Cosmonauts

Fri 1st – Tue 12th August 2014

reviews

Claire Murgatroyd

at 03:27 on 9th Aug 2014

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This show has a simple concept. A man – a cosmonaut – has come to planet Earth for the first time with some very confused and concerning ideas about what life here must be like. His ridiculous, over-the-top theories, transformed into sketches, form the bulk of the show, and the group of Lancastrian students play them out for the audience using every power available to them, from fantastically diverse vocals, to a range of characters. It has to be seen to be believed!

Cosmonauts take lightning-fast glances at a host of baffling topics; from men on sheds, to shattering the American dream – from Yorkshire rappers to drunken spies. I feel it would not be giving much away to say that this show makes next to no sense. But what is really important is the fact that no logistical concerns matter to the actors, and especially not to the audience.

The venue is fairly basic – a small black box of a room above Newington’s beloved bar/ballroom, The Counting House, and the show was equally stripped of all unnecessary additions like set and sound effects – the genius of which is demonstrated when a shoebox becomes both an Xbox and an armed bomb.

Edinburgh Fringe lives for things like this; the minimalist show that delights and surprises, without the need for gimmicks. In fact, having more literal, ‘real’, props would probably distract from the impressively creative and twisted ideas that this young cast hurl so skilfully at the audience.

The fact that it is so simple means there is more scope for madness, in a way, and also means that every member of the eight-strong cast has to pull their weight. While all fantastically adept at portraying the impossible, Daryl Griffin deserves a special mention, as does Henry Banks, for playing characters who may not have all the spunkiest lines, but who nevertheless continue to make the audience laugh far too loudly, and for far too long.

Directors Ed Colley and Jack Nicholls have done a fantastic job at making something genuinely new in as saturated a scene as the Edinburgh Fringe. Although, at times it may have been a little over-reliant on shouting, and ukuleles, this performance made me weep the tears of delirious laughing joy that this year’s festival has thus far failed to provide.

This show may be doomed to be underrated and poorly attended due to the fact the venue is a little off the beaten track, and the fact that it is staged at 1am, but if there was any show that would be worth staying up for, it would be this. Because ‘Cosmonauts’ is a show that is ready and raring to go and knock your socks off – if you’re willing to embrace the insane and let it.

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Amy Peters

at 03:27 on 9th Aug 2014

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I feel I must preface this by saying that my enthusiasm and expectation for this evening was low. 1am is a brave time to put on a show, and audiences who just want to get back to their Bourbons and bed are the order of the day (or night). However, within the first three minutes everyone was deeply relieved to find that Cosmonauts is absolutely something worth leaving the sleepy comfort of home to trudge across the meadows in the middle of the night for. Well thank God for that.

Written, directed and performed by the small band of Lancaster students that form part of LUCI comedy, Cosmonauts was a quick fire, high energy sketch show that held its own in front of the small, partially inebriated crowd. So much of the free, late-night comedy here at the Fringe is best enjoyed a few pints down, but my stoically sober self was in fits. If I could have rated each sketch individually, there would undoubtedly have been some five stars thrown in there (hey space bully!), along with a couple of lacklustre twos. Watch out for Henderson Fancy (Henry Banks); my fellow reviewer was dangerously close to doing a bit of a wee she was laughing so hard.

Each performer had their own particularly comical moments, but special mention must be made of Tom Clements and Ed Colley. I’m a sucker for some good physical comedy, and these guys delivered hilariously on that front. The writers covered all manner of subject matter in intense, energetic bursts; we encountered a cold war spy, the devil, some cannibals and my personal favourite: a wedding as filled with hate as it was with love (oh poor, poor Jeff).

These guys have some serious potential. The Fringe is definitely the place to experiment and try out new material, and although some of the sketches were somewhat underwhelming, there were some cracking rib-ticklers in Cosmonauts. Proper value for money (i.e. it costs none!) in a cosy little venue in Newington; a late-night light-hearted reprieve after a long day trudging up and down the Mile. Definitely a decent example of the calibre of show that the Free Festival can offer.

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