This, Pleasance Courtyard, venue 33
30, 31 July; 1-17, 19-24 August 2014
I’m a Radio-4-audience kind of bloke, which means I get references to Hitchcock and Ingmar Bergman, and I feel smug. So when Robin and Death talk to each other in faux-Swedish I’m in my comfort zone. My comfort zone in Fringe comedy shows is hard to find, so I always sit at the back. As Fringe comedy venues are small (three-men-and-a-dog being the typical capacity) it’s hard to be a shrinking violet, especially when the performers are determined to interact with the audience; I go into this one and the performers usher us to our seats and start distributing party-poppers – “Oh no – I’m being interacted with!” I say to myself. I’m a party-pooper with a party-popper. As it turns out, Robin and Partridge have got the level of interaction with the audience (and with their sound/light engineer too) just right, so I feel engaged and not interfered with. Good!
The ‘Death’ episodes alternate with glorious, rapid-fire puns, with verses of a folk song composed by their late Uncle Angus, and with routines by their alter egos Justice Radiator. It’s okay, I know where I am by their gestures and choreography, so I never get lost. The faux-Swedish has sub-titles – and probably the most obvious gag of the whole show, watch out for it – but does give way very quickly to English again, because it’s something that could begin to wear thin (it doesn’t). The whole thing is fast and disarming, and sometimes poignant – an explosion of in-character loneliness sails close to being uncomfortable but stays comic, and Robin’s morning-after-a-night-of-sex with Death is only ridiculous because it’s… well… Death. Once you have seen Death in his underpants, what is left?
My criteria for awarding stars is as follows. It’s bloody hard to get me to laugh. If I laugh once in a comedy show, that’s a result. R & P made me crack my stony face and laugh about four times, and smile a lot, so well done. I start at five stars and work backwards. If I get down to three stars that means the show works but I can tell they’re trying hard. This show gets four stars from me, and probably the only reason I’m docking one is because of that sub-title gag being the oldest sub-title gag in the world. Four stars. Catch it.
Reviewer: Paul Thompson @BookseekerAgent