Theatre Beating @ The Tuxedo Cat – Green Room
9:45pm, Thu 21 Feb 2013
It breaks my heart that, despite frequent appearances at the Fringe Caravan in the ‘Mall (and the respect and love of the Fringe Crew that manage the caravan), there’s precious few people present to watch this performance of Squidboy – in fact, there’s only two attendees: myself and Insomnia Cat writer Fleur Kilpatrick. But I sincerely believe that, between the two of us, we managed to shower Squidboy’s stage with love and appreciation equal to a Green Room at capacity.
Because Trygve Wakenshaw’s performance is brilliantly bonkers.
It’s similar in concept and execution, of course, to last year’s version of the show, though there was a noticeable trimming of fat; this is, most certainly, a leaner, more efficient Squidboy. The broad strokes of the plot remain the same – animal greetings, meeting Pooch the dog, then the crisp cut to the squid-fearing fisherman; the road-trip to Mexico whilst being chased by gladiators is still intact, too. A slightly truncated ending – bereft of the meta-theatrical denouement of 2012’s show – was the most noticeable edit.
The similarity of the material leads me to several conclusions. The first is that Squidboy is, without a doubt, tightly scripted; something that Trygve verified when Fleur and I chatted with him after the show, in a most wonderfully private Q&A session. After my previous doubts – I’d written “it wouldn’t surprise me if [it] was just a couple of checkpoints and a sixty-minute finish-line” – I was genuinely surprised to see the script again, because it clearly means that Wakenshaw has a glorious screw loose. But I was still surprised by the variation in the delivery… whilst it would be charitable to call an audience of two “intimate”, Squidboy played to us, tweaking the performance to suit (and, on occasion, informing us what we may have missed due to the refined performance).
Yes, I lamented the missing “Ink!” blackouts, but in the grand scheme of things they don’t matter that much – the script now feels much more cohesive. Squidboy was still an immensely enjoyable blend of wackiness, whimsy, and – weirdly – genuinely touching moments. Wakenshaw has a wonderful presence onstage, and I wish him ginormous crowds in the future… because he really deserves them.