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Edinburgh Fringe 2014

The Dream Factory

Clever Peter

Genre: Comedy

Venue: Pleasance Courtyard


Low Down

Structured loosely around the premise of the workings of a fictitious advertising agency, sketch group Clever Peter use this as the root from which to spin their tales – sending them off where they will to serve up comedy, and finally ravelling the threads back to surprise you with something that leaves you laughing and thinking as you walk away.


Clever Peter have been around for a while as a three-man comedy sketch group, most recently heard on BBC Radio 4 with their own show, and travelling up and down the length of the country bringing their fast-paced sketches to venues everywhere. They have a precedence in previous shows for being high energy with a twist of darkness, and rattling through sketches at such a pace that with so much stimuli their audience’s brains rarely have a chance to wander, as usually happens around the 30 minute mark of a comedy show. Fans and newbies alike will not be disappointed with The Dreams Factory.

Structured loosely around the premise of the workings of a fictitious advertising agency, Clever Peter use this as the root from which their own campaigns for products as diverse as the AA, discount vouchers and unusual milk – yes, that’s one you won’t find anywhere else – and the consequences of these sponsored vignettes upon their cast of characters. It’s a clever construct that works well, allowing them to spin off and back from the trunk of their tale, interweave stories, and keep the pace snappy yet hold on to linear threads, the absence of which too often can prove to be the weakest link in a sketch group’s chain.

There’s a generous abundance of punch lines too, with humour in each detail, as well as the broader strokes of the stories. These men are dedicated actors as well as comic performers, and the pathos is as tangible in some points near the end as the laughter.

Utilising a smartly brief but multipurpose set – a must at any Fringe, but pulling off that coup of appearing appropriate rather than ruled by necessity – and their trusty wigs and props, there was a grace to the scene changes, embracing the half darkness seen by the audience so that the three are seen to be almost dancing to their next cues.

My only reservation comes from surprise at the use of a crude (as in rude rather than lowly made) prop, which doesn’t seem to sit within the same smart tone as the rest of the show. But it’s a small jar though to the flow of an attention-grabbing, highly engaging and enjoyably provoking show.