Preview: DULOG’s Saucy Jack and the Space Vixens

By Shauna Lewis

 

The title of ‘Saucy Jack and the Space Vixenspromises a potentially ‘off-the-wall’ kind of show. Seeing it in rehearsal not only affirms that, as it prepares to return to Edinburgh Fringe, but makes it clear how much heart and passion is going into its production.

The plot revolves around the murders of the Slingback Killer at Saucy Jack’s bar, prompting the arrival of the Space Vixens in a mission to fight crime. Aside from the ‘whodunnit’ side of things, glitter boots have more power than you’ve ever seen before, sexualities are explored and fetishes welcomed in this extra-terrestrial cabaret.

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For the first time since the show was written, it is being put on by a student company external to the original writers. Entrusted to Durham University’s DULOG, it will be paying homage to its status as a cult classic, but director Euan Walker promises originality through his own experience and influences.

But as he argues, the show originated from not wanting to emulate the status quo, so to a certain extent “to disrespect the show is to respect the show.”

It’s clear from listening to Euan talk about the production how much he and the cast care. He remarks that when he first sat down with them as a cast his first questions were, “What are you thinking?” He goes on: “I wanted it to be the most about them as possible, so everyone can pour their own into the show and then it reflects entirely how much they love it.”

It shows when I sit in on the rehearsal. Millie Blair, playing Jubilee Climax as well acting as Choreographer, pitches in with the musical direction, while other members contribute on what they think could be improved as well. It seems like a passion project for them all, not to mention their undeniably good chemistry as a group.

Whilst Millie Blair’s ‘Living in Hell’ seems like it’s going to be a standout of the production, the rest of the songs are upbeat and impossible to not enjoy. ‘All I Need Is Disco’ and ‘Glitter Boots Saved My Life’ are exuberant, ridiculous (in the best way) and downright fun. Euan describes the production as a “feel-good disco extravaganza”, which it certainly is, especially when the cast clearly want to be there just as much as you do.

He claims that as an experience, Saucy Jack and the Space Vixens encapsulates the spirit of the Edinburgh Fringe, “…it’s just this melting pot of pure love for theatre, dancing, music […] and that’s how I think our production reflects on it.”

Whilst he claims there is no moral to the production, which will undoubtedly be refreshing at a Fringe to be probably riddled with political comedy, he also says it is ‘unapologetically itself’. He adds that the production brings “the energy of fun, love, exuberance and unapologetic acceptance of self. All through the power of disco and I think that’s beautiful.”

Saucy Jack and the Space Vixens is on at 9.45pm, 1st- 19th August at C Venues (Venue 34)


Why the drastic change?: Talking about ‘In Loyal Company’ with David William Byran

By Katherine Knight

 

There’s a question which has been at the back of my mind for a year and I throw it at David the moment I see him. “Did you really drink eight cans of Strongbow onstage?”

“What do you think?”

It’s a testament to his explosive previous performance that these details have remained in my mind so long. ‘Trashed’, from the brilliant duo of actor David William Bryan and writer Sascha Moore, took the Fringe by storm in 2017, coming from nothing to make Theatre Weekly’s ‘Best of the Fest’. Having seen last year’s performance and hearing that the duo were collaborating again, I knew I had to find out more about this year’s performance, ‘In Loyal Company’, which follows the true story of Arthur Robinson, WWII prisoner of war.

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Why the drastic change from an alcoholic bin-man to soldier of a bygone era? I’m surprised to learn there’s a personal connection. Robinson is David’s great-uncle – and the genesis of the show, says Bryan, was a conversation with his father, who went to the Ed Fringe for the first time last year. It’s a very different audience this year, but that is intentional. This definite family connection underpins it all, as Bryan pulls out a family photograph to show me his counterpart, in Bombay, before all hell breaks out - “drinking beers with the lads” in a soldier’s uniform.

Photographs like these provide narrative material where history books fall short. ‘In Loyal Company’ is meticulously researched, but some details remain unknown, characteristically – including how, exactly, Robinson survived. Rather than to leave gaps, the team constructs their narrative from eyewitness reports and emotional impact. This is replicated by the characterisation of the figures in the photograph - personalities are determined from the single still image; reconstructed in vivid detail on the stage.

While this is a bold reconstruction of an incredible true story, it is clear that it is not intended to be “a history lesson for the audience”. Bryan claims the performance moves at breakneck speed, and this is believable having  seen ‘Trashed’ last year, and refreshing given the change in genre. He explains why: “Other performances are trying to get the audience going. Sometimes we need to slow it down to give them a break.”

However, ‘In Loyal Company’, despite retaining a one-man show format, faces different challenges to its predecessor. Where ‘Trashed’s protagonist travelled from his haunt only through flashbacks, this man undertakes a journey of six years in several different countries. It becomes a juggling act when communicating place, history, and emotion, all in a world which Robinson does not fully understand. How can our protagonist convey contemporary events to the audience when he is supposed to be stuck in a POW camp?

David pauses. ‘It’s a lot.’

He is adamant that the play cannot be done by halves, with respect at the forefront. That, says David, is why he’s decided to lose two and a half stone for the role. He explains that everything they do is for an audience effect, so that we do not watch, but experience. Despite sounding a cliché, the detail and care are already evident, even from a conversation across a table in Costa Coffee. By that dedication, ‘In Loyal Company’ proves itself one to watch.

 

In Loyal Company’, Aug 1st – 27th, 1pm, Venue 33