First Night: Perrier winners' surreal comedy served chilled and polar bears

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The Arctic Boosh

Hen & Chickens Theatre


THE COMEDIANS Julian Barrett and Noel Fielding have a lot to live up to after winning the Perrier Best Newcomer Award for their show, "The Mighty Boosh", last year.

You may have seen Barrett on the telly in the Metz ad; the freelance scientist with an eye-patch. A burly lad from Leeds, Fielding claims to have the hair of a Sixties girl. Together they are just beautiful to watch. The chemistry balances an old-fashioned slap-stick double act performed with perfect choreography and some of the most original material you'll see on the comedy circuit.

There seemed to be no boundaries to their visions. This year ,they have Stewart Lee, (of BBC2's This Morning With Richard Not Judy) script editing and the result is a much cleaner, tighter flow to the show.

With just two more opportunities to perform "Arctic Boosh" in London before taking it to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, the lads 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 bluepostal worker shirts, await news of their new postal routes while discussing the benefits of using the Montague, rather than the Hoffman, method to wrap parcels.

Spain a first choice and the Arctic a scary last choice...or so we're led to believe. With such an expanse of imagery, it's crucial to have the structure and plot detail to really let the lads 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 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 the Jiffy Bag God.

The Arctic is then created, complete with polar bear; to say more would give away the end.