Failed by Design @ Underbelly Cowgate

Failed By Design is an inventive comedy with a game-show feel that draws out moments of surprising depth from performers and audience alike

Review by Nyeleni Superville Blackford | 22 Aug 2023
  • Failed By Design

Failed by Design, a two-person show created by Allie O’Rourke and Cian Jordan, offers a remarkably earnest experience, juxtaposing its hilarious and chaotic premise with moments of surprisingly genuine depth. The performers' impeccable improv skills shine through as they tackle a wide array of challenges, ranging from the impending spectre of death to a young man’s issues with his mother. This unexpected blend of humour and authenticity creates a unique emotional resonance that sets the show apart.

With their adept problem-solving abilities and professional design background, the performers bring a certain silliness to the concept – we're at once amused and invested. The cardboard-littered stage becomes a high-tech workshop which the audience gets to interact with; performers effortlessly navigate their interactions with the crowd, creating an engaging rapport but also demonstrating their skilful manipulation of tensions, infusing an element of suspense that keeps viewers invested in every twist and turn.

The show has definite gameshow energy, as the brilliance lies in the comedians' quick thinking and spontaneous on-stage interaction. They wield their combined wit like a weapon, consistently inspiring the audience to come up with ingenious yet silly solutions and engaging in entertaining repartee. They manage to include a lot in fifty minutes, showcasing their versatility.

While the performance is a whirlwind of laughter and innovation, it leaves audiences yearning for more. Failed by Design could achieve even greater heights with more resources and time; it hints at the untapped potential and seemingly boundless creativity of the performers. In a world where humour often stays on the surface, Failed by Design combines comedy with heartfelt moments and leaves you eager for more. This performance is a must-see exploration of the human experience, served up with a side of uproarious laughter.

Failed by Design, Underbelly Cowgate, until 27 Aug, 4.10pm, £10-11