Rachael Clerke is a very talented and very angry theatre maker. She has a problem with buildings and architecture and is taking to the stage in Summerhall to vent her fury. Cuncrete is not a typo or misspelling. However “concrete” is the big solid theme of the show. Housing and modern idealism are tackled in this punk rock musical, where Clerke’s haunting and disturbing manifesto is given a loud and boisterous makeover.
The Great White Males are a punk rock drag king extravaganza and the band provides the soundtrack for the performance. They are a loud lo-fi four piece consisting of Archibald Tactful (aka Rachael Clerke – vocals), johnsmith (aka Eleanor Fogg – guitar), Little Keith (aka Anna Smith – drums) and Jonnie Jove (aka Joesphine Joy – bass). They sound not too dissimilar to X-Ray Specs, PiL, Siouxsie and the Banshess or even Pornography era The Cure. The noise veers towards no-wave and post-punk and it captures the tone and power of the performance. Cuncrete presents of a series of bass heavy songs, over which the singer wails her words. It is a gig with a purpose and the message is loud and clear. In many ways Cuncrete would have benefitted if it took place in a music venue instead of a theatre space. The show works on many levels and could have easily have been staged in a sweaty club or dive bar where the sound and noise could have reached even greater heights.
At one point the words of Margaret Thatcher ring out over the PA and Clerke responds with a glorious pose, welcoming the late Prime Ministers thoughts on home ownership and the housing market. It is a chilling endorsement. This element of the show does feel a bit underused as the effect is striking and arresting. It’s a rare thing for a performance to be improved with more Margret Thatcher, but Cuncrete is indeed a rare and atypical theatre experience.