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As befits a Deep South storyteller of floridly gruesome tales, Dandy Darkly boasts a shrill, singsong voice forever quavering on the verge of hysteria and a morbidly foppish appearance: his portly frame is adorned with frills, flowers, frock coat and fingerless lace gloves, as well as ornamental skulls, a dainty topper and maquillage that looks like it might just hide signs of the pox. It’s a distinctive and no doubt to some alienating mien yet it’s apt enough to his stories, which are satirical tales about contemporary sexual alienation couched in terms of fantastical fairytale horror, equal parts Tennesse Williams, Edgar Allen Poe and Bruce La Bruce, with a dash of Brothers Grimm for good measure. In one tale, a young gay boy’s disaffection with his own body takes on a grisly woodland twist; in another, a repressed gay man’s fascination with zombie sex stands for neuroses around HIV; in another, a hypocritical small town is confronted with the explosion of its suppressed kinks. Speaking against an atmospheric running instrumental soundtrack, Dandy Darkly exploits with élan such time-honoured storytelling devices as doggerel and alliteration (‘beady eyes, bloodshot beyond belief, bled ruby rivers’); some of the cultural references are US-specific, and attempts at UK equivalents don’t always come off, but these richly macabre and pointedly satirical imaginative landscapes unlike anything else at the Fringe, or indeed elsewhere.
For more from Ben Walters in Edinburgh, follow him @not_television