When a show opens with an unnervingly slow and out-of-time rendition version of Jolene, you know you are in for a strange night. And sure enough, acclaimed emerging company Sh!t Theatre deliver. A show about Scotland’s favourite Dolly (the sheep) and America’s favourite Dolly (the world-renowned singer), the love letter to cloning and country music is touring after its successful run at the Edinburgh Fringe.
DollyWould is comprised of trivia, synchronised interview readings, and lots of (very explicit) photos from their expeditions to the homes of both Dolly Parton and Dolly the sheep. Rebecca Biscuit and Louise Mothersole are charming stage presences even as they dress as breasts, bleat around the stage and throw back bottles of rum, and the randomness of the show has an odd if somewhat hollow charm.
If you’re struggling to connect the pieces of what narrative or theme underlies this show, you still will be after it has finished, leaving you wondering exactly what the show is for. DollyWould is ultimately quite a self-indulgent show – it’s the show that Sh!t Theatre wanted to make regardless of who would want to see it – and they are well aware of this. As such, it’s not funny enough or interesting enough to stand up from an entertainment point of view. The closest the show gets to being insightful is when recordings of interviewers asking Dolly Parton about her plastic surgery and remarking on her figure play whilst the two cast members try to hang from a suspended pole.
For a show that has a lot of heart but very little coherence, the best way to consider DollyWould is as that most rare of shows; an absurdist show that is pleasant to watch. Even so, if you want to see something substantial you’ve come to the wrong show.