“[Adam] The Hermit is an outcast, a loner. Someone totally on their own and unsupported by everyone around them. [Kath] Like a woman on a panel show…”
Tarot is something of a sketch-comedy supergroup, combining the macabre talents of Kath Hughes and Edward Easton of Gein’s Family Giftshop with the kinetic energy of Goose‘s Adam Drake. Together they resemble a trio of Victorian ghosts in their matching nightdresses and scorched eye make-up. Bursting on stage to the frenetic strains of Romani fiddle music, they introduce the show as a live tarot reading, with everyone in the room integral to the night’s events. This, they explain, makes every single performance unique.
From the outset this devilishly funny show is unlike anything else you’ll experience in Edinburgh. Each sinister sketch is chosen at the behest of the audience from a string of bloodied cards, as you’re invited to chant BRUCIE the loudest for your favourite pick. The trio are then compelled to act out the chosen sketches in the ordained order. All this is acted out in the confines of a sacred salt circle with just a dash of pepper. If you’re lucky the very same pepper grinder will be used as a prominent prop in one of the funniest skits.
The joy of Tarot is in the chaotic energy and sweet alchemy of the three on-stage performers. Aided and abetted by the unseen spectre of Kiri Pritchard-McLean, they are otherworldly good. Despite the randomised conceit, the sketches are seamlessly delivered and consistently brilliant. Some of the best moments are the darkest – pertaining to off-stage alcoholism and absent fatherhood. One skit about a character’s unknown name ends in a gloriously gory non-sequitur, whilst another involving a sauna is a steamy high-stakes hoot.
Tarot is all the greater for the sum of its parts. Hughes is the closest to a reliable narrator and hilariously understated – apart from when she’s doing a Meg Ryan impression that resembles a magpie choking on a wedding ring. She also delivers some of the darkest satire, referencing Louis CK amongst others. Easton is manically friendly and reminiscent of John Cleese in his highly-strung persona and superb physical comedy – he even does a silly walk. Whilst the elastic Drake is clearly some kind of supernatural shape-shifter, able to transform from one guise to the next with an eery chameleon ease.
It all seems like a cacophony of chaotic brilliance, and on one level it absolutely is. But then you have a Dave Kujan-esque epiphany and the real genius slaps you in the face. The seemingly disparate parts slowly come together as you realise that every single stylistic element and inventive prop served a greater purpose. It’s like a gun on the wall that was waiting to be fired. The big finale is at once both brilliantly OTT panto and a wonderfully clever conclusion. This is a deliciously dark gem of a show that’s not to be missed.
You can buy tickets for the last two extra dates for Tarot here.