Metro Arts Theatre, The Studio
August 23 – 26
Fringe Festival shows always draw an interesting mix of audience members. For “The Mannequint” it was a sizeable, boisterously supportive audience who awaited with an anticipation heightened by an annoying delayed starting time. Clearly everyone was primed for a good night, perhaps due to the show’s promise of consistent and unrelenting comedy, so the stakes were high. And thankfully, the show more than delivers in this regard, with lashings of laughter and complication after complication compounding upon what begins with a simple set visual of a single waist-high box situated centre stage. Turns out the box is a pulpit, from which a pretend priest presides over a ruined wedding and also three of the funniest funerals you will ever see.
Families can be frustrating, we are told, but well-meaning Quint (Matthew Hendry)’s is pretty much the worst. His fiancé fancies their wedding photographer and his father and newly discovered half-brother are compulsive liars, each pretending to be private detectives (unbeknown to each other). Throw in a bit of tax fraud and a fake death and you’ve got a recipe for ridiculousness.
With its outrageous lies, absurd accents and over-the-top disguises, the murder mystery (or sorts) in nothing short of chaos. Its writing is incredibly clever in its rapid fire focus on semantics, puns and misnamed metaphors of voiceover narration. It is such a shame, therefore, to see so many lines of dialogue lost under laughter and also scenes that could have been tighter as, natural as its delivery may be, the humour starts to wane after an hour of what is essentially different takes on the same jokes.
All cast members show great comic timing. As a far from perfect father figure and accidental cat murder, Noel Thompson anchors the show with a well-paced performance in contrast to the over-exaggerated antics of David Toddman as his long lost son and imposter cleric. And Becky Morgan is equally entertaining as inconvenienced bride and insensitive ex-girlfriend.
“The Mannequint” is very much a Fringe Festival show… full of potential, but still in need of some polish. Although the show is good; it could be excellent. And I am sure over time it will go from strength to hilarious strength as it leaves logic behind to take audiences along on its farcical ride.
Photos c/o – Al Starkey Photography