Edinburgh Festival: We, Object (4 stars)

“This is not a show about small things,” is repeated throughout the gloriously surreal Figs in Wigs latest mash-up of mind-bending juxtapositions and wordplay challenging your preconceptions – not so much making you think outside the box, as turning the box into a triangle.

The group of female performers, with their trademark Frida Kahlo-style eyebrows and deadpan expressions, rattle through their many and varied ideas as easily as they throw off neverending layers of white jumpsuits. A slideshow becomes people sliding across a floor; next it is projected slides of children’s slides. Nothing has one meaning when it can have three.

Breaking Bad, Lassie, chickens, dolls – it’s a medley of the eclectic, performed through brilliantly kitsch routines to classic pop tunes. The cast desperately try to get rid of tiny props that keep popping up: small glasses, pegs and other bits and pieces. This is, after all, not a show about small things.

What it is about is objects, being objectified and objecting. Strange associations highlight stranger, but not unfamiliar, attitudes. The group’s deliberately unsexy appearance challenges the way you look at them; an unsensual strip routine, the way you look at clothes. And “the shackles of domesticity” are simply a chain of banal, everyday items.

A fusion of pop culture, gender politics, visual puns and dance, it playfully pokes fun at big issue plays by subverting expectations in tiny but effective ways. It’s true, it is not a piece about small things – but it is one that uses small things to tackle bigger things in a way that is funny and provocative.

With its thrown-together style, the production looks simpler than it is and has more to offer than it may at first seem, constantly pushing you to look beyond the obvious and the superficial.

Packed with ideas, by the end the only way it can surprise is by repeating something that has gone before, which, through an audacious comic finale, it boldly does.

Written for The Scotsman

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