Brighton Fringe 2014
Sketchmeisters, Clever Peter return to the Fringe with a cutting look at the shady world of advertising and the selfie face lift.
Clever Peter are back in the city they love with a new show in the venue that has given birth to much fine sketch comedy in recent years.
"We don’t just do adverts, we do dreams…", and that’s the start of a speedy comedy ride through the darkness of advertising and the aches and pains of the human condition.
In this often bitingly funny show, Clever Peter enter the realms of comedy drama, a longer form narrative though the episodic nature of the piece allows the sketch-format genius to remain alive and ass-kickingly good.
The material is uniformly strong throughout. Essentially a series of sketch-episodes around a central story, Dreams Factory becomes the occasion for the chaps to demonstrate some hugely impressive talent, playing humanistic animals and fairly animalistic humans. Loaded with verbal and sight gags we have a dark look at life and the impact of advertising on our lives.
Punch line endings have always been a signature of Clever Peter and some pack more punch than others. I feel the show flows more effectively and holds momentum when it doesn’t lean too heavily on "punchine…lights!" but takes the risk on a bit of continuity.
The high octane energy is set from the start. It’s a challenge to hold it high for the whole hour. Dream Factory largely succeeds due to strong core ideas that hold the plot and allow the laughs to ride on the back of it. Also at the heart are confident, consumately skilled comedy performers, consistently committed to the moment, and using every bit of possibility in their voices.
A few glitches aside, the show feels rat-milk fresh, brimming with Viz.-like characters and dark wit, off the wall characters and flowing along at a pace that allows them to lack in set pieces and one liners to create a show bursting at the seams with inventive laughs.
Loaded with nuggets of ‘outstanding’, the Dream Factory is a warped, cutting and often hilarious take on advertising, commercialism, vanity and the ridiculous element of the human condition in the post-Industrial Age.
Still in development I suspect, the show feels ten minutes too long. Some of the characters feel a bit derivative and I hope the group continue to develop them and find some more wonderful creations such as the muscle builder.
The trio, at times, become a six-legged comedy beast, revelling in improvising around the occasional word-stumble and building laughs that could have been scripted. The pace of the show is a major strength and a lot of lines are crammed into the hour. Not all are laugh-seeking gags and there’s much chortling to be had at the impressive character comedy, facial clowning and physical banter.
Clever Peter are just that – clever. The comedy is never over complicated, aims at the intelligent observation to be found on the world of business and marketing and the effect it has on the simple and vain masses of humanity. The dream factory is a very fine show.
It’s not quite there yet, but "not quite there" for Clever Peter is way ahead of nearly everyone else