Here’s what was expected from Performers, as a black comedy co-written by Irvine Welsh and Dean Cavanagh: intrigue, glamour, and two sharp-witted gangsters with greater ambitions than testosterone-fuelled one-upmanship. Alas, the criminal duo comprising George Russo’s Bert and Perry Benson’s Alf came across as a bit dim.
The script unfortunately does not reflect Welsh’s legendary status in contemporary Scottish literature. On the contrary, it left the audience feeling a tad uncomfortable to find that a large proportion of the comedic basis of the script revolved around gay jokes. The plot’s main focus turned out to be Alf and Bert’s desperation to prove their own overbearing heterosexuality, which felt like an opportunity missed considering the exciting potential Performers had to give us an insight into the private dealings of two genuine 60’s gangsters. While it may reflect contemporary attitudes and the sexual content of Performance, the film that the play is based on the plot simply wasn’t developed in the areas that the audience would most eagerly like to see explored. As a result, the show feels less Peaky Blinders and more Coronation Street.
However, the play has its saving graces. The costumes and set design added an element of fun, Florence’s beehive hairdo and Bert’s dapper suit giving a real sense of swinging 60’s style to the show. Moreover, due credit must be given to the four cast members. Maya Gerber gives a lively performance as Flo, who deals in her first bout of criminal activity blackmailing Bert to keep quiet after a drunken one night stand. Likewise, Lewis Kirk brings intrigue to th performance with his animated performance as Crispin, an outlandish production runner with questionable intentions relentlessly attempting to convince Alf and Bert to strip naked for the camera.
The actors delivered, but the script unfortunately fell flat. Performers is worth a watch for fans of the film and a sucker for soap operas and period pieces – just don’t go in expecting a plot consistent with the big names attached to it.
Assembly Rooms (venue 20)
Until 27th August
Photo credit: Alex Brenner