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The Joke

  • Theatre, Comedy
  • 2 out of 5 stars
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Time Out says

2 out of 5 stars

Three men are trapped in a fairly weak gag

An Englishman, an Irishman and a Scotsman walk into a joke. They’re stuck there for well over an hour. That’s the idea behind Will Adamsdale’s sporadically entertaining new comedy. Adamsdale (Englishman) Lloyd Hutchinson (Irishman) and Brian Logan (Scotsman) are locked in the auditorium under mysterious circumstances, and it quickly dawns on them that they’ve crossed over into the strange twilight zone between set-up and punch-line, doomed to enact endless iterations of the same tired wheeze.

It’s a conceit that would crumple under a light breeze, but Adamsdale gamely wrings it for some mild gags on cultural stereotyping, then stretches it far beyond breaking point. Initial attempts to escape the venue with the aid of a broom and an inflatable palm tree are genuinely hilarious; all three performers are afforded a cracking breakdown scene where they impotently air their grievances at the rest of the world’s low and shallow opinion of their nation. But elsewhere it’s barren and laugh-free terrain.

‘The Joke’ says nothing profound or funny about comedy, culture, class or anything, really. Worse, Eton-educated Adamsdale recycles small-minded tropes without answering or interrogating them, and parades England’s colonial history as a bit of harmless scallywagging. Meandering and fatally underpowered, this has the self-indulgent air of a student revue show. It’s a cliché to suggest that the performers may be having more fun than their audience, but in the case of ‘The Joke’, you can only hope that it’s true.

Written by
Stewart Pringle

Details

Address:
Price:
£12, concs £10
Opening hours:
From May 17, Tue-Sat 7pm, ends Jun 4
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