Evening Without Dignity
Show type: Edinburgh Fringe 2008
How warped and twisted is your sense of humour? Would a giant diseased head make your day complete? Leave your dignity behind, join the All Daily Mail Writers Must Die team for a surreal evening of character comedy.
This youthful sketch show is a slapdash affair: inconsistently written and performed, and featuring some truly disappointing moments.
For a while, I thought I was going to hate every minute of it, but then a strange thing happened. Gradually charm and originally started to peek through. Lines grew funnier, and the seven-strong team seemed to find their feet. And by the end, I’d become rather fond of it, despite its rough edges.
Certainly it started badly, very badly, with the tired stand-up cliché of how disappointing 72 celestial virgins would actually be for a suicide bomber. All the old jokes were reeled out, though bizarrely we seemed to be in Christian Heaven, complete with St Peter, rather than where you might expect.
It turns out that An Evening Without Dignity is the cleverly intertwined stories of several characters’ lives from cradle to grave, though it takes a while for this to become crystal clear. The main protagonist – played by newly-crowned Chortle student comedy winner Jack Heal – narrates his biography through a witty monologue, rich with smart, twisting lines.
Other than that, much of the writing of the early sketches shows a level immaturity. Not necessarily in the juvenile sense of the word – though there is, admittedly, lots of puerile material here – but in creating characters that were too formulaic, scenes that were stupidly overplayed and gags that were too dependent on shock value.
The Oxbridge interview scene, for example, wasn’t stylish enough not to seem like petty revenge for genuine rejection, while the insensitive morgue worker was right off the character shelf marked: ‘what’s the worst person we could have doing this job’.
It fees like they had to get these things out of their system, because in the latter sketches they become much more confident and off-the-wall with their approach, both writing and performing. Yes, they remain fixed in the unedifying field of date rape, STDs and wanking, but they are more inventive with it, more playful and more funny.
Their ‘dumpogram’ singers delivering bad news add a splash of variety, while the silliness increasingly overwhelms the filth, and when it is just filth, it is at least well-executed filth. There’s more subtlety in the script, more fluidity in their acting.
There are too many flaws to wholeheartedly recommend this, but Baby Chimp Productions certainly seem to be working towards something promising.
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett