The Church of Zirconium

Thu 31st July – Sun 24th August 2014

reviews

Gender Trouble

at 08:04 on 26th Aug 2014

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'The Church Of Zirconium' by 1945 Productions is one of the funniest pieces of theatre I've ever seen at The Fringe.

The play follows the story of cult members Ken, Geoff and Martha. When newbie Pat Antler joins, the cult's stability is shaken somewhat, not least by Martha's lusty infatuation with Pat's (ex) girlfriend Sally. The cult turns out, astonishingly, to be a scam, with every 'religious parable' being based on a different Paul Betney film.

The production's main strengths are its writing and acting. Characterisation is strong, not least from female lead Annbael Kiston, who (dressed neatly in pencil skirt and blouse) conveys the bitchiness of her character to pleasingly sassy degrees. Benji Walters captures the innocence and naivety of his character exceptionally well, and the facial expressions he makes when being massaged are imprinted on my memory.

Josh Vallance and Jack Chesher also create strong performances. They catch the quirkiness of their characters with a certain level of professionalism, with lines such as "I thought my weight might exacerbate the anal crease in your chair making it more comfortable" causing widespread hilarity in the audience. Olivia Marcus captures the role of cult outsider particularly well, and her resistance to Martha's persisting sex drive is a theme that has the audience in stitches.

The comedic genuis of the play lies in its satire of Christianity. After Pat Antler becomes 'the chosen one' he is first blinded, then proclaimed 'King of the Juice', before being crucified with a measuring stick, whipped with bits of tape and crowned with a frisbee that gets stuck in a rose bush. The satire is simultaneously both subtle and blatant, marking writers Will Farrell and Milo Gough as true examples of raw creative talent.

Directed professionally by Hannah Horan 'The Church of Zirconium' has the audience in ceaseless laughter and can be described as nothing less than comic genius. Hilarious and ridiculous. An absolute must this Fringe.

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Rob Collins

at 08:07 on 26th Aug 2014

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The Church of Zirconium is a newly written satire from Will Farrell and Milo Gough, covering the shady world of cults and organized religion. The play follows the eponymous church and its members new and old. From the first five minutes of the show, the audience knows exactly what it’s going to get: a comedic jackhammer which, rather than going for subtlety, aims at its target with a directness somewhat brutal. And it works.

The small cast work brilliantly together. The acting is far from naturalistic, instead adopting a more surreal, over the top feel. Whilst at points this dips into overacting, it generally works very well and is very funny. There are some wonderfully bizarre moments, (much of the scriptures of the church are based on Paul Bettany films), which delivered with less conviction would not have worked, but the cast’s dedication is such that you can’t help but be dragged in.

The writing is strong for the most part, although subtle it is not. The most obvious target of the play is the Church of Scientology, (though there are lots of not-so-subtle references to other religions), and once you’ve accepted the in-your-face style of the dialogue, it becomes very enjoyable to watch.

The staging is also well thought out. The set is simple yet oddly eerie and the screen used sparingly to display various multimedia was very effective. My only complaint about the venue is the large amounts of noise from the bar downstairs which meant that at points some of the dialogue was lost, though it seems unfair to criticize too harshly for this.

Overall, The Church of Zirconium provides a hilarious, if slightly quirky, hour and is well worth a watch.

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