeeds as a titillation, a guilty pleasure to flirt with late in the evening - a quick fix of amusement before you go on your way, flushed and slightly sweaty, wondering what just happened to you.

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These are archived reviews of shows from the Edinburgh Fringe 2010.  We keep our archives online as a courtesy to those we've featured, and for readers who'd like to research previous years' reviews.

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