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Bruce Hammers' Bananapocalypse: Fringe 2012

Note: This review is from 2012

Review by Steve Bennett

Well, this is a pig’s ear of a show.

But then again, that is the point, as Mat Ewins has made a deliberate attempt to inject some shambolic, loose charm into character comedy as he introduces us to veteran actor and Eighties action hero Bruce Hammers.

He was the star of the top-grossing banana-based sci-fi action thriller of 1982, Bananapocalypse, and he’s here to reminisce about the making of that blockbuster and his acting career to date.

Quite how this led to him reeling off a number of hilarious insults you could level at  Inuits, or staging a not-so-hilarious fake date with an audience member is hard to explain, just part of the ramshackle construction of the hour. Ultimately, though, some discipline and editing would have better showcased the more inventively surreal elements without leaving the audience struggling to follow the irrelevancies.

Ewins’s video clips of Bananapocalypse itself perfectly capture the feel of dated futuristic potboilers, right down to the look of a second-generation VHS copy. Inventively he’s combined this shlocky footage with a real prank phone call, which has to be the first fusion of its kind.

The show is knowing and self-referential, even if does take some ideas too far. Awkward audience interaction is overdone, and what should be subtle gags – such as Hammers’ eyepatch moving from one side to the other – are too heavily underlined. Meanwhile, crappy improvisers seem to be an easy target this Fringe, and Ewins’ contribution is one of the least developed.

Yet there is plenty of off-the-wall silliness too, from daft wordplay to swipes at many media clichés, from the formula of Jon Culshaw’s impression show to the  ultimate in ill-matched cop partner movies.

His ambition is laudable, and there are clear examples of  unique thinking throughout the hour – even if is still feels too much like a work-in-progess in need of a director’s firm hand than a finished product.

Review date: 16 Aug 2012
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett
Reviewed at: Just The Tonic at The Caves

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