Come for the cake but stay for the Party, as Tom Basden's sold out Edinburgh show hits the West End this month, in the company of Tim Key and Jonny Sweet. Is there a comedy award that these three haven't won between them?
Investigating the petty concerns, infighting and paralysing inanity of politics even more vividly than Armando Iannucci conveyed, Party follows a group of idealistic but ultimately incompatible students as they struggle to find a way to acheive political domination and reinstate the space programme.
Don't assume from the theme that this is some high-brow smug-fest though - the only politician who gets so much as a name check is Nick Clegg, as the script veers from Buddhists with anger management issues, to mispronunciation (miss-pro-NOUN-see-eh-shun) to, erm. felching. (You try checking the spelling of that at work...).
In an interesting switch around, the usually overbearingly confident Tim Key is a quiet buffoon, whilst his bumbling Freeze counterpart is given a transforming boost of confidence. Meanwhile Jonny Sweet is, as far as we can tell, still thinking about Arthur. Anna Crilly (famous for out-grumping Jack Dee in Lead Balloon) and Katy Wix (whose comedy career seems to have been a little misguided - to put it politely - until now) admirably manage to make their voices heard above the clanging of all that silverware, as they match - and at times better - their male counterparts in an exemplary display of physical comedy and the art of the arched eyebrow. There's a subtlety to Basden's humour which means that the cast's tools are not only what's said but also what's unsaid, and even silences that Pinter or John Cage would be proud of. The main narrative flows parallel to a series of rambling eddies which at times reveal telling new facets to the characters' beliefs, whilst others are left to hit a dead end of outright farce. When even garments can speak louder than words, it's clear that this is a work of comedic perfection.
See it whilst you can, as tickets are selling fast. It's a
shed summerhouse load of laughs.
Tickets £20, runs until 13 March
Tim Key's Slutcracker is running after the show too, if your sides aren't already split by then.