Fringe 2017: Gladys and the Gutter Stars

Cameron Macaulay and Rachel Gleeson’s ‘Gladys and the Gutter Stars‘ opens as a laidback music interview and but soon escalates into something much more bizarre. The play sees the titular gutter stars – Cameron and Rachel – join Shane Daniel Byrne for an intimate podcast session, interspersed with original musical performances. The session is relaxed, and the simple but stylish design compliments the energy of the performers.

Macaulay and Gleeson’s wacky script lends itself to the deadpan humor of ‘Gladys and the Gutter Stars’, and the cast are adept in creating palpable awkward moments in which the audience are invited to laugh. The self-referential comedy at the heart of Gladys’ script is hugely entertaining. The relationship between Cameron and Rachel is well developed and Macaulay and Gleeson are skilled in conveying their characters discomfort and tension. As their mediator, Byrne contributes massively to the play’s comic relief, with his timing playing a key role in shaping Gladys into a parody of the indie music scene.

Original music by Macaulay and Gleeson punctuate the interview, but the songs do not exist to merely showcase the undeniable talents of the musicians. As an important element of Gladys the lyrics are witty, and Gleeson and Macaulay maintain their characters casual disdain for one another as they perform. The play’s climax showcases the theatricality of this small company. The beautiful setting of the Boy’s School at Smock Alley is not wasted. As the script delves deeper into the bizarre, the unique sound and lighting design of Gladys come to fruition.

Ultimately, ‘Gladys and the Gutter Stars‘ succeeds as a spot-on parody of the contrived nature of podcast culture, as well as ripping into the emergence of cult-like personas in the music industry.

by Sarah McKenna-Barry

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