Tales from the Elsewhere

Mon 6th – Sun 19th August 2018

reviews

Millie Haswell

at 08:57 on 15th Aug 2018

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To set an elaborate sci-fi story in a slow-paced Midwestern town and make the audience laugh almost to the point of tears is no mean feat – Lovehard Comedy achieve it, with only two actors in an Edinburgh nightclub.

Tyler Harding and Jacob Lovick present Tales from the Elsewhere, a footloose and fancy free hybrid of Stranger Things, Back to the Future and Rick and Morty. The story involves three pre-teens (Benjamin, Buddy and Cass) who find a cassette tape with a noise capable of freezing anyone who listens to it. It is told with multiple roles from each actor, with some hilariously stereotyped characterisation and fabulously inappropriate jokes.

Initially it seems as though the two actors are struggling to adjust to their American accents and numerous different characters. The first scene sees two scientists discovering the man-freezing noise twenty years before Benjamin, Buddy and Cass find it. It drags a little as Harding and Lovick try and cram information in about the setting of the show. A hefty amount of fourth-wall breaking soon gets the audience on their side, though: the scene switches to a class room and Harding, in the role of a teacher, states “I know you boys are still adjusting to your characters”, while miming writing on a blackboard – “If we divide x by y then we show – that we are in a school!” Later, two amusingly unthreatening CIA agents are too busy squabbling to do their job: at one point Lovick tells Harding that he looks like “a turkey with – with cabbage?” before grinning apologetically – “We don’t have thanksgiving in England.” The audience applaud at a mimed bike ride, which Harding disclaims beforehand by telling us that, “Jacob wrote this bit, and I hate it.”

Tropes of 80s American teen films feature heavily, with nerdy protagonists, goofy bad guys and an inaccessible love interests (a teenage girl played hilariously well by Harding). A final scene is set at Prom, complete with two school bullies trying to spike the punch, while a character called Buddy has siblings with names like Friend, Pal and Comrade. Lovehard Comedy write these, though, with fast-paced dialogue spiked with innuendo, subverting the tameness of the films that they allude to. In one especially entertaining sequence, Harding and Lovick attempt rhyming slang while playing two Cockneys in 1990s London. They start off by calling each other “me old china plate” and “bubble and squeak”, but by the end give up and resort to “me old – fucking prat”.

The multiple roles can be confusing, as sometimes the differentiation between characters isn’t sharp enough. Buddy’s mother and Buddy’s friend Cass, for instance, share a similar falsetto voice and are both played by Lovick. Overall, though, it is impossible not to admire the duo as they run around, miming bike rides and gun fights and being frozen, putting every ounce of energy into their performance. Roles are switched, accents are swapped and arms are flailed in a tight amount of time and space – it is exactly what you would hope for from a sci-fi play staged in a nightclub.

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Thomas Goodyer

at 09:54 on 15th Aug 2018

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There’s nothing really all that wrong with ‘Tales from the Elsewhere.’ It is written and performed by Jacob Lovick and Tyler Harding, also known as comedy duo LoveHard (see what they did there? They put together their two names to make another name, which sounds non-specifically sexual, because that’s funny). They both clearly love the material, enacting the absurdist ‘Stranger Things’ parody, built on lampshading and silly humour, with a relish and charm unsuggestive of the year’s worth of work gone into it.

As far as a parody goes, it’s okay. It doesn’t particularly skewer or bring anything to light about the show, but the setting of an American high school means they can do jokes about ‘dumb’ jocks and lonely teachers, which, if that’s the comedic space they want to occupy, suggests they’ve chosen their topic well. The frustrating thing is that it rarely leaves this comedy space and it all feels very safe, especially as the show wears on. Nothing big and exciting, nothing all that inventive or taboo-pushing, just movement; trudging from gag to gag, towards an end. Indeed, quite near this end, Harding (playing an exasperated school child) turns to Lovick and says ‘do you know what time it is?’ Lovick (playing a gormless school child) responds with ‘…time for icecream?’ It’s not a joke really worth telling; it got a begrudging half-laugh and that lacklustre exchange - joke and response - was pretty typical of the show as a whole.

Having said that, where 'Tales from the Elsewhere' shined was where it deviated a bit from the norm. Some of the tape effects and sounds were genuinely weird and provided moments of actual oddness, instead of a ‘look how odd we are’ oddness. Likewise, the show’s physicality worked well, especially in the enclosed space of the Espionage’s Pravda Room, which lent the constant character changes and busyness of Lovick and Harding an air of sweaty claustrophobia.

There is clearly talent and a sense for the comic in pop culture here. But having ‘nothing really all that wrong’, in a place where literally every street is packed with comedians - all talented and many feeding off some kind of pop culture - is not how you’d want your show to be described. ‘Nothing really all that wrong’ means I laughed occasionally; it means some bits were well done; but it doesn’t mean you should go to see it, if it’s not on your way to somewhere else.

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