Edinburgh Fringe 2011
Instant Sunshine provide timeless humour through a mix of amusing songs and witty monologues that combine neat and topical observational lyrics with a good sized dollop of self-deprecation. Great British humour for our damp British summer – Instant Sunshine.
As the Fringe gets off to a chilly, showery start, what better than a blast of Instant Sunshine to brighten up the day? Instant Sunshine cheerfully admit to having been on the outer fringes of the world of show business for over forty years now. Three of their number (Peter Christie, David Barlow and Alan Maryon Davis) have, in their own words, certainly been around the block – and quite a few times by the look of it. Their youth employment policy, however, has led them to offer an unmissable opportunity to one of the fruits of David Barlow’s loins – young Tom, their svelte bassist.
This sort of self-deprecation is clearly part of their comic badinage and gentle repartee which serves as an amusing interlude between their set of comic songs addressing a broad range of subjects, from the topical to the esoteric. Bankers, not surprisingly, come in for some gentle ribbing, being portrayed here as a group of repressed romanticists. Doctors and gardeners come in for similar treatment which allows the group to display a clever mix of theatre, comedy and absurdity in both song and linking dialogue. I particularly liked their take on what they felt Her Majesty would be saying in her closing speech at the Olympics next year, a soliloquy delivered with some panache and excellent characterization. No wonder they claim to have performed privately for Royalty. There was also a unique take on Mozart’s composing abilities – at a mere 11 months he could apparently babble in the best baroque style.
Instant Sunshine has a fondness for clever rhyming couplets and a predilection for alliteration. They are also comfortable with a mix of musical genre – we had blues, baroque, ballad and many others. This mix of genre and the overall quality of the words helped mask some slightly eccentric accompaniment which on occasions seemed to part company with the singers. And some of the comic asides were delivered so sotto voce that they disappeared into the ether.
But you don’t come to a show like this looking for opera quality musicality, even if our quartet did deliver a pocket operetta of their own in under three and a half minutes. You come to be amused by the lyrics and to enjoy a gentle chuckle. And that’s what commends this show – it’s cleverly written, topical, gently amusing and a safe bet for anyone wanting an hour of timeless entertainment. Think Flanagan and Allen, roll forward 60 years or so and you’ll have some idea of what this form of Instant Sunshine will do for you – brighten up the dullest of days.