Curse of the Mummy

Thu 3rd – Sat 26th August 2017

reviews

Katherine Knight

at 12:09 on 13th Aug 2017

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“We’re not doing stereotypes,” is the mantra of the early scenes, a line which is repeated again and again throughout the hour-long performance. This is a lie. Around 70% of the jokes in this show are stereotype based, and if you recoil at the thought of the main villain being a camp Nazi with a glitter swastika vest top, this will not be the performance for you.

The Saloon Boys make a dynamic trio: they are full of energy, bouncing off each other and genuinely looking like they’re enjoying themselves. Music is a major feature, whether called for or not. It even edges into karaoke – within the first ten minutes we are treated to a stirring rendition of an Abba song, accompanied by whirring flashing lights. By the time the camel comes out and the mummy yells “It’s time for a song!” the whole thing is falling headlong into pantomime territory.

Not that the Saloon Boys seem to consider this a detractor – and, by the reaction of the audience on this particular night, no one else does either. It’s pleasingly unpretentious theatre, more concerned with having a laugh and being utterly ridiculous than trying to impress. It pokes fun at itself, making reference to Montana Jones’ namesake. The tropes, the mannerisms, the snakes are all present and correct. However, with the reliance upon stereotypes to make many jokes work well, it isn’t a sense of humour which will appeal to everyone, and often it cuts close to the mark.

The set pieces employed are surprisingly detailed, with a sarcophagus, a camel, and a hot air balloon all making an appearance. And attention is also paid to other technical details – the lighting is superb, switching from disco lights to an atmospheric desert at the drop of a hat. It’s more than you would expect in such an informal genre, and it is a welcome discovery to find such effort and attention put into areas which others would usually look over.

The audience are involved – or rather, dragged up on stage – and cleverly worked into the narrative. When audience interaction fails, they improvise admirably, so much so that it would have seemed natural had the question not been asked. On this particular night, calls for both a lighter and a drink were rejected, and the responses ended up being funnier than if they had been scripted. The primary interaction takes the form of the much-loved game show Take Me Out, and is integral to the show’s climax. It’s obvious that this has been thought through, and the show practically built around this involvement - rather than simply added on as an afterthought. Although probably mortifying for the individual involved, it does succeed in building a real rapport with the viewers, and the proof of this is in the level of audience engagement which other artists could only dream of. It won’t be everyone’s sense of humour, but the Saloon Buys put on a piece of theatre which never tries to be something it’s not: and it’s all the better for it.

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Zoe Boothby

at 18:12 on 13th Aug 2017

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Following on from last year’s ‘Dracula: Sex, Sucking & Stardom’ (sounds interesting), the comedy group Last Chance Saloon are back with their parody of Indiana Jones, ‘Curse of the Mummy’. Unfortunately, and also crucially for a comedy, this show is very unfunny. I think I laughed about four times; maybe I would guess six, if I was feeling generous. But after spending an hour being subjected to a show like ‘Curse of the Mummy’, I can’t say that I am.

The show is at its best when it makes jabs at its low production values, such as when a camel costume rips in half. That was, I will give them, quite funny. The show is at its worst, however, when it tries too hard and reduces itself to the worst kind of juvenile, tasteless humour. Of course, juvenile, tasteless humour has its place, but in ‘Curse of the Mummy’ there is no wit involved. It is just plain stupid. Sam Dunham stars as Montana Jones (yes, really). He is perfectly fine in the central role. Nothing more, nothing less. Jack Faires gives a forgettable performance as a mummy: perhaps it is best for him that his face was obscured by bandages for most of the play. A special mention, however, must go to Jack Gogarty who saves the show with his hilarious performance (I think he is solely responsible for my four, maybe six, laughs). I never knew that camp Nazi glitter swastika disco dancing was something I needed to experience, but apparently it’s a must.

The group should also think about investing in some microphones: though the venue, Just the Tonic at The Caves, has decent acoustics, I often struggled to hear what the cast were saying whilst sitting towards the back. Although I don’t think I missed anything particularly funny or important, it was frustrating having to strain to hear yet another joke fall flat. An audience member also complained to me afterwards that he was unable to hear during the musical numbers as the backing track was too loud; which seems a shame because the musical numbers certainly elevated the show slightly. The camel’s entrance to ‘My Humps’ was possibly the highlight of the show.

It must be said that the audience as a whole laughed a lot more than I did, but then again, the audience as a whole was also a lot more drunk than me. If you like pantomime humour, this could be the show for you. If you like alcohol, I suggest you drink some before the show. Perhaps that would make the show more endurable, or at least make the hour pass faster.

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