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Edinburgh Fringe 2023

This Isn’t Working

FaceOddity Productions

Genre: Absurd Theatre, Comedy, Sketch Comedy

Venue: Greenside at Infirmary Street


Low Down

Mr. Surname needs a job. And so, he finds himself at a Job Centre, plus he wants to do something purposeful. From ending up being Chancellor of the Exchequer all the way up to trawler fisherman, a variety of jobs are tried until he finds the self-actualisation that mindfulness app should have been promising all along.


Well-rehearsed. Well written. Confident. Slick. And funny.

These are all simple headlines that could describe exactly what I saw at Greenside with this bunch of hilarious actors. The ease with which they performed showed this had been rehearsed it to within an inch of its life, the humour came from a concept which had clearly been drafted and redrafted to make more sense, and the level of confidence in their humour translated into a full house, many of whom raised themselves in honour, at the end, of his slick and very funny offering.

We witnessed four actors who have that combined rubbery face quality in one, comic timing in another, dead pan delivery in a third and the put upon everyman of us all in the fourth member of the troupe – that seems to be Face Oddity Productions. There are some incredibly laugh out loud funny moments here with Dragon’s Den and the television recording one of them. There is also the interplay between them on the fishing boat, as well as the interview with the Chancellor, and the Bisto moment which sticks out but it’s a bit like choosing a favourite kitten – what works best is the structure and whole darn thing.

This allows individual offerings to work so well, because they are part of a comic narrative. That narrative begins with a funny sketch about mindfulness. It returns there but in between the everyday struggles of a simple person trying to find a simple job is shown as exhausting as how much this group have exhausted to find the perfect vehicle.

It needs very little by way of lighting effects but does need the props. Furniture is minimal and the props often suggest more comedy material could be mined, through their use which would be great as we are already in the palm of their hands. It is that relationship with the audience that translates so well. Never really playing to the crowd they play it straight, and that means you get a bigger laugh. The circumstances in which Mr. Surname finds himself are increasingly daft, but there is a clever directorial hand at work here. It weaves the stories together and brings the platform onto our lap to feel very much part of the experiences. We are there to laugh and not intervene but with such a great piece of work in  front of us, you can sit back, relax and enjoy!

It is, therefore, in the writing that this works best as the writing shows just how best they can deliver the goods. The ideas have been rounded off and developed into something which fits within a believable absurdity. Comedy comes from piling one premise upon another and here we have that in abundance. But it also the assuredness we see in the work being done by the cast in delivering the ideas and the lines – it works tremendously well. The full house is testimony to how much others agree with me!

This was very impressive work, exemplary funny business and if they have not already worked out how to carve a career, they should be working it out as soon as practically possible.