Ego Warriors: Neil Innes and John Dowie
Show type: Edinburgh Fringe 2002
Alternative style guru Neil Innes (Bonzo's, Rutles, Python, Innes Book of Records) and performance poet John Dowie (Jesus My Boy, Dogman, Arthur Smith Sings Leonard Cohen) return with witty ditties and heroic humour in their new show Ego Warriors.
This show is a mixture of music and poetry, alternating between Innes providing the former and Dowie the latter. And on the odd instant when they do work together, their patter is a trifle forced, even though it's obvious they respect one another's talents.
Innes's melodies are likeable and his passion for music evident. He is, of course, an excellent musician and an eminent song-writing technician, with a laconic style and a warmth that the audience appreciates.
Dowie also has an evident love for words and their possibilities. However, he appears to think the audience does not measure up to his expectations, making his delivery a touch patronising and overbearing. His disappointment that his chosen art form is undervalued is a little too evident.
The two combine to good effect on a delightful jazz/poetry number, and suggests they might have benefited from working together more closely.
Innes's songs cover the perils of television, the dehumanisation that the internet entails, the hard selling of New Ageism and the sadness associated with losing friends as one gets older, topics that many of the mature audience might relate to.
On the other hand a medley of Rutles songs, however jauntily performed, can hardly be classed as new material.
Dowie's Chameleon Suit and Larks and Owls were entertaining enough, but he cannot always verbally convey the emotion or meanings of his poems. The very personal Our House did not achieve the reaction he might have imagined for this very reason. Stock phrases such as 'cat on the mat' litter his work and I can only hypothesize that these are motifs, as he is obviously not a lazy writer.
Both performers are keen to entertain, and while they manage this very well, the comedy is really quite minimal, meaning this is a show that is likely to provoke more thought than laughter.
The Ego Warriors need to defeat a few more monsters from the id before taking their desired place among the enlightened.