Show type: Edinburgh Fringe 2004
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This wonderful, if easily overlooked, gem of a show comes to Edinburgh from the Aspen Comedy Festival, where it was garlanded with the hotly-contested sketch award. It's easy to see way.
Creators Adrian Wenner and Ethan Sandler have succeeded in crafting a cunningly constructed narrative that layers laugh upon laugh, keeping a perfect balance between believable characters and the freakishness of their defects.
They are fabulous performers too, convincingly summoning up an idiosyncratic cast of dozens, each effectively realised with quirks of speech or gesture, yet always suggesting so much more than a two-dimensional character.
Plus they are masters of mime, physical theatre, song and sound effects. And, better yet, they know how not to use them, sparingly employing their talents to add subtle shade to the sketches, rather than overpower them with over-theatrical trickery.
It all starts at the funeral of Georgia hence the rather bland title of the show who had a magnetic hold on all those who knew her. She seemed especially to attract obsessive misfits, which is convenient for a dark comedy wanting borderline weirdos for characters.
So amid some ungodly final words from the bungling vicar, two competitive mourners try to outdo each other on how closely they knew the deceased. As they argue, we flip into flashback and show the progression of their lives and their relationships with the ghostly presence of Georgia.
The sketches run seamlessly into each other, usually by keeping one character consistent from one scene to the next, while the setting changes in a snap. The pace is kept fast, not one precious moment ever wasted on anything that doesn't build towards the next laugh.
So we whiz around in space and time, from a cable TV helpline to the marketing board of a major pharmaceutical company to a travel agent parachuting in through the windows of an office block and all perfectly logical extensions of the original funeral scene.
As the understated characters flesh out, back stories and diversions emerge, and from a modest start something quite wonderful is slowly and stylishly created. All the while the script and performances fizzle with small but delightful little touches, adding even more intelligent wit and style to proceedings.
The characters encompass everything from psychotic squeaky-voiced corporate logos to, even more surreally, a harmful chemical compound. Yet even these bizarre figments of Wenner and Sandler's fertile imaginations seem utterly convincing in their more-than-capable hands.
There are serious undercurrents to the superbly funny sketches, too. Georgia's so-called friends need to find closure, as the Americans say, and others start to contemplate loss and missed opportunities as they come to terms with mortality in their own, odd, ways. But none of this ever gets in the way of the laughs in the slightest, instead offering the occasional emotional nudge to give the humour edge.
One of those theme is the regret at letting a chance pass you by, so save yourself future remorse by catching this supremely talented duo before they make the inevitable leap to stardom.