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SIMON EVANS: Dressing For Dinner at Edinburgh Fringe

SIMON EVANS: Dressing For Dinner
SIMON EVANS: Dressing For Dinner

A well-constructed show, despite the title, Dressing for Dinner, having nothing to do with the subject matter, the last third of the hour-long set taking a most unexpected turn and becoming surprisingly revelatory and poignant. A joke about three men in a bar is repositioned for contemporary audiences – which is fine, but it still takes some explanation, partly because his audiences are not exactly the youngest bunch of people at the Edinburgh Fringe. There’s stuff about being ‘cis’, which (believe it or not) also needed defining, and ‘identity politics’, where people are uniting behind a particular cause, irrespective of party allegiance, if indeed there one has a party allegiance in the first place. Whoever genuinely thinks that explaining a joke makes it completely unfunny needs to see this show.

The show also reflects on Evans’ personal identity. His generation is one in which being an only child was uncommon, even if wasn’t a cause for being bullied in the school playground: “It’s not like being ginger.” Having become one of those people interested in exploring their ancestry, the results are laid bare in a highly detailed account of how he discovered quite why the DNA results he paid for were what they were. And it wasn’t, as it turns out, inaccurate.

There is nothing gained by revealing the conclusions themselves here, suffice to say they are incredibly fascinating. A confident and eloquent performance, he is comfortable with the technical and medical terminology used in DNA results – quite aptly, the show is in one of the University of Edinburgh’s lecture theatres, which made projections of charts and images easy to see, and there is some evident skill involved in making terms like ‘autosomal’ and ‘mitochondrial’ accessible and entertaining. A briskly paced and intriguing performance.

4 stars

Review by Chris Omaweng

Following on from last years’ Genius 2.0, Simon Evans presents another ‘magnificently pessimistic’ (The List) look at modern life and what the hell has gone wrong, in his brand new show Dressing For Dinner.  This year, in a similarly splenetic vein, he scrutinises the departure of tradition, convention and formality from life – public, private and especially domestic.

His children’s refusal to change into a clean shirt for dinner on weeknights, a neighbour’s boy who addresses him cheerfully by his Christian name, the replacement of barber shop pornography with Star Wars memorabilia, and tattooing journals, and the strange pricking of tears that sting his eyes when he enters a hardware shop and encounters an elderly man in a three-quarter-length brown cotton coat who might indeed be able to lay his hands on either fork handles or four candles. All signs that life is losing its edges.

SIMON EVANS: Dressing For Dinner
Assembly, George Square
31st July – 25th August 2019


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