“Beautifully observed “
**** 4 Stars
James Ley’s pitch black comedy and observation on one gay man’s life is perhaps the most of adult of the offerings at this year’s festival. Following an acclaimed run earlier this year at veteran venue The Traverse, Wilf drives back onstage at Trav 1 for the full festival.
Accompanied by a plethora of 80’s pop hits we are introduced to Calvin (a simply astonishing performance from Michael Dylan) who after 104 driving lessons from ex psychotherapist turned instructor Thelma (Irene Allan in blistering Form) finally passes his test and buys himself a second hand car naming it “Wilf”
No longer having access to Irene, Calvin transfer this relationship to “Wilf” and finally breaking free of abusive boyfriend “Seth” Calvin embarks on debauched sex parties that are awash in drink and drugs on a journey of self discovery that ultimately leads him to find the one things that he has always missed, himself.
James Ley’s writing is beautifully observed by Traverse Artistic Director Gareth Nicholls, packed with tough language and never shying away from sex scenes it takes Dylan’s utter commitment to stop it all becoming crass and uncalled for.
A tight company is joined by Becky Minto’s excellent set design that brings “Wilf” fully to life alongside taking us into Calvin’s chaotic life which borders on bi-polar this is a comedy plan with real drama at its heart which makes it endlessly engaging to watch.
There are moments which shock, watching anyone attempting to make love to car was always going to be abstract in this show the limits are pushed to watching Calvin having full out rough sex with “Wilf” that while initially has the audience laughing stuns them into silence.
Wilf has a couple of moments where it pushes too hard, but it’s understandable in many ways, theatre is the last true uncensored space and in the hands of the Traverse what we get ultimately is an examination on the fragility of mental health a subject now more than ever means so much to so many.
If you like your theatre deeply engaging with laughter in the darkness then Wilf truly hits the spot!
Wilf, Traverse Theatre, Traverse 1 Venue 15 for tickets go to: Wilf | Theatre | Edinburgh Festival Fringe (edfringe.com) or direct from the traverse theatre.