[author-post-rating] (2/5 Stars)
Techno Prisoners is the latest show from “Croydon’s top eccentric, electronic cabaret duo”, Eccentronic. The duo, namely Jon Callaghan and Ms Hypnotique, parody popular songs, perform alternative covers and write their own comedy tracks. They are best known for the latter, with their song ‘Croydon Tram’ becoming a minor hit and being described as Croydon’s answer to ‘Gangnam Style’. Eccentronic Presents: Techno Prisoners is loosely based around the concept that the pair are musical criminals who have been arrested for breaching copyright laws. While the pair are clearly musically talented, and their commitment to the material is quite admirable, Techno Prisoners unfortunately falls flat in almost every single way.
The main problem is the bizarre mixture of overly confusing concepts with low level slapstick humour. Some of the songs are impressively produced, with multiple pop songs being parodied at once and cultural references scattered throughout. The problem is that these are often so quick that seeing them for the first time live means that most of the clever intricacies are completely missed. This even seems apparent to the duo as, after the first track, Callaghan had to point out the many references in the song.
The intelligence of some of the songs is also completely undermined by the juvenile humour that dominates the set. Colourful wigs, wacky clothing and songs about cheese completely erodes any intelligence that the show claims to have. For every dig at the tight copyright laws in the UK, there are several embarrassing comedy dances and tacky costumes. This strange disparity is summed up best when Hynotique plays an impressive solo on a theremin, but Callaghan distracts from that by dancing around on stage. Eccentronic have some good ideas, yet allow them to be ignored by introducing gimmicky and at times awkward physical humour.
The one redeeming factor of the show is the utmost commitment of the two performers. Callaghan and Ms Hynotique are clearly very dedicated to their show, and even in the face of a largely disinterested small crowd, distracting technical problems and material that doesn’t quite work live, they continue. Silly sketches, parody raps and ill-judged audience participation are all committed to fully, even though everyone in the room could tell it didn’t quite work.
The clear highlight of the set isa cover of CeeLo Green’s ‘Forget You’, which is performed with a hand-crank music box and a flute. This is a display of the pair’s undeniable musical talent, and works very well. However it is once again impaired by distracting jokes and ill-advised audience participation.
It seems that this type of comedy is best kept to YouTube. While musical comedy is a big business these days, Eccentronic’s unique brand of parody mash-ups is far too intricate to be appreciated live. This, combined with consistently perplexing tacky humour and jokes that fall flat, means that the show does not deliver on any level. Despite the commitment and clear musical talent of the duo, Eccentronic Presents: Techno Prisoners fails in almost every way and just does not work as a live stage production.
Eccentronic Presents: Techno Prisoners is playing at the Laughing Horse @ The Temple until 1 June. For more information and tickets, see the Brighton Fringe website.