Doris Day Can F**k Off

Greg McLaren sings about the three weeks where he sang all his speech.

theatre review (edinburgh) | Read in About 2 minutes
Published 07 Aug 2011

Greg McLaren's charmingly titled show is billed as a one-man opera, and it's worth remembering exactly what this is before deciding to see it. Typically, every line in an opera—no matter how mundane—is sung, and McLaren adheres to this set up throughout his performance, including when he invites the odd contribution from the audience. This experimental form can be alienating and, on this first night, there are a handful of walkouts. But the ideas expressed by McLaren are engrossing and would likely lose their piquancy in any other format.

McLaren, a sometime Forest Fringe collaborator, decided to sing rather than speak all his conversations for three weeks. This is his effort to put that slightly sadistic mission—sometimes euphoric, often deeply depressing—into a live performance and this show similarly careers up and down like Prince's vocal range. Performed in Zoo Southside's Cabaret Bar, it incorporates covert recordings made by McLaren when conducting daily conversations and musical musings about why "when we don't sing, we forget".

The sociable venue doesn't quite match the non-conventional arrangement of the show but there are several funny moments and genuine warmth when it's revealed that occasionally during those three weeks, strangers responded to McLaren's warblings with sung speech of their own. But, despite its engaging concept, Doris Day... still feels under-developed and ends too abruptly. With a little more focus and a better conclusion, this sociological experiment could make much more alluring theatre.