Tom Lenk is Trash
Assembly George Square 18:35
⭐⭐⭐ (3 stars)
“Why are actors so desperate and needy,” Tom Lenks ask in the mock show-within-a-show which opens Tom Lenk is Trash, one of his two shows currently running on the Fringe, his meta-self posing the question to the first of many members of the audience invited on stage to participate in the semi-scripted proceedings.
Dressed in trousers and jacket made entirely of flyers, mainly his own, both for this and Tilda Swinton Answers an Ad on Craigslist, his 2018 show now in its encore season, Tom Lenk is Trash is largely self-promotion for the mini-brand of Tom Lenk, listed as “scene-stealer and accidental Instagram superstar” in his programme blurb.
Stating that after two decades of pursuing acting fame he is now much happier in his new position which finds him “Hollywood adjacent,” he has made his home in Edinburgh for the full month of August for two years in a row and he seems to be as comfortable in the city as it is pleased to have him back, the audience eager to participate in his makeshift shenanigans of arts, crafts, stitching and bitching.
Built around the theme of trash in all its forms, Lenk fully admits that he has done “little to no work on this show,” and it is apparent as he hesitantly moves between topics, at one point dressing himself in the wrong costume, and at times that neediness and desperation becomes too apparent as he runs a slideshow of the online accomplishments with which he reinvented himself, “the Lenk Lewk for Less.”
Seeking validation for his past rather than entertaining in the moment, while Trash is nowhere near as accomplished as Tilda Swinton it is still far from the worst the Fringe has to offer and the interlude when he slips into character comedy as a judgemental mother confirms he is capable of more than this when he chooses to put in the effort.
Undeniably, Lenk has an endearing charm and honesty which shines through in all his projects and he is at his best when he lets down his facade and genuinely engages with his audience; he may be needy, but he genuinely loves them and wishes to please them as much as they are delighted to share a moment on stage in his limelight, perhaps confirming that leading an ensemble is where he belongs.