Review - BRIGHTON FRINGE: Douze – The Warren
Rating: ★★★★(★) - Poptastic!
Review by Paul Couch for The Reviews Hub on May 12th 2016
It must have been the early 1980s when the once-respected Eurovision Song Contest first looked into the abyss of mediocrity and mediocrity screeched back.
From the heights of Céline Dion and Gigliola Cinquetti to the depths of Jedward and Scooch – the Gods of Eurovision must be bawling tears of frustration as quality gives way to novelty, as integrity falls under the trampling hooves of overnight fame, autotune and glitter.
It’s refreshing, then, that not all Eurovision acts take such liberties with the contest and Xnthony and The Penny Slots surely have the gravitas to pick up the top spot at the 2016 bash. But what’s that? They’ve been pipped to the semis by some ex-boyband pop-tart called Nicky Byrne? Never mind, kids, let’s put on a show right here in the old…inflatable theatre. There’s always 2017. And 2018.
Yes, Brighton Fringe’s impressive blow-up auditorium plays home to Xnthony and The Penny Slots, who prance and twerk across the stage, threatening to burst out of their sequined livery with every over-ambitious high-kick. Some of their “choreography” is not just ill-advised but downright dangerous.
But of course, Douze is a play and Xnthony is a construct played by 28-year-old Dublin-born performance artist Anthony Keigher, The Penny Slots by Hannah Roza Fisher and Tiffany Murphy. While Eurovision is no stranger to over-the-top campness, surely Xnthony is the bastard child of Verka Serduchka and Dana International. However, behind the comic façade, Xnthony shows an elegiac vulnerability that no amount of fabulousness can disguise.
The trio are grotesques, self-mocking parodies created to illustrate perfectly the depths that some will go to in search of their five minutes of fame. It’s clever because we both love Xnthony and his entourage but are simultaneously repulsed by their neediness and attraction – like the rather tatty moths they are – to the flame of fame.
Their songs range from atrocious to banal and back again. Which is a shame because all three actually have great voices and not even the second-rate lyrics and brain-scrambling melodies can hide that.
Fortunately for us, Xnthony and The Penny Slots don’t take themselves too seriously and neither should we. Johnny Logan would be proud.
Quatre points et demi.