Ronnie and Jonny: Friends Disunited

August 25, 2016 | By | Reply More

★★☆☆☆   Disjointed

Laughing Horse at 48 Below (Venue 146) 21-26 Aug 2016
Review by Hugh Simpson

There is an interesting premise behind Ronnie and Jonny, the comic play from Steve Griffin and Keith Muddiman at 48 Below underneath the Phoenix in Broughton Street. However, its story is not sufficiently worked out, and it is only intermittently funny.

The play opens promisingly, with the first meeting in years of what once was ‘the fifth best double act in Scotland’. Jonny (Griffin) has since risen to the giddy heights of Mystic Meg’s stand-in and first reserve for I’m A Celebrity, while Ronnie (Muddiman), still bitter about his friend breaking up the act, is now a writer for other comedians.

Steve Griffin and Keith Muddiman

Steve Griffin and Keith Muddiman

The characters are delineated quickly and clearly, but there seems to be little idea about where to take them. The first few minutes feature a large number of laughs, but these dry up and there is little in the way of character or plot development to compensate. Themes of loyalty and friendship are treated without a great deal of subtlety, while much of the plot bears little scrutiny. The reason for their meeting is to discuss the possibility of a lucrative reunion, but why a comparatively unsuccessful double-act should be offered a prime-time BBC slot years after breaking up is never explained.

This is a production that has an Englishman and a Scotsman first meeting symbolically (if implausibly) in Berwick-upon-Tweed, and makes it clear that humour of the ‘there was an Englishman and a Scotsman’ type is thoroughly out of date. Surely, then, it should have more to say than that the English dislike Scottish weather, and that Scots eat deep-fried food. This lack of originality is sadly reflected in a great deal of the dialogue, notably in the portrayal of women.

The two performers (who also wrote the play) are perfectly convincing, and there is enough in both the comedy and the characterisation to suggest that this could have been better. There is a rather touching story about loyalty and inadequacy in here, but it needs more rigour in its telling.

Running time: 45 minutes
Laughing Horse @ 48 Below (Venue 146), 46 Broughton Street, EH1 3SA
Sunday 21– Friday 26 August 2016
Daily at 11.20 pm
More details on the EdFringe website: https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/ronnie-and-jonny-friends-disunited
Part of the Laughing Horse Free Fringe. Website: http://www.freefestival.co.uk
Facebook page: ronnieandjonny

ENDS

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