The Trap's Bad Play: Second Coming

Note: This review is from 2006

Review by Steve Bennett


Religion is said to be the theme for this year's Fringe. Well, it must be the case if The Trap have put all the artistic might of their Bad Play into tackling this most weighty of subjects.

As usual in this perennial Fringe favourite, the fun lies in the gap between the earnest, high-minded, grandiose idea and its utterly shoddy execution. And the idea this year is the team's biggest yet: the second coming of Christ.

A cod-serious film introduces the inept student players of Emotion Factory: the solemn student of serious drama; the eager, stuttering middle-class one and the musical Jew, who ends up the butt of many a bad-tasted racial jibe.

Between them, they act out ­ poorly - their naïve but preachy script. 'He was an ordinary man,' they intone. 'But this man was no ordinary man.' So what would Jesus do, were he to come back?

Emotion Factory illustrate their tale with some gloriously ill-judged scenes. We meet Ian Huntley, played out like a panto villain who turns out not to be all that sinful after all; John The Raptist, an awkward attempt at capturing the language of the street; and a flighty beatnik to represent laissez faire liberal attitudes ­ all played with beautiful incompetence by Jeremy Limb. Dan Mersh, meanwhile, is the narrator, becoming increasingly frustrated as the play falls apart around him, while Paul Litchfield is a vengeful, arrogant short-tempered Jesus. The Messiah is back, and this time he's angry

For all the over-the-top exuberance, The Trap are actually more restrained this year than they ever before, relying on the wit of the deliberately clunking script and off-kilter performances, rather than broad, chaotic slapstick. Their show is all the better for it; being a (slightly) more subtle, knowing mockery of bad productions than a broad knockabout, anything-goes farce although nearly anything still goes.

The show is rich with technical ingenuity, too, as the talented trio interact with the screen and make their own inspired video segments.

But what really makes this the best Bad Play yet is a brilliant coup de theatre about three-quarters of the way in. Just when you've got used to their style, they inject a huge dose of fresh inventiveness, spinning their idea out into a whole new direction.

I won't give the game away, but it's inspired, utterly unexpected and awesomely well done. Like the preceding narrative, a few ideas are over-stretched, but there are still so many of those ideas, all startlingly original, it would be churlish to complain.

Great fun, wonderfully creative and performed with real verve, this is a superb return by The Trap trio.

Steve Bennett


Review date: 1 Jan 2006
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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