Gently Progressive Behemoth

Note: This review is from 2007

Review by Steve Bennett

The Gently Progressive Behemoth packs more original, imaginative ideas into its hour than you have any right to expect.

When summing up their show in one word, Like Roberts and Nadia Kamil offer ‘overambitious’. In two words: ‘overly ambitious’. While it’s true that several sketches don’t fulfil their immense potential, it’s better to aim high and fall short than take the easier option.

The duo adopt a playfully surrealist attitude to their work, but ensure the nonsense is always rooted to a solid idea. An eccentric intelligence pervades the overcrowded show ensuring it’s not just odd for its own sake or, heaven help us, wacky.

Sketches about mnemonics, Beano cover mounts or Roberts’ overemphasising with every film character he ever sees wear their smartness on their sleeve, coming from an unexpected tangent then swinging straight into an unpredictable.

Yet although the ideas are often obscure or high-falutin, the result is often surprisingly accessible. The grotesque Anne Bancroft, the vicious, shrill never-satisfied monster of a reviewer is a shrewish delight, while the overeducated take on Bronx street banter (‘yo momma is so…’) is a lovely juxtaposition of the sublime and the ridiculous.

Roberts and Kamil are appealing performers with an easy dynamic between a smug know-it-all and wide-eyed naïf. Kamil smirks endearingly through much of it, while Roberts affects the manner of a lecturer, imparting vital information contained in the sketches.

Some ideas don’t get the space they need, while others get too much and, ultimately, the show is slightly less than the sum of its parts, as there’s nothing quite strong enough to glue all the strange disparate concepts together.

But The Gently Progressive Behemoth is one of the most inventive shows on the Fringe, smart and subversive, and Roberts and Kamil’s potential is unarguable.

Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

Review date: 1 Jan 2007
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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