Max & Ivan @ Pleasance Dome

Max and Ivan return to the Fringe with the most heartfelt bromance

Review by Polly Glynn | 09 Aug 2019
  • Max & Ivan

Straying into more of a comedy duologue than straight-up sketches, Max and Ivan’s Commitment weaves autobiography with huge laughs in their story of life and friends, from birth to now. The crux of the hour is that Max is left responsible for Ivan’s stag do, having made some questionable party-planning decisions in the past.

It reeks of nostalgia, bathed in a warm sepia glow similar to Kieran Hodgson’s ‘75. Funny that; Commitment is also directed by award-nominated Hodgson. It does feel a little gushy in places, but not uncomfortably so and is refreshing to see a male friendship in such a positive light, particularly amid the outcry for more male mental health support in today’s society.

The pair are a joy to watch: Ivan is an oversized toddler on loose reins while Max is the straight man trying to coax him back. Ivan excels in his eccentricities; his Ivanisms (a cockney-rhyming slang of a sort) being a highlight whilst his Facebusking™ falls a little flat after the concept is first introduced.

Every family photo album is mined for gold, including Max’s eccentric non-uniform choices and Ivan’s membership of several terrible bands. The non-fictional elements invest the audience in the story, sweeping you off your feet quicker than you can say ‘Voodoo 7:2’ (the name of Ivan’s most important band). Although the energy dips a little when Max devises equations to guarantee the party’s success, the warmth and wit of the performers and the genuinely touching nature of why their story is being told, more than make up for the inconsequential blip.

The less said about the finale the better; it’s smartly climactic and gives you possibly the biggest dopamine hit available this Fringe. It's maybe even more ambitious than their cult hit The Wrestling or last year's excellent Prom Night. Simply, if you don’t come out of Commitment feeling elated, something’s terribly wrong.

Max & Ivan: Commitment, Pleasance Dome (Queen Dome), until Aug 25th (not 14), 8.20pm, £9-£13