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Late Night Gip Fight: Fringe 2012

Note: This review is from 2012

Review by Steve Bennett

Is this the year hubris set in? Late Night Gimp Fight start by projecting some of the worst reviews they’ve had on to their giant screen; while a recurring strand of the show features sketches that feature an ‘inevitably weaker punchline’. It reflects the confident swagger the team have always had in their work, but niggles at a truth.  While this show is as bold and bawdy as ever, it hasn’t hit the heights of imagination that have deservedly earned them widespread acclaim over the past couple of years.

In terms of performance and production, they probably can’t be beat – but the writing isn’t as sharp as it has been, with some obvious payoffs and too many cheap plunges into knob gags. Crudity is fine – it’s what we expect of them, after all – but the route there is often too obvious.

Nor is that criticism confined to their rude scenes. In their opening gag, soldiers in a war zone are told to ‘get down’. Someone starts dancing to funk, could you have guessed? Another sketch involving an American Footballer revolves around a joke that’s so old it used to be about Peter Shilton. And the song about possible paedophiles claiming ‘research’ as a defence seems a very old reference, a full nine years after Pete Townshend gave that excuse.

Yet some sketches do show the invention which brought them to prominence, even if there’s not nearly enough of them. Rebooting Scooby Doo as an altogether grittier show is a clear stand-out; a scene played out on typewriters is a very neat idea; and  a Me And My Shadow routine using the giant screen demonstrates gives a too-rare example of what they are capable of.

The boys – now down from five to four following the departure of Richard Campbell – certainly have skills. Their boyband spoofs, although not blindingly original, are performed with such conviction that they shine, and every performance is as tightly choreographed as their dance routines and packed with energy.

But for a troupe built on innovation, they just aren’t surprising enough this year, leaving their weaker ideas as exposed as they leave themselves in the full-frontal payoff.

Review date: 20 Aug 2012
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett
Reviewed at: Pleasance Courtyard

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