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Idiots Of Ants: This is War
Nominated for the 2009 Edinburgh Comedy Award.
After a critically acclaimed sell-out Fringe show in 2008, Idiots Of Ants present their third full-length show. Since they formed, Ben, James, Andrew And Elliott have become renowned for their uniquely off-kilter way of looking at the world around them
Idiots Of Ants: This is War - Fringe 2009
They’ve always been a slick, confident and technically adept sketch troupe – but the Idiots Of Ants have taken a great step forward this year, with a bold, invigorating show that rarely puts a foot wrong.
That attention to detail is still there, from the programmes you’re handed in the queue, to the stools painted in the Ants’ corporate red-and-black colour scheme, but it’s the flair in the writing that has made the quantum leap.
From the wittily subversive opening scene, set in an RAF plane somewhere over Nazi journey, to the high-concept show-stopper, This Is War has quality stamped all over it. Scripts honed to perfection, but still allowing a little room for improvisation, skilful call-backs and a pumping, energetic soundtrack contribute to the flawless production. Hell, there’s even fencing and a little juggling thrown into the giddy mix.
‘They’ve gone for the traditional four middle-class white guys formation,’ the half-time commentary self-consciously remarks. This could be smug, but like any easily-leveled criticism that they are mainstream and conventional, the team overcome the objections by the simple process of being damn funny.
Only two brief sketches fulfil the almost obligatory ‘…and miss’ half of any sketch show verdict: a Tom and Jerry pastiche and Alive: The Musical. The rest are just brilliant. Fathers-to-be learn the most vital tool of parenting – cracking bad ‘dad jokes’ – in some Guantanamo-style classroom; the precise etiquette of calling ‘shotgun’ on car journeys is wittily examined; while a group of lads’ become angry at their mate neglecting them just because he’s now got a baby in his life.
It is a little blokish, that has to be said – and as if to ram the point home, the sketch in which the four play women who’ve undergone a sex-change cheekily taunts the female half of the audience with every ‘ironic’ sexist stereotype going. But the howls of mock-outrage that greet every preposterous statement are quickly followed by hearty laughs, and it’s one of their finest scenes.
Running jokes define two of the smart quartet. Elliott Tiney is portrayed as the most knowing Idiot, but very sensitive about his diminutive size; while Andrew Spiers is the chubby, lovelorn one. James Wrighton and Benjamin Wilson’s personas are less clear, but that only gives them the malleability to take whatever role is required.
Tautly directed by Matt Holt, this coruscating hour is guaranteed to impress, even if you’ve been lukewarm to the Idiots’ charms until now.
|Date of live review: Friday 21st Aug, '09|
Review by Steve Bennett
The scene involving the 'ironic' sexist stereotype was indeed not sexist. Or funny. And to call it one of their 'finest' scenes is a discredit to what was a reasonably entertaining show.