15 August 2011

Armageddapocalypse - The Explosioning

Armageddapocalypse: The Explosioning - James Bond, Jason Bourne and Jack Bauer have two things in common: their initials and the fact their flaws have been combined to create the lead in the ‘Hollywood on a shoestring’ comic play, Armageddapocalyspe.


After a bold video title sequence we open to a scene introducing our ‘hero’ Jack Lang as the most renegade agent in the world, trying to stop the bad guys regardless of the consequences. Despite the smallish stage the cast make excellent use of the space and give us a flavour of what to expect for the next hour: some action sequences, silly jokes and asute parody, all with an overriding sense of fun. Then comes the twist; this is actually the screening of the Special-Edition Extended-DVD Blu-Ray Director's Cut version of the film, with the action switching between the stage and the side-stage director’s coke-fuelled commentary.

The story itself needs minimal explaining, or spoiling – bad guy tries to blow up the world, good guy tries to stop him – all inside an hour of fun, laughter, cheesy lines and subtle references. The humour comes from just about all areas of the production: over-the-top performances, prop choices, plot decisions and subverting audiences expectations. A lot of direct gags are from the absurd nature of action films, although the smart writing has added a realistic element to the silliness that pays off so well. Some lines delivered as throw-away after-thoughts are funny enough by themselves to make the cut in other shows.

James Moran and Lucien Young, as hero Jack Lang and villain Dr. Apocalypse respectively, work very well together, both as the lead roles and creators of a perfectly balanced script. They are well-complemented by Tamara Astor as Jennica Wildfire, Lang's apparent love interest, along with Joe Bannister as Falcon, head of the intelligence agency who tries to get Lang to play by the rules, and Johan Munir as director Zach Jack. There is a reasonably long list of supporting characters played by these three, including my personal favourite Dena, the plain computer technician who Lang always calls when he goes rogue. None of the characters are superfluous and all add at least humour to the already highly enjoyable show.

Not since Dutch Elm Conservatoire graced the Fringe has a comic play managed to capture both smartness and silliness at the same time. The audience were thoroughly entertained and can be heard raving about the show before they'd left the building. Don't wait for the DVD version, see this show for yourself.


8/10 for a great comic play, something I picked out based on a poster in Cappadocia one evening and as it wasn't earmarked for review went to see it for Chortle.  Steve was keen to expand to see things other than well-known names and I bet the team behind it are thrilled with the final copy!