Theatre: Surrealists on ice
ARCTIC BOOSH LYRIC STUDIO, HAMMERSMITH LONDON
Many people in the audience at Arctic Boosh may have felt exactly the same way - but they are supposed to. Surrealism is a grievously overworked word in comedy these days, applied to any old substandard Bob, Vic or Harry. But Julian Barratt and Noel Fielding's two-man show truly merits the epithet. It is Surrealist with a capital S. Like the Magritte painting of a train emerging from a fireplace, Arctic Boosh deliberately juxtaposes the most absurdly incongruous elements.
The show opens with an inexplicable scene of two men in wolf masks and red cagoules dancing round a sparkly egg on an iceberg - and just gets more incomprehensible from there on. At one point, Noir (played by Fielding) tells his boss, Howard Moon (Barratt), that he couldn't fetch a list of new postal routes because "my eyebrows came alive and took me to the German moon."
In Booshworld, it is perfectly normal to see a man wearing a poncho, a sombrero, a balaclava, Polo mints over his eyes and catfish tendrils in his mouth - for no discernible reason. The point is, there is no point.
The show could easily suffer from a bad dose of Emperor's New Clothes. It must be a piece of cake, you say to yourself, to create a comedy act just by chucking together at random a few unrelated references to Savlon and Jiffy bags. But this sort of show is not as easy as it looks. It takes a lot of preparation to make things appear so unprepared.
Barratt and Fielding are also beguiling performers, able to win audiences over with a mixture of dance, rap and slapstick (Fielding has a great time with a pair of comedy snow-shoes). And they can do gags, too. When Moon is sent to ply the Arctic postal route on his own, he is so lonely he is reduced to addressing the elements. "Wind, my only friend," he declares - only to hear it whisper back: "I hate you."
Arctic Boosh is never going to win any awards for plotting, depth of characterisation or the ability to keep a straight face. But it scores as an infectious celebration of daftness. It's as mad as a waltzing yeti.
To 8 Jan, 0181-741 2311
Arts & Ents blogs
There is a good many moments in the second episode of this psychological thriller that deserve refle...
The opening titles squeal ‘Never Can Say Goodbye…’. Oh Lord how I wish I could heave this series off...
Even though there was a complete absence of our favourite odd couple Brienne and Jaime, we got anoth...
'He was lucky he didn't die' - George Michael fell out of speeding car onto M1 motorway, according to eye witness
Brian May: The Voice is the dullest, dumbest, most depressing programme on TV
Coronation Street triumphs over EastEnders at British Soap Awards 2013
The Freemasons' Code: Dan Brown reveals the message that told him the door to the lodge is open
Tacky or just plain weird? Gallery in Hamburg holds exhibition dedicated to bad taste
- 1 Terror at Woolwich barracks: Attacker tried to behead and disembowel British soldier
- 2 Mothers' diets may harm IQs in two-thirds of babies
- 3 Gay couple beaten in park urge MPs to moderate language on gay marriage
- 4 After woman sells virginity for $780,000, here are the results of our prostitution survey
- 5 Far-right French historian, 78-year-old Dominique Venner, commits suicide in Notre Dame in protest against gay marriage
BMF is the UK’s biggest and best loved outdoor fitness classes
Find out what The Independent's resident travel expert has to say about one of the most beautiful small cities in the world
Win anything from gadgets to five-star holidays on our competitions and offers page.