Tuesday, 3 February 2009


28/1/09, Pleasance.

A horrible disappointment. We went to see it because the same team (writer-performer Chris Larner, plus composer and musician Mark Stevens) created a little gem a few years ago called The Translucent Frogs of Quup which D and I saw at Edinburgh and then took the kids to when it transferred to the King's Head in Islington, so much had we enjoyed it.

That was a very silly boy's own pastiche tale of a pair of buttoned-up newly-weds travelling up the Amazon or some such, he anxious to find the frogs of the title, she desperate for sexual satisfaction which she eventually finds, if memory serves, in the arms of a scantily-dressed local. It had lots of puns and bad jokes, some jolly songs, a wry narrative by Larner and some exceedingly dodgy props.

They tried to pull the same trick off again and failed. The setting this time: the Hebridean island of Aars (pronounced as you'd expect, allowing for a rousing final song with a chorus which went "Isle of Aars" - geddit? - over and over). Larner plays a bass player who has somehow washed up in this desolate spot and lives rough while observing the only remaining inhabitants, a pretty little thing called Morag and two competing wee wee wee free pastors, a jolly one called McSurname and a miserable one called Donald, played by the same actor. All three are stranded on the island (which eventually turns out to be a giant turtle) because the rest of the inhabitants have left taking all the boats with them. Into this peculiar Eden comes a serpent in the shape of a noisy Dutch lesbian, a frustrated health and safety officer who cops off with Morag and causes catastrophe all round.

There are some predictable jokes about bass players, intolerant wee frees, health and safety officials etc etc. There are some engaging songs, including a couple of very good ones for the earnest and innocent Morag. But not enough to rescue the show.

It was well-received in Edinburgh. It was less well-received in North London, even though the first night audience included the ex-Python Terry Jones and Adrian Lester and his missis, presumably there to show support as friends of Larner.

Perhaps it started out at 50 minutes, a sort of standard Edinburgh length, and was unwisely expanded to fill an entire evening (with interval).

We would have left during said interval but A said she couldn't: a friend from one of the courses she attends was associated in some way with the production, and to have jumped ship would not have been seemly. We stayed out of solidarity. But D had a glass of wine for fortify her, thus falling off the wagon and abandoning this year's dry season.
Part two was marginally better (because shorter and tighter).
The picture is from the Edinburgh production.

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