The One-Eyed Men's Cult of Lactos

Fri 1st – Sun 24th August 2014

reviews

Flo Layer

at 21:34 on 17th Aug 2014

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If I could sum up the One Eyed Men’s Cult of Lactos show in just two words, it would have to be downright mad. On stage were three absurd, low budget wise-men lookalikes, donning bejewelled milk carton hats and embroidered floor length gowns, who spent a jam-packed hour leading the audience on a journey of discovery through the cult world of long-life milk. Was it a show of pure comedy genius or just three slightly abnormal and hairy men being pretty weird on stage? I left still not knowing quite how to answer that question, but I’d have to praise the cast’s complete willingness, brilliant enthusiasm and beyond believable imaginations.

The plot (if I can really use that word) revolved around the arrival of the demanding Barry Ashworth, the unique prophet and inventor of long-life milk, to whom the dedicated cult of milk worshippers submit to odd tasks and adventures. The three actors embraced their self-confessed ‘hairy ha-ha clown wearing dresses’ roles with genuine enthusiasm and infatiguable willingness. They transformed effortlessly into dizzying array of characters and creatures, from a revengeful warden called Keith, a naive chimney sweep, and a handy handy-man with many a hand (‘let’s not get out of hand’ was perhaps a classic example of the pun filled script) although some of the accents were very questionable.

Audience participation was a large feature and I couldn’t help but begin to feel a little sorry for poor Georgie from Dunfermline who was repeatedly called on stage. Although at first this added a spontaneous improvised dimension to the show, but after a while it became perhaps a little laboured, especially when poor Georgie reluctantly participated with Ben Anderson’s portrayal of a sick, clogged up cow, vomiting and spurting milk into the audience with impressive alacrity. This was again a classic example of when I felt entirely bewildered as to whether this was comedy brilliance or incomprehensible grotesque silliness.

Fellow actors Alex Kempton and Sam Jacobson performed their numerous roles with similar dedication, although with the occasional self-deprecating, ironic joke – ‘yeah this might be the dumbest part of the show’- referring to an oven-glove puppet rendition of Titanic’s closing scene.

I continually felt stuck in the no man’s land between laughter or complete bewildered disbelief at what I was seeing on stage. Fortunately for the group, the raucous laughter bursting from the row in front allowed the whole performance to slip into the realms of seemingly successful comedy. This is definitely a bit of a marmite show, which could leave you begging and crying for more, or like sour milk, one which could turn the stomach.

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Fergus Morgan

at 02:20 on 18th Aug 2014

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It is unavoidable that when comedy teeters and falls into the chasm of absurdity, some will be taken with it and some will not. With their utterly bizarre and borderline farcical Cult Of Lactos, comedy trio The One Eyed Men undoubtedly carry most audience members with them as they abandon all pretence and plumb the depths of the absurd with delightful silliness. Made up of Ben Anderson, Alex Kempton and Sam Jacobsen (described by themselves as dangerous-chin, needs-to-shave, and little-cartoon-boy respectively), The One Eyed Men leave audiences both amused and confused in equal measure.

The performance, if it can be termed such, is loosely based around the trio’s attempt to indoctrinate audience members into their sublimely titled Cult of Lactos, a religious order that irreverently worships Barry Ashworth, the inventor of long life milk. Incorporating audience participation (focused entirely on one unfortunate soul in the front-row), a variety of extremely questionable accents and a host of entertainingly peculiar characters, the show leapfrogs from a description of the cult’s history, to an elaborate soul-cleansing ceremony, to the second coming of Barry Ashworth himself.

At times the show does become too ridiculous to hold the audience’s attention, particularly during an extended sequence set in an alternative milk-centric reality during which Anderson dons a cow costume and sprays foaming liquid from his mouth whilst writhing on his back. For the most part the line is, if not toed, then at least acknowledged as it sails past. A partially-improvised scene in which the three attempt to read the memories of an audience member is brilliantly executed. Throughout, the trio display refreshing self-awareness, confessing to the audience that ‘this bit is really strange’.

The Cult of Lactos is as bewildering aesthetically as it is theatrically. Performing in what appears to be an eerily-lit abandoned wine-cellar, complete with damp floor and humid atmosphere, Anderson Kempton and Jacobsen sport brightly-coloured kaftans and fezzes topped with bejewelled milk bottles; their strange get-ups effective complement the show’s bizarreness.

It is an appalling cliché, but in truth, enjoyment of The Cult Of Lactos is best achieved by accepting its wackiness early on and embracing its aura of absurdity with gusto. Only then can one fully engage with the show’s calculated silliness and appreciate three commendable comic performances from Anderson, Kempton, and Jacobsen.

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