Charred & Dangerous
Show type: Edinburgh Fringe 2006
Imagine the two Ronnies with an extra Ronnie and none of them wear glasses... now imagine one of the Ronnies suffers from clinical depression, another Ronnie is a serial killer and the third Ronnie plays guitar now you're getting close to what this 3 man sketch show is like. Dark characters and songs that jump out of the frying pan of failure into the fire of despair this sketch show is definitely not suitable for children or those of an optimistic disposition.
Charred & Dangerous are a superior sketch trio who perform with rare panache - but they are let down just a bit too often by a script that doesn't have the same richness and depth as their top-notch presentation.
They employ extraordinarily high production values, with sound, visuals and costumes all adding to the reassuring feeling you're watching a show on to which real care has been lavished.
After we enter, hooded druids extinguish the scented candles that have filled the air with sweet incense, and the flickering flames on the screen intensify. The build-up is powerful then we cut to three men dressed as little boys, complete with pyjamas and soft toys, singing a jolly revue-style song which slowly reveals the sinister truth about where they are.
It is most definitely an impressive start, and almost every sketch that follows captures a mood with equal skill and attention to detail. A condemned man making his last wish is dark and menacing, a parody of the Sainsbury's gastroporn ads applied to a 'cheap nasty vodka' takes a knowing swipe at the Underbelly's sponsor, a letter to points of view segueways impressively into a spot-on parody of Eminem's Stan.
Yet for all these impressive set-ups, many of the gags the skits' heart are quite weak. Thus we have the Dutch port star Kurt Von Rimmer, who looks the part and sings a song with sublime musicality but the lyrics, where the jokes should lie, are pretty dodgy. A Record Breakers sketch about the longest gay sex marathon equally goes for cheap laughs in contrast to the classy delivery.
They make a few prank phone calls to cover the blackouts, with is equally low-grade stuff. You feel sorry for the poor 118 call-centre girl dogged by their idiotic directory inquiry, and the PC World man shows remarkable patience in the face of his conversation. But it is a bit, well, eighties-era Noel Edmonds.
That the show succeeds despite such major flaws proves just how much there is to admire about these promising threesome. Once they've found the right script, they'll be unstoppable.