Note: This review is from 2006

Review by Steve Bennett

Last year's Perrier-winner Garth Marenghi may not be at the Fringe this year, but he's certainly around in spirit.

Those behind Gladiatrix obviously enjoyed the catalogue of earnestly exaggerated bad acting, bad writing and over-the-top but under-budget production values and thought: "We could do that."

Problem is, they can't.

Presented as a spoilt rich girl's vanity project, this is a supposedly epic tale of ancient Roman slaves and female gladiatorial combat.

Of course, it's really an excuse for a succession of stupid gags. The best of which is in the prologue, where it is explained that the protagonist was named from whence she came: Vulva.

Naturally, that monicker proves a prompt its share of gags, most of which wouldn't have been out of place in Carry On Cleo, and it's telling that such corny gags provide the best moments in an otherwise oddly flat show.

There's a lot more to acting as if you are a bad actor than simply being a bad actor - if that makes sense - and the gorgeous star Lucy Montgomery struggles to inject the right note of comic desperation.

Elsewhere, the script - which isn't without humour - over-extends gags, making too much out of too little.

The assured hand of director Cal McCrystal is evident - with a couple of the ridiculous visual gags that have become his trademark through work with the likes of Spymonkey.

And there are other moments of silliness and inspired gimmicks - but possibly not enough to make it worth the embarrassment of asking for tickets to a show whose title sounds so pornographic.

Review date: 1 Jan 2006
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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