Review: The Worst of Scottee, Assembly George Square
Published in The Scotsman, 17.08.2013
Big, thick, black inky tears stream down Scottee’s face; a show of emotions as his black lips mouth a glossy version of Cry Me a River. An hour later, stripped to a white smock with his make-up wiped off, he stands before us and sings a quiet, quivering Je Ne Regrette Rien; not Scottee, but Scot.
For those who don’t know this ramshackle doyen of the London queer cabaret performance art scene, Scottee is a brash, brassy hoot, always decked out in some outrageous garb or other. What we don’t see is Scot. You suspect that no one does; not really. Even without make-up, we see a construction: “Scot” at best.
Broadly speaking, the concept behind his first full-length solo show is to confess his worst sins, his guiltiest secrets and his most shameful moments.
He sits, wearing a funereal shorts suit, in a photo booth and talks to a video camera. We see him in profile live and straight on onscreen. He talks of the girlfriend whose suicide he invented, of methodically stealing from his family to satisfy his eating addiction, of claiming Aids to wriggle out of trouble. Each admission is backed up by an old acquaintance onscreen all of whom note they’ve not seen Scot in years.
This is a digital confession box and the only priest listening is a machine designed to capture and broadcast. There’s a suggestion of vlogging – of the need to testify, to scandalise oneself – but also of self-portraiture, be that for oneself or for official purposes.
Because there’s an underlying sense that, somehow, Scottee’s the worst thing that Scot ever did; in that act, he somehow denied his roots and redacted his past. But the opposite is also true, for he holds onto these moments – these emotional scars and guilt glitches – even though those he wronged have long since “let bygones be bygones”. Time is a healer and it’s here that the show sidesteps any suggestion of self-indulgence.
This isn’t the showiest show, nor the slickest, but it’s brave, heartfelt and full of integrity. Just lovely.