Auto eroticism takes on a whole new meaning in James Ley’s gloriously strange play, Wilf. Returning to the Traverse Theatre for Edinburgh Fringe, it boasts a high-octane star performance in Michael Dylan as Calvin, a lonely young Irishman whose low self-esteem and loneliness drive him to form a deep attachment to his new Volkswagen, Wilf.
It might sound a bleakly troubling concept but the result is an hilariously funny and twisted comedy built around an unforgettable character. After his 104th driving lesson, Calvin passes his test on his 12th attempt, casting him adrift from his driving instructor-cum-therapist, Thelma, played with gusto by Irene Allan. Breaking up with his abusive boyfriend, he heads off on the open road with only his car for company.
With Neil John Gibson popping up in a range of roles, we get insights into Calvin’s troubled past and fractured psyche and, while it takes us to dark places, the comedy never loses its upbeat energy under director Gareth Nicholls. Ultimately, it calls for compassion and understanding of relationships in their myriad forms as Calvin goes on a journey of self-acceptance and self-care. But, while touching on mental health and therapy, this is at heart a joyous rom-com with a difference.
Running at Edinburgh’s Traverse Theatre until 28 August 2022. Tickets at www.traverse.co.uk.