Pot Noodle: The Musical
Show type: Edinburgh Fringe 2008
Join our heroes Steve and Digger for a rip-snorting, irreverent musical adventure through the murky world of fast food. David Sant of Peepolykus invites you to tuck into a delicious recipe of comedy, songs and beheaded celebrity chefs.
So this is the face of the 21st century Fringe. A show created entirely by a multinational company to promote one of its brands. A 60-minute advert for an overprocessed snack food.
In fact, the Pot Noodle’s role in this musical is very limited. The setting happens to be a ‘noodle farm’ but it could be anywhere. But no matter, this actual show is irrelevant to Unilever, it’s the column inches the project can generate for their product that’s crucial – and I’m sorry to be adding to the tally. At the weekend, one tabloid reported that Jodie Marsh wanted to play the glamour model in the show. There is no glamour model in the show, but still more coverage, heh? Oh, the cold commercial cynicism behind a campaign designed to look like it’s just a bit of a laugh…
However, the production itself has less the fingerprints of a corporation trying to influence our minds, than an frustrated advertising ‘creative’ deciding he’s worth more than nicking other people’s ideas for financial gain and wants to write Edinburgh show to prove just how funny he is. And he’s had the gumption to persuade one of his clients to pony up the cash to indulge him with a relatively big-budget production.
Who that is, we’ll never know. For while the show has five cast members, a musician, a director, a composer, a designer, a producer, a production manager, a production marketing team and a press relations team, no one is listed as the writer. This is simply ‘a show by Mother Vision’ – a division of a London advertising agency. But then again, if I’d written this crap, I’d probably want my name kept out of it, too.
The only thing that stops this irritating, unfunny hour from utter failure is the persuasive exuberance of the cast, hamming it all up wonderfully and ad libbing around their mistakes, certainly making the best of a bad job.
The plot has the rare twin attributes of being both mindlessly simple and utterly muddled. Evil brother kills benevolent company boss, denying heiress her fortune. She then teams up with her colleague, a bloke who ditched his wife at the altar (in an otherwise unlinked subplot) and his mate to con evil brother into confessing. They do this, Hamlet-style, by putting on a musical within the musical. But it’s fair to say that the man who writes Pot Noodle adverts is no Shakespeare.
A rule of comedy is surely that no show that employs a blow-up doll is ever funny, and that’s confirmed here, with the sex toy standing in for the corpse of benign leader Allan Little. In an act of ultimate sycophancy – ironic of course - this sainted hero is named after Pot Noodle’s actual brand development manager.
The primary form of comedy, and that term’s used very loosely, is repetition, saying the same line over and over again in the hope that very act will crack the audience. In fact, it’s just grating.
I laughed exactly twice. There’s one nice sight gag with the ghost of he dear departed Mr Little while a dirge at his funeral goes entertainingly out-of-sync. But that’s about it for the funnies, however much the sheer chutzpah of the performances ( tries to boost things along. Director David Sant, of Peepolykus, seems to have done his best, but the source material is just too slight and trite.
At one confusing plot point the heiress character, gamely played by Rhona Croker, becomes a cat, something do with fleeing from her evil uncle (Pros From Dover comic Phil Whelans). The only reason for this seems to be so one of the blokes can greet her with the line: ‘Sure I’m attracted to pussy/Just not the kind with four paws.’
Yes, yes, very funny double entendre, Mr advertising man. Now please go back to writing jingles for thrush remedies and leave the Fringe to the comedians…
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett