Max & Ivan @ Pleasance Courtyard

Double act Max & Ivan take on fatherhood in a heartwarming if slightly repetitive hour

Review by Rhys Morgan | 29 Aug 2023
  • Max and Ivan

Max & Ivan, Edinburgh Fringe staples who have become festival legends due to their precision character-cross-sketch comedy and the electrifying spectacle of The Wrestling, revert to their 2019 double-act format for a simple and heartwarming hour. But does the switch from sharpness to sincerity dull their edge? 

Ostensibly not; they provide a victory lap of their storied and glittering career that never feels particularly obnoxious. This is a marvel, as the backdrop of such a complex PowerPoint is hard to keep humble, but its use in elevating the duo’s jokes makes it feel welcome, even necessary. They manage to make the saccharine feel appealing, with reflections of fatherhood, both as a new father, and of being a son. Truly, if there was one takeaway from the hour, it would be that Max & Ivan can produce a set that is allowed to breathe without the quality of the show crumbling. 

It is worth noting that Life, Choices does feel like you need some prior context of the act – the first 15 minutes are a solid ‘previously on Max & Ivan’. The addition of a strict adherence to the 'comic plays off the straight man' structure creates a framework that begins endearingly but its repetitiveness becomes cumbersome, and detracts somewhat from the comedy.

It’s an emotional and conclusive show, and the sense that this show is just as much for them as it is the audience is emphatically clear. It is a different beast from the early Max & Ivan days, and while there is less bite, the show is successful in marking (perhaps) the ending of one iteration of the duo into another as life progresses.

Max & Ivan: Life, Choices, Pleasance Courtyard (Above), run ended