Words and Music review at the Studio, Edinburgh – ‘artful and ambling’

Martin Creed in Words and Music, Edinburgh International Festival. Photo: Beth Chalmers Martin Creed in Words and Music, Edinburgh International Festival. Photo: Beth Chalmers
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In the charming Words and Music, Turner Prize-winning artist Martin Creed presents himself as a wholly engaging cross between a seer and someone who just won’t shut up.

Nothing’s for certain in this one-man show, hence the shambling mixture of words – and doubtful words about the credibility of words – and the music, the self-styled trousers without a definite crotch and the projections that oscillate between ‘YES’ and ’NO’ before settling briefly on the syntactical mixture ‘NOSEY’.

Creed’s performance winningly undermines its own performative quality. Hunched over the microphone with a stoner’s squint, he demurs, trails off, sighs. A continual klutz, he keeps bashing things with his guitar neck and at one point hits himself in the face with a harmonica holder.

Creeds plays not just with his own status as showman but also with self-indulgence, treading a fine line between navel-gazing blather and wise insight, and yet it becomes apparent that the show isn’t really about him in any confessional way. We learn little about Creed, other than his neuroses surrounding certainty, and it’s through this fundamental distrust of fixed things that he makes salient geopolitical points.

Borders are fixed and thus ‘against life’, the very essence of which is constant change. Drawing borders, he says, is like trying to draw a line in soup. Maybe the consistency is thick enough, but the line will eventually fade. Even the words ‘border control’ offer humorous malleability – they’re a bore, a con. These 75 minutes are extremely well-spent in Creed’s artful, ambling company.

Turner Prize-winner’s comical one-man show flirts with boredom and brilliance