Rocky! The Return of the Loser
It was a strange feeling to take my review notes along to, well, my laptop, & plug in to Zoo TV’s online Fringe festival. No Edinburgh crowds to hack through; no daft-o-clock hangovers to attack with three litres of orange juice – just me on my settee with a nice cup of tea. Yet as the warm, opening preamble of ROCKY! THE RETURN OF THE LOSER began flowing onto the screen, there was a reassuring sense of culturality, dipping as I was into the quicksilver that is Fix&Foxy’s quirky recapturing/reimagining of the Rocky universe.
There was a crowd – clearly filmed in a precovid climate – which added atmosphere as the production was zoomed out to the world via Zoo TVs online festival. The onstage camera work & lighting translated really well to celluloid, by the way, a very cinematic production for a classic piece of cinema. The latter of course is Rocky, & what we get for the first third of this feature-length production is an oral overview of the film with all its gritty nuances & menial monochrome & masterminded by director Tue Biering & delivered by the extremely talented Morten Burien. Danish boys, tho’ the universality of the piece & Morten’s excuisite English knitted my watching consciousness neatly & easily into their artistic tapestry.
Like every person who stares into infinity he’s reminded of his own cosmic insignificance. Rocky is yelling into the darkness ‘yes I am loser, but no one ever picked me up, no one ever gave me a chance.’
Burien’s command of the art of monologue is infectiously addictive – he never dwells on a thought for too long, sending the thread bouncing off at all angles like a ninja with a yoyo. About one third through we arrive at the dechrysalisation – a malformed butterfly bursts from the confines of the Rocky films into something very rich & strange. Like the leading protagonist of Egil’s Saga (by Snori Sturluson: 12th century), Rocky becomes a warrior-poet with, ‘words packing more punch than the hardest fist.’ Along the ride our Frankensteinean caricature finds himself bounding majestically through all sorts of zeitgeist-scraping hijinx in a racially divided world. I mean, the concept of Rocky reading, & understanding, Mein Kampf lies somewhere far beyond the spectrum of ordianry human thought.
The performance is very much about myself and how I find myself feeling frustrated, shameful and paralysed by witnessing the right-wing movement in Europe. And I wanted to challenge myself and all my good left-wing, humanistic intensions and my own lack of tolerance. Its very much me and people like me who get knocked out in this show; and that’s more interesting than just pointing my finger at the others, I thinkTue Biering (read the full interview)
As Rocky continues to be superimposed onto the modern political battlefield – still punching – its all quite fascinating stuff, all the while being dramatically interspersed with exceptionally good pieces of quite-scary-actually physical theatre. Realistic one-man fights & midmorph lycanthropic rages offer deamonical interludes & counterpoints to Burian’s light-emitting soliloquies. Beside all this, of course, the menacing & visceral presence of a mutilated pig hangs on a hook, Hellraiser style. A gripping production all round.