Edinburgh Fringe 2010
Barry and Stuart mix historical facts, with, comedy, showmanship and blatant lies. Delving into the dark arts of contacting the spirit world, they said they were going to release you from your own suggestibility and break down urban myths. Another lie. These young men claim to have been fascinated by mysterious noises and imagery from their teens. They are clad in matching black attire, of course. Embracing the digital age, they use simple photographic equipment, digital camera and projector, unusual audio, some genuine and some clearly for fun. Alongside their rapid ribald banter they charm you into their trust before scaring the living daylights out of you.
This is a tricky review to complete as to tell you about the show is to spoil it. So I choose my words carefully. It doesn’t help that you are in the dank damp cellars of Old Edinburgh where many a spooky event has apparently regularly occurred. Submerged, at points, in complete darkness, you become a willing victim of their cruel humour. There is no point smugly looking down on a gullible fellow audience member, squealing at the slightest provocation, because eventually you too will succumb.
This late night show is aimed at an audience who are merrily drunk and up for a laugh. It has a scrappy beginning, as you enter they are already onstage but shouting orders to the audience that weren’t always clear. The pace was rugged as it was important to ensure you had vital historical information to allow the show to work. At times it felt like a university lecture, but to be fair they did seem aware that it was important not to become boring. So they fired through some of these parts, but again preparing this foundation was necessary.
It’s the latter part of the show where things begin to become uncomfortable. I was thinking this show is not for me, but the rest of the audience appeared to be enjoying it with plenty of nervous laughter around. They use audience members to demonstrate their theories, with a tendency towards giggly girls, easy prey I suspect. I tried to remember that the idea was to break the myths of contacting the dead. Wasn’t that what they said? This should be simple then, as when you leave you won’t believe any of that stuff anymore, right? However, repeatedly plunged into the dark, where the sweaty smell of a heavy breathing crowd is apparent, your senses become heightened, the hair rises on your back, and you feel the tension rising in the room.
Let’s get one thing straight. I am not superstitious. I don’t believe in ghosts. I think all these things are for silly people who like to be frightened. I don’t even watch horror movies. I like laughing instead. So, when I went to this show to say I was cynical is an understatement. Greatly relieved when this show finished, I was more than freaked out. I walked back to my car checking behind me every five minutes. For this first time in years I looked in the back seats before I drove off. I was scared to look in my rear view mirror in case I saw more than the headlights of the car behind. I am furious with Barry and Stuart! Go, be scared.