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BRIGHTON SPIEGELTENT: Blood Sword, Presented by The Duncan Brothers

Reviewer: James Walsh

Shambolic, anarchic clowning with an unexpected twist.

The Duncan Brothers are two of the weirdest and therefore best clowns out there. Perhaps best known for their work with Julia Masli, especially the Fringe-slaying Legs and Logs (and other things that rhyme with Logs), these actual brothers have carried on along their deliciously wonky furrow since, most recently popping up to explain the life of the man who invented the Segway.

This is their most personal show yet, which gives the material more depth than expected. Your correspondent has laughed his guts out at the antics of these eccentric gentlemen before, but this one was also strangely moving.

The show loosely follows the hero’s journey, and is, in part, a parody of the super-serious excesses of the fantasy genre, with stupid, unpronounceable names, ludicrous backstories, and lore honed from the very depths of the earth.

There is also a great deal of fun to be had with ironing boards.

If you’re not familiar with these lads’ style – shout out to the grim-faced young man with the soul patch in the front row – the intentionally loose style can be mildly discombobulating. It’s difficult sometimes to figure out which mistakes are intentional and which are the result of the somewhat windy night (the projector has occasional wobbles) and general madness.

It doesn’t really matter either way: whether emerging from the wrong side of the stage or failing to operate fake blood properly, Rob (tall, moustache) and Andy (slightly shorter, also moustache) are naturally very funny people. They could make queueing at a branch of the post office in the corner of an understaffed WH Smith funny, and Reviews Hub can offer no higher praise.

There are a few bits that could be improved, however. The suddenly-entirely-serious (or is it?) slideshow lecture tests the patience of the audience a tad, and the crowd work, while delightful, could probably be heightened and escalated, especially for the benefit of the few poor souls who have absolutely no idea what is going on.

Mostly, though, this is crazy joy, whether it’s the intense strangeness of deer-suckling (noises I will never unhear), important spoon-based science, or the incredible nod to the notorious romantic scene out of Ghost, which elicited a delighted “oh, shit!” from the person sitting next to me.

By the end, when the true meaning and purpose of the show is revealed, all are on (ironing) board, and even the rocker in the front row is won over, or at least manages to muster up something approaching a smile.

Runs to 15th May

The Reviews Hub Score

Crazy Joyfulness

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