ComedyReviewSouth East

BRIGHTON FRINGE: The Establishment: Eton Mess – The Warren Theatre Box

Performers: Dan Lees and Neil Frost
Reviewer: Glen Pearce

Regardless of which side you were on, the Brexit referendum ended up creating some heightened views of what it exactly means to be British. Many arguments were raged over so-called ‘British traditional values’ many of which in practice never actually existed.

Now comedians Dan Lees and Neil Frost offer us a satirical view of Britishness in The Establishment: Eaton Mess.

This is a privileged Britain, the ultimate boys own club of Etonian and Oxbridge graduates patting each other on the back. This isn’t just a stiff upper lip, this is stiff everything and the duo go into orgasmic raptures at each mention of money, status and power.

Clad in obligatory top hats but suits that would look more at home as deckchairs on Brighton beach than the traditional banking pin stripe, the pair hurtle through the bastions of British upper class.

Fox hunting, The Boat Race, The Empire and a healthy disdain for, in their view ‘bloody meddling lesbians’, all ripe targets for lampooning. One only hopes, if the most pessimistic predictions of post-Brexit Britain come true we won’t need one of the duos emergency relief packs – home made chutney, tickets to the Chelsea flower shower and framed picture of Teresa May.

It’s all very cleverly observed, the improvised make do and mend feel belying a slick tightness that comes from confidence in the material. Improvised props and coerced members of the audience as additional characters give the piece an anarchic energy but it’s all carefully honed, each improvised line planned to increase the comic tempo.

Lees and Frost don’t hold back on their targets with former old Etonian David Cameron unlikely to be booking a visit anytime soon but it’s never pitched with malice, just a wry look at the fact that it is often out very dour British values that actually provides the best comedy.

There’s a fine tradition of satire in British Comedy, and in a period when electioneering  likes to test all our faith in human nature, perhaps the guys have the best medicine, ‘do what is right for us’ and just laugh.

Runs 7, 24 May at The Warren TheatreBox  |  @brightonfringe

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Cleverly observed

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