Edinburgh Fringe 2017
Say hello to Mark, our hapless hero. I say hero… The fact is that his introduction does not set him up well. he has his interfering mother throwing things at him whilst he tries to record an online dating introduction. All the while he is trying hard not to tell about his chess obsession, before Mark takes us through his day. With plenty of running jokes and a desire to play about with the form and narrative alongside some great set ups, including a seedy janitor and a bus stop you would hate to cross this is just filled with gags – and even at one stage they show you one.
When this hits the mark, or just has Mark, it is a bullseye but in amongst the gems we have a few dull notes – the French disco par example. At times, the response from the audience was over enthusiastic but I have to say there were parts of this I just loved.
The linguistic dexterity of the spies meeting up, the bus stop, putting on your hoodie the wrong way round, that quick gag, the voiceover with attitude and much of the janitor hit the heights for me.
This is a show that is well aware of itself and the structure round Mark’s story provided one thing which I thought was both bold and exceptionally perceptive – his tragedy. To take us to the heights of laughter we must also understand the root of sadness. Mark managed to take us to both and the structure of the piece allowed this to happen with great skill.
Theatre arts are used effectively with the lighting and soundscape being spot on whilst it was effectively directed with little by way of gaps or massive underplays. The direction was light enough to allow the comedy to flow and authoritative enough to provide each piece with an adequate platform. Costumes and props along with the set were very good. The janitor was particularly well costumed and that mop and bucket a prop with which he conjured – just the right side of sinister.
This is a late night event though it does not need the crude to make it work when the uncomfortable fits just as well. Mark’s attempt at seduction and in the primary school fits the bill well. the bus stop with attitude similarly ploughs the same furrow to such good effect.
With so much being punted for comedy outside this has an ability to show that characterisation should never be secondary. They take us through by their use of the theatricality of their show to make comment upon the vulnerable and geeky or just plain strange. It is wry observation that works very well and I left feeling very glad I had included it in my day as it was genuinely funny. It has a superior ability to make the format feel fresh and if you make this the one sketch show in your itinerary then you will be far from disappointed.
When our guide, writer and actor happened to mention, you couldn’t write this she was clearly wrong – she just did!