Edinburgh 2013: Max and Ivan: The Reunion - Ingeniously plotted and zingily executed


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The Independent Culture

Sketch shows take one of two forms - a high-speed rattle through random gags or a narrative arc structured around more-or-less random gags. The latter can be tortuous, if not nonsensical but like Pappy's last year, Max and Ivan have hit upon the perfect vehicle for their sketch story this year. Their school reunion rom-com has plot and heart enough to stand alone but leaves space for plenty of playful messing around, too.

The central story is the classic 80s school movie plot of an unfortunate nerd, Brian (Ivan Gonzalez) who is out to win the heart of his high-school crush, Jessica (Max Olesker). As their relationship stutters along, their fellow reunion attendees emerge from behind the lockers - a Geography teacher who seduces with facts about oxbow lakes, a pair of feuding bandmates who argue only in musical puns and Andy Jones, the boy that no-one remembers, but soon will. 

The show is ingeniously plotted and zingily executed. Gonzalez invests Brian with real pathos while Cumberbatch-lookalike Olesker dazzles in the supporting roles, conjuring characters with a hint of an accent here, a raised eyebrow or crossed leg there. There are puppets, puns, songs and an enjoyable bit of audience interaction, all wrapped up in a spot-on late-90s soundtrack. By the time the feelgood ending hits, it's impossible to stop beaming. A joyous hour.

To 25 August (0131 556 6550)