Mark Borkowski: Son of Barnum Assembly Rooms
EDINBURGH – INDEPENDENT REVIEW:
This canter through the history and application of publicity stunts is more a lecture and slide-show than a one-man show and anyone considering getting up in time to catch Son of Barnum should definitely bring a notebook.
From his own career, Borkowski picks out the work he did for two acts that courted fabricated controversy – Archaos and the Jim Rose Circus.
There is some classic footage of the former Edinburgh city councillor and self-styled moral guardian, Moira Knox, getting tangled up with Rose, which permits us to see the slightest of smiles crossing her lips as she becomes a member of the wider media circus.
We learn how the outrage at the alleged content of the shows was manufactured by actors phoning up the local council to feed it apocryphal tales of the outrageous deeds that Archaos and the Jim Rose Circus had perpetrated abroad.
We see how the working methods of the magician and the publicist are sometimes one and the same. Borkowski claims that publicity today is all about “suppress agents, not press agents” and reminds us of the more sinister side of political propaganda.
The bottom line is that all exaggeration is the enemy of truth, but I suppose Borkowski would argue that some exaggerations are simply new truths. JULIAN HALL