Brighton Fringe 2019
Two unlikely heroes fall through an adventure to other worlds and other dimensions to try and save the Earth. A high-energy farce where four actors play all the roles and your imagination is the limit.
It’s obvious from our first sight of the performers limbering up on stage as the audience enter the theatre that this is not a show that takes itself seriously and doesn’t expect you to either. This is confirmed in the first scene where we discover that the “Prime shaft”, an ancient interdimensional artefact of immense power has gone missing. Yes, it is a dildo. Cue an hours worth of sexual innuendo.
What follows is a succession of fast-paced sketches that follow the adventures of Pita and Harry as they jump from dimension to dimension until finally they return the prime shaft safely to its proper home and defeat the evil Fat Ted. On the way, we meet a charming Satan, Miranda the space pirate, the Theresa May robot, Fat Ted himself, an obvious Donald Trump parody, plus a host of supporting characters all played by the four performers.
It’s fun. There are plenty of gags. I had a smile on my face most of the time and some genuine belly laughs. The audience enjoyed themselves, one or two were in stitches, so for purely entertainment value this show has a lot going for it and the following criticism should be taken with that context.
First, the show seems unsure of what it is. Is it a radio 4 comedy satire? A piece of comic physical theatre? a sketch show? By throwing so many gags and references at us, some of them are bound to hit, but a more confident production would ditch some of the gags and give more time to develop the characters.
Second, the performance is sloppy sometimes. Given that we have four performers playing multiple characters on and off stage in a very small space it’s perhaps a lot to ask but you can get away with a lot if you can also demonstrate your command of controlled skilful physical theatre. The performers are all capable of that and I wanted more.
Third, some of the jokes depended on easy stereotypes. For example in a sketch parodying political correctness, the line “I consider myself to be gender fluid actually” is delivered by an obviously camp, effeminate character. It feels like the first pass at a joke. How would it work with a masculine voice?
There are some great moments. At one point they pull the classic gag of squirting water in their faces when they are crying. This is a really well-done piece of clowning. The performer’s interactions with the audience are excellent and the scene in which they land in a dimension where the fourth wall has been broken is cleverly handled. When we first arrived in the theatre we were asked to make paper aeroplanes and no further mention was made of them, no priming was given but everyone knew exactly the moment when we had to use them. It takes a lot of chutzpah to pull that off.
Despite its flaws, this is a good show that will benefit from the energy of a big audience. If you want to turn off your brain and enjoy an hour of light-hearted fun with a high joke count then this is the show for you.