Punch- Underbelly 3.40pm
This very dark comedy drama will certainly not be to everyone’s taste. Featuring one half of the frothy popsters,-Matthew Jones- and Fringe favourites, Frisky and Mannish in a role which is perhaps the polar opposite to his more popular doppelganger as it is a work which will split critics and audiences alike. A two hander with Jones playing John- a really rather malignant character- and Kirsty Mann as Anne a social worker sent to investigate bruises and marks on a child allegedly perpetrated by John.
It requires some suspension of belief to be convinced that either of the two very young actors onstage are old enough to have the cynicism and experience- Anne’s early line of ‘You think I’m too young don’t you’ is perhaps the most believable of the whole show-to be relating such loaded lines. Attempting to broach taboo subjects the play often falls flat because of this attempt at being too outré.
Therefore jokes about paedophilia, child abuse set against spontaneous outbursts which ‘dance a jig on the borders of morality’ and some old fashioned vaudeville given a contemporary and dark twist collide to create a show which is somewhat unfulfilling as a whole but still has something interesting and valid to say.
The two performances are extremely strong once you get over the fact that the actors are perhaps too young for their roles and they both give everything to their parts throughout. It is the material which I found hard to get to grips with and I generally prefer pieces which stalk the dark side. It just somehow never convinced and as such it felt as if the two actors were always swimming against the tide.
It is however a brave role for Jones whose continued success with his other show continues to grow-several hours later I saw him sell out the Assembly Main Hall and perform in front of a rapturously appreciative crowd- and it is admirable when an artist takes risks during the Fringe as that is the very nature of the beast. Unfortunately on this occasion it was not wholly successful but full marks for trying.