4⭐ · Fringe Reviews 2017 · Reviews · Theatre Reviews

REVIEW: ‘Angels in Erotica’ by Phoenix Theatre Company

4 Stars

There’s a lot to be said for silliness. Pure unashamed silliness is one of the finest forms of comedy, especially in the theatre. Like with every other kind of comedy, or style of entertainment in general, getting it right can always be a gamble. Achieving a form of silliness that works takes precision of timing, language, and physicality. Taking all this into account, Angels in Erotica has the art of silliness down to a tee.

This play revels in its own silliness and never takes itself too seriously when doing so. Almost the entire performance is one ridiculous scene after another, but connected by a narrative thread that is solid enough to keep the play from dissolving into a mess of silliness while being loose enough that it doesn’t constrain or inhibit the silliness. All the cast, God, Cupid, and Rachel in particular, have a wonderful sense of comic timing and know exactly how to utilize tone and body language to deliver their lines to maximum effect.

Things do become a little sluggish, yet still with entertaining moments, during the initial scenes in Rachel’s pocket universe with Eduardo and Moody but pick right back up again when God descends from the heavens to walk amongst the other characters. I’ve never exactly been the biggest fan of the Judeo-Christian god, but if he wears fabulous suits and makes theatrical entrances to Shania Twain then that’s a god I can definitely get on board with. His actor is a relentless comic talent, and ramps up the hilarity of the piece to new levels both when he’s in focus and simply from his reactions in the background. His first onstage scene also provides one of my favourite pieces of dialogue in the  play:

Cupid: “Where’s your beard?”

God: “Oh, Cupid, Mother Mary died years ago.”

I loved that exchange partly for the brilliance of the joke itself and partly for the slow bubbling of laughter as half the room processed and caught up with it.

As wonderfully silly as the whole thing is, I found God’s final little speech near the end to be surprisingly poignant and insightful, yet not at all out-of-place or shoehorned in. Somehow this very genuine moment fit neatly in amongst all the silliness and did a better job at delivering a serious message about the nature of existence than a few dramas I’ve seen (and been involved in) in my time.

I’ll admit, I didn’t expect this play was going to make me laugh as much as it did when the lights first came up. It’s not groundbreaking comedy but it doesn’t try to be. Once you’ve got that in your head, you can enjoy it for what it is; a fun, camp comedy with some silly, delightfully risque humour and a cast who throw themselves into it with all the enthusiasm and enjoyment you could want from a group of performers. If I believed in the afterlife, I’d want it to be populated with characters like this.

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