Art Review: Cadaver Police in the Electrocution Afterlife

Dir. Alan McKendrick, Tron Theatre, 24th May. Rehearsed Reading.  

It’s always unfortunate when the most interesting thing about a show is its name. Cadaver Police in the Electrocution Afterlife couldn’t not sound promising, and yet the actual performance narrowly misses the mark, despite putting forward an initially intriguing concept. The show tells the story of a dysfunctional punk band (Cadaver Police) caught in an increasingly nightmarish cycle of self-destruction and selling out. Two deadpan narrators attempt to inject dry wit into a script that is frustratingly long-winded and needs some heavy editing, while a trio of rock musicians – Glasgow’s own Smack Wizards – provide a thundering live soundtrack and are in many ways the show’s saving grace.

If you happen to be someone who enjoys sitting in on a live jamming session, then you will find enough in this show to keep you engaged for its duration – just. Indeed, Smack Wizards play their part very well, thrashing out full-throated musical interludes whilst simultaneously keeping up a façade of nonchalance that fits well with the show’s dissonant atmosphere. Unfortunately, the absurd energy of Smack Wizards resonates in spite of the main body of the show, not because of it.

There are some occasional moments of successfully executed comedy (look out for “Anti-Cop Song” and the bizarrely clever conceit of crying to an episode of My Little Pony), but in general the jokes fall flat, with punchlines that don’t really justify the long, plodding build-ups. The script is plagued by the kind of over-wrought language you might recognise from your first-year philosophy essays; while this is clearly supposed to be part of the joke, it soon becomes tedious and repetitive, and doesn’t give the actors enough to work with to do themselves justice.

The show will of course benefit from tighter transitions and a more fluent delivery once the actors go off-script. However, if the purpose of a rehearsed reading is to convey the essence and potential of the show’s raw material, then Cadaver Police in the Electrocution Afterlife has disappointingly little to offer.      

[Cat Acheson – @cat_acheson]

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