JOYCE MCMILLAN on #TORYCORE at the Glad Cafe, Glasgow, for The Scotsman 13.5.13.

TORYCORE is hardcore; so much so that its co-creators – writer/musicians Chris Thorpe and Steve Lawson, and writer/actor Lucy Ellinson – were bumped off a BBC Scotland arts programme, on Friday, for being too blatantly anti-Tory. The idea of the 75-minute show, appearing in the Arches Behaviour festival, is to take the words of current Conservative ministers – projected on a screen, and spoken or growled by Ellinson – and hurl them at the audience together with a wall of raw, slashing live post-punk sound; the rage is palpable, the impact terrific, and the force of despair almost agonising.

The one problem, though, is that the avalanche of well-drafted Tory-speak the show presents, albeit in a hostile context, hits the audience at a time when the British media are full of little else, and when any alternative discourse is hard to find. It’s therefore not surprising that #Torycore is at its most electrifying when it adds its own voice to those of Osborne and Cameron, reading out the lists of private healthcare interests held by members of the House of Lords, or giving a long one-minute howl of rage for the death of the Edinburgh poet Paul Reekie, soon after his benefits were withdrawn. It’s my political judgment that at this stage of the game, we need more of that explicit opposition, and less of the over-optimistic assumption that mere exposure to Tory ideas will make people reject them. And where politics and art collide, political judgments have aesthetic consequences. #Torycore is a brilliant, brave idea, executed with terrific energy; but dammit, it could be even better.


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