FestivalsReviewSouth East

BRIGHTON FRINGE: The Establishment: Le Bureau De Strange – Spiegeltent: Bosco

By: Mad Etiquette

Reviewer: Simon Topping

Two men (Mad Etiquette) in mismatched tweed suits, bowler hats and clutching children’s umbrellas enter the performance space from behind the audience intent on causing mischief. Speaking in an upper class, Terry Thomas style, diction, peppered with gloriously bad language, the boys come into the crowd to ask how they should start the show and after attempting a cartwheel and joke beginning the gentleman are forced to start from the very top as some latecomers arrive. This is fabulous silly clowning which has most of the crowd in fits of laughter.

Mad Etiquette are Dan Lees and Neil Frost. Both improv comedy and clown trained the duo perform a number of shows together and are acclaimed performers touring the globe.

Several classic and well-used comedy techniques are used throughout, such as exaggerated repetition, talking in unison until a coherent sentence is produced, escalating list gags and talking out loud to themselves about how the show is going, to name a few. Some of this is well done, especially the news section where alliteration is used in a fabulously funny way to describe what celebrities are doing around the world; a favourite being the story about Hugh Jackman. “Jackman is jacking off into Jackfruits in Jakarta!” Frost exclaims. This has the auditorium screaming with laughter.

Other sections of the show seem undercooked. Too often the duo is found fumbling for words or ideas and when an amnesty is granted to the crowd, so that if anybody who wants to walk out can, at least one full row does take the opportunity to leave. Lees and Frost’s reaction to this is marvellous however, beating their heads with their umbrellas and shouting, “It’s okay we can take it, we’re big boys now”. A perfect and hilarious riposte.

Those who leave do miss out. As the show continues we are treated to great comedy moments; a cricket game with a difference, crowd singalongs, the hunting of a member of the audience declared to be a moose and a song to finish, are all very entertaining.

Undoubtedly master wranglers of their public, Lees and Frost are talented and well-seasoned improvising performers, If they could tighten up the structure of the show in places they would have a five star hit, however, their instinct to be subversive would probably preclude them doing so.

Reviewed on 11 May 2019 | Image: Contributed

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