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Pegabovine: Coat Of Arms

Pegabovine: Coat Of Arms

Show type: Edinburgh Fringe 2007

Coat Of Arms is the story of the many generations of the Winterbloom family, and the family legacy of their country estate. A coat with three sets of sleeves has been passed from generation to generation, and now the true magnitude of its curse is being revealed… one generation at a time! Cast: Matthew Henry Johnson, Jenny Sutton, Davis Wateracre

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Original Review:

There’s a lot of stupid fun to be had with Pegabovine’s anarchic time-travelling romp; a threaded sketch show that’s under no illusions about how daft, convoluted and low-budget it is.

The ridiculous premise is that three down-on-their-luck aristocrats try to figure out how to save their estate from their recently deceased father’s crippling gambling debts. Brian (Matthew Henry Johnson) is the sensible one, straightman if you will, while his dippy, dreamy sister Petula (Jenny Sutton) wants to turn the family seat into a fringe theatre, where they could stage a sketch show. How very postmodern.

But every scene is stolen by the third sibling, Quentin (Davis Wateracre), an incorrigible cad hell-bent on drinking and gambling away what scant resources the family do have left. It may just be the stage alcoholism, but Wateracre seems to carry the spirit of Graham Chapman, undermining of the authority figure he cuts with a self-destructive, devil-may-care mischief.

The one thing that could save the family from bankruptcy is a fabled coat of arms – literally, a coat with lots of arms – that enables the wearer to journey through time. Brian is typically sceptical, but we know it exists…

Thus we jump around, from the 1066 Norman invasion to the 1348 plague, from a misguided inventor in 1833 to the caddish upper classes in 1901, triple, quadruple, quintruple-crossing each other in a stupidly escalating deceit.

The show subverts itself, and almost collapses under the weight of its stupidly labyrinthine plot. But that’s the point.

It’s a very knowing script, hugely inventive and rich in sparkling lines. The action cracks along at a snappy pace, and it’s performed with cheeky, freewheeling vigour by all three participants. The word ‘madcap’ is a double-edged sword, but is apt here, even if an obvious intelligence guides the silliness. Overambitious and slightly unfocussed, maybe, but good fun.

Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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