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DollyWould review at Summerhall, Edinburgh – ‘gleefully scrappy’

Louise Mothersole and Rebecca Biscuit  Louise Mothersole and Rebecca Biscuit 

Following on from Letters to Windsor House, a show about London rental hell, this is Sh!t Theatre’s “mainstream crossover hit”.

It’s a show about Dolly Parton, because they reason that everyone loves Dolly Parton. Except, as with so much of the company’s work, it’s also about very many other things as well: it’s about ambition, art and authenticity – and it manages to be about all of these things while remaining gleefully scrappy and dizzyingly entertaining.

Performers Louise Mothersole and Rebecca Biscuit are both cynical about Dolly-the-brand but also a bit in love with her too.  They take a trip to Dollywood, Parton’s themepark-shrine to herself in Tennessee and marvel at the mountains of Dolly merchandise they find there.

The show also highlights the dismaying levels of sexism Parton has had to face over the years: question after question about her appearance. They throw thoughts about Dolly the sheep into the mix too – because: why not? They don lamb’s wool wigs and hot pants with little tufty tails.

While in Tennessee, they also visit the Body Farm, a place not far from Dollywood where scientists study human decay. One of the many joys of a Sh!t Theatre show is the way their work can raise questions about cultural permanence and the way the entertainment industry treats women, while also featuring a sequence in which they dress up in massive boob suits and swig from bottles of Mateus Rose, as they do here.

Images smash into images. Ideas into ideas. An icon is unpacked, satirised and worshipped all at once.

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Idea-stuffed unpacking of a cultural icon performed with energy and verve