5⭐ · Fringe Reviews 2017 · Reviews · Theatre Reviews

REVIEW: ‘Cream Tea and Incest’ by Benjamin Alborough

5 Stars

Everyone enjoys a good bit of chaos in a comedy show, chaos is naturally humorous. It happens a lot in improv shows where said chaos comes from the actors’ ability to spontaneously create ridiculous scenarios, and then having to keep with one another’s adlibs and new ideas.

It takes a different kind of skill entirely to script the kind of mania and hijinks that are created on the spot in improv. Neither is truly superior than the other, but both require very disperate type of talent to pull off. Cream Tea and Incest falls into the scripted chaos category and, with a title like that, has a lot of expectation to live up to.

It meets it.

This was, I must say, one of the funniest shows I have ever seen. It was also, it must be said, quite mad, but a brilliant kind of madness that creates a goldmine of comedic delights. The setup is essentially P. G. Wodehouse on speed; a rather dim member of the landed gentry and his loyal manservant concoct a zany scheme with plenty of hilarious misadventures along the way.

The four-man cast have an insane degree of talent, and phenomenal energy when performing. Benjamin Alborough, as Eddie Spangler, plays his part with an almost overwhelming manic glee, with Eoin McAndrew perfectly slotting in to role of straight man, Jeffrey. The dynamic and chemistry between the two actors is electric and filled with boundless comic potential with the pair exploit extensively. Roudning off the cast are Adam Unwin (Wiggins), who has a side-splitting mastery of the over-the-top, and Rory O’Sullivan (Biggins), whose general presence as an actor seems to lend itself to all things comic.

As the play goes on, and things get more-and-more ludicrous, the laughs only become stronger and more frequent. Every single joke landed; I don’t think I noticed any that missed. The dance routine and final unexpected musical number are prime example of just how deliciously ridiculous the show becomes. There is a furious talent in the writing that is relentless in its comedy and creativity. It also contains the most impressive and creative use of cardboard I’ve ever seen in the theatre. 

A friend of mine saw the show twice, and informed me that, on the second viewing, almost every pause, intonation and movement was exactly the same as the first time. I think that goes towards demonstrating just how well-crafted this piece is. To achieve that level of precision, timing, and consistency takes committed, rigorous practice and effort. This company have clearly poured a tremendous amount of hard graft into this show, and have produced one of the funniest shows of this year’s Fringe as a result. 

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