nsfwSex still sells. Lucy Kirkwood’s NSFW knows this just as well as anyone, yet struggles to probe any deeper truths beyond that as it explores lads mag Doghouse battling against internal crisis.

With a minimal office setup featuring more pinned up breasts than props, the play begins strongly with Rory McIvor’s outlandish Rupert, a features writer for the magazine, recounting sordid tales to a captive audience. Whilst admittedly there are more Gap Yah cronies at this year’s Fringe than ever, McIvor’s portrayal is one of the best, playing with strong comedic timing and a distinctly vapid nature that is somehow fairly endearing.


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After a slightly meandering opening ten minutes, NSFW springs into action as Doghouse editor Aidan, played by Christian Bevan, is forced to deal with a catastrophe that could potentially derail the publication. The latest topless feature star it seems is actually only 14 years old and the girl’s father is undeniably furious, travelling on his way from Manchester to London and demanding an explanation.

Whilst this storyline is no doubt interesting, with the picture in question uncomfortably hanging in the background after the revelation for a few seedy minutes, there are other narratives within NSFW: a trip to the Arctic/Lara McIvor’s excellent female employee who resents yet accepts her misogynistic employment, that are sidelined in favor of a bloated middle section dealing with the aftermath of the aforementioned photo.

Christopher Evans as the girl’s father here is excellent though, a broken unemployed mess who seems more out of place in the Doghouse offices than modesty. Bevan, however just didn’t seem to fit the role, playing the disturbing lecherous editor as too aloof and vague to be engaging or convincing. Purely in terms of staging too, these scenes are far too long, a tug of war that is more tiring than rewarding.

The play closes strongly however with a section set in Electra, a female counterpoint magazine to Doghouse. Here NSFW’s topics are explored in more reasoned and interesting ways. It’s a shame then that a play all about surface, is some of the time merely surface itself.

NSFW is at C nova (Venue 145) until 25 August. For more information and tickets visit the Edinburgh Fringe Website