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Pappy's: All Business

Note: This review is from 2010

Review by Corry Shaw

There is nothing more joyous than laughing solidly for an hour with tears streaming and sides hurting – and an hour with Pappy's provides all this and more. This is a stripped back but cleverly directed production which sees very little in the way of set, expensive props or convincing costuming. Well, there is initially an impressive set with their name in lights, but it is removed by the bailiffs minutes into the show. The threesome explain that because of the credit crunch they are having to cut back on expenses until they find an investor. And this becomes the loose narrative that threads their sketches together.

Matthew Crosby is certainly all business, trying to keep control of Tom Parry who seems intent on making Ben Clark corpse. Parry frequently goes off script with a gleeful and jubilant disregard for his fellow performers’ desire to keep the show professional. It is just awesome to watch. Three men who clearly love what they do and are supremely talented in all aspects of their craft. Every aside, every ad lib, each facial expression is sublimely timed and perfectly executed, drawing every conceivable laugh possible from the crowd.

The set, despite consisting entirely of cardboard boxes, is hugely effective and the stripped down simplicity ensures that the focus is always on the quality of writing and performing. The crossovers between sketches made all the more effortless as each set is drawn on one of cardboard boxes piled behind them. They just pluck the one they need and they are instantly set up for anything from an amazingly funny Justin Bieber medal ceremony to an interesting retake of Macbeth's Witches.

One of the most inventive sketches is called Wardrobe Clash, in which the members of the troupe try to find a combination of -shirts that doesn't clash. It doesn’t sound much but it is effective and very funny. This is made all the more amusing because it provides Parry with another chance to get things a bit wrong, much to Crosby's annoyance and Clark’s amusement.

As the hunt for their investor progresses the story gets more and more surreal, we meet a singing dog, a dragons den worthy tycoon who for some reason has feet instead of hands and an all female French sketch troupe who eventually try to take the Pappy's boys on in a singing, dancing and drama challenge. The pace, ingenuity and laughter is non stop with the audience barely being able to pause for breath between one sketch to the next.

The chemistry between the trio has only been enhanced since they slimmed down from a quarter and it has added a freshness and passion to the group that was occasionally lacking in the past.

One of the final scenes between Clark, Parry and two blow-up dolls is genuinely one of the funniest things I have seen this Fringe and left the audience Bent Double with laughter. The only complaint is that the noise of the roaring crowd occasionally drowned out the dialogue, and if the only grumble is that the audience are laughing too hard it is clear they are doing something right.

This is a jaw-dropping, laugh-a-second spectacular from three young men who are supremely talented writers and performers. Their crossover to TV may not have been as successful as they would have hoped but there is surely a vehicle out there that can push them into the national consciousness, because it is where they belong.

Review date: 18 Aug 2010
Reviewed by: Corry Shaw

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