Tuesday, August 07, 2007

"The Butler Did It!?" - Edinburgh Fringe 2007

As someone who has always felt the works of Agatha Christie and her ilk take themselves far too seriously I was really looking forward to seeing "The Butler Did It!?" but twenty minutes in I was surprised to find myself mentally preparing a review that was starting to look like a hatchet job. I was however, even more surprised to find that by the end of the show they had managed to turn things around and I left with a grin on my face.

The set-up is simple - rich old bloke gathers family member to inform them of his will and then finds himself bumped off, with all in attendance considered suspects by the crime-solving old biddy. The problem is that the humour required really struggles in the first half and isn't strong enough, often enough to gain any momentum. There was a good deal of laughter in the audience but much of it seemed to be of the 'laughing-at-my-friend-doing-something-silly' variety rather than down to the writing, which at time dropped to schoolboy humour (Fanny/Dick & the hotdog scene spring to mind)

But what a turnaround! From the 'gene pool' gags onwards the quality really improves and a very nice set-piece involving voiceovers, combined with the realisation that the timeline isn't quite as it seems bring us towards a reveal that was genuinely laugh-out-loud funny.

The performances were all good - particularly "Lauren Silver" as the quirkily unstable "Faith", Amie Burns Walker as "Gertie" and Gemma McElhinney as "Miss Marbles". During the final musical number "Crime Doesn't Pay" (one of two in the show) Kevin Quinn notes one crime that does pay - well I think he can add his own show stealing performances in both of his roles to that particular list.

I'm glad I saw this and really enjoyed the second half, which more than made up for a definite feeling of wasted potential early on. In a similar fashion I have to note that the programme produced for the show (£1 charge) is an excellent example of what these should be, with detailed cast info, images and show notes. But guys if you put your website on the programme - make sure there is something to see!

Addendum: Some content has now been added to their website.

"The Butler Did It!?" runs at Roman Eagle Lodge until the 26th at 13:10.