Adelaide Fringe 2019
Following success at Edinburgh and Prague Fringe Festivals, Men with Coconuts bring their brand of inventive comedy musical improvisation to Adelaide. Quick and hugely energetic, the team clip along at great pace. A fun night out very much enjoyed by an appreciative audience.
Men with Coconuts are good fun. Here they are in Adelaide, touring the world, trying to earn enough they say “to buy one in-flight meal”. Judging by the queue to get in to the venue and the packed auditorium, they should actually be quids in for an upgrade or two! If the eager selling of merchandise and a contributions bucket at the end of the show reflects this troupe’s past on the free fringe, then this large, enthusiastic crowd, appreciative of the inventiveness and skill on display, suggest those days are in the past.
I did find myself asking if the world really needs another improvised comedy musical group and, in 2019, an all male one at that? Men with Coconuts arrive in Adelaide with the claim that they are “Scotland’s leading improvised comedy troupe” and “one of the biggest acts at the Edinburgh Fringe” featuring “internationally acclaimed actors and vocalists”… bold shouts, even if they are, perhaps, being a little tongue in cheek. But can they deliver? They have been around for quite a while and have, indeed, won accolades along the way, from enthusiastic reviews to the ‘Spirit of the Fringe’ award in Prague. And for good reason. They are every bit as inventive and enjoyable as you might expect, working their socks off to mine every ounce of comic potential from even the most banal suggestions. The Adelaide audience, many of them repeat custom, hooted, laughed and whistled from start to finish in their appreciation.
Performers Charlie, Will and Steve with Colin on keys perform at the gorgeous venue that is the National Wine Centre. A few well-honed improvisation games set the mood, audience suggestions leading the crew into cul-de-sacs one moment and more productive routines in others. But even the blind alleys are thoroughly enjoyed by cast and crowd alike as they share the joke with the audience. They are even mischievous and confident enough to occasionally deliberately mislead each other and land themselves in an improvisational quagmire; suggesting that they sing spontaneously together or interrupting a scene with a random intervention or surreal suggestion. We enjoy their discomfort and quick-witted mining of the thinnest material to get themselves out of trouble. These are experienced performers, challenging each other and having a blast doing it.
The evening progresses at rapid pace towards a fifteen minute improvised musical, on this occasion on the theme of ‘bollards’. Broad Glaswegian accents quickly became impenetrable to a South Australian audience, so we had the joy of rapid translations, a theme that could, perhaps, grow and develop in future incarnations.
So, if you would like, as I did, a light, comedic and entertaining end to your fringe day, then this one is highly recommended. They may not be as slick as some other improvised musical stalwarts, but whereas some of those performances can sometimes feel less than spontaneous, choices from the audience feeling manipulated by the cast into familiar routines, Men with Coconuts are deliberately and gleefully unplanned and raw, delighting in throwing curve balls. So, enjoy a super silly night out, accompanied by a glass or two of South Australia’s finest wines at Adelaide’s National Wine Centre.