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  • Ceri Taylor

Ceri’s whirlwind reviews – Part 2

Gothenburg Fringe 2023 in review: Conspiracy of Orphans, Go Go Gorgeous and CULT of the Extraterrestrials

For the second year in a row, Ceri Taylor was one of our star volunteers at the festival and made sure to catch a variety of performances during the week to compile a series of reviews.

The beauty of Gothenburg Fringe is how much variety is on offer throughout the week. Whether you prefer comedy, improv, drag, poetry or even magic, there is a show out there for you.

Conspiracy of Orphans | Photo: Uros Hocevar / Gothenburg Fringe

Gothenburg English Studio Theatre (GEST) was a Fringe venue once again in 2023 and this wonderful space hosted Created a Monster’s show Conspiracy of Orphans. This show falls under the physical theatre category and is one of those fantastic shows that is accessible as well as entertaining - performed entirely through mime, it does not matter which language you speak and is also suitable for a Deaf audience.

Conspiracy of Orphans takes us on a non-linear surrealist journey through Europe’s turbulent past, translated directly from stories the cast members themselves have been told about what it was like to live through war. Igor travels East looking for his mama while the narrative interjects fragmented memories of a dark and traumatic past shared with his playmate Vera - but Vera is dead.

Telling the harsh and heavy story through the lens of an innocent child makes for a visceral experience. Throughout the performance you are suspended somewhere between heartbreak, humour and tragedy and the absence of dialogue provides a scope for walking away with your own interpretation of the story which is an apt reflection of reminiscing about our own childhoods. No two people will remember something the exact same way. Two people living through the same experience could have entirely different thoughts and feelings regarding the event, and you as an audience member have the opportunity to reach your own conclusion regarding this dark and genre-defying retelling of war, fear and death.

The performance flew by and had the audience enraptured the entire time, however, be aware that the show can be very dark and there are a number of content warnings to be aware of before going to see it.

Go Go Gorgeous | Photo: Carla Mesquita

Gothenburg Fringe Festival 2023 had the privilege of two preview nights this year, in which every artist had two minutes to pitch their show and convince you to buy tickets. When the burlesque artist Miss Mokki stood up and grabbed her tits, I was sold.

Go Go Gorgeous consists of the undisputed Icelandic queen of burlesque Miss Mokki, drag artist Gogo Starr and Mr. Gorgeous, a burlesque performer and costume designer from the USA. Cozy Folktearten in Järntorget hosted this performance and gave a thirty-minute meet and greet for those brave enough to approach the giants on the door (would have loved to have talked to Mr. Gorgeous more but I think I sprained my neck. I didn’t know the Empire State Building had legs).

Gothenburg was treated to a debut with this performance as the three artists had never performed as a trio before. It might have been the first time but after this reception, it definitely won’t be the last. Mr. Gorgeous even makes a chair look glamorous, with his twisty performances paying homage to the classic Las Vegas showgirl (with the most incredible HANDMADE costumes) and the glitz and glamour of his hometown of New York City.

Miss Mokki took us back to the sawdust and peanuts circus acts complete with sword swallowing and knife throwing with her tits out as well of course - but don’t look scared or she’ll pick on you.

Gogo Starr is a fantastic act with all the tropes of a classic drag queen with the wit and imagination of the wider scope of drag that has been embraced in the recent past, including dancing in a huge shark costume and pouring confetti over a poor soul at the front (me) from a Viking horn.

The three performers on stage are dynamite and the reaction from the packed crowd only reinforces that the drag, burlesque and circus scene is alive and kicking.

And if that wasn’t enough, Miss Mokki and Mr. Gorgeous sell their own handmade pasties (otherwise known as nipple tassels), underwear and other accessories after the show. I caved and I bought some fringed (lmao) sleeves that glow in the dark and were made by the same person who made costumes for Lady Gaga. How cool is that?

CULT of the Extraterrestrials | Photo: Uros Hocevar / Gothenburg Fringe

Everybody was already talking about CULT before the weekend because a giant green alien kept turning up at the preview nights.

CULT of the Extraterrestrials is a drag collective under the same name that has a bit of a reputation for pushing the boundaries of drag. The average person might think of the world drag and immediately picture a man pretending to be a woman on stage. Drag is a medium, and anyone from anywhere can be a drag artist regardless of how they really are in daily life.

CULT shines the spotlight on the scope of drag - drag creatures, drag monsters, drag aliens, and the variety of the audience in attendance reflected the performers on stage. CULT also took the opportunity to highlight a political issue through their performance, and their debut at the Gothenburg Fringe Festival featured a mixture of acknowledging the climate crisis (some of you might remember them from last years climate live concert) and highlighting trans rights and indeed trans issues for people not just in Sweden but all over the world. Every performer on stage - Meatling the Meat Baby, Sinfluencer, Glen the Alien, Filthy Q and special guest Bev - all identify as trans in some way and hearing the packed audience of 2Lång stamping their feet, cheering and screaming trans power unlocked a brand-new core memory and a bit of hearing loss as well.

CULT had a fantastic run at the Gothenburg Fringe Festival this year, with two sold out shows (not sure how 2lang’s roof is still intact) and voted by you, the public, as the winner of the Audience Choice Award - which I know because I had the honour of presenting them with this well-deserved prize.

Keep an eye out for their highly anticipated drag school and maybe one day that could be you! But if you’d rather stay on the other side of the stage as an audience member, everyone give your best moan and hopefully they’ll beam down to earth for next year’s Fringe. Eat the rich!

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