Brighton Fringe 2016
“The Thermos Museum is a comedic but edifying experience. Twelve suitcases unfold to reveal numerous astonishing displays. However, the public are not free to reign; visitors are escorted around the museum by a mysterious and disenchanted tour guide. Digression seems to rule over flask information. Truths are blurred. The exhibits are presented in themed tableaux, such as ‘Thermos at War’ (featuring audio-visual effects), and the uniquely educational ‘Flasks of the World'”
The Thermos Museum offers a light, quirky and funny half hour tour of the realm of the thermos flask in the hands of our tour guide, a man who requires us to remain silent and to “not touch” the precious items without explicit permission. We are taken through several rooms, and the exhibits become the opportunity for some fairly gentle, alternative comedy. Think John Shuttleworth, think Count Arthur Strong, there’s also an absurdist tinge to this that reminded me of Spike Milligan.
There’s plenty of quark, strangeness and charm in both the content and the style of delivery. This is an intimate tour; we are crowded together and I really enjoyed the sense of an immersive, shared experience as our tour attempts to stay “on script” but can’t help occasionally un-hingeing!
There are facts about the thermos flask along the way, just enough to keep it engaging, yet much of the comedy comes from the notion of this being subversive, an anti-tour, the fall of the old institutions of hierarchy, of uniforms. We laugh, partly, because we are being commanded to be passive and silent from a ridiculous man in a peaked cap and official uniform who is clearly tired of what he is doing and lost his mojo decades ago.
It’s a well conceived piece, based on a tour through several rooms. The flasks become occasions for set piece stories, one-liners and various sight gags. Some are more “hit” than others, but the overall average made for a smile-worthy time. There were a mix of ages in our party and all were enjoying themselves. The comedy largely rests on the tour really being an “anti-tour”, and this playing with norms works a treat in the confined spaces at the back of Komedia. Our host is confident, able to improvise, and clearly on top of the material. He holds his character extremely well and we feel we are in sure hands.
The audience giggled their way through the tour. The final section felt a bit laboured and it was always at its strongest as comedy and live performance when things were happening, rather than when we were simply being told things.
But overall, this is a fairly unique but of quirky comedy in the Fringe and I am happy to recommend it. Go if you like your comedy a bit off kilter, and if you are seeking something where you won’t be stuck to a seat.