Edinburgh Fringe 2019
When government cuts hit the Department of Seasonal Mascots, Santa and friends panic. It soon becomes every man/woman/rabbit for themselves as they attempt to sabotage each other’s festivals to keep their own jobs safe.
We arrive to a group of oddly dressed characters, wearing less than polished costumes on a stage with no set or props. It presents, one has to admit, a less than encouraging prospect.
Then we all howl with laughter for 50 minutes.
The premise of Seasoned Professionals is simple, there is an office of mascots, of annual festivals and holidays in some dark corner of Canary Wharf. And it is under threat. There is The Inspector, and The Inspector is coming To Inspect. And There Will Be Cuts. The question is, who will lose their job, which annual festive moment will we never get to enjoy again – Easter, April Fools Day, Valentines or, horrors, Guy Fawkes?
Then ensues all manner of nefarious plotting and games(wo)man ship to ensure that Someone Else gets the chop.
Ultimately all is settled, The Inspector Departs and we are spared, there will still be fireworks, even if the Tattoo has snaffled most of them, and Christmas hasn’t been cancelled, at least not this time…
The ensemble cast create an entire department of not only annual holidays but elves, reindeer, more elves, a chicken and a work experience girl. They have clearly put a lot of work into building trust in the team as well as into the detail of the show and it pays off – there is plentiful energy and pace throughout and excellent comic timing. Which means that the plethora of terribly obvious jokes work. As does the slapstick, word play, puns and self referential jokes about the set (lack of) and the 4th wall (structurally unsound). There are lots of nice little touches that you’ll have to go and see for yourself, no plot spoilers.
Laughing Mirror are a relatively young company with two previous Fringe hits. Part of their aim, from the name, is to turn a mirror on our world. I’m not sure Seasoned Professionals can really claim to achieve anything very deep but it certainly entertains, and sometimes that’s just what you need. Although, just for a moment it does make one think how life would be poorer without our various festivals.
It should be utterly terrible but it’s brilliant, a proper dose of light hearted fun – just right for 5pm when you’re ready for a little light relief after engaging with many of the more serious issues that the Fringe addresses.
I think it could particularly appeal to that rather neglected age group (in Fringe terms) around 12-14 who feel too old for ‘children’s’ shows but for whom much of the programme is either boring or unsuitable.