There’s only four more chances to see The Worst of Scottee at Theatre Works this week. Please take one of those chances because it’s a show that lets you happily laugh along at its self-effacing dark humour as it sneaks up to punch you in the gut.
There’s a rare kind of silence in a theatre. The silence where there’s no wiggling or searching for mints in pockets, no sneaky phone checks or whispers. It’s a silence that has everyone in the audience so involved with the story on the stage that even breathing is too much of a distraction.
In this case, it’s created by a fat guy with melting make up who’s in a photo booth, singing karaoke style and telling us about some of the times that he was at his worst, like telling his friends that his ex-girlfriend-cum-best-friend had committed suicide when she was alive, well and happy.
Scottee’s 28 and from the UK where he’s currently an associate artist at Duckie and at the Roundhouse and does a weekly BBC radio show. He’s also well known as the creator of Hamburger Queen, a talent show for fat people.
The Worst of Scottee is about growing up poor, gay and fat. It’s his first solo show (he prefers directing) and has won him and director Chris Goode rave reviews and the Total Theatre Award in Edinburgh in 2013.
With an internal video showing a close up of his face, the photo booth is more a confessional but, even with video interviews from people affected by his worst moments, Scottee doesn’t ask for forgiveness. His telling is theatrical and, even though his stories are about his willingness to tell unforgivable porkies, his onstage honesty is never questioned.
It’s intimate and distancing and filled with a hurt that intentionally oozes out of every sentence even though its never mentioned and written to create loving, if somewhat unsettling, laughs. And it’s so easy to laugh along with him because who didn’t do things they shouldn’t have when they were teenagers.
But as his worst stories get comfortable, he kicks the seat out from under us.
This is a remarkably beautiful and painfully hilarious piece of theatre that left me numb. And for all its theatrical and emotional manipulation, I believe every word of it.