Charlie Chuck Is Scrooge
Show type: Edinburgh Fringe 2002
Or is he? Reeves and Mortimer's sidekick returns after 5 years with this surreal esoteric quontro mechanics tale of Scrooge. Did he exist? Does Charlie exist? Find out if you exist. Woof Bark Donkey.
With his fragmented manner, Tourette-ish outbursts and compelling physical tics, Charlie Chuck's inspired lunacy is a welcome novelty - but is it enough to sustain an entire show?
Unfortunately, judging from this mess, the answer is a resounding no.
Obviously, being shambolic is all part of Chuck's unique appeal - but this overstretched idea takes it to painful new lows.
While no one would expect this to be the most faithful of renditions of Dickens's work, there comes a point when the endearing nature of the sheer amateurishness wears off, and it just becomes embarrassing and frustrating.
It's a disappointment as it all starts so well. The first ten minutes are excellent, with Chuck in fine form manically barking out non-sequiteurs - and mouthfuls of half-digested Sugar Puffs - to glorious effect.
But then it descends into a shoddy, ill-prepared mess. At first, the mistimed cues, forgotten lines and corpsing is funny, but it soon wears very thin. It's a 15-minute idea shameless padded to fill the time.
There were some die-hard fans in the audience, lapping up every awkward inadequacy, but too often this all felt like a private joke between the performers and their guffawing admirers.
Chuck's madness really needs something sober to react against - but with everything collapsing into chaos, it simply becomes irritating, and you long for something resembling a plot or a joke.
The joyously stupid song-and-dance finale goes some way to repairing the damage, but to be honest, by then I'd lost the will to laugh.