Two Dunnit

Mon 14th – Sat 26th August 2017

reviews

Tamsin Bracher

at 09:47 on 23rd Aug 2017

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Described as ‘an infernally complicated murder mystery, a barrage of suspects and an hour of comedy’, ‘Two Dunnit’ promises a whirlwind performance that is heavy on audience participation. Moreover, the programme boasts, this is ‘all brought to life by only two comedians’. Louisa Keight and Robert Eyers, the Cambridge Footlights’ own, return to the Edinburgh Fringe to play Lucia Keight and Robin Eyers, members of the Penrith Organisation for Investigating the Reasonably Ordinary (POIROT with a silent ‘t’). The play sells itself as a farcical and uniquely interactive production and it certainly doesn’t disappoint. Heart-warmingly upbeat, it offers those of all ages an enjoyable hour’s worth of theatrical entertainment.

That said, I would only advise that you buy tickets for ‘Two Dunnit’ if you are happy to partake in the performance. The show relies as much on the willingness of the audience as it does on the actors - we are required to be the ‘extra characters in the play’ – and although this venture is exciting, it is also fundamentally risky. As soon as we enter the theatre, Louisa and Robert are roaming the room, handing out pieces of paper, raffle tickets, apples and bananas- I myself received the vital clue. At certain points during the production, audience members were randomly called up on stage to make cocktails, assemble a cabinet or put together a sandwich. Simultaneously the characters, the props and in the case of this particular showing, the catalyst for the final denouement, the audience were both the means and focal point of ‘Two Dunnit’. In my experience, this is a quirk that can hugely divide public opinion.

While there were moments that felt rather lifeless as a result (one man had a very awkward time pretending to doctor Robert’s sore elbow), ‘Two Dunnit’ came together with gusto at its conclusion. At this point a man stood up of his own volition and exclaimed (rather excellently) that ‘he knew who did it’. Thus he read out in his best stage voice (again, rather excellently), the evidence from the piece of paper planted at the beginning. As I was walking out of the theatre, Louisa went up to him and shook his hand, saying ‘no one has ever done that before’. Such fluidity is the bedrock of the play - and each show promises to be different. This gives rise to impressive improvisation on the part of both actors. Louisa and Robert’s ‘multi-roling’ is seamless and they make intelligent use of different coloured hats to indicate which character they were impersonating. A particularly effective scene sees the two switching positions between doctor and patient, ably swinging on and off a chair in time to the change of their accents.

‘Two Dunnit’ wittily realises its own ambition with a highly laudable performance. And yet, there is a part of me that wonders whether Louisa and Robert have bitten off rather more than they can chew. The need to be constantly alert detracts slightly from the overall effect of the show; not all of us can transform ourselves at the drop of a hat.

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Amaris Proctor

at 14:57 on 23rd Aug 2017

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‘The Amorous Prawns’ immerse their audience in a playful murder mystery. The two actors, with a pinch of help from the audience, inhabit a plethora of roles in 1920s England, in this pleasantly airy and understated show.

Most of the fun in this piece is sweet, silly, and wholesome. This is an ideal opportunity for a respite from the meatier offerings of the Fringe. It is structured into bite-sized chapters, which makes for easy consumption. The humour of this lighthearted romp is bestowed by edifying wit, visual gags, puns, and funny accents. There is an especially winning running joke about the punny nature of the names of cocktails: White Russians, Screw Drivers, Margaritas, and Cosmopolitans.

Such goofs are brought to life by the jazzy performances of the two leads. While not necessarily overtly charismatic, their self-possession and smooth naturalness, even as they pull foolish faces, gives you the impression you are watching seasoned pros. They infuse the show with an easy vivacity, which could have been dulled by over rehearsing. Jamie the technician, who's voice booms forth like God’s, also deserves a shout out for his first-rate narration, which is sprinkled with a series of estimable quips.

The aesthetic of the set pieces and props is charmingly causal without looking chaotic. Moreover, there is something satisfying about the serendipity of a play preoccupied with a doctor’s surgery taking place in ‘The Space at Surgeons Hall’. The way the plurality of the actors’ roles was expressed through a series of colourful and cool hats was ingenious. The same can be said for the physical mind map, which consists of audience members holding representations of various clues, joined in a web of red yarn.

This amusing sequence is merely one example of the many which rely heavily on active audience participation. The line between viewer and actor is constantly blurred, meaning at times it feels more like an elaborate game night at an old friend’s house than a performance. This is a controversial facet of the show. Personally, the anxiety caused by the threat of being pulled on stage any moment hung over me for the entirety of the performance. However, this narrative strategy was not without merit; bolder audience members clearly relish the experience. The improvisation which is incorporated throughout the show is admittedly reinvigorating.

Ultimately, this production has many noteworthy qualities. However, introverts should proceed with with caution.

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