Sunday, August 24, 2008

"I Love You, Bro" - Edinburgh Fringe 2008

I think this is probably the most uncomfortable I've felt in a show this year - quite an achievement considering that I've seen "The Factory". Not to mention the hours spent in sauna-like airless rooms. But there was an altogether different reason for my uncomfortable shifting in my seat during "I Love You, Bro".

Given that this is based on a true story I wasn't sure how to respond to Ash Flanders' portrayal of Johnny, who through elaborate online identities persuades the object of his affection to stab him. He's clearly a charismatic character to have pulled it all off so convincingly (although one does wonder about just how gullible people can be) but should I really be laughing with him?

Depending on your viewpoint he's either a downright nasty piece of work or a vulnerable boy with mental health issues. Either way, I'm sure my sympathy should really lie with Mark who is caught up in Johhny's (world wide) web of deceit. And while we do get to hear Mark's 'voice' it's always through Johnny. I think I would have engaged a lot more with the show had Mark been present in the form of another actor - or the story told entirely from his viewpoint.

Adam J A Cass has written a piece whose narrator and use of language is somewhat reminiscent of "A Clockwork Orange" but while Burgess creates Alex a punishment that renders him a victim, here Johnny's fate is insufficient to generate much empathy for the character. But that shouldn't detract from an impressive performance from Flanders as he chronicles the events. He carries the audience with him through sheer force of will and against their better judgement - at least in my case.

At the end of the day "I Love You, Bro" is more a curiosity piece than anything else, as despite being rooted in truth, it's just too bizarre to be thought-provoking in any meaningful way.

I Love You, Bro runs at the Pleasancedome at 2.25pm until 25th August
Image used with permission