Pravda at Espionage
Aug 2-26 (20.45)
Lovehard are a comedy double act with some form at the fringe having garnered rave reviews for their festival show last year – but would this year’s effort match those giddy heights? The audience is immediately thrown into the action as two scientists struggle with the repercussions of an experiment gone wrong. They have inadvertently opened a portal to a deadly dimension of killer sound-waves, stored on a cassette tape which must now at all costs be destroyed. The cassette of course ends up going missing, and finds itself in the hands of our unsuspecting heroes, three geeky high school kids.
What follows is a brilliant parody of sci-fi, teen and horror B-movie tropes which manages to find room to spoof everything from Stranger Things to Back to the Future. The plot itself, if played straight, would be a supremely enjoyable episode of The Twilight Zone. Lovehard are clearly not only gifted comic actors but also scholars of the material with a real love of the genre sending up the cliches of teen movies such as proms, yard sales and bullying jocks to winning effect. They also find time to make allusions to Shakespeare and Greek Myth, but those of you wary of something highbrow which requires a degree in comparative literature to enjoy need not fear as this show is as gloriously silly as it is smart. The jokes come thick and fast throughout the show, involving plenty of fun with the stilted dialogue and anachronistic teen slang found in the source material (what at first feels a rather laboured joke about 60’s pop has a wonderful pay off later in the show which is well worth the wait ) as well as some brilliant use of breaking the fourth wall and addressing the audience directly.
The pair are as gifted physically as they are verbally and there are some delightful moments of physical comedy which make good use of the pair’s gift for mime. I was particularly taken by a slow motion fight involving various characters. In fact much humour is derived from the fact that the cast of the little town in which the show is set is played by only two actors. This involves a fair amount of silly voices, exaggerated postures and a hectic pace which ably demonstrates the skills of the pair and their gift for self-mockery.
There is not much to comment on in the way of props, costume or set to the piece but what there is within the show is a very inventive use of sound. Unsurprising in a show in which the main threat is a killer sound-wave the use of audio is big aspect of the work and this handled with real subtlety and skill. The spooky electronic background music parodies only too well sci-fi TV themes such as Stranger Things and The X Files and the ominous reverb, angry static and distorted voices bring a real richness to the show creating a sense of atmospheric dread which the duo at times joyfully puncture. Along with the rest of the audience – howling with laughter throughout – I thoroughly enjoyed Tales From Elsewhere, a comedy spoof with real heart, intelligence and most of all laughter. I will certainly be interested to see what the energetic and imaginative Lovehard will unleash upon us next.