Writers and Performers: Zach Zucker &Viggo Venn
Director: Jonny Woolley
Reviewer: Glen Pearce
There have been some fine comic duos over the year’s – Laurel and Hardy, French and Saunders, Morecambe and Wise – but there’s never been any quite as zany as Zach and Viggo.
Clad in spandex unitards, Zach Zucker and Viggo Venn (who bear a passing likeness to Keanu Reeves and Alex Winter in Bill and Ted) take the audience into their weird world. And boy is it weird. Through a series of sketches, absurd clowning and audience interaction we’re drawn into a world of talking rabbits, bad Hollywood actors and filthy clergymen.
On first inspection it may seem rather haphazard, there’s an amateur air to costume and staging, but look deeper and that haphazard nature is deceiving, designed carefully to allow maximum comic potential. It takes real skill for performers to be able to adapt to their audience and make the random seem connected, yet that’s what this pair of talented clowns, under the direction of Jonny Woolley pull off.
Despite its random and anarchic appearance, look closely and the whole set up parodies the very Fringe circuit it is a part of. Sketches of overblown physical theatre, old fashioned magic acts and over the top actors all familiar to anyone who has sat in theatres hewn out of converted spaces in pubs, church halls and tents. It is though, a loving mocking and one designed to elicit maximum laughs per minute.
There’s no fancy staging here, the audience is given handwritten name badges (all apparently of Zach’s ex-girlfriends) a cardboard frame ‘Kiss Cam’ is touted around the audience for must-have selfies and various poor souls are brought onto stage to join in the duo’s madcap scenarios. Audience interaction can never be predicted and kudos to the performers for coping with an amorous ‘Princes’ Dave and fellow actor Charlie.
Venn’s magician act will strike a chord with anyone who has endured any of the plethora of ‘pick a card’ shows while Zucker’s vane Hollywood acting masterclass (Zoolander meets Borat meets Schwarzenegger) threatens to derail the whole evening as the audience (and performers) descend into riotous laughter.
The show works beautifully in the intimate space of The Warren’s Theatre Box at Brighton Fringe and though some of the technical queues go astray, there’s no attempt to hide it and it just adds to the sense of inclusion, like we are in on the big joke.
It takes a lot of hard work and skill to make the anarchic work and Zach and Vigo have that skill by the bucket load. You may come out thinking ‘what on earth was that about?’ but for an hour of late night fringe fun, where you’ll laugh non-stop, Thunderflop is anything but a flop!
Runs at Brighton Fringe until 8 May 2016 | Image: Contributed