Monday, October 3

Men With Coconuts – Gilded Balloon Patter Hoose

The award-winning local improv troupe returned to the Fringe to illustrate what a double-edged sword the make-it up-as-you-go-along world of improv is. At times inducing belly-laughs, at others a cringe or two and all points in between. OK then, a multi-edged sword. The former was true at the start as our three players bounded onto stage following a frantic jazz soundtrack, repeating the manoeuvre no less than three times to accommodate late-comers. In all the excitement ringmaster Charlie appeared to lose track of his microphone while piano-player Colin dutifully added appropriate incidentals to the chaos and the tone was set, snapping to attention the audience, a key element in this milieu.

The guys riffed around various suggested film genres on an imaginary ‘Prime Minister versus Country’ theme but really started making hay when managing to bolt together the disparate ingredients of Joan Of Arc, the unrealised film Corpse-Busters Five, MC Hammer-Smith and a Dildo That Makes Toast. Go figure the wonder of improv, although it was clear these chaps knew each other well for a few moments were ever-so-slightly predictable and an odd, underlying formula was evident. Most jazz is improvised but there are always hidden structures and tiny signposts that the musicians know; the better they’re hidden from the audience the more effective and just occasionally the veneer wore a tad thin.

No matter when, under interrogation, audience members Ailsa and Darren admitted to having been together twelve months, despite having known each other nine years earlier at university. The cast duly set about re-telling the story of the romance, made more hilarious by furnishing the couple with a squeaky rubber chicken (to be squeezed at anything correct) and a circus horn (to be honked at anything wrong). To invoke the jazz metaphor things really swung at this point.

Last was fashioned the tragi-comic musical epic ‘Dilemma In A Shoe Shop’, an evolving conflict between Mr Clark(s) and Mr Foot Locker, the only disappointment being one could see The Greatest Shoe-Man heading down the Street a mile off. But as we were reminded at the end, this show will be different every night and credit’s due; they still made it look a great deal easier than it blinkin’ well is.

Running until August 28th (7.45pm, but not 17th by the looks!) at The Gilded Ballon Patter Hoose (Doonstairs), Chambers St. Tickets

Reviewer: Roger Jacobs

Reviewed: 12th August 2022

North West End UK Rating: ★★★