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The Fabulous Punch and Judy Show review, the Gilded Balloon at the Counting House, Edinburgh – ‘violent and satirical’

The Fabulous Punch and Judy Show at the Counting House, Edinburgh The Fabulous Punch and Judy Show at the Counting House, Edinburgh
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The original story of Mr Punch and his wife Judy originated in 1832 and while it is considered a children’s entertainment it is actually quite a violent story, in much the same way as Tom and Jerry cartoons are. For The Fabulous Punch and Judy Show, cabaret performer and writer Brent Thorpe exploits the violence and heightens the text with extreme sexual and scatological references to create a form of queer acid agitprop.

Thorpe’s target is sexual politics, particularly modern masculinity, and his script ruthlessly dissects society’s attitude to anything other than heteronormative behaviour. There is no room for subtlety and through this nerve-jangling cabaret of Australian colloquialisms and grim scenarios, Thorpe’s message is hammered home.

In any other form, except perhaps animation or maybe an Edward Bond play, the domestic violence and sexual abuse could not be tolerated. Its tone, however, is absurdly upbeat and thanks to some very daft, equally lewd songs it’s also very funny in places, not only burlesquing institutionalised behaviour but also several cabaret conventions, too.

The Cafe Debris Company and its founder Thorpe have a deserved reputation for outspoken comedy in their native Sydney. The production’s appearance may seem a little makeshift but its satire is spot on.

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Violent, satirical queer theatre with a distinct style