A Record or an OBE (FringeTIX)
Shaolin Punk @ Fringe Factory Theatre (The Fridge)
6:00pm, Thu 13 Mar 2008
On another stinking hot day, I arrive at The Fridge to find that – despite its frostily suggestive name – it’s a sweltering hotbox. And that I’m one of six people in the audience.
Now, two of those were Fringe volunteer ring-ins, two guys were from Sound & Fury and there was another artist in there, so I’m guessing I was the only paying punter.
The Only Paying Punter.
Which is utterly heartbreaking, because this is a decent show. When the lights come up, we’re looking at Graeme Garden & Tim Brooke-Taylor – the two remaining members of The Goodies after Bill Oddie left the troupe (at the height of their popularity, no less) to pursue a career in music. Tim is adamant that the two of them can sustain The Goodies on their own; Graeme, the hen-pecked writer of much of their work, is far less confident.
Tim’s attitude towards Bill verges on the militant; Graeme is far less perturbed, but obviously misses his writing partner. The conflicting feelings come across in a convincing manner throughout; Tim belligerently spurs Graeme on, eventually to a nervous breakdown, and their resolution is genuinely touching.
It’s far from a faithful rendition of the two Goodies – writer Ben McKenzie’s Garden is pretty good, but Rob Lloyd (from The Hound of the Baskervilles) is initially less convincing as Brooke-Taylor: suitably brash, sure, but not weedy enough, not British enough. Remarkably, though, they somehow manage to transcend this barrier to believability; the half-time “Get It Right!” skit certainly helps.
The great thing about A Record or an OBE is that it’s tightly written, and doesn’t outstay its welcome – at a svelte 30 minutes long, it’s a lovely bit of off-beat Fringery that was criminally under-attended this evening.