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Show type: Edinburgh Fringe 2005
Award-winning comedy theatre from Spain's brilliant Pez En Raya, directed by David Sant (Peepolykus, The Elephant Woman). A bedevilled cow, an amateur exorcist, and two crazed clowns collide
This piece of comedy theatre comes with quite some pedigree and critical acclaim. Odd then, that it should so often feel like a children’s pantomime - and not a particularly good one at that.
On the surface, it’s a simple and mostly inoffensive tale of a virginal pony-tailed milkmaid, her short, portly, balding fiancé (a dead ringer for Seinfeld’s Jason Alexander) and their cow that becomes possessed by the devil. And beneath the surface… well there is no ‘beneath the surface’ of this flimsiest of plots.
The tale is told by only two performers, mostly in cross-dressing roles just to reflect that panto mood again. At the outset, they tell us that their show is different from the other shows on the Fringe – because it’s much worse. It’s the best line in the show, and it turns out it’s not actually a joke.
There’s also the language barrier. This pair are Spanish, and with strong accents at that, meaning the words are often difficult to distinguish, and any nuances in emphasis virtually non-existent. It’s a problem that makes the delivery seem wooden.
But more of a problem than grappling with a foreign language, is grappling with a lifeless script that’s as stilted as their accents. Much of the humour is visual, prop-based stuff – which is a good job when the verbal stuff is of the level of ‘Do you suffer from haemorrhoids?’ ‘Yes, I’ve got piles of them.’
Often such dodgy material is lifted with the energy of slapstick performance, but this show is too limp for that. Mostly the atmosphere here is of benign bemusement, rather than hilarity.
Our hapless couple do have their moments; now and again they turn up the stupidity dial and the show palpably lifts. There are also energetic moments of unnecessary flamenco (is there any other sort?) and a couple of displays of ingenuity in circumventing the negligible production budget.
But it’s not enough but a long chalk. This Milk is definitely off.
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