[author-post-rating] (1/5 stars)
Tonguetied Theatre’s Edinburgh debut is billed as “funny because it’s true”. True it may be (well, sort of) but funny it ain’t. Sol Max’s one-man show (performed by Kyle Davies) is aiming for biting satire and instead hits only tired cliches. Everything about this show is exaggerated and over-done except the humour. With big-shouldered costumes, giant hair and grotesque caricature masks, Davies plays a host of characters, all of whom are supposed to be recognisably “American” in some sense of the word. We have a fast-talking Republican spin-doctor who’s a fan of Reagan and trickle-down economics; a young black man shot dead in the street by a racist white neighbourhood watchman (sound familiar?); a blonde university student who remains glued to her sparkly pink iPhone the whole time; the young man’s grieving, deeply religious mother who prays near-constantly; and a God-fearin’ red neck who cares about his family, Jesus and his guns.
There’s nothing new or particularly satirical about this show. Fox News distorts the facts to fit its own agenda! Wow. Some Americans like owning guns and don’t want to give them up! Gosh. Religious people are stupid! Look, he called his cat Jesus! It all feels lazy – these are easy targets. In the same way, the grieving mother fighting for justice for her dead son feels like piggy-backing on the Trayvon Martin case without making any incisive points; the American justice system is skewed in favour of white men. Who knew?
What the show fails to do is to either skewer these familiar ideas effectively or even really to poke fun at them. All Max does is have Davies wheel them out one after the other for us to look at. The smiles are few and far between, and the laughs are nonexistent. None of the characters are on stage long enough to develop to a point where we care about them – even our grief-stricken mother feels two-dimensional. The whole show feels like a massive wasted opportunity.
Conversations Not Fit For The American Dinner Table is at Bedlam Theatre until 24 August. For more information and tickets visit the Edinburgh Fringe website.