Farce is a celebration of the ridiculous: of insane plots, physical comedy, and crude humour. Laugh Your Farce Off wholeheartedly throws itself and its audience into this extravagant world. Although each short is written, directed and performed by different artists, they share a spirit of the absurd and high-energy slapstick.
The Pleasance Theatre is a lovely venue. Its large but simple space is perfect for the show, providing enough space for actors to run around a basic set that can serve any purpose. Three doors line the back of the stage: these help to maintain Laugh Your Farce Off’s breakneck pace as they are hidden behind, dashed through or thrown open to reveal a new character. For some of the shorts, further props were brought out and they were never superfluous, always serving some comedic purpose.
For the most part, the same can be said about the dialogue of Laugh Your Farce Off’s scenes. Writers Hannah Rodger, Charlie Partridge, John-Luke Roberts, Caitlin Shannon and Andrew Doyle hit the audience with as many jokes as possible, which keeps a low rumble of laughter going throughout the show.
With a show like this, the audience is almost as important as the performers. On the night I was in, the audience was very vocal and responsive, laughing, cheering and shouting out in shock freely. The experience had a festival feel to it, and will no doubt be perfect for the Fringe.
Without ruining the surprise of watching how delightfully surreal these stories become, Laugh Your Farce Off’s audience can look forward to a wonderful song about the dangers of science; the problems a glitchy playlist can bring to a sex party; and an antiques dealer stuffed under a table. The fun is in watching how these writers and directors have taken their shows from A to B: they never do it in quite the way you expect.
The performers relate well to the audience in a space small enough to have a pub atmosphere. Particular standouts for me include the surprisingly moving Robert Heard in ‘Bobby’s Orgy’, who manages to be a little bit heart-breaking despite the costume he winds up in. In the same short, Alice Marshall barely delivers a line that doesn’t draw laughs from the audience and her character’s aggressive sexuality is a little frightening even from several rows back. In ‘Last Manor Standing’, Hannah Barrie is hysterical to watch as she fends off a Lord’s jealous wife.
Laugh Your Farce Off is terrific fun to watch and the night has a friendly and exuberant vibe about it. True to the nature of farce, each script had the power to surprise and shock. Best of all, this is the sort of show where those on the stage seem to be having as much fun as the audience, as they push limits and chase after plots that spiral into the unexpected.
Laugh Your Farce Off is playing on Sundays at the Pleasance Theatre until 21 July. For more information and tickets, see the Pleasance Theatre website.