Walnut Sanchez and the Macaroni Saga

Sat 20th – Sun 28th August 2016


Ed Grimble

at 23:18 on 21st Aug 2016



“‘Walnut Sanchez and the Macaroni Saga’”, I awkwardly mumble the ridiculous twelve syllables when asked what show I am setting off to see. Having sat in the Fancy Room of the Caves and guffawed my way through John Tothill and Raph Wakefield's Fringe offering, however, I can proclaim them proudly. Following a very tenuous and unashamedly ludicrous narrative about a detective (the titular Macaroni), his ‘flashmares’ (they are a thing), and one final puzzling case, the pair play a myriad of crackpot characters in a series of sketches that make the phrase ‘laugh a minute’ look pedestrian.

This script has been honed to a degree such that no phrase is superfluous; everything the pair say is either laying the foundations for a joke, or is a zinger in its own right. Whether these are surreal, incongruous exclamations; masterfully observed and delivered caricatures (I am surely not the only one who has met more than a few Julian Pringle’s in my time); or simply sharp wordplay; Tothill and Wakefield wring as many laughs from their 60 minute slot as they can. It is not a case of whether you find this show funny, but rather just quite how much you will be weeping, sniggering, and rocking in your chair. There is something to tickle just about anyone: my own lone chortle as Tothill plays a stereotypical middle-aged northern man, lager in hand, proposing a new system of anarcho-syndicalism, is testament to this.

Lapses in execution could cause what is a very intelligently written script to stumble. To their credit, however, Tothill and Wakefield hardly put a foot wrong. They snap between over a dozen characters (each somehow even zanier than the last) with ease, their quirks and verbal ticks and catchphrases doing more for recognisable characterisation than any clumsy props or costumes could ever achieve. Wakefield’s accentual abilities in particular are fabulous.

Wracking my brains for any kind of criticism, I would perhaps only wonder if the pair could maintain the same infectious energy and enthusiasm in a crowd half or even a third the size of ours. Scripts that deliver such an enfilade of gags quickly peter out if they fall on deaf ears. Rest assured, though, these two deserve a packed house every day, and are certainly worth keeping an eye on for the future. There are far worse ways to start a comedy career than this triumph of character comedy.


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