Lots of people like humour which uses silly wigs and funny voices, and it abounds in Cleaver & Clag, but it’s not the sort of comedy I enjoy, and it certainly doesn’t deserve the terms such as “super-intelligent” to promote the show – unless you think that Are You Being Served? or Paris Hilton are intelligent, I suppose.
The idea for the show may have been inspired by the cut-up technique employed by writers such as William S Burrows in which a written work is cut into pieces and rearranged to create new meanings. In Cleaver & Clag the idea was to perform a script, remove some lines, add others to the remainder and perform the scene again in a new situation – for example, a discussion with a TV actor becomes a chat in a doctor’s surgery.
The novelty of the idea made this one of my most highly anticipated shows of MICF 2012. It was disappointing that the comedy of the various scenes was very physical and broad, lacking the cleverness with language I expected. The humorous element of the cut-up process was pretty basic, largely depending on the audience recognising a line from the previous scene appearing in the new situation.
The two actors (whose names are not on flier or website!) seemed to enjoy performing their over-the-top characters and found an audience prepared to hoot with laughter. How I envy these people.
Someone involved in the show has some talent and good ideas; the projected video introduction was pacey and quite well done. For me the high point was a video segment on bike safety for Goths; punchy, understated and tonally perfect, it was a huge contrast to the rest of the performance. I can’t recommend a show based on 40 amusing seconds though and can’t help feeling that the writers of this show could have aimed a lot higher.