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Edinburgh Preview 2015: Dandy Darkly’s Trigger Happy (CC Blooms, Edinburgh)

dandy darkly's trigger happy
Dandy Darkly's trigger happy

Rhinestone cowgay. Photograph: Courtesy of Bobby Miller.

In A Nutshell

Dandy Darkly’s Trigger Happy is a sawn-off suckerpunch of darkest satire. Armed with lethal wit and wordery, he’s a brutal burlesque bard.

Concept

Dandy is a storyteller of some fame across the pond in New York, using prose and high-camp pathos to weave twisted, lurid, and creepy, campy stories. In Dandy Darkly’s Trigger Happy, Dandy brings a collection of four narratives to explore the American mentality: the pursuit of happiness, modern homophobia, trigger warnings, American anxiety, gentrification, and rootin’ tootin’ gun crime.

Whilst Dandy Darkly’s Trigger Happy is all-American fayre, this doesn’t mean that its only Americans that will appreciate it. In it there’s a lot of issues and pathos that translate and chime on this side of the Atlantic; partly because we’re not shut off to the maelstrom of Americana; partly because Dandy, through his art, really captivates and draws you into his stories; but mostly because Dandy’s stories so effortlessly gets to the still beating heart of his subject – presenting it on a slightly bloodied silk cushion for our delectation.

Dandy’s use of humour is sublime, really driving the captivation and the connection to the subject matter. There are as plenty of laugh out loud moments in Dandy Darkly’s Trigger Happy as there are moments where you’ll sit enrapt in some superlative storytelling. You’ll giggle shocked, amazed, and somewhat perversely at points. But what’s really outstanding is Dandy’s grasp and use of language. The prose is beautifully thick with wit and words, quivering with beautiful alliterations and lush imagery. It’s impossible to get bored listening to Dandy’s lightly tripping and slightly trippy verse. Metre, intelligence, and gory detail intoxicate and thrill. It’s a format and a performance that you cannot ignore or refuse.

But it’s the satire that really makes Dandy Darkly’s Trigger Happy, making the show far from a flippant outing. LGBT complacency, trite commercialism, and all American homophobic and torn to utter shreds in these bizarre yet brilliant bouts of vermin in drag, reanimated rag dolls, and werewolf-on-werewolf midnight orgies respectively. As much as no truer word were ever said in jest, no more scathing shade was ever thrown in Gothic campery.

It’s a little odd that Dandy Darkly’s Trigger Happy is billed as “horror”, as you won’t get scared as such. Although the show is grim, gruesome, and sticky making it a decidedly adult affair, don’t expect spooks and jumps. But instead, prepare yourself for the creepiest, campiest, and craven culture curmudgeonry to have ever graced our sceptred isle.

Dandy Darkly's Trigger Happy

Stop, or my queen will shoot! Photograph: Courtesy of Laura Pardo.

Performance

A good story does not a good storyteller make, and Dandy Darkly’s Trigger Happy begs for a simply phenomenal narrator. Thankfully, the show’s creator is just that. Firstly, it’s incredibly impressive how Dandy has managed to memorise and slide through the incredibly plump and complex verse like a hot knife through boy-butter. Secondly, like any brilliant storyteller, it’s all about how they make a connection with the audience.

Making the connection with the audience more difficult, and therefore impressive, is the fact that Dandy Darkly’s Trigger Happy is performed to a fixed soundtrack of music and sound. This is very risky device as often being so clockwork can often turn a performance quite stale. But not here. The audience always feel like they’re being spoken to rather than at. This is because there’s plenty of flexibility in Dandy Darkly’s Trigger Happy’s underscoring for audience interactions and responses. Even though almost the entire show is dictated by the strict running time of the backing-track, Dandy Darkly’s Trigger Happy still manages to feel wonderfully fluid, but with extra aural illustration and titillation.

Dandy as a performance personality is completely beguiling. Manic, mincing, gargoyle-like, and glittered-up to the nines in a simply stunning cowboy outfit, there’s no-one out there that’s as fun as they are fiendish. Sexual and sensational, Dandy’s mere presence and unhinged hospitality will really put you in a glorious spin, and that’s even before he pristinely recites his ravishing verse.

Verdict

As if Edgar Alan Poe had snorted a shit load of glitter, Dandy Darkly’s Trigger Happy is one of the most jubilantly camp, twisted, and gob-smackingly unique prose performances out there. You’ll laugh, you’ll revile, and you’ll leave deliciously distracted.

Dandy Darkly’s Trigger Happy runs at CC Bloom, Edinburgh, EH1 3AA from 8-18 and 10-20 August 2015. Tickets are FREE (though strictly 18+)! For venue information and performance times, please visit https://tickets.edfringe.com.

This preview was written during the show’s performance at The Society Club, London, in July 2015.

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