The Abridged Dapper 11 hour Monochrome Dream Show
Leicester Comedy Festival, February 2017
Once in every while an artist finds him or herself at a convenient juncture where they are physically able to produce their ideas for others to enjoy, irrespective of convention, commerce or common perception. In reality this usually boils down to somebody simply having available time and funds to allow them to follow their creative instincts which may fly fully in the face of popular cultural appeal. Sadly this often results in nothing more than self-indulgent vanity projects serving a valid but more singular purpose as therapy for the performer rather than entertainment for an audience. However, it took just a few minutes for these three hilarious but shambolic idiots to prove that far from trying to satisfy what would surely be a highly bizarre strain of self-empowerment, they are in fact pursuing a shared artistic goal at the entire, but brilliantly casual expense of just about every rule in the comedy textbook.
But it wasn’t all chicken masks and swearing.
The performers Nathan Willcock, Andy Barr and Phil Jarvis or “Consignia” as they call themselves create and deliver a show with all the hallmarks of being a ridiculously studenty so-called-comedy-sketch-show crammed with artistic compromise, plagiarism and terrible acting but which is in fact completely the opposite and is underscored indelibly with total conviction, unwavering naivety and artistic brilliance. In managing to be both absurd and alienating, appealing and audacious they have created a hilarious hour of entertainment that is, well, not everyone’s cup of tea.
Willcock states quite early on in the show that the whole point is to confound each other’s efforts onstage efforts and make it as difficult as possible for them to perform. They then proceed to subvert all expectations as it becomes clear their show, while structured, offers not even the merest nod to slickness, preparation or even audience satisfaction. Skilfully exploiting seldom-used comedic areas such as heckling each other’s performances, delighting in the number of “walk-outs” (eight by the end of this show), and being clearly and obviously drunk on stage, they managed to carry off the more immersed elements to the show like prolonged ironic tedium and very clever didactic-based satire. But amongst the clowning and carnage there were just one or two fleeting moments which proved that they were not really that drunk, the chaos they created was, though real, still within some strongly-adhered to boundaries to which they were all working, and that what may appear to some (well, to at least eight people on this occasion) as an ill-prepared and boring waste of an hour was a hugely intelligent, professional, controlled and courageous piece of work by all three.
Doubtless the beer helped.