Sometimes the big issues require a different perspective
Chirps of exotic animals, colourful lighting and a semi-clad body stuck in a bin is enough to realise you’ve been transported to a wild place – and that’s before Sex Clown Saves the World [★★★★] even starts. Not for the faint of heart, Grumble is part acrobat, part ‘femilosopher’ and a full nudist.
As she shuffles about an overfilled set crumpled with newspapers and costumes, Grumble paints a picture of what is seriously wrong with us (spoiler alert: it's a lot). The show is intentionally messy but so is our world. She pokes fun of the 'relentless man machine,' misogyny and our incessant need for self-improvement and beautification through a mash-up of unintelligible spoken word, songs, personification, and costume and make-up changes.
The show impressively constructs its promised 'save the world' message – admittedly the nudity can be a distraction when some artistic choices veer close to the cringeworthy, but for the most part it's not used for shock value and it goes hand in hand with Grumble's fabulous costumes and disco tunes. Describing the current state of deplorable affairs, she interacts in countless ways with a globe prop, making for cheeky entertainment. By the end, the nudity almost serves to demystify the female body, bringing us back to our natural roots as mammals. Refreshingly without dogma, Grumble indeed seems to have save the world within an hour.
Over at the Gilded Balloon, Angela Wand admits she's a bad Catholic and vegetarian. She'd have us believe she's bad at everything, except everything about Wounded Animals [★★★★] feels just right.
Wand opens up to the audience from the start (literally) and paints a vivid picture of her life’s shortcomings while moving us along a wide emotional spectrum. It's thematic, yet not stuck on any one theme. Taking on the persona of a wide variety of ‘animals’ she’s encountered over the years through word and song, we learn how she came to understand the meaning of church and what led to her pet Ingo’s death. Regardless of individual views on religion or online dating, she is a persuasive host. Shrewd use of lighting, changes in vocal tone and props also create powerful moments.
Wand is a pleasurable voice to follow (and made even more entertaining by her clowning facial expressions). With a lot of sass and soul, it’s impressive how the seemingly mundane is transformed into the refreshingly palpable and important. Retaining her dignity by the end, this is humour as heartwarmingly honest as it is funny.
Grumble: Sex Clown Saves the World, Underbelly Cowgate (Belly Dancer), 4-28 Aug (not 10, 15, 17 & 22) 8.45pm, £6-12.50
Angela Wand: Wounded Animals, Gilded Balloon Teviot (Dining Room), 3-29 Aug (not 10, 17, 24), 10.45pm, £8-12