Edinburgh Fringe 2017
Anarchic comedy from the pen of talented young writer/performer Benjamin Alborough.
Eddie Spangler, an upper class idiot in the finest traditions of Edwardian farce, is desperately trying to work out how to shield his existing fortune from the tax man as well as enhance it by making a few bob via whatever dubious looking schemes he can lay access to. Meanwhile, Jeffrey, his admirable and seemingly psychic valet is trying to ensure that his lord and master remains on the right side of the law, for now at least.
Enter the brothers and noblemen the Lords Wiggins and Biggins, the former (and elder) torn between winning back the love of his life and dealing with his lordly inheritance of a diamond mine, the latter (and younger) determined to do away with his soppy sibling and lay claim to what he believes is rightfully his.
Throw in a few more dubious looking characters with shifty moustaches and leering expressions and you have all the ingredients for a wonderfully anarchic, Edwardian style farce that races along to a hilarious and nicely conceived conclusion.
There is so much about this production that is both clever and pleasing to the eye. Each of the many props, for example, is a simple piece of cardboard, sometimes with black ink drawing, sometimes not. Each is perfectly shaped, but the twist is everything is in 2D, not 3D. We had suitcases, maps, newspapers, letters, telegrams as well as beards, tennis racquets and even a double bed.
The lighting was simple but so effective in the way it moved us from indoors to outdoors and from live action to freeze-frame and back again. And sound effects were appropriate and sometimes amusing in their own right.
But it was the writing and acting that made this piece. Commedia dell’arte is a difficult style to pull off, especially given the complexity of both the plot and the wordplay. Each of the actors, however, produced excellent and believable characterisations for each of the parts they were required to play.
Writing for fast verbal inter-play between actors is a challenge in itself, but delivering such material requires endless rehearsal and complete trust in your fellow players. One slip at the speed these guys were going and it could have all ended in tears. But our four man cast, headed with not inconsiderable panache by writer/producer Benjamin Alborough, pulled it off in some style.
There was scarcely a dry eye in the house at the end, the audience helpless with laughter at the antics this clearly talented quartet were getting up to. With dead bodies, unrequited lovers and blood diamonds littering the stage at the denouement, it was left to the ever dependable Jeffrey to bring matters to an appropriate and sober conclusion. Which he did, with some elan. Highly recommended but only running until August 13th, so hurry on down.