Heroes and Villains
Show type: Edinburgh Fringe 2007
One sofa, two friends and one inappropriate fancy dress costume. 2006 hit double-act return with a comedy about love, hate, fear, social ineptitude and the perfect pooh. Matt Greene and Darren Richman's follow-up to last year's Other People
Two blokes. One sofa. Sound familiar?
Writers Matt Greene and Darren Richman have taken the puerile banter of Baddiel and Skinner and given it a script. It’s pretty much an hour of chewing the fat from two sociallly stunted twentysomething flatmates who sit around playing Xbox, settle arguments by rock, paper, scissors and consider Jordan a serious author of worth.
Richman’s character Michael is a slacker; moody and misanthropic, in the manner of a socially awkward adolescent ‘living his life in a perpetual state of irony’. Tom Fitton plays Jonathan who is, nominally, the more sensible one, dishing out slightly patronising advice to his less motivated chum. He’s trying to make his faltering way in the word – he’s even got a girlfriend – but that doesn’t stop him in indulging in fantasies of being Indiana Jones once in a while.
The pair first appeared in an enjoyable 2006 Edinburgh Fringe two-hander, Other People, and this is very much a sequel, with very similar style and content. They discuss passionately subjects of little importance, in the way young men do, as they prepare for a night out at a fancy dress party. In act two, they’re back from their night out, and the events of the evening are gradually pieced together.
In terms of drama, story and structure, it’s flimsy stuff. Not the next Waiting For Godot, but simply a convenient device on which to hang gags and observations that wouldn’t seem out of place in a stand-up set.
More precisely, it feels rather like an episode of Men Behaving Badly, with less emphasis on drinking and girls, and more on the trivial obsessions. The writing is sharp and witty, and rolls along nicely. It’s just a couple of two-way dialogues, but the conversation ebbs and flows fluidly, overcoming many the limitations of the set-up.
But you can’t escape the fact that the script is little more than a vehicle for jokes, which means it often has the feel of a wisecracking sitcom rather than naturalistic conversation. If you’re happy to accept that, however, there are certainly enough laughs to keep you satisfied, as they mull such timewasting topics as conga-line dynamics, whether ‘sexy schoolgirl’ is an appropriate fancy-dress outfit or whether puns can be racist.
All this makes the show lightweight but fun, just like the studenty conversations it depicts.
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett
Brighton, May 2008