You Don’t Know Jack

You Don’t Know Jack
3 stars ***
Rocket@Demarco Roxy Art House (Venue 115)

THE CARPETBAG BRIGADE of San Francisco are a company not to be ignored; and at the Demarco Roxy Art House, they’re presenting this most extreme and mind-blowing of all the shows on this year’s Fringe about the damaging impact of war. On a stage strewn with domestic debris and paths of stones, featuring a window here, and a teetering tower of authority there, it reflects – for a surreal, enigmatic 50 minutes – on the continuing family legacy of the wartime trauma suffered by Jack’s grandfather. Both little Jack himself, and his mad, self-destructive mother, are stalked by twin demons, male and female; nor is there much sign, in the show’s beautifully choreographed ending, that they will ever be laid to rest.

The problem, though, is that although this show contains some of the most bold and memorable imagery around on this year’s Fringe, it also suffers from some of the silliest acting, with the demons veering between that solemn, pompous self-absorption that reduces avant-garde theatre to a joke, and a needless, camped-up irony that doesn’t fit the subject-matter. There’s huge musical, theatrical and visual talent here, as well as the weirdest male hairstyle on the Fringe; but Carpetbag look like a company who need to stop playing to their admiring friends, and start reaching out to a wider audience.

Joyce McMillan
Until 24 August
p. 123


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