Referendum and Dumber

August 19, 2014 | By More

✭✭✭✩✩  Anarchic fun

New Town Theatre (Venue 7) Thurs 31 Jul – Sun 24 Aug 2014

Ten Clowning Street’s Referendum and Dumber combines political humour with out-and-out silliness – and there is no doubt that the most ludicrous elements are the strongest.

Referendum and Dumber promotional image.

Referendum and Dumber promotional image.

The Banana party apparently want Bananaland to break away from Greater Plumdon, and the upcoming referendum means the audience have a simple question to answer – are they going bananas, or are they holding on to their plums?

The interactive element of Gilchrist Muir’s script is perhaps not completely thought through, and does not entirely work. Indeed, the satirical element of the show is the least successful part of it. Despite some good use being made of filmed excerpts, the political content falls flat. It is a little cosily self-congratulatory, and the content of the humour – bankers are greedy, the BBC is biased against the SNP, ‘No’ voters are incapable of independent thought – is entirely predictable and not handled particularly well.

pleasingly unpredictable results

The rest of the show is a different matter. The inclusion of some obviously improvised routines adds a certain frisson. The idea of having two people make a speech by each speaking alternate words will be familiar to any listeners of I’m Sorry I Haven’t A Clue, but works well here, with pleasingly unpredictable results.

The further the routines stray from any attempt at political comment, the more fun they are. In particular, attempts by the different parties to ‘convince the audience’, which consist of wordless, ludicrous dance routines to old TV theme tunes, featuring kazoos, bubble-blowing and snapping of braces, are a joy.

The clowning is accomplished, but is never afraid of being silly. The opening slapstick routine, with hammers and frying pans, owes more to Reeves and Mortimer than to classic clowning, and this feel is continued throughout. The costumes of morph suits, oversized Y-fronts, red noses and comedy wigs mean that there is little chance of subtlety, and instead an atmosphere of gleeful anarchy prevails.

Stanley Pattison’s unctuous host and Ben Winger’s Alex Salmond replacement ‘Alan Fishpaste’ are particular highlights, but the other performers – Mat Urey, Tom Holmes and Gilchrist Muir himself – all add to the humour.

There is not much to be learned about the referendum here, but there is a great deal of fun to be had.

Running time 1 hour 5 minutes
New Town Theatre , Freemasons’ Hall, 96 George Street, EH2 3DH (Venue 7)
Thurs 31 July – Sun 10 Aug, Thurs 14 – Sun 24 Aug 2014
Daily at 6.15 pm
Tickets from https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/referendum-and-dumber

ENDS

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