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Edinburgh Fringe 2017

The Establishment : Eton Mess

Honky Bonk Theatre

Genre: Clown, Satire

Venue: Assembly George Square


Low Down

Dan Lees and Neil Frost are fast becoming Fringe favourites as they provide another dose of stiff upper-lipped silliness, with no elitist safe from their satire.


With Brexit having whipped Britain into a right old state in terms of what it actually means to be British, someone had to come along and take a satirical pot shot at all the pomp and circumstance that’s been emerging from the political and capitalist elite these past fifteen months.

And, in a superb hour of clowning and comedy, Dan Lees and Neil Frost (or Cecil and Godfrey, to use their amusing alter-egos) do just that, with the silliness exposed in our loyalty to royalty, the soft or hard boiled Brexit derided, the vicissitudes of the money markets lampooned and those noble institutions, Oxbridge and the Boat Race neatly pilloried.  Even cricket got a mention, if only to note that it goes on for longer than even one of Wagner’s operas.

But as we got deeper into the show, so we got deeper into the satire, with a darker take on arms deals, conspicuous consumption, modern slavery and that age-old perennial, fox-hunting, although the way the “fox” managed to morph this from a killing spree into a jazz dance routine had to be seen to be believed.

With audience members being dragged in to provide ballast for some of the gags and plenty of “very expensive wine” being sloshed over the front rows, there was no chance of anyone failing to catch a piece of the action.  But for all its apparent silliness and anarchy, this show has all the hallmarks of a tightly scripted and choreographed routine.

Sure, the performers are confident of their material and in each other, but the dialogue exchange was like machine-gun fire, drifting at will (it seemed) from one subject to another without missing a beat and the pair switched between this, slapstick, clowning and mime with some sort of sixth sense, all honed, no doubt, through hours of enervating rehearsal.

That the denouement fell a little flat didn’t detract from the overall quality of what preceded it which was an hour of entertainment worth going a long way to see.  Just take an umbrella if you want to sit in the front row.