EFR - Reviews of Fisting For Biscuits

Fisting For Biscuits

Thu 1st – Sun 25th August 2013

reviews

James Cetkovski

at 09:50 on 6th Aug 2013

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Before the first sketch of ‘Fisting for Biscuits’ began I was a skeptic. Why? Its name, for a start. And my spirits didn’t rise when I saw the venue. It was essentially a closet in the attic of the Counting House pub. There was room for eighteen chairs with minimal legroom and a stage area that looked to be about one metre by three. There was no air. There was, however, a plate of biscuits, to which we were encouraged to help ourselves, but given the title I decided to go hungry.

The team behind ‘Fisting for Biscuits,’ LIMBO, surpasses its questionable title decisively. Led by the confident and booming Andy Routledge the comedians delivered a thoughtful show that was tightly structured and expertly performed. Lewdness abounded, but it worked because this aspect wasn’t everything. The performance was funny and disgusting, to be sure, but the crucial point is that it wasn’t funny because it was disgusting. It was funny because, at their high points, these actors showed an impressive command of the mechanics of humour.

Example: the first sketch dramatises a wife’s despair at her husband’s compulsion to—how to phrase this—put fruit to unconventional uses. ‘It’s not healthy, Bernard!’ she wails. ‘It’s fruit Cherie—it’s not like it’s a Creme Egg!’ he replies. ‘That’s not funny Bernard!’ she screams back. ‘The children still don’t know why you’re not allowed to be around at Easter!’ Off-colour, undoubtedly, but whatever your morals you have to concede that it’s a patiently constructed joke with a payoff that’s well supported and fully earned. I think you do anyway.

Other highlights: a scene in which an MI-6 interrogation specialist who’s defected to the Russians tortures an old colleague who’s been captured, and the two have a chummy ‘God, has it been twenty years since we’ve seen each other?’-type conversation as blood gushes and flesh singes. A dubious kind of mortician urges a new client to make a decision: ‘Cook or coffin?’ ‘Burn or bury?’ Someone has put some thought into the music that separates each sketch: ‘Disco Inferno’ plays at the end of this scene.

The problems they encountered were the ones you’d expect - they occurred in the moments when the show forgot to be thoughtful and relied on shock value to carry the burden of the entertainment. The joke that combined Anne Frank and prostitution is probably the extreme case.

The performance had its share of these moments, but all in all the good more than compensated for the questionable. More than anything ‘Fisting for Biscuits’ proves that outrageousness isn’t the same thing as humour, but it also delightfully demonstrates that it’s possible to fashion high-quality comedy out of outrageousness.

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Kate Wilkinson

at 10:10 on 6th Aug 2013

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I have to admit, I didn’t like the title. The tag-line, ‘How low will they go?’ also didn’t help. Needless to say that before seeing this show, I had already formed low expectations. I just didn’t think it would be my cup of fisting biscuits… or some other such idiom. I really should have been more open-minded. Lewd, base and gross this sketch show may be; it is also clever, slick and warm-hearted.

Limbo had a small venue up in the attic of the Laughing Horse - only three rows of seating and a narrow strip of performance space. This apparent constriction proved no object to the group, who were energetic and creative with what they had. The atmosphere in the room was pretty jolly - my co-reviewer and I seemed to be the only two not drunk.

Andy Routledge introduced the show with confidence and it was his performance that stood out to me the most. His skills as a straight actor brought refinement and charm to the ridiculous scenarios. He was surprisingly endearing as a spaceship captain recording a log of his increasingly worrying bowel movements. This was toilet humour in its purest form, and its best.

Another gem was the colon examination scene. Yes. Really. All manner of wondrous things were discovered by the doctor including the Holy Grail, weapons of mass destruction (‘your colon’s got more power than North Korea’) and even Elvis Presley. Songs would play when the patient raised his legs. Other fun sketches included a laid back torture scene between two old mates and the creation of boxing in which a name needed to be decided and they went with fisting. This sketch is a good example of how the group managed to take a simple idea and develop it as far as it will go.

Joe Johnson displayed an impressive range of accents and had remarkably expressive eyebrows. Ben Gregory-Ring was also strong and the whole trio were slick and well-rehearsed. Having said this, Andy Routeledge forgot a line on more than one occasion, although he recovered with considerable charm, barking at his friends to ask his line.

Throughout their show, Limbo brought to the fore a number of sexual taboos. In this day and age it’s almost impossible to really shock an audience. So I’m glad that Limbo didn’t presume to do this. Many of the ideas were genuinely clever and the trio developed very basic ideas and took them to the extreme. The sketches were hit and miss and despite my pleasant surprise, some of the material could be refined. Given the talent of the group, I believe they could apply themselves to a broader range of humour and appeal to a wider audience.

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