Show type: Edinburgh Fringe 2008
Form-busting comedy installation from the team behind last year's sell-out hit, The House of Windsor. Set in an actual boardroom, The Meeting provides the bona-fide Corporate Experience, from apologies through to Any Other Business. Agenda to follow.
Gotta love site-specific comedy. This one takes place in the genuine meeting room of a genuine office, which is a blessed relief after all the claustrophobic sweat-boxes that pass for Fringe venues.
All seems as it should be, the MD and finance manager are already there, chatting quietly as we file in and sit around the table, where pens and boiled sweets await. The agendas are handed out: Apologies for absence, matters arising, inter-departmental progress reports, AOB (eg nature walk, wink murder), new vampires announcedÖ
Sketch trio House Of Windsor have given the tedious corporate meeting a beautifully surreal twist, exaggerating the uncomfortable mix of office politics, inane banter, incomprehensible management-speak and self-important grandstanding which every 9-5er will know too-well.
Theyíve taken that colleague whose very existence is defined by some mundane concern, real or imagined, ramped up their arrogance and self-belief, then make the crux issue something utterly nonsensical. Thus the satirical and the daft is mixed in a way Chris Morris would surely approve of.
Simon Bird plays Trevor, the alpha-executive, running the show with a firm hand, the faux-matey banter not disguising the fact he doesnít like his authority challenged. His nemesis is Joe Thomasís Gabriel, the angry, petulant IT boss whose animosity is apparent, eventually erupting into a furious slanging match, supposedly out of our earshot.
Johnny Sweet is this trioís secret weapon: a benign, bright-eyed, childish fool, unable to conceal his pleased-with-himself smirk as he proudly describes his naÔve ideas, blissfully unaware how stupid they are. Heís a natural clown, and his talents are used to excellent effect here.
Johnny and Joe have their own double-act show elsewhere on the Fringe, which is more admirable than funny, but here they mix the slightly uncomfortable atmosphere with an inventiveness and surrealism that allows for more genuine jokes.
As well as the gloriously nonsensical items on the agenda, there are back stories that are intriguingly hinted at, plus paperwork to take away with you: emails, schedules and memos to chuckle over later, since you canít really concentrate on them in the meeting itself. Itís typical of the great attention to detail displayed by this talented trio, who ensure that laughs are always on the agenda.
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett