Comedy: Chilled to perfection

ARCTIC BOOSH HEN AND CHICKENS THEATRE LONDON
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The Independent Culture
JULIAN BARRATT and Noel Fielding have a lot to live up to, having won the Perrier Best Newcomer Award for their show The Mighty Boosh last year. You may have seen Barrett on TV in the Metz ad; the freelance scientist with an eye-patch who talks about the drink monkeying around with the periodontal atrium. Barratt describes himself as a burly lad from Leeds; Fielding, on the other hand, claims to have the hair of a Sixties girl. But together they are just beautiful to watch. The chemistry between them balances an old-fashioned slapstick double act, perfectly choreographed, with some of the most original and surreal material on the comedy circuit. There seems to be no boundaries to their vision.

Stewart Lee (of BBC2's This Morning With Richard Not Judy) is their new script-editor, and the result is a much cleaner, tighter flow than last year. With just two more performances before they transfer to this year's Edinburgh Fringe Festival, they would be forgiven for breaking into a cold sweat. But not these two.

The set is a post office and the boys, decked out in blue short-sleeved postal worker shirts, await news of their new routes while discussing the benefits of using the Montague rather than the Hoffman method to wrap parcels. Spain is their first choice and the Arctic a scary last choice... or so we're led to believe. Particularly with such an expanse of imagery, it's crucial to have the structure and plot detail to really let the duo breathe and fly.

There are mad twists and turns as the two talk about their respective uncles: Uncle Pedro, the fisherman who fished in his head to the dismay of the locals, and Uncle Boris, whose laughter had frozen inside him like a little white nipple, after a postal route in the Arctic.

The show then steps up to another level as we discover that one of the postal workers is in fact a professor on the hunt for the egg of the Mantumbi - under instruction from a jiffy bag god. The Arctic is then created, complete with polar bear. To say any more would give away the ending.

Further performances 19 & 26 July. Booking: 0171-704 2001. A version of this review appeared in later editions of yesterday's paper

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