Brighton Fringe 2010
Ferry of Fools
Venue: The Greys pub, Southover St.
Humorous flight of fancy from two top comedy actors
The show had a laconic start with two casually dressed men, Tony Haase and Roy Hutchins announcing, “Shall we start then?” “Well, it’d be rude not to.” That set the tone for the show, a double act play with Haase and Hutchins playing a myriad of roles by merely changing voices and the occasional affectation. The story revolves around Tony and Roy visiting ex-pat relations in France along with an assorted menagerie of eccentric characters played by the leads and liberal use of ‘Franglais’. The show is reminiscent of Morecambe and Wise’s sketches “The Play Wot I Wrote” and Hutchins and Haase acknowledge this, utilising the catchphrase, “Are you being someone?”. Interspersed throughout the show were musical interludes, performed live and accompanies by Hutchins on keyboard, on subjects such as cross channel ferries and summer holidays.
The first half introduced the characters on the ferry to France; Hattie and Boater— a middle-aged Daily Mail-reading couple who had brought all their food with them from M&S; Baz and Terry—two young, unemployed butchers seeking to reunite Baz with his previous year’s summer romance, the French Michelle, and Tony and Roy playing themselves.
After a short interlude, the second half revolved around a bet that Tony’s aged Uncle had made against the town mayor which could lose him—and his batty surrealist nudist wife—everything.
The set was appropriately empty preventing the clutter of scenes and props from distracting from the performance.
The play was co-written by the performers, who knew the work intimately, which allowed plenty of appropriate ad-libbing while remaining on track with the storyline. The story itself—a grudge football match between the French locals and the British ex-pats and holidaymakers—was incidental to the actual performance.
The quality of acting was consummate and this was where the show really shone. The performers were obviously very comfortable with the material, themselves and the audience, which allowed for plenty of latitude in the script and humorous asides, as they playfully tried tripping each other up by making things difficult for the other’s characters. Despite the numerous roles, the duo switched between them at a breakneck speed with ease and brought them evocatively to life, genuinely captivating the audience who were in fits of laughter all the way through. This ability to mesmerise the crowd into believing in all these characters without any props and dressed as two slightly shabby middle-aged men was very skilful indeed.
This was a fantastic show—mixing old school vaudeville with post-modern knowingness—with genuine belly laughs and a joy to behold two comedic actors at the top of their game.