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Richard Gadd: Monkey See Monkey Do review at Edinburgh – ‘dark and harrowing’

Richard Gadd: Monkey See Monkey Do at Banshee Labyrinth, Edinburgh Richard Gadd: Monkey See Monkey Do at Banshee Labyrinth, Edinburgh
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Richard Gadd follows up last year’s Waiting for Gaddot with another brutal and improbably comic ride through his inner self. And this time he introduces us to two inner selves for several laps around the question of who is Richard Gadd. The resulting helter skelter raises other questions. Is it comedy? Theatre? Conceptual art? Or simply a very public therapy session?

Either way, Gadd’s out running, pumping it through the streets of east London. Yeah he’s hard, he’s all-man, he’s Mr Testosterone, mentally steeling himself for the annual Man’s Man competition. He’s on top of the world, he’s winning. Except it’s all a bit more complicated than it looks as we realise that Gadd is fighting a civil war inside his head where every clear-cut life strategy launched by his hi-functioning inner voice of reason is sabotaged by his primordial inner monkey.

What transpires in this seriously dark confessional, even trial via self-observational humour and multimedia is a freefall into inner male chaos without a safety net. One-night stands and drugs vie with obliterating social awkwardness, befuddled sexuality, a strange taste in music – and rape. And what seems a fashionable off-the-shelf case of identity crisis turns out to have a far darker trigger.

Immersed in a flow of slickly edited lo-fi video clips, text grabs, voice-overs, rap and choreographed lighting, Gadd jogs on a treadmill throughout the entire hour, communicating most of the time with his face and gestures, reaction shots that get the laughs to hit on a level where they probably shouldn’t through all the sweat, making this a remarkable piece of physical theatre in more ways than one.

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Comedy on a treadmill turns conceptual, dark and harrowing