Set in a dystopian future where zebras run through crowds ablaze and supermarket decapitations become normality, Mercury Fur is a brutal yet oddly beautiful watch. A play whose complex ideas are consummately delivered by the best ensemble cast performance I’ve seen at the Fringe.
Beginning by torchlight in a run-down housing estate of East London, two brothers, Elliot and Darren, are readying their grimy flat for a mysterious party. Post-apocalyptic settings are common in theatre, but rarely do they feel as real as this. Mercury Fur’s stage really does feel as if it has been through something with rubbish strewn all over along with furniture gnarled up like grimy teeth.
Though the opening sense is one of uneasy jubilation, Mercury Fur’s tone is one of constant sinking, with each new character that joins the party expanding its emotional range and amplifying its mute hopelessness. After the brothers are joined by Naz, a wonderful performance by Harry Stopps, the murky story begins to come clear.
This is a world that has endured great catastrophe and is perched on the brink of annihilation. Brought from the east via a sandstorm, the currency now seems to be butterflies, which can summon up hallucinations and escapes from the disturbing world of the present. With near unimaginable horrors commonplace throughout the story, Mercury Fur is by no means an easy watch, indeed even for a hardened viewer the final objective of the story’s focal party is a tough act to both watch and comprehend.
The play succeeds then through its incredible cast. To single out one person would be to not do justice to the entire effort, this is a wonderful, disturbing work that stays with you far after leaving the theatre.
Mercury Fur is at C until 25 August. For more information and tickets visit the Edinburgh Fringe website.