Show type: Edinburgh Fringe 2004
Nothing but two chairs and a reason to talk, a completely spontaneous and hilarious chat based on whatever the audience wanted.
Michael Legge and John Voce purport to be the laziest performers of the festival. So lazy, in fact, that they didn't even bother to turn up last year. This claim allows them to justify anything that could happen in the next hour, almost acting as a quality blanket; if the show goes badly, then it must be solely because they are too lazy. Bearing this in mind, Legge and Voce have created a sloppy and amateurish impro performance.
After opening with a half-decent comedy song, the two launch straight into a double-pronged, yet playful assault on the audience. On-stage, they are a bit like someone's wacky dad, even complete with the obligatory suit/trainers mismatch and Simpsons ties. This is also manifested in their performances, larger-than-life personas with beaming faces, cracking cringeworthy jokes about anal leaks in a boisterous fashion.
This rehearsed opening, however, proves itself to be the highlight, as the duo progress onto the main portion of the show. The premise is definitely an interesting one: the art of conversation is dying, they claim, and their objective is to take it back from text messaging and Internet forums with a series of three improvised conversations. These conversations are, in theory rather than reality, inspired by audience suggestions: for the first, a suggested theme, for the second, a suggested location and for the third, a line for the conversation to finish with.
Yet, why two performers, both with undeniable comic skill but slight improvisational talents, decide to create an impro show is truly baffling. As with the theme, the general ideas of each sketch were potentially the formula for a decent show. The idea of a doctor aspiring to be a famous actor stealing a movie script from his overly-aggressive name-dropping receptionist is fantastically off the wall, but completely ruined by horrific performances.
Legge and Voce simply plod along through their conversations, desperately trying to cling onto something that garners a laugh. Almost needless to say, there are huge passages when nothing works whatsoever, leaving both performers and audience at a loss of what to do. Sometimes it is almost as if the two are challenging each other, trying to pass the buck to avoid being the one to invent the next progression.
Of the two, Voce is the better actor, wandering around the stage and giving more life to his characters, but it is Legge who consistently inspires the better ideas. However, by the final third of the hour, both performers are looking at their watches, trying to figure how much longer needs to be filled. In other circumstances, they could easily prove to be a good double-act but improvisation is most definitely not for them.
Unfortunately, even being the laziest double-act of the festival does not excuse this shoddy hour of lacklustre improvisation. The premise and many ideas do have some potential, but the show never really rises above the status of an A-level drama warm-up session.
Geraldine - 25/08/2004
I saw John and Michael at The Edinburgh festival and I thought they were amazing. Very witty and incredibly funny, made me giggle anyway.
Sam from Durham - 23/08/2004
Michael and John are two of the funniest, most versitile improvisers in the business. They create different characters and plots for every show and weave it into an hour filled with laughs. Mr. Reviewer I challenge you to see this show again and you will realise these guys have "it". I have been three times already and can't get enough. The Conversation has a huge cult following in the making.
Rob Hitchmough - 20/08/2004
Michael & John are massively talented. Those who see this show will leave the venue richer in spirit and will be part of a privileged few.
Fiona - 19/08/2004
Best show I've seen at the fringe so far. They are hilarious.