Simply Fancy: Pig Island
Show type: Edinburgh Fringe 2008
An engagingly absurd, funny piece of theatrical brilliance.
This cult hit of the Melbourne comedy festival is very inventive, very weird and very funny. If not entirely consistent.
It’s a surreal fantasy romp in which two telepathic teenagers and their dad don their cloaks to embark on an epic quest from the darkest forests to the deepest seas for… a pineapple, kiwi fruit and a guava for granny’s birthday.
Fans of the Boosh are likely to love this daft adventure – and not just because one of the trio, Charlie Garber, resembles a young Julian Barrett. It has the same sense of overblown, low-budget nonsense, delivered with dry levity and utter conviction, only allowing a slight glint that they know it’s all utterly childish to shine through. There are mystical woodland creatures, space aliens, robots, evil ice witches – everything the fan of absurd comedy yarns has come to expect – and all realised with a mere handful of material from the dressing-up box.
The plot is, of course, irrelevant. It’s almost about how silly the trio can get away with being while keeping straight faces. The answer is very, as one deliciously unhinged scene follows the next. The trick to maintain the difficult balance between surreal fun and just arsing around embarrassingly, but a imaginatively ridiculous script and well-judged performances by all three (the other two being Claudia O’Doherty and Nick Coyle) ensure it remains entertaining, and occasionally hilarious.
After the ludicrously pompous introduction by Garber, playing the show’s luvvie director, the lo-fi trio set to work on creating the strange, esoteric mood. There are a few witty lines, but most the humour comes from the performance and the physicality of the players. Sometimes it does get just a bit too odd for its own good, but the scenes are brisk, so nothing dies forlong.
It’s clearly a cult show – and the fact a small number of the audience guffawed over-heartily even before anything obviously funny happened suggests it’s either already getting repeat audiences… or that annoying rent-a-chuckle mates were called in to impress reviewers.
If it’s the latter, this warm, weird and sometimes wonderful hour needs no such artificial support. Pig Island is, in many ways, the perfect Fringe show: flawed but inventive.
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett