Clever Peter at the 2010 Brighton Fringe

Note: This review is from 2010

Review by Steve Bennett

Clever Peter set a cracking pace, charging through sketches as if they’re against the clock. Sometimes it’s refreshing, and sometimes it seems to be because they’ve only got one germ of an idea and they quickly move on before you can think: ‘Is that it?’

Some running themes give the show an extra dimension, however, as scenes you might initially dismiss as oddly frivolous later take on added meaning. For although inconsistent, there are some gems here. The clear stars of the hour are Terry, the misogynistic Cockney, and his dour, nasal drinking buddy Kenny, who capture the hilariously dreary spirit of Pete and Dud, with a script that contains more than a couple of genuinely funny surprises. Other big ticks go to their doctor delivering bad news in unusual fashion, and their ‘cake fairy’, who best demonstrates the slapstick physicality that these forceful performers are adept at.

These three lads – in tatty primary-colour jumpers – are not afraid to breach the fourth wall, either, commenting that they’ve let their accents slip or criticising their own clunky scene-setters such as a character unconvincingly asserting: ‘I love being a builder, me!’ This – and their female characters who are the least convincing women since Monty Python’s heyday – adds a human touch to their slick, convincing delivery.

Then there are the misses: the old-fashioned library sketch where absolute silence is demanded that disintegrates into half-hearted surrealism, breaking their own rules on pace by being played out too long; the accidental stalker who is an obvious character with a weak payoff; or the father berating his grown-up son for coming back too late. This, too, recalls a Pete and Dud sketch; but this time the comparison is a lot less flattering.

But the memorable moments easily compensate for the disappointments. Richard Bond, Edward Eales-White and William Hartley have been attracting a lot of acclaim over the two-and-a-half years they’ve been around, and while that might be premature, they certainly have an impressive energy, winning performance skills and – at times – an imaginatively funny script. Keep watching them, for one day they could astound.

Review date: 4 May 2010
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett
Reviewed at: Brighton Otherplace at Bar Broadway

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