Shaken Not Stirred

Thu 20th – Sun 30th August 2015

reviews

Archie Hill

at 11:37 on 27th Aug 2015

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As a Bond fan, the premise of this two-man show from Oxford students Alexander Fox and Dom O’Keefe seemed too good to miss. An improvised parody of a James Bond film made up on the back of audience suggestions, it lived up to my (high) expectations, and then some. Quite simply the funniest show I have seen at the Fringe, I can’t recommend it highly enough. If you haven’t seen it yet, go in this last week. You won’t regret it.

Shaken not Stirred works with the audience well, taking their title suggestions, picking one at random and encouraging them to decide when to launch romances and car chases. On the day I saw it, the show title was the one I suggested – Dr. Perhaps (I’m absolutely not sorry) – and almost immediately, we had begun, with the opening song, and the utterly madcap series of improvised scenes.

Somehow, it all worked superbly; it all fitted together. While it’s difficult to review the show I saw since it changes every day, I cannot believe that, given the speed and skill with which Dom and Alex conjured up an hour of brilliant comedy for us, their standard is not just as high for the rest of their performances. The duo are natural improvisers: soon we were into a surreal world of Michael Caine impersonators, an ex-Viet Cong Health Secretary, Angela Lansbury, Cameroonian tourist information, a childhood addiction to cherries and some suspiciously small coffee cups.

To be honest, I can’t remember half of the material they came up with on the spot, but every time they got cornered into some ridiculous new situation, they managed to turn it into a new, even funnier source of jokes. Their ability to work so well off one another, especially when swapping between the wide range of characters, is great to watch, as they clearly are enjoying themselves as much as the audience are.

It’s a gloriously, superbly silly tribute to the wonderful, ridiculous Bond films, complete with awful puns and diabolically inept villains. Not a show to be missed while it’s still up at Edinburgh.

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Josie Finlay

at 19:13 on 27th Aug 2015

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There is an air of anticipation in the room before Shaken not Stirred’s improvised James Bond show begins. We’ve all been told to write down our own spins on Bond film titles, someone has been given a cheetah to throw at any point during the show, and Alex Fox and Dom O'Keefe, the two ex-Oxford Imps that make up the duo, are striding around the room in black polo necks, issuing instructions to the audience, having already settled in to Bond-like personas. Every day the show is completely different, tailored to its audience and Fox and O'Keefe's whims of the day. The two begin by performing a low-budget version of the ridiculous James Bond opening sequence, spinning around with scraps of fabric in a good imitation of the famous naked monochrome girls. Then our Bond show, Dr. Perhaps begins (a title invented by my fellow reviewer, might I proudly add) starting with an improvised song in perfect rhyme. The pair’s flair for wordplay continues to prove a highlight of the show; they are unbelievably quick and agile at making puns, poems and jokes. Fox's response to O'Keefe's comment about the ‘narrative arc’ with ‘Ah yes, Thorpe Park’s newest roller coaster’ is one particular highlight.

Fox and O'Keefe seem very personable, and this makes their show all the more enjoyable, as their personalities are bound to emerge whilst they are improvising. The smoothness of their performance demonstrates the great rapport between the two – they are both extremely versatile and are able to swap and flick between characters, but also seem to have an unspoken understanding of where each other’s strengths lie..

At points, Fox and O'Keefe talk over each other, or cut one another off. It’s clear that this is due to absolutely loving what they are doing and being constantly brimming with ideas, which is wonderful to see, but sometimes I wish they would give each other a little more breathing space, as sometimes there isn’t enough time for their jokes to settle.

It’s a real achievement to perform improv that is funny whilst not being completely nonsensical. Dr Perhaps was a success: it made almost as much sense as a real Bond film (although that’s not necessarily saying much) and contained many hilarious moments. Fox and O'Keefe must be commended for their supreme talent at what they do, as well as their encyclopaedic knowledge of Bond.

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