Monday, 1 February 2016

25 Years of Reeves and Mortimer

Edinburgh Playhouse
Three stars

The great big number 25 emblazoned in white on a Milk Tray coloured backdrop scales the full height of the Playhouse stage at the opening of this greatest hits tour by any other name by the most singular of comedy double acts. The charity-shop lounge-core pre-show soundtrack too is as showbiz as it gets. Sired on a mix of punk and working men's club cabaret, Vic Reeves and Bob Mortimer have always played with such iconography, even as they've subverted it with absurdist abandon.

True to form, catchphrases of the “You Wouldn't let it lie” and “Look at the size of that sausage” variety are cheered to the rafters on the second night of a tour that almost never was after Bob Mortimer's triple heart bypass operation necessitated its first leg to be cancelled last autumn. Old friends such as The Man With The Stick, Donald and Davey Stott and Mulligan and O'Hare too are greeted like conquering heroes. All of which makes for what is essentially an extended reboot of Vic Reeves' Big Night Out, the pair's 1990 TV debut that so startled audiences with their unabashed delight in the ridiculous.

There's a glorious warmth to proceedings, even as Mortimer works his pulse monitor into an act that also includes his Graham Lister character poking lard through the eye-holes of a Benedict Cumberbatch face mask during the show's Novelty Island segment. Yet, despite the appearance of Mortimer's Judge Nutmeg, a thin second half leaves you wanting more in a way that not even a faux Hollywood flourish to finish with can compensate for in a welcome but patchy return to the live arena.

The Herald, February 1st 2016


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