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Thom Tuck Goes Straight to DVD
Published on Monday, 08 August 2011

5 stars

Pleasance Dome (venue website)
3-20, 22-29 Aug, 8:10pm-9:10pm
Reviewed by Craig Thomson

 Parental Guidance. Parents or guardians should consider the content of this show if children are attending.

Thom Tuck has had his heart broken.  By a girl.  And that, I suspect, is why he’s chosen to watch every single Disney straight-to-DVD sequel; the show that results is partly a comic masterpiece, and partly a nervous breakdown.

Tuck will be familiar to many Fringe-goers from sketch group The Penny Dreadfuls, and in common with the Dreadfuls’ other members, is presenting a solo show in Edinburgh this year.  The research element for Tuck’s show involved tracking down and watching all 54 dire Disney sequels.  That number was carefully arrived at – because “there have to be rules before there can be any fun” – and exclude all computer-generated films, plus anything that had a cinematic release here or in the US.  Even still, it's easy to see how that many could derange a man just a little.

The recounting of the good, the bad and the metatextual from that mix is actually surprisingly interesting.  I'm a lucky age – so I tell myself – for my prime Disney-appreciation period matched the peak of their classically-animated output: I was eight years old when The Little Mermaid came out, and 13 when The Lion King released.  So I feel I can actually do something with the knowledge that “The Little Mermaid 3, colon, Ariel's Beginnings” is a fine addition to the canon, but that “The Little Mermaid 2, colon, Return To The Sea” should never be spoken of again.

Interspersed with reflections on crummy cartoons are tales of the various girls who have broken Tuck's heart over the years, and it’s these I feel actually form the core of the narrative.  From a 12-year-old hiking in the Himalayas to a fresher at the University of Edinburgh, these heart-rending and hilarious tales of love and loss build to a sombre conclusion.  It manages to tie the two halves of the performance together through a memorable and unsettling revelation – one that is ably informed by Tuck's experience with the heightened writing of the Dreadfuls.

Your enjoyment of this show will not rely on your being a Disney expert, but it does help to have more than a passing familiarity with the films.  Firstly, you can join in the sing-along at the end… and secondly, you might just stand a chance if you're picked on with a pop quiz question.  But even if you don't know your Atlantis: Milo's Return from your Belle's Magical Adventure, Thom Tuck Goes Straight To DVD is a stand-out show that I can barely recommend highly enough.  Well-conceived and well-executed, you will definitely want to be a part of Thom Tuck's world.

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