Plat Du Nuit: Comeback Special
Show type: Edinburgh Fringe 2003
Plat Du Nuit make their Edinburgh debut with The Comeback Special.
Lounge musicians long been a staple of comedy. The cheesy lyrics, false sincerity and showbiz desperation all make obvious target for ridicule.
At first, it seems the ungrammatically named Plat du Nuit bring nothing to the party. Singer Teddy Dish, the slightly sleazy star starting to lose his looks, and wheelchair-bound pianist Keys McAlpine parody soft-rock power ballads and middle-of-the-road dross convincingly, if unexcitingly.
Their songs are about nothing - a paean to their native Banstead, a deliberately clumsy analogy between shaving and love and so on - and each is effectively a single joke needless padded out to three and half minutes.
But the tunes are convincingly done with skill and detail and go down a storm with the audience, however slight the underlying gag. And it's technically adept, even down to making the most of the limited lighting rig in this Gilded Balloon broom cupboard.
The duo's gimmick is that this is their comeback. Dish, we learn, had previously abandoned Keys to follow his own career in a successful boy band, but the dream died and he came crawling back to the partnership.
This allows for some niggardly sniping between the pair, especially when Dish's agent rings midway through the show. It spells the deterioration of the couple's relationship and the remainder of the hour descends into a pitiful meltdown as they spit out their feelings towards each other.
It's done with brilliant drama, spiralling towards a bravely downbeat ending. Jim Johnson and Adam Riches are superb performers with an admirable ability to effortlessly shift the audience's mood and hold them spellbound.
As a piece of theatre, this final act is excellent - though in no way funny. The fact that it's played out as Dish tries to showcase his proposed musical about the love between a housefly and a plant gives it more an edge of desperate pathos than surreal wit which may have once been intended.
Two stars might be a little harsh for a show with so much talent on display - but that talent isn't necessarily for comedy.