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Cock and Bull review at Royal Festival Hall, London – ‘strange, funny and ingenious’

Laura Bradshaw and Nic Green in Cock and Bull at Royal Festival Hall, London Laura Bradshaw and Nic Green in Cock and Bull at Royal Festival Hall, London
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Cock and Bull is a belting satire in which three female performers, Nic Green, Rosana Cade and Laura Bradshaw, deconstruct the familiar verbal and gestural languages of political dominance in strange, funny and ingenious ways.

Originally performed on the eve of the 2015 election, it loses none of its potency in a world in which alternative facts are now valid currency.

Dressed in dark suits, on a bare stage, the trio ape the purposeful stride of Bullingdon boys. Gold paint covers their mouths and hands – they’re the gilded graduates of public schools with PPE degrees, trained in smooth manners and oratorical polish. Nonetheless, their superficial shine leaves greasy stains behind.

Burnished hands enact a slow series of repetitious motions, recognisable rhetorical accompaniments – the firm fist, the emphatic point, the pseudo-thoughtful knitting of fingers together. Authority becomes a ludicrous, insincere dance.

Similarly, words are emptied of meaning via distorted verbal iterations. Against a dull keyboard drone, “hard” is passed around between them, a dick-swinging cabal whose tones are by turns plummy and perfunctory.

The phrase “people who work hard” is crooned and chanted, dismantled and duplicated in a way that wonderfully (and painfully) conveys that “people” do not matter at all.

Political authority is an automaton that’ll keep chugging along, fuelled by a noxious mix of privilege and patronage. Lexicon is leverage; these figures look you in the eye, but their compassion is a sham.

In the end, suits come off and sock suspenders are revealed – resulting in a flamboyant masturbatory frenzy punctuated by statesman-like waves.

Verdict
Superb three-woman show that excoriates and exposes the emptiness of Tory rhetoric
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