I remember going to see Jerry Springer the Opera at the Fringe Festival Edinburgh. There were protesters outside urging anyone with a ticket to disregard the blasphemous performance inside. I thought the fact that the opera could attract any public attention - never mind genuine outrage - was quite novel. More art - certainly more opera - could do with this sort of very public, messy and embarrassing controversy.
Merrie Hell, which features the writer of Jerry Springer, Richard Thomas, is a much more intimate affair than the opera. It's also a lot sleazier. But it's still got the same sledge-hammer approach to the delicate issue of faith, politics and sexuality.
There's always a danger, though, that in attempting to shock or provoke, a performance descends into a clumsy rant; boring, rather than stimulating the crowd. Merrie Hell seems to fall into this category. Drag Queen David Hoyle struts about, croaking out some descent musical numbers interspersed with toilet humour.
It almost feels like a paen to clapped out drag artists everywhere - a sort of lament for a time when people were genuinely shocked by this sort of thing, and the artist could define his (her?) self against the sneers of others.
For me, though, Merrie Hell felt thrown together. It's a clumsy attempt at a satire on Britain, which often just descends into a drag queen ranting about how awful Christmas is.
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