Great British Mysteries: 1599?

Wed 1st – Mon 27th August 2018

reviews

Jasmine Silk

at 01:36 on 20th Aug 2018

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If you like puns and pop music you have come to the right place. 'Great British Mysteries: 1599' present us with an hour of jokes that are so bad they are good, this time in a Tudor setting. This show feels a little like Horrible Histories and Monty Python had a love child, and it works beautifully, as every other word gets them a laugh from the audience.

An example of this is their use of a school style projector, which is used to tell us at the beginning of the show that they only chose this era as they'd bought the costumes. The projector is often used to give the audience additional information, lines to say, or just as a very large fireplace. They never miss an opportunity to use it as a source of further comedy. This combined the mock-umentary style with the constantly broken fourth wall that made their comedy work.

Will Close and Rose Robinson hold the audience’s attention without fail and deliver every line with perfect timing, occasionally improvising moments which add to the hilarity and showcase their skills as comic actors. They switch between the eccentric characters of this Tudor mystery with ease and win over the audience, or Linda, within five minutes of beginning.

It is the characters’ likeability which carries the plot itself through as much as the humour; their friendship is made the centre point of the story and gives the audience something to root for. The plot itself is constituted of an oddball series of events that play on the clichés of the period drama, mystery, and comedy genres equally. It focuses on Olive and Teddy, who meet after Olive moves to the city and they start a mystery solving business together. From there we encounter witches, bishops, and a whole lot of pop song references.

The plot improves distinctly as the play goes on; in the first half, it is rushed and so full of quirks that the narrative risks getting a bit lost. However, the last half is full of action which ties everything up brilliantly and triggers a brilliant pay-off in terms of comic effect.

All in all, this smart, quick-witted, fast paced comedy will have you laughing all the way through its twists and turns, and it’s well worth going to see for some uninhibited fun in a Fringe full of politicised comedy.

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Sally Christmas

at 09:45 on 20th Aug 2018

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It’s not easy to carry a show with just two people, but with some brilliant jokes and a few speedy costume changes, Rose Robinson and Will Close pull it off with ease. 'Great British Mysteries: 1599?' is a wildly inaccurate but absurdly funny visit to Tudor England that entertained throughout and is well worth a watch.

Set in London in, well, 1599, we see renowned detectives Teddy Tyrell and Olive Bacon set about hunting down an infamous witch. Teddy, whose hobbies include yelling at bears, is a wonderfully stupid character played extremely well, with Close’s near-perfect comic timing providing a lot of the laughs. In contrast, Olive is sharp and incredibly witty, and the dynamic between the two on stage makes for a fantastic show.

The humour is not exactly highbrow, ranging from the crude to the downright surreal. A few of the jokes rely on a very basic knowledge of the Tudors, but with some fantastic pop culture references – from Grease to Love Island – this is by no means essential. The occasional political comment is slipped in, like a one-liner lamenting the discovery of America, but these are handled well and, rather refreshingly, don’t feel forced. Every so often a joke took too long, with a bit about Teddy not being funny, ironically, starting to drag before the punchline came. But, from a pig named Sausage Party to a witchfinder who bakes to cope with the stress of her day job, there’s an awful lot to laugh at.

The show was by no means perfect – a few things fell flat, with a couple of the pop culture references getting next to no reaction, and a joke about ‘touching cloth’ that felt laboured and out of place. There was a slight costume malfunction, but it was dealt with brilliantly, and if anything, only added to the humour.

The pair made a good choice in keeping the story simple, letting the jokes become the main focus. But, there’s still a nice plot twist, which is handled with a hilarious mix of emotional weight and brilliant one-liners, and the end is satisfying as well as funny. The production value of the show was wonderfully low, with some gloriously 2005 graphics and a few costumes that were punchlines in their own right. This is not a criticism; here we have a show that knows what it does well, and that is the silly, not the slick.

Robinson and Close are brilliant comic performers and kept the whole audience laughing. A lot of fun to watch, 'Great British Mysteries: 1599?' shows how good comedy can be when it doesn’t take itself too seriously.

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