Action figures: they’re not just for kids, and neither, as Steve McLean is at pains to point out, is his show Action Figure Archive, yet even when such items were aimed at children, the “pester power” of demanding offspring obliging parents to part with their cash in order to buy a few moments of precious peace, did they really know what they were investing in?
It’s perhaps ironic that plastic was once considered an inexpensive disposable consumable yet is now regarded as almost a permanent fixture of the 21st century landscape, impossible to dispose of properly, yet though it will not biodegrade it does perish, and there is a significant difference between a well-loved-but-obviously-of-its-time figure and the Holy Grail of “mint in box.”
Opening with a lighting show which will not have Industrial Light and Magic quaking in their hipster vegan leather boots, McLean makes the best of his minimalist venue, playing games of “name the Transformer” and pondering the body fascism of Eternia that demands only a particular kind of perfection shared by He-Man, Skeletor and all their brethren.
Scatthershot but entertaining, McLean is energetic but Action Figure Archive is on this second performance still obviously a work in progress curtailed by a too-brief time slot which only allows him to go through the top layer of his cardboard box of treasures, but as he discusses the absurdity and desperation of Star Wars alien races he also considers the wider implications of that universe.
A battleground of controversy where the loudest fans now call for boycotts because diversity makes them uncomfortable, it’s ironic that despite the regalia of the Empire that neo-Nazism is actually more directly presented in colourful plastic form by My Little Pony, a fandom which they might find more accommodating.
McLean and his audience aware of how ridiculous nostalgia can be, we are all in the same boat together but some have decided to crawl out from belowdecks and steer a course towards the welcoming shores of the Land of Mirth while others prefer to remain in their basements as they recall the days when Ewoks outnumbered named black characters in Star Wars.