I entered the theatre with high hopes. The Princes of Main, I had been told, were one of the best performers my friends had seen at the Fringe last year. When something has that much hype it is hard to live up to it; I’m still wondering if it did.
The show began with the three actors explaining that they were a sketch troupe- cue first sketch. They then went on to say how technology was not their friend, at which point technical failures and hilarity ensued. The show switched between sketches to ‘personal’ statements about the three performers. Through the characters of Ben, Alex and Jamie, a presentation for Laurence Fishburne (no, not that Laurence Fishburne) was mixed expertly with the characters in the sketches.
Some jokes were nuanced and clever, in particular a sketch really nailing the ability of Google translate (or lack of it). Another sketch managed to mimic and parody erotic fiction; a sort of funny Fifty Shades. Other jokes were simply bizarre. Alex Mackeith dazzled in the dramatically deranged- one impression made Heath Ledger’s Joker look positively tame. The show was performed by three comedians who were clearly experienced, funny and, at times, downright brilliant. At one point they literally told us to laugh: we did.
If I were seeing this show at the Fringe in 2016, fully polished and ready to go, I am certain it would be up there with the best shows I had seen. In its current state, there is something not quite right. Billed as a ‘work in progress’, it was challenging to know if the mistakes were genuine or planned. Either way, they got a bit wearing. The repeated stopping and blaming of tech, whilst at first amusing, did make the production feel like it lost a bit of flow. Although some problems were obviously planned, and funny, the continued pausing made it feel like the performers we simply filling time.
Don’t get me wrong- I am sitting here with my jaw having hurt from smiling for over an hour. I just felt there was definite room for improvement. The strong finale was down almost entirely to Mackeith’s improvisation, which even had his co-stars in stitches. On the whole, the premise of the show allowed for some great sketches to be tied in well with an hour of comedy, performed brilliantly by three of Cambridge’s most talented young comedians. It just has room for fine tuning.