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Death By Gameshow

Note: This review is from 2010

Review by Jason Stone

There is a moment in Death By Gameshow when a man largely concealed inside a box begins to sing... and it's lovely. Not just because he has a really good singing voice but because his song provides a welcome respite from the rest of the show.

Performances seen in the first few days of the Fringe often feel under-prepared but that's not the problem here. The main difficulty with Death By Gameshow is that its premise is exhausted as soon as the show starts and what follows is a painful and lengthy exposition of an unfunny idea. Or to put it another way, if your hour-long show is built on a single joke, then it's pretty unwise to give it away in the title.

The man with the singing voice plays the compere of a gameshow in which contestants lose their lives if they fail to win. The gameshow's participants are each played by the same pair of performers and their costume and accent changes are, like the contestants they represent, gamely executed.

But the points of difference between the couples are achieved by portraying them as shallow national stereotypes and this joke wears so thin that you can see through it. There are a lot of frenetic scene changes and much of the time the action is noisily chaotic without anything funny to justify the din.

There is very little to enjoy in this show even though the performances are reasonably slick and the cast manage to squeeze in a lot of complex business because neither of these things count for anything if the writing isn't adequate. It's all well and good being word perfect but the most important preparation is the time spent with pen and paper before the rehearsals begin ­– and that part of the process was sadly neglected.

Review date: 11 Aug 2010
Reviewed by: Jason Stone

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