American Poodle

THEATRE
American Poodle
3 stars ***
Assembly @ George Street  (Venue 3)

REMEMBER THE CURATE’S EGG, the one that was good in parts?
American Poodle, presented by Guy Masterson and TTI, is a two-part show that suffers from a chronic imbalance – in brilliance, originality and poetry – between one half and the other.  In the first 30 minutes, Masterson himself offers a brisk, spirited but unremarkable humorous account of relations between Britain and the USA around the time when the transatlantic colonies struck out for independence.  It’s a fascinating piece of history, full of British imperial bluster and absurdity, and Masterson tells it well; but it remains stranded somewhere between a stage show and a good O-Grade history lesson.

The second half, though, is much more wild and strange, as the inspired American actor David Calvitto takes the stage in a short monologue by New York satirist Brian Parks.  Splayfoot is a brief stream of consciousness about a contemporary American businessman visiting London, his head full of absurd mediaeval imagery about castles and monarchs and pale-faced urchins.  The joke is that nothing he sees in modern London really does much to shift his naive preconceptions; the language is superb, visionary, fantastical, and Calvitto gives a splendidly surreal performance, as a man so full of the world-making bullshit of a dominant culture that he simply can’t see what’s staring him in the face.

Joyce McMillan
Until 27 August
p. 171

ENDS ENDS

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