Welcome to the Land of Nod

Sat 3rd – Sat 10th August 2013

reviews

Megan Stodel

at 09:49 on 6th Aug 2013

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As I descended into Why Not?, the club and makeshift venue for ‘Welcome to the Land of Nod’, it did indeed feel as if I was travelling to an altogether different world. Neon pink banisters are somewhat disconcerting while it’s still daylight (or possibly at any time). Still, I preferred being in the unconventional surroundings than being in the Land of Nod, where I was actually uncomfortable about how infrequently I was laughing.

‘Welcome to the Land of Nod’ attempts to deploy absurdist humour as it follows Jed (Simon Lacy) and Pinky (Karen Blick) on their accidental journey to Nod, a fantasy land of oddballs. The show operates on the incorrect assumption that anything unexpected or surreal is funny. While it is true that subverting expectations can be an effective device, comedy doesn’t happen in a vacuum. Things like timing, set-ups, clarity and wit are also extremely handy when trying to make people laugh, but these were absent. Therefore, the audience was simply treated to a parade of scenarios that barely made sense. Some were bizarre, such as a scene that involved Pinky rubbing jam onto the doctor (Mike Nelson). Some were excessively drawn out, such as the propensity for a detective (Simon Lacy) to slip into Sherlock Holmes mode. Some were tasteless and needlessly offensive, such as the way in which one character always answered the door with a cry of “Rape!” None, however, were funny.

There was not much skill on display, apart, perhaps, from Stephanie Butler and her guitar-playing. Watching Jed and Pinky act like they couldn’t dance was almost as awkward as watching them act like they could. The actors seemed to be enjoying themselves but demonstrated little awareness of those watching. Some of the small audience walked out. The show did not reward those of us who remained. Repetition did not make sketches that were not good the first time any better.

‘Welcome to the Land of Nod’ was frankly shockingly poor. The plot was confused, the acting was weak and the humour was missing. While their venue might have been called Why Not?, a more appropriate question for the group would be: Why?

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Costanza Bertoni

at 10:08 on 6th Aug 2013

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A rather sleepy, dozy and yawning welcome to the ‘Land of Nod’ from Edinburgh’s venue #327; a place where both the humour and the audience found themselves nodding off. Rather drowsily, we followed Pinky and Jed into the absurd world of the ‘Land of the Nod’, which they need to cross in order to find the elusive Ben Buttercup. This is a realm in which all too frequent allusions to alternative sexual preferences, such as dogging and the use of jam as a sexual lubricant, take precedence over many of the potential punchlines of the production.

Awkward, and at the best of times stimulating the occasional snigger, ‘Welcome to the Land of Nod’s' redeeming quality was it’s original, and surreal setting, in which its characters and inhabitants are larger-than-life caricatures; such as the frivolous journalistic photographer, and the crazed foreign woman, Constantia. This eccentric absurdity was intriguing from the perspective of the potential it had to add some variety to the type of comedy used. This was not the case. For the most part, the comedy proved a little stilted and forced, which was only occasionally saved by the odd comical interjection.

The music in the show, sung and played on the acoustic guitar by Stephanie Butler, was another one of the few things that kept me from slipping back into a deep sleep. The chirpy and lovely singing voice, accompanied by the melodies of the guitar chords, added a jovial ambience to the show that helped along both the pace and the barmy attitude of the characters. Without this mellifluous touch, it could have turned out to resemble a nightmarish CBBC show.

It must be noted however, that the problem lay in the dryness of the script as opposed to the performance of the actors. The acting itself was good, with the transitions between characters slickly done to a professional level. Each character also had their enhancing, distinctive trait: Karen Blick’s hair fidgeting, Mike Nelson’s evil laugh, Stephanie Butler’s accent versatility, and Simon Lacy’s exclamative gestures.

Having been to the ‘Land of Nod’ and returned safely back, I would say that, despite the inventive backdrop and the musical aspects, it felt a little like escaping, and awaking from a bad dream.

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