Edinburgh Festival '99: Fringe - Comedy

COMEDY Mitchell and Webb: the Mitchell and Webb Story The Observer Assembly, Venue 3 (0131-226 2428), 9.30pm, to 30 Aug
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The Independent Culture
There ought to be a warning attached to this show. Right from the start, your brain is taken for a surreal roller-coaster-ride in which the riddle of the Sphinx is linked with dog-eating, the Salieri-Mozart rivalry is re-written for toupee-obsessed magicians, and Ned Sherrin is implicated as a murderer.

No cultural reference is safe - whether it's a cereal slogan, a detective series, or Paul Daniels. And if you've never asked questions before, such as "Does the Statue of Liberty wear pants?", this is probably the evening for you.

Mitchell and Webb have created a mind-bending world, piling up layers of unrelated ideas to create the most perverse of satirical sandwiches. Imagine Fry and Laurie with a twist of Monty Python, and you might begin to be prepared for a show which is as unremitting in its experimentalism as it is sharply clever.

The only problem is that their risky comedy sometimes flounders into hit-and-miss territory, but it's worth negotiating the course just to enjoy sequences such as the frustrated gambling penguin.

If you prefer knob gags and comedy cliches, I would stay away.

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