Those Two

Sun 7th – Sat 27th August 2011

reviews

Rowan Evans

at 12:21 on 19th Aug 2011

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Two comedians and two mics in a UV cellar, ‘Those Two’ offers a stripped back but charming show of quirk and talent. Masud Milas chats, plumps his electro-static locks and brings us round to a nicely oddball way of looking at the world. The self-deprecation works and there’s a friendly energy, encouraging bizarre contributions: one woman tells Milas that, as a child, she dug up a vegetable patch looking for somewhere to grow a willy.

‘I’m a knuckleduster in glitter ... a static bicycle’. Speaking without the mic, Elf Lyons’ delivery is conversational, intimate, genuine. Her unabashed, suggestible humour at points reminds me of Noel Fielding, while the tender absurdity of family life and the trials of a willowy young woman who ‘can be sexy for half an hour, then I get tired,’ reveal a clever observer and raconteur. Lyons is simply very funny, with a facial subtlety to match, as she peeps up from a page of homegrown erotic fiction with a smile like an animated chipmunk - ‘we’re all friends here ... I’ll just share’.

‘Those Two’ fizzes with enthusiasm and, if the improvised performance is a little rushed at times, the pair display great potential. A bizarre and warming hour of new comedy, this is hopefully a taste of further, more polished shows to come.

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Annabel James

at 11:52 on 20th Aug 2011

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I really wish I could heap praise on Those Two. Masud Milas and Elf Lyons’s stand up act was full of attempts to engage the audience, to be funny – quite simply, to please. As the show began, the basement bar venue was full of expectant energy and the small but lively audience seemed receptive to the first few jokes. Unfortunately, we weren’t receptive enough for Masud and Elf, and as the hour went on these young performers degenerated into an assortment of flat punchlines and sometimes incomprehensible anecdotes.

The quietness of the initial audience reaction seemed to badly affect each performer’s confidence, causing a self-perpetuating spiral of weak delivery and weaker reception. Masud’s stand up routine was a softly-spoken collection of wry observations on the paradoxes of modern society. It made him seem like the sort of person who would be hilarious to chat to in the pub, but onstage he wasn’t funny enough to elicit more than gentle laughter. It felt like there was a willingness in the audience to titter along and encourage him, but the act was faltering after the first few minutes and he started making awkward appeals to us like ‘It’s a two way street, guys, you can laugh!’ Finally, after an incredibly embarrassing set of trailed off sentences which led to an old man behind me shouting ‘Get the girl out!’, it was Elf’s turn. She gave us a livelier and more varied routine, but still kept falling back into telling us what a lovely but quiet, or quiet but lovely, audience we were. It seemed like she had lost control of her material and of the performance, and that left me and I suspect some of the audience members feeling uncomfortable about laughing in response. So many of the things she’d said would have been hilarious with enough confidence and vocal energy, but instead they fell flat and we had to watch her awkwardly swap between using and not using the microphone in another attempt to engage us.

Masud and Elf market themselves as a kind of dynamic duo, but they were almost never onstage together apart from a brief introductory section. Masud performed his stand up piece, and Elf hers, neither of them exploiting the possibilities of relating their material. I felt like I might as well have seen two completely separate acts. Even within their individual pieces, material seemed unorganized and one faltering anecdote would trail off into another. Elf notably tried to maintain a high level of energy each time she introduced a new idea, but her nervousness came through as she rushed abruptly into sentences like ‘So I was copulating with this guy once’ and her voice took on a harsher, almost aggressive quality so that I really couldn’t tell whether it was meant to be funny or not.

The production’s blurb includes the exciting declaration ‘anything can happen in this show’ – but on the day I saw it very little did. I left feeling like I’d spent an hour of my life watching two potentially funny people wither and crumble on stage. It was a bemusing experience at best for all involved, and sometimes frankly uncomfortable. The performance would have been better suited to an evening slot, and of course the nature of an intimate stand up piece means audience-performer dynamics will vary from day to day. Nonetheless, Masud and Elf absolutely must retain control over their material and their confidence, even when the laughs are slow to come.

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