By Alex Yates | 10th August 2023 | Underbelly, Iron-belly, Edinburgh Fringe Festival | 🍺🍺🍺🍺

As you enter the iron belly, immediately you are met with the pervading smell of sweat from the previous crowd. There is a cruel soundscape that accompanies bodily smell that lingers; the performers contort, crunch and careen around the stage, each movement perfectly syncing with the sound. It’s uncomfortable, it’s an incredible opening; the crowed is curiously hypnotised by the explosive, repetitive movement.
Centre stage is an old wooden table. Atop the table is a menacing silver bowl. The set is minimal, the physicality, the soundscape, the playfulness is violently amplified. The show focuses on a sausage maker and their apprentice. The dynamic is absurd, bizarre and brutal. There are hints of Jean-Pierre Jeunet and Marc Caro’s Delicatessen; the first act effortlessly braids fleshy, tactile horror and humour together into a fast moving, cheeky plait that is then used to whip the audience to its knees in the final quarter.
The following paragraph contains loose spoilers so look away now if averse to them. The final section of the play is where the darkness and horror truly set in. The repetition of sausage making enters a state of tedium. The sausage maker’s apprentice begins to veer from the course desired by the machine. She challenges her counterpart, and consequently, in one of the most harrowing moments I have witnessed on a stage thus far, her tongue is ripped from her throat. What follows is complete horrorshow, a piercing, elongated scream that unsettles deep in your insides, and guttural squelching and gagging that ekes out from her mouth as she attempts to speak.
Nic Lawton is tremendous, from the fingers that almost have a mind of their own, to the sounds the tongueless sausage maker forces out, but for me, I was left no space to breath in the final stages of the play. The writing, equally coarse, equally powerful added to the crushing weight placed on our heads. I was searching for a relief, a moment to step back, but the moment never came. The repetitive nature of not being able to speak towards the end became a little too much also, but only slightly.
There is a lot to be taken from this play, the theme of creation, of moulding something with your hands, of surrendering to repetition and mundanity and the dangers that follow, the talking of orders from those above you. Each and every element from the script is thrown into an absurdist grinder and force fed to you (in a good way) throughout. If you have the guts, give this one a go, it is an absolute treat. It is unabashed brutal, bloodthirsty, and merciless theatre.