Show type: Edinburgh Fringe 2003
Bad Play is a must-see for anyone who has ever watched, been in, reviewed or even heard about a truly awful performance.
These days, the badly-acted play has become an established comedy staple, with the likes of Acorn Antiques and Radio Active setting the bar for embarrassingly amateur spoofs.
Now the men behind inventive sketch show The Trap have joined those revelling in the awkwardness of the thespians who haven't yet cracked Spencer Tracy's secret: "Remember your lines and don't bump into the furniture."
This spoof comes in the form of a clunkingly simplistic, right-on piece of educational theatre about September 11 - a tragedy impressively recreated with two Jenga towers and a couple of paper darts.
The script telegraphs its liberal slogans with all the subtlety of a suicide bomber, capitalism = bad; trees = good; theatre = Important, with a capital I. However, the parody is pretty heavy-handed, too, and would surely have benefitted from less blatant exaggerations, keeping the spoof closer to the reality of these dismally naïve productions.
But the joy of hammed-up romps like this is always going to be in the performance rather than the words, and this is where the lads excel, with a glorious cavalcade of wandering accents, missed cues, appalling mime and technical incompetence.
The first five minutes are fantastic, as the cast blusters, late, onto the stage, falling over the props and each other in a mad dash to get the show under way. And the resourceful team have littered the whole play with classy, unexpected touches, which keeps the audience on their toes, alert for the next blinding foul-up that threatens to derail everything.
But there's not really enough to sustain the full hour. Bad Play is essentially a one-note idea, fine for a ten-minute sketch, but looking a little thin for sixty, no matter how many variations on the theme you can think of.
The trio end on a special high, with an impressive display of quick thinking in an improvised Q&A session. But the question that really needs a straight answer is whether a shorter running time would have been a better idea.