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Ford and Akram: Fringe 2012

Note: This review is from 2012

Review by Steve Bennett

If charm won awards Ford and Akram would be the toast of Edinburgh. They are such warm engaging performers that shortcomings in the writing are largely – if not completely – forgiven.

This show is a mess in terms of ideas and structure. The idea is that a family-run business is responsible for introducing new vocabulary into the language, and Louise Ford has been charged, literally, with spreading the word, ‘bamp’.

They then take us through a few scenes where it’s being employed, most notably by a pair of street-talking hoodies, alongside a parallel plot about the frictions in their relationship. Yasmine Akram, beautiful and self-absorbed wants a job hosting a telly show (a role, incidentally, for which she would be perfectly suited); while insecure Ford seeks romance – as well as the successful resolution of her task and some sort of empathy from her supposed best friend.

The whole ‘blamp’ business is an albatross around their collective neck, trying too hard to impose an overarching idea on what are a fairly random selection of sketches and stunts. Their performances are strong, and there are flashes of great jokes – but also longwinded scenes in the name of a plot no one cares about.

The funniest moment is the simplest and the silliest –  though hardly great comic writing – when Ford is tied to a chair and bombarded with damp sponges. She’s not afraid to suffer indignities in comedy’s name, ending up with mascara poring down her face and clothing sodden with Yop, making a strong contrast to Irish-Pakistani Akram’s superior elegance.

When they take steps off-script, or with audience interaction, their natural characters shine more, too – suggesting they might be better suited to Morecambe And Wise-style performances where their heightened personalities react with each other and external forces, rather than trying to format a more traditional, if bizarre, sketch show around themselves.

Still, you can’t help but like them.

Review date: 17 Aug 2012
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett
Reviewed at: Pleasance Courtyard

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