Edinburgh Fringe Festival: (August 2010)
Who knew a couple of days spent in the Land of The Rain could completely alter my perception of comedy..
Set in those beautifully dull streets of Reading, the local Second-hand sex shop becomes an active crime scene when a stolen vintage dildo, the Exocet, is proven to be the weapon in a string of violent murders. Yet again Brighton troupe Casual Violence had me in stitches and expecting to receive the ‘go straight to hell’ card. Despite my self-confessed dislike for obvious humour and ‘here-this-is-funny-laugh-now’ punch lines, the show had an unnervingly intense yet carefree attitude that toned even the most cliched of characters down to a subtle hilarity. The Baltimore cop, for example, and his spitting of cheese sandwiches was a friendly face for audience members in amongst a relatively dark and disturbing storyline. Likewise, as an audience member (aka. “James”) you felt a heart-warming pity for the reformed necrophiliac who first nervously approaches the shop hoping for a blow-up doll to take to dinner. The highlight of the show was, of course, that of backstreet (sex-toy) dealer Axl. Immediately injecting the performance with an energetic intensity that forced an awkward and on-edge atmosphere upon those watching. Complete with high-speed physicality and barking remarks such as “If you wanted a happy ending you should’ve gone to see the Railway Children”, Axl as a character stays in one’s mind long after leaving the theatre. Despite these squeamishly sinister and twisted elements it is impossible to maintain a straight face; if only in response to the cringing shudders and guilty half-laughs of those sat beside you. I highly recommend taking out health insurance before watching this lot, pain-inducing laughter will occur.