Guy Fawkes It Up is one of those farcical, self-aware comedies following the vein of The 39 Steps or Around the World in 80 Days. They’re surprisingly few and far between at the Fringe, but often seem to be produced by young, emerging companies, since they’re a safe bet to draw in some punters for a first-time Fringe company. But, that’s not to diminish the difficulty of writing and performing a cohesive and hilarious farce.
“a zany, enjoyable jaunt through a historical tale”
There’s plenty to enjoy in Guy Fawkes It Up. An eclectic cast of characters lead a slapstick story with enthusiasm and energy, reeling off puns and gags with ease. There’s a certain jaunty nature to Laughing Mirror’s debut production with an infectious sense of fun overarching the production making it easy to get caught up in the sheer madcap atmosphere they create. A running gag where characters seemingly unintentionally spout song lyrics within their dialogue proves particularly entertaining. It’s a joke we’ve seen a million times before, but when told with a sly smile and twinkling eye; it never fails to draw a laugh.
However, there are a few theatrical missteps present in Guy Fawkes It Up. For one thing, the pace is absolutely relentless. Although a fast pace suits a farcical comedy, there comes a point where you can push it too far. Here, the quick dialogue and unending stream of jokes become something of an attack on the senses, leaving the characters and plot no time to breathe or develop through the 50-minute running time. What’s more, there is a lack of subtlety in the comedy. Although it proves initially funny, the self-aware humour does tend to become a little tiresome when repeatedly used. Intrepid Fool’s similar farcical Fringe offering, The Murderous Philanthropist of Croydon Town, understood how to pull off a hysterical self-aware joke with a simple sly glance to the audience. On the other hand, Guy Fawkes It Off opts for long winding lines of dialogue, practically explaining the joke. Perhaps it’s just my preferred form of comedy, but a momentary self-indulgent pause can be far funnier than a lengthy joke.
Guy Fawkes It Up is by no means a bad production. For a Fringe debut, Laughing Mirror have created a zany, enjoyable jaunt through a historical tale. There is certainly potential for this company, and with a bit of further refinement and polishing, I’m excited to see what they do next.
theSpace on North Bridge, 14th – 26th (not 20th), 17:20