Intrepid Fool’s Fringe debut The Murderous Philanthropist of Croydon Town had a lot of promises to deliver on. Described as a ‘musical-comedy devised farcical adventure’, delivered in 45 minutes by what is essentially a student company sounds like a mighty tall order. But, unfathomably, Intrepid Fools deliver on every aspect with a spring in their step. Murderous Philanthropist is a delightfully self-aware, utterly charming absurdist adventure which proves infectiously fun and unashamedly silly.
“Fast-paced, hilarious and wonderfully charming”
Murderous Philanthropist follows Isabella, the unassuming new wife of charming town philanthropist Quincey, although it quickly becomes apparent that Quincey has a rather sinister secret. With references to cardboard props, absurd split personalities and constant winks to the audience, it doesn’t get much more tongue-in-cheek than this. Channelling a 39 Steps-esque self-awareness, Murderous Philanthropist takes every possible opportunity to make a joke, no matter how silly or simple. With a well-drilled cast and impeccable comic timing, even the most stupid jokes land and are met with raucous laughter when delivered with a cheeky grin. The script clearly takes inspiration from other fast-paced farces, Around the World in Eighty Days initially sprang to mind, but Murderous Philanthropist most certainly carves out its own story and style. It’s incredibly impressive for a young company to have devised such a charming script crammed full of refined farcical humour.
However, perhaps the most surprising things about Murderous Philanthropist are the musical numbers. Well-written and original, and performed with surprising talent and rich harmonies, they give the production an element of high-quality showmanship to contrast with the chaotic nature of the acted scenes. This constant back-and-forth between chaos and order works a charm, allowing both styles be enjoyed in small quantities, switching back to the other style before the production gets too stale.
Intrepid Fool’s debut is mighty impressive. Fast-paced, hilarious and wonderfully charming, The Murderous Philanthropist of Croydon Town is an absolute joy, proving an absurd and uplifting break from the conventional theatre at the Fringe.
theSpace @ Surgeon’s Hall, 14th – 19th August, 18:15
Image: Intrepid Fools