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Idiots Of Ants: The Big Red Button

Note: This review is from 2010

Review by Corry Shaw

With apparently no expense spared The Idiots Of Ants return with a huge production featuring puppets, show-stopping songs, movies, green screens, the biggest remote control on the Fringe and a whole pile of pizzazz and showmanship.

With production values that some TV shows would envy, this really is an impressive display of direction, writing and performance. In fact it does feel like watching a televised sketch show, the transitions between scenes being filled with some amazingly directed and edited video. Everything is slick and polished, even the audience interaction and banter, which can feel a bit pantomime at times. Yet when something does go wrong, and it did, the Ants immediately show their human side.

During an incredibly clever and bank-breaking sketch about foley artists – the people who add sound effects to film soundtracks – the show is brought to a halt when a prop flies off stage and into the audience, battering off the legs of a woman in a front row.

A lot of acts would make a joke or plough on with the sketch but Elliott Tiney immediately requests the tech to cut the video so he can check on the injured party. Only when assured that everyone is OK does the show continue and it is a testament to the professionalism of the troupe that they carry on seemingly unfazed by the incident.

There are some sketches that feel a little familiar with topics like 'Your Mum' jokes being deconstructed, , but even these slightly dated ideas are given legs with the sheer attention to detail that the Ants lovingly bring to every idea they attempt.

The majority of the skits are original and expertly executed, the fated foley sketch being one of the most impressive routines I've seen at a Fringe. Even with the interruption there is no denying the potential of a sketch that includes a short silent film set in a manor house, numerous props and cues and immaculate timing. The puppet serenade is achingly funny and the final reveal is clever and technically brilliant.

The only criticism is that when so much depends on the technical elements being spot on it is vital that the technician is as good as the performers and tonight the levels were off which meant that in the musical numbers the lyrics were lost behind overloud guitar. Who knows what jokes we missed in favour of rock volumes.

This is the fourth Fringe for Elliot Tiney, Ben Wilson, James Wrighton and Andrew Spiers as The Idiots Of Ants and they just keep getting better and more ambitious. It is hard to see how they could possibly top this year’s show.

Review date: 19 Aug 2010
Reviewed by: Corry Shaw

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