Bongo Club, Edinburgh
August, 2006

The joys of the Fringe are manifold. As well as discovering a show that is sheer magic or unbelievable tosh, there is always the chance of finding a 22-carat "what the hell was THAT?" experience. Pretty much everyone is agreed that Adam Rapp's play is remarkable, but nobody is entirely sure why. In some ways it is a Generation X Waiting for Godot. Its American protagonists, once a promising grunge band, have simply continued slacking as they grew older, until they now spend all their time semi-vegetative in an apartment, watching TV (when it isn't being kicked in by their bassist), popping pills from sweetie-bowls and conversing in grunts and glossolalia. Their downstairs neighbour, superficially straight, turns out to be as fried as the band in his own way.

In almost an hour nothing much happens, apart from the most prolonged onstage urination you will ever see (and it's not faked, since the guy in question is utterly naked at the time). The characters are as inert as the gases of the title. At the end they vaguely rouse themselves (for the fictitious band Less are played by the real band Less) to play a Godspeed!-style twelve-minute suite about a she-bear and a robot. Ten days and more than forty shows on, I still have no idea whether I liked the show or whether it was any good, but I know I shall remember it.

Written for the Financial Times.

Copyright © Ian Shuttleworth; all rights reserved.

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