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Edinburgh Fringe 2023

Burning Down the Horse

Fishing 4 Chips

Genre: Comedy, Historical, Immersive

Venue: Pleasance Courtyard


Low Down

This immersive comedy puts the audience into the belly of the beast- the Trojan Horse, that is. While waiting for their impending doom, the Greek army within must decide whether to grin and bear it, or to fight against the rule of egomaniac Odysseus. 


“They said one hundred people hiding in a wooden horse, that’s insane,” says Odysseus, “But look at us now.” 

The audience is the Greek army, enlisted by the oddly trinket-obsessed Demigod to hide inside the Trojan horse (or is it a duck?) in order to lay siege on Troy. Along for the ride is a cast that is a veritable Quality Street box of archetypes. There is the loyal but ill-used second in command, the salt-of-the-earth everyman carpenter, the matter-of-fact voice of reason, the strongman with a secret, and the idiot who actually might just have a point. With Odysseus’ plan set in motion, and death a near certainty, this ragtag group must decide whether or not they should go along with it. The humor feels like a Carry On film if it were written by John Finnemore, and is as funny and vaguely educational as anything out of an episode of Horrible Histories. The jokes flowed steadily, but they were well-paced and easy to keep up with. The audience- very nearly completely full- was in stitches throughout the entire piece. 

This immersive experience excels in its moments of wordplay and historical buffoonery. There is a deeper message, delivered primarily by the carpenter, about unionization and refusing to be loyal to those who have no intention to be loyal to you. “It’s 1185 BC,” he says, “Time’s are changing!” Odysseus is the prime example, demanding this army follows his orders, yet only too happy to discard them as needed. The emotional center of the show, when this theme comes to a head in the third act, might feel more powerful if there were fewer moments that felt like the climax. A bit of finessing with the main beats of the plot would allow the denouement to have the gravitas it is so close to, and really get us to root for the characters we have come to love over the previous hour. 

All that said, the audience was incredibly happy throughout with smiles all around the theater. The bits of audience participation were well timed and infectiously funny. This is a very worthy follow-up to Fishing 4 Chips’ five star run of ‘Tradition’ last year, and a fun way to spend the early afternoon for all ages.