When Penny Arcade talks about the gentrification of New York, she is not just bemoaning the closure of a few coffee shops and bookstores in the Village, but a cultural genocide that has spread throughout the western world. Penny Arcade: Longing Lasts Longer is an exhilarating, passionate plea to those who care to actually do something about it.
Since the 1960s Arcade has been a unique voice at the forefront of the underground performance arts scene in New York and while her visits to the UK are rare, with this particular show she has never been more prescient. In this piece, Arcade exposes the process that has resulted in a society where mediocrity is the new black, ageing is seen as failing and consumerism is an aspiration.
Arcade’s satire is characteristically punctuated with immensely quotable, razor-sharp soundbites to illustrate her points. Her delivery is insistent rather than aggressive – somewhere between preacher and politician, but distinguished by an evocative soundtrack mixed by Steve Zehentner and the occasional, euphoric need to dance.
After nailing her manifesto resolutely to the swing doors of consumerism and capitalism in Edinburgh, Arcade is heading for Soho, another cultural landscape that is altering irrevocably.