Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Edinburgh Fringe 2011: Nadia Kamil and John-Luke Roberts - The Behemoth

On leaving this show, I doubt it's unusual for audience members to find themselves considering the following: just what is The Behemoth? Cerebral and high-brow? Unadulterated silliness? It's certainly not bland enough to be considered something in-between... so it must be all these things.

In the nicest possible way, Nadia Kamil and John-Luke Roberts do have wonderfully warped minds. Their sketches are bizarre, but this certainly isn't just weirdness for its sake - in fact, there's often an odd sort of logic going on in the background. The shorter sketches in particular go some way to reconciling that clever/silly dichotomy, as what ends up being utterly odd often has a single genius concept at its heart.

'Party bee' encapsulates this - though to explain any further would ruin the joke - and stool rodeo (yup, bucking bronco on a motionless stool) is just an inherently funny idea. I also loved the dour horse sparring with a sparkly unicorn, and the robots who aren't finding robo-revolutionary Earth quite as technologically advanced as they'd hoped.

We only really see any classic 'straight-man vs class clown' action when we get glimpses of what appears to be the real Nadia and John-Luke, as they read out an exchange of letters between a Victorian gent and the lady he intends to marry. Nadia keeps adding little ad-libbed embellishments onto the end of hers, while an increasingly exasperated John-Luke frets about the next act needing the room. They're canny comedy performers, these two, so whether this is actually just another layer of their on-stage personas, we don't know. But as it's funny it hardly matters.

Some rather long sketches unbalance things a tad, but there are some lovely touches that keep the energy up and the show moving along - slides in the background, songs, even fully choreographed inter-sketch dance routines. What is the Behemoth? It's certainly clever, and it's certainly absurd, but it's also a whole heap of fun.

Written for British Comedy Guide

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