EFR - Reviews of AN AUDIENCE WITH GORGEOUS GEORGE!

AN AUDIENCE WITH GORGEOUS GEORGE!

Sat 8th – Tue 18th August 2015

reviews

Julia Pritchard

at 09:18 on 10th Aug 2015

0agrees

1disagrees

An Audience with Gorgeous George, written by and starring Alex Brockie, takes us through the early years of George Raymond Wagner, infamous 1940s wrestler and founder of the outrageous lifestyle of the ‘camp’. You’d think an hour of fun, frills and flamboyance would be on the cards… but donning a lack lustre lime-green suit and a blonde curly wig (suspiciously similar to that of a Marilyn Monroe fancy dress costume) I was only disappointed that the ‘Gorgeous George’ involved was sadly not, Mr Clooney. Nowhere near his standard, actually.

The characterization on the whole, didn’t really meet the mark. Taking a bizarre turn through seemingly irrelevant tales of his youth in the South as opposed to talk of his life as a high profile wrestler and controversial figure, both the characters and events portrayed within the story were confusing, and often unrelated. Despite admirable efforts to keep it intact, his accent slipped on far too many occasions from George’s famous Southern American drawl to the actor’s very, very British one and just became a bit awkward to watch.

In fact, the most successful parts of the performance were ironically the moments Brockie played George as his ‘gorgeous’ stage counterpart, rather than the real George beneath, which was approximately four minutes of the forty-five minute production. Perhaps much like George himself, with the loss of the wig during the piece’s opening, came the loss of the piece’s personality and any sort of interesting humour.

There were a couple of mildly amusing moments, but they were the type of lines that you shouldn’t really find funny, but end up laughing at anyway. The one I found myself mindlessly chuckling to was, ‘He’s gone to be a milkman? How dare ‘e!’. Enough said.

The small and cosy venue at the Cloud & Soil is a suitable choice for this one-man show, at least. The intimate nature of the piece, taking us back through George's childhood memories and career struggles, becomes somewhat more effective in the equally intimate setting. Seating no more than 20 people, it feels like he's talking to you personally, and revealing secrets to friends rather than strangers in the audience, which is quite nice.

Apart from that, there isn’t too much else to note. I applaud Brockie for constructing such a lengthy script and holding up all the content by himself - no easy feat. But frankly, I left with no lingering thoughts or emotions from what I'd just seen, and am sad to admit that remembering it for all the wrong reasons, is highly likely.

agree
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Holly Willis

at 09:33 on 10th Aug 2015

0agrees

1disagrees

An Audience with Gorgeous George is a tribute to professional wrestler George Raymond Wagner, in the year that would have marked his 100th birthday. Written and performed by Alex Brockie, the show is a biography of Wagner’s life as told by the eponymous ‘Gorgeous George’ himself. The premise of the show is intriguing: the story of a wrestler who boldly decides to adopt a camp persona in the ring, and ends up a controversial celebrity figure. The reality, however, is disappointing.

The show promises a character whose ‘outrageous behaviour shocked conservative post-war America and thrust “camp” into the forefront of popular culture’, a promise which sadly is not delivered. Brockie has a likeable stage presence and a certain level of charisma, and is word-perfect throughout, but he often comes across as reserved even in Clouds and Soil’s small Compass Room. As a result, the rather two-dimensional performance is a far cry from the flamboyance you would expect from a character named ‘Gorgeous George’. A very questionable Texan accent, combined with this tendency to play it safe, stops the performance from living up to its glitzy advertising. There is nothing outrageous about it: it is mildly amusing at best, and at worst dull and monotonous.

Brockie deserves credit for the fabulous costumes that feature in the show. All costumes are placed on a simple coat stand on stage, allowing him to switch easily between characters. His Georgian-style get-up is complete with a snazzy green silk waistcoat, and his curled blond wig is quite something to behold. A pink velour cape, emblazoned with a Juicy Couture-esque diamante ‘G.G.’, is the most successful indicator of Wagner’s extraordinarily camp alter-ego. For the majority of the show this hangs on the coat stand for the audience to see, a reminder of the provocative and entertaining character that could have been.

The show had a reasonable audience considering that the subject matter is niche and the location out of the way. Brockie holds the floor well and is confident, but simply not confident or assured enough to portray such a larger-than-life character convincingly. I often found myself drifting and missing moments, struggling to engage with the often lacklustre performance effort. It is entertaining enough, but no instances stand out as being especially memorable.

Overall I think the show is misrepresented, selling itself as an eccentric comedy when in reality it is more of a mildly interesting life story. If you are in the area or indeed a Gorgeous George fan then perhaps consider giving it a watch, but the Free Fringe has far better shows to offer.

agree
disagree

Comments

Alex Brockie; 10th Aug 2015; 11:26:40

I think you may have missed the point girls. George was a star in the 1940's and what was camp & outrageous back then simply isn't so by today's standards - you need to consider context & maybe do some research. He isn't a contestant on RuPaul's Drag Race or a Ladyboy of Bangkok, he's more of an effeminate dandy. Also, the old man humour is again reflective of the time - look up comedians like Bob Hope & Jack Benny and then consider that George isn't a comedian so his stuff should seem even more 'dated' and 'try hard'. That being said the show isn't meant to be a comedy and has never been advertised as such. It gets laughs but is ultimately a biographical drama. Sorry it wasn't one for you but I feel that your review is not particularly objective or well rounded. (ps the wig is a Mae West not a Marilyn Monroe).

Alex Brockie; 23rd Aug 2015; 10:11:35

Oh, and here's how a reporter from THE HERALD described AN AUDIENCE WITH GORGEOUS GEORGE... 'clever, witty, moving, flawlessly performed (he has the Texan accent to a tee) and as professional as anything you'll see in the cluster of powerhouse venues which dominate the Fringe.' (Here's the link to the full article: http://m.heraldscotland.com/…/13620809.A_trip_around_the_…/…)

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