Edinburgh Fringe 2018
Wonderfully absurd mockumentary that invites you to bring along your very own tat. And have it assessed and valued, live on TV. Go on, grab your Aunt’s old whatnot off the shelf and head on down there.
When the voiceover at the start of the show requests that you avoid swearing, farting or dying as we are live, on air, then you know you’re in for a dose of the absurd, a sliver of the surreal and stuff that’s just jolly, jolly funny. The Museum of Tat Roadshow is the brainchild of Robert Crighton and Simon Nader, two extremely creative and talented writer/performers with a comic style that is as clever, refreshing and engaging as it is funny.
We all own tat. Our homes are full of it. We just don’t like to admit that we spent our hard-earned cash on it. So, it just stays there, on the coffee table, on the windowsill. Occupying space. Doing nothing. But these guys love tat. Bring them your own tat and Professor Jeffrey Colins (Robert Crighton) will give you his expert opinion on just how much it’s not worth. And where you can put it.
Trying to make sure that this live TV show runs smoothly as well as exercising some sort of control over the manic Prof is the hard-worked Derek Knowless (Simon Nader). Only his autocue is on the blink. And anyone who has ever worked in TV knows that a presenter with a malfunctioning autocue is sooner or later going to saying something he shouldn’t or just end up with nothing to say.
The marvellous mockumentary featured live tat assessment and valuation, an earnest discussion on the differences between tat and kitsch, a pitch for a charity that supports research into that horribly contagious disease TB (Tat Blindness), a “Fact About Tat” session and a denouement that featured the ultimate in tat, the disposable coffee cup and a plea to eliminate this particularly odious object by purchasing a reusable cup from The Museum of Tat Roadshow’s merchandise selection.
This a really well constructed piece of theatre, delivered with energy, faux-earnestness, split second timing on the part of the two performers, very good improv (especially when working with the eclectic mix in this particular audience) all of which is backed by an excellent core script.
Crighton and Nader don’t waste words, there are some wonderful throwaway lines, some clever running gags and the irony is spot on. They also break the fourth wall with regularity (and genuine warmth), ensuring that the audience is a part of the performance rather than being mere observers. The frequent syncopated conversation between the two of them sounds beautifully improvised (and I’m sure a lot of it is) but bears the hallmarks of some very creative thinking and a whole lot of experience at delivering this notoriously tricky genre. And, the onstage antipathy between the two performers conceals what I felt was real offstage empathy between the individuals behind the characters.
There is so much to like about this show and admire in terms of the quality of the performances. Characterisation is perfect, costumes reflect the persona they convey on stage and both Crighton and Nader are top notch at short form improv and ad libs. It’s warm, funny, silly entertainment that will leave you chuckling for a long, long time afterwards. One of this year’s hidden gems of the Edinburgh Fringe. Go seek it out!