The Sunset Five

Wed 5th – Mon 31st August 2015


Liam Marchant

at 10:50 on 8th Aug 2015



Where cowboy quizmasters and casino fat cats collide in Chipworth’s answer to Ocean’s Eleven, The Sunset Five lacks many things, but certainly not originality.

In this endearingly pastiche heist story, a stellar pub quiz team club together to keep their local boozer, ‘The Sunset’, going when a malign creditor threatens to demolish the dive and construct a strip club in its place. Their plan? Break into the vaults of his casino and rob them.

After a few moments of hit-and-miss audience engagement at the beginning of the play, things start to pick up a bit during a quiz round performed in the style of musical chairs: prancing around four bar stalls the ensemble blurt out ‘Beijing’, ‘Mother Theresa’, and other random responses. Their movement is a joy to watch and throughout the performance the cast show off similarly intricate pieces of choreography, accompanied by a remarkably creative use of synthesiser.

The play is let down, however, by dialogue as subtle as the blitz. A shame really, considering so many clever one-liners are ruined by unnecessary follow-ups. At one point, Fred (Luke Murphy), the John Wayne-esque narrator and quiz fanatic, declares that ‘we all have a choice. Sometimes, multiple choices… Like in a quiz. I really like quizzes.’

Despite such reliably poor writing, The Sunset Five is punctuated by the occasional flash of humour. Notably, Alice (Sarah Workman), edits together various clips of Mickey (Edmund Digby-Jones) to make the callous entrepreneur spurt out a ridiculously crude monologue: ‘I am worse than Hitler and I have a very little cock’.

Somewhat juvenile, yes, but the pleasure of this sequence resides in its delivery by the cast; their timing is perfect as the vulgar soliloquy flows with the jaunty unity of a Cassetteboy-style YouTube video.

The characters are admittedly more caricatures than anything (there’s a clever one, a sporty one, a posh one, etc.), but nevertheless, each has their moment when their specialist skills and interests become invaluable to the heist. Hugh (Tom Black) contributes to the break with his knowledge of history and town-planning just as Fork (Edward Digby-Jones) assists with his expertise in crime and burglary.

The Sunset Five is a voyage which leads the audience to some grey area between enjoyment and ennui. The mundane moments of stilted scripting were made all the more painful considering each actor’s talent, which was so evident during the better bits.


Simon Fearn

at 11:13 on 8th Aug 2015



The Sunset Five is Dugout Theatre’s ninth outing at The Fringe. An uproarious spoof of Ocean’s Eleven, mixed with a dash of Starter for Ten, the show unites live music, mime and parody to create an entertaining hour of theatre that doesn’t take itself too seriously.

The premise is familiar to fans of heist-based films. Evil capitalist Micky (the voice of Edmund Digby-Jones) threatens to buy out local watering hole The Sunset, and it’s up to a plucky pub quiz team to stop him.

Tom Black and Sadie Spencer’s smart original script ticks off most heist movie clichés, with tongue firmly in cheek: a mismatched bunch of would-be criminals with ‘weirdly specific skills’; self-consciously clunky dropping of plot details into conversation; and flashbacks at climatic moments which reveal how our heroes outsmarted the bad guys. There are also some great lines that take series like Hustle down a peg, my favourite being the gang’s insistence that ‘we must be above and below the law simultaneously’.

The pacing was perfect and the gags deftly delivered. The cast were well versed in maximising the laughs: from Jonathon Charles’s gymnastics to overcome the ‘pressure pads’; Luke Murphy’s channelling of the Wild West as travelling quiz-master Fred; and Sarah Workman’s look of total fear that she kept up for the entire performance.

There were a few duff notes. Some of the technology the group used became self-indulgent rather than imaginative. The multi-layering of Luke Murphy’s voice to re-create the babbling conversations of the pub was mildly funny, but took too long to pull off. The jokes came so thick and fast that there was also limited time for characterisation, forcing the cast to fall back on amusing, but limited stereotypes. The acting could never be considered below par, but neither was it particularly excellent, although special praise ought to go to Murphy and Charles. Ultimately, none of the characters were individual enough to care about, but the play was funny enough for it not to matter.

What lifts this above your average parody is Dugout’s sheer inventiveness. The live music is a great touch, making scenes such as the opening pub quiz utterly hilarious. The company’s use of freeze frames and slow motion also tended to come off as refreshing rather than tacky.

Ultimately, this isn’t a Fringe highlight, but definitely works as a light-hearted way to pass an hour. Laughs are guaranteed, although the show isn’t likely to linger long in the memory.


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