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Show type: Edinburgh Fringe 2010
Rogues Handbook: Bumper Book Of Horror
Rogues Handbook returns with an all-new sketch show tackling the strange and supernatural. They will battle dead policemen, disabled poltergeists, serial killers, movie monsters, mad scientists and time itself. Warning! Contains Jaffa Cakes.
Rogues Handbook: Bumper Book Of Horror
There are those who believe that the spirit of the Fringe is better represented by game failures like this than is by the wondrous entertainment that can be found elsewhere. And there may be something in this... in the same way that no summary of the cultural phenomenon that is The X Factor would be complete without a rendition of Angels by a deranged halfwit wearing a fairy costume, a picture of the Fringe wouldn't be complete without acknowledging the contribution made by small groups of deluded drama students who seem to believe that writing is merely ink on paper.
For once, a Fringe audience voted with its feet. This quartet lost around half of the 50 people who turned up to see their show in The Pear Tree - one of the best Free Fringe venues - before the lights came up to end the torment of the survivors. It wasn't a single walkout either but a steady dribble of people deciding they'd had enough at different times. But all for the same reason, it would seem... they'd all reached their limit with a show that was like watching a group of young children playing an imaginative but impenetrable game that made sense only to the participants.
The paranormal provided a vague theme to the loosely connected sketches, but a great deal of effort was required to see how it all joined up and there was little prospect that doing so would bring any kind of reward. From the opening song to the time-travel inspired finale, the performers tried to generate energy through exuberance alone. Had the writing ever seemed funny to the four as they contemplated their Edinburgh run? Did they manage to make each other laugh as they rehearsed it? It doesn't seem likely that the answer to either of these questions was 'yes' so why are they willing to inflict on an audience? Do they think it doesn't matter because no one pays any money?
Targets of their ribaldry included police interviews and, in particular, the good cop/bad cop routine but they didn't bring anything new to well-explored territory. And sketches based on hauntings and poltergeists only succeeded in providing an excuse for shouting. Worst of all was a joke involving a haunted urinal that led to water being squirted into the audience, proving that we were wrong if we thought we couldn't hate this performance any more than we already did.
If plaudits were handed out for earnestness then shows like this would be picking up stars like a drunken model but that's about as likely as one of the Saturday night nutjobs getting the nod from Simon Cowell and securing the Christmas Number One.
|Date of live review: Monday 30th Aug, '10|
Review by Jason Stone
I really enjoyed this show. I would like to strongly disagree with a few of the points made by the official Chortle review. Firstly, though, I'll agree with one of the words he used - "imaginative". This was an imaginative and creative take on a sketch show. Sure, they visited some territory that other shows have visited, the classic good-cop/bad-cop routine, for example, but they took those routines off in a new direction, relevant to their raison d'etre, the fusion of sci-fi/horror with sketch comedy. So, when the bad-cop is a poltergeist, and it's realised in a neat way, I don't see what's not to like. Additionally, some of the sketches took a silly idea to an inevitable silly conclusion, by logical, but exaggerated steps. This is good writing. Some sketches worked better than others, but the show had laughter and applause breaks, and it was enjoyable throughout. Perhaps the ending was a bit out of left field for some, and it required paying attention to the various setups through the show in order to make full sense. The whole show, though, was delivered with aplomb by a cast who clearly knew how to sell us a combination of deliberately slick and deliberately ramshackle knockabout comedy. Great writing, funny lines, great performances. What's not to like. As some people treat the venue as a drop-in centre when you're on the free festival, perhaps the reviewer should bear that in mind and cut the performers some slack. Even more so, perhaps the reviewer should not assume that people drop their standards when they're doing a free show. These guys put their heart and soul into their show and it paid off. Nice work!
Hello, Paul from Rogue's here... I'm not going to shout down the review - but for the record - the walk outs were largely explained by the fact that Lewis Shaffer's show started 20 mins after our show in the room next door to the counting house. So sadly, some of these people where just at our show to kill some time before Lewis' show. I figured this out when I'd see the same crowd come out of the later show afterwards. Oddly enough, these groups (more often than not) came back to see the show in full next time. Of course, some left because they hated it too - but by and large (as it was a free show) our show was a waiting room that they could slip out of. SO yes, people walked out, but they usually came back... and we didn't lose half of our audience that night, we lost around 12 people (those people came back in that instance too). The audience enjoyed our show that day (gave us one of our biggest donations after the show and the ONLY person who didn't enjoy it was the reviewer...
'Worst of all...water being squirted into the audience'- clearly Mr Stone has never been to the theatre before. Come on! x
I went to see the Rogues and the place was packed full to the brim with people enjoying themselves! Instead of being an intelligent critique of the show this review concentrates too hard on trying to be witty but failing, instead being overly harsh, and the paragraph devoted to people walking out is just lazy reviewing. I thought that the guys were great as did the rest of the audience on the night I saw them – I enjoyed the Rogues and look forward to seeing more of them in the future.
Agree with Steve on this. This show was very funny. If anyone needs to concentrate on their writing abilities, I believe it should be the reviewer. Each member is an accomplished performer and that can be seen in their individual performances. Sorry no personal offence meant but poor review, funny show!
I couldn't disagree more with Jason's review; he must have seen the show on an off day, because when my friends and I went, Rogues' Handbook was a slick, inventive and yes, funny, production. We all placed in our top five of the 30 shows we saw that week, and deservedly so. I for one look forward to seeing more from the Rogues in the future, and so should you.