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Show type: Edinburgh Fringe 2005
Hilariously comical! Surprisingly musical! With the explosiveness of a bunch of top athletes, the Ashton Brothers band together in a spectacle full of hubbub, music, variety cabaret and daredevil stunts. The Ashton Brothers will regale you... come and see!
This lively quartet make no secret of their traditional clowning background from their very first gag, a spectacular, fast-paced pratfall straight from the old school.
And throughout the hour, they continue to offer a feast for the senses with a visually impressive style and sound effects to match. Many sketches end with the sort of fanfare that might conclude a Warner Bros cartoon, which is apt given the animated nature of their act.
Yet not all their routines work as well as they could do comedically. A few recurring ideas don’t amount to much, and too often a skit is based on a good idea for an original illusion, but then doesn’t develop it beyond that. Contrast that with an act such as Men In Coats, who keep things interesting with a breakneck pace.
One exception, and the clear highlight of the show, is the man apparently struggling manipulate a ladder without using his arms, which remain rigidly outstretched. This stunt is inventive, well-executed (as is every last moment of the show) with a gruesomely masochistic feel.
The choice of some scenes is bizarre. An emotive song, powerfully delivered from one of the Brothers while acrobatically entwining himself in crimson cloth draped from the ceiling is beautiful and poetic – but requires a jarring change of gear from the high jinks that surround it.
And one rather seedy interlude, in which two of the brothers play the penises of the others, gratuitously takes this 6pm show out of the realm of family entertainment, for the sake of a cheap joke about erectile dysfunction. Again, this is bizarre mainly for not being in keeping with the spirit of the rest of the show.
At its best, this is encapsulated by the pair who jabber away in meaningless, high-pitched bursts of machine-gun blather. Cheeky and athletic they tease each other while playfully gambolling around the stage like monkeys – and there’s no funnier a primate than that.
But while there’s a handful of such moments of brilliance, this clearly talented physical act is too inconsistent to provide a cast-iron hour of solid entertainment.
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