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War of the Sperms - Edinburgh Festival

Published by: G.D. Mills on 20th Aug 2017 | View all blogs by G.D. Mills

After a glut of one and two man shows, which the Edinburgh show format seems to favour, it was refreshing to see a large stage teeming with life. The phrase ‘teeming with life’ seems particularly apt given that most of the eleven strong cast play individual sperm cells, inhabiting John’s testes and tasked with the mission of fusing with John’s girlfriend’s egg. Dressed all in white, including a swimming cap and a tail to match, this naieve bunch are instructed in the ways of insemination by a guru, an ageing sperm cell, who uses a flipchart to address the two rows of pupils, divided as they are into X and Y chromosomal categories. John is heralded as their supreme leader, while the occasional booming, omniscient voice-over provides the narration. Soon the sperms set out on their dangerous mission: most will fall by the wayside, others will be knocked off in battle, while only one will find his way to his intended destination.

This ingenious little play began life at the INK Festival and has since grown into a successful 60 minute show. It is littered with filthy puns, some of which creep up on you, and there is more than a good deal of physical comedy. War of the Sperms carries a clever concept right through into its well developed narrative. Some performances were notably stronger than others and there were moments where the skill of the writing isn’t entirely matched by its delivery. Overall, however, the cast as a whole were so irresistibly endearing this didn’t much matter: there is such a sense of anarchic fun that the audience seem willing to be led into the silliest, naughtiest and dampest of comedic crevices.

 At first I thought this show might be favoured by a student crowd and yet there were people of all ages in the audience. There was no shortage of laughter and a great deal of shared enthusiasm as people left the studio. Sperm may have a notoriously short lifespan, indeed the War of the Sperms has come to the end of its run in Edinburgh, yet it certainly deserves to have another life somewhere else beyond the fringe.

Image result for four and a half stars


1 Comment

  • Cameron Lowe
    by Cameron Lowe 11 months ago
    Thanks, Geoff. An excellent (and justifiable) use of the word "testes" in a review! ;)
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