The Straw Man, Assembly Rooms Blue Room, Review

Rating (out of 5)
Show info
Grist to the Mill
Ross Ericson (writer)
Ross Ericson
Running time

Ross Ericson is no stranger to the Edinburgh Fringe, having garnered 4 and 5 star reviews for shows such as Gratiano and Unkown Soldier in previous years.

This time, rather than look into the more distant past, he brings a work that looks at the present with an eye cast on the protagonist’s more recent past.

Dan James is a media figure who has just punched a woman on live television. To the sounds of Billy Bragg’s New England, we meet this old raver in his hotel room where he is ruminating over his situation. How did he, a child of Generation X who rocked against racism back in the day when dance was the real equalizer, start to resemble somebody’s ‘dodgy uncle’?

The Straw Man is billed as 'the Book of Job for the 21st Century' and voiceovers inform the audience how God had a chat with Satan and decided to take away all that was good from Job’s life to test his piety. Cue Ericson’s monologue. His character, a working -class boy made good who was a battered husband in a mixed -race marriage, and now a divorcee with nothing but an old record collection, is a man who has ‘no answers, just questions’.

He is ‘depressed at the world being filled with clutter’ yet is drinking from a plastic cup with a straw from a global food chain. Is this a comment on the character’s lack of self- awareness or just a directorial accident?

The show is a vehicle that allows the voice of an everyman agent provocateur to speak of delicate and difficult issues that do need to be aired in a world where social media is today’s lynch mob. However, the brush taken over the minefield of issues such as feminism; TERFs; gender; racism; ageism; sexual harassment; nationalism; identities and equal pay is so broad that it makes the monologue turn out like a bit of a rant making the hour of the show’s duration a long one.

After a rather hesitant delivery of his well- intentioned piece, Ericson’s final words to the audience was that they give comments and feedback as The Straw Man is a work in progress. Now he tells us.

2 – 26 (not 9, 11, 16, 18, 23) August 2018 at 14:50