An evening of frivolous fun

Jen Neil 21 January 2008

Pappy’s Fun Club, ADC Theatre, Friday 18th January, 11pm

Reviewer Jen Neil

3.5 Stars

Those queuing outside the ADC on Friday hoping to gain a last minute seat for the sold-out Pappy’s Fun Club show missed a fast-paced, boisterous and, at times, hilariously shambolic hour of comedy. If.comedy award nominees for best newcomer at the Edinburgh Fringe this year, Pappy’s Fun Club not so much graced, but rather haphazardly sung, danced, acted and improvised their way through the evening.

The start was modest; an introduction to our entertainers (Matt Crosby, Tom Parry, Brendan Dodds and Ben Clark) and an insight into the loose narrative that would just about manage to string the sketches together, involving the quartet’s tax problems and phone updates on their benefactor Pappy’s progress in hospital. It was clear from the outset that this was not intended to be a tight knit or sleekly professional show, though the manner in which the performers highlighted this by their mutual mockery of each other’s mistakes, corpsing and revelling in their own childishness only added to the audience’s endearment of their casual approach.

After amusing, but not side-splitting, short introductory sketches such as a movie trailer for ‘Things that are only scary for a short amount of time’, a skit as Bob Dylan’s backing band and Len Taunton’s pointedly mild prank show, the modest start escalates into something far superior.

The portrayal of Abraham Lincoln reading his diaries (‘Emancipated the slaves today. Well done me!’), the inventive wordplay in a conversation between Up, Down, Left and Right and the ingeniously constructed audience participation scene showed real ability for comedic scriptwriting as well as a clear aptitude for performing. Moments of flatness were rare, and were simply overcome by the acknowledgment that joke should be scrapped, which brought back the laughter.

As the piece developed and old characters and jokes returned, the performance was given a roundness and unity that at the beginning it very nearly appeared to lack. Even if the humour wasn’t quite your cup of tea, you couldn’t help but laugh along with the general air of merriment that this quartet created in the theatre. However, if you were hoping for something a little more intellectual and substantive, you may have been disappointed by the idiocy, silliness and frivolity of a tax man in underpants with a child’s cash register attached to his head. Nevertheless, it was entertaining, wacky and performed with a great sense of fun, if not revolutionary.