DollyWould

Sh!t Theatre with Show And Tell

Summerhall

From 02 August 2017 to 27 August 2017

Rating: *****

Review by Amy Yorston

They’re back with a vengeance looking for their mainstream crossover hit.

Sh!t Theatre returns to Edinburgh with a show about Dolly Parton because they love her uniqueness and they love her brand. But how can you love uniqueness when the ingredients are sold and copied at every given opportunity?

One one level, this is a mad adventure with two engaging performers leading the audience through a playground of wigs, balloons, giant boobs and close-harmony singing. On another, this is a play bursting with themes: cloning, branding, death, decay, feminism… the list goes on.

Performers Louise and Becca are Dolly superfans: they’ve been to Dollywood, they’ve got the tattoos and had their picture taken in the preserved trailer of Dolly’s breakout interview with Barbara Walters. They’ve also visited Dolly the sheep in her museum home—rotating slowly and neatly preserved behind glass.

On their trip to America they also, unsuccessfully, tried to peek into the Tennessee death farm, but that’s another story. Or is it? By examining Dolly Parton’s ideas about fame and singing her answers to Barbara Walters questions, the pair deftly introduce the concept of performative individuals—even a clone will perform differently than its originator because it’s a performance of the first; like a musical score.

Dolly Parton and Dolly the sheep are unique, but they are also brands, their image rippling through collective consciousness, copied but never equalled. Dolly the sheep can’t control her image or monetise it but Dolly Parton? She knows exactly how how to stay in the public eye, the joke is definitely not on her.

Twisting and turning through clever observations about society, statements about gender (there are lots of boobs on display, real and otherwise), a dash of science and plenty of country singing, the pair create an initially baffling but ultimately rewarding show that’s suitable for fans of Dolly (sheep and person) and Sh!t theatre alike.

They really do love Dolly, she just so unique.