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The Theatreguide.London Review

I, Lear
Trafalgar Studio 2       August 2008

Those who can't make it to the Edinburgh Fringe this August can find here a prime example of the sort of two-man comedy show that is a staple there, and one that's better than most.

Written by Andrew Jones, Ciaran Murtagh and Cal McCrystal, performed by the first two and directed by the last, the sketches may be a bit hit-and-miss, but they provide as many laughs as you have a right to ask for in 70 minutes.

The show's premise has two plummy but untalented veteran thespians deigning to offer us a master class in theatre history, with examples from Sophocles to Pinter, the basic joke being that they find different ways to bollox most of them up.

Along the way, some of the parodies are both clever and funny, The Alan Bennett talking-heads sketch is spot on, as is the all-purpose Dickens plot. The Sherlock Holmes is the set-up to a satisfyingly dreadful climactic pun, and the improv parody also builds to a very funny topper.

On the other hand, the Greek tragedy is just the excuse for some strained scatology and the Chekhov for an over-extended pratfall, while the Tennessee Williams and Lloyd Webber bits turn out to have no joke in them at all.

They pull it all together and justify even the weakest bits that came before in a King Lear sketch that is not only funny in itself but inventively footnotes to all the previous set pieces.

Jones (the bald one) and Murtagh (the ginger one) sometimes strain too hard for laughs, betraying their own wavering faith in some of the material. But enough delivers to carry them and you through a short but entertaining summer night.

Gerald Berkowitz

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Review of I Lear - Trafalgar Studios 2008


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