Edinburgh Fringe Reviews: Double Acts Get Personal

A good double-act can always bring the house down, and this pair of Fringe favourite pairs show us how to do just that.

Feature by Jenni Ajderian | 19 Aug 2016

It’s a very welcoming and mild-mannered sketch show that looks at the miseries of the well-to-do middle-classes, but a clever one that takes these brief stories and weaves them into an entire world. In Croft & Pearce Are Not Themselves [★★★★] the comedy duo take on the roles of disillusioned Brownie leaders, frustrated office workers and not-very-well-suited couples and eke out the comedy found in the everyday. Jumping between sketches, we begin to see how each sketch is interrelated with throwaway lines that come closer and closer together to make a coherent whole.

Each sketch gives us a relationship full of complexities, the layers slowly revealed. Using mime, physical tics and music, Croft and Pearce make a world on-stage that revolves around the hidden parts of relationships, be they between parents and children, partners or friends. By building up a world, they rarely leave space for us to actually dislike anyone – once we’ve seen how someone reacts to a break-up in front of their friends, we then see them violently weeping and can only feel more involved in the story. This is a dynamic show from two strong performers, and it ends on a rare personal note from the two old friends.

Max and Ivan are getting personal this year too, with the apparently true story of how they met while on summer camp years ago. Our Story [★★★★] tells the tale of them crossing paths as a scout and a wrestler, completely by accident, and each having very different summers before coming together as pals. Occasional asides give us another, present-day story and an insight into their current relationship, and though it’s clear what we’re seeing is jazzed up a little for the audience, we feel like we’re peering into the lives of these two award-winning comedians.

As in previous shows, Max and Ivan portray every character in their story with their own bodies, and the effect is incredible. This is a recurring theme in the pair’s shows, and they have it down to an art: subtle changes in body language bring a whole different person to life on stage, and even when in the twin roles of storytellers they play off each other to great effect. They play with props more this year than they have previously, and use the space they have to enhance the story they’re telling. Newcomers to these fantastic comics (where have you been?) have a great introduction to them in this show, and fans of the pair will be glad that last year’s The End was anything but.

Croft & Pearce Are Not Themselves, Underbelly, George Square (The Wee Coo), 3-28 Aug (not 17), 2:40pm, £7-11.50. Max & Ivan: Our Story, Pleasance Dome: Queen Dome, 3-28 Aug (not 15), 8:20 pm, £6-12.50.