The Service

I went in expecting to hate FacePlant's The Service. Adverts for the show promise 'clowning', 'singing hymns', and 'consecrating the sacred cabbage', which together seemed like the worst way possible to spend a Tuesday night. Somehow, despite myself, I enjoyed experiencing all three of these deeply unpalatable things.

The story leaps down a series of narrative rabbit holes so depraved they make Charles Manson look like Julie Andrews.

The show follows members of a cult, sorry, 'family', intent on demonstrating their off-putting liturgy to potential converts in the audience along with justifying their unfavourable appearances on Crimewatch. They start off by ordering each audience member to sign a legally dubious looking 'waiver' before lapsing into several minutes of inbreeding-oriented prayer. While full-audience participation in this group worship is strictly enforced, the cast only break the fourth wall sparingly, with much of the show focusing on the protagonists' sordid origins and their prophetic and 'actual' father Ray.

The performers demonstrate chemistry which bubbles with such genuine incestuous tension that it was hard to believe that they weren't really at it backstage, and if they were, I'm grateful. Characters are well drawn and disturbing ('Moses' likes 'violence' and also 'fun', the latter punctuated with an upsetting hip-thrust), and the story leaps down a series of narrative rabbit holes so depraved they make Charles Manson look like Julie Andrews. The plot is surprisingly grounded and is dotted with moments of genuine pathos; imagine if Les Mis and Josef Fritzl's autobiography had a love-child and gave it up to Mr Blobby for adoption. Actually, don't. Just know that it's a great show which moves beyond its ostensible am-dram sensibilities, and I really hope the actors aren't related.

Reviews by Ben Munster

Spiegeltent at Southbank Centre

Marcel Lucont's Cabaret Fantastique

★★★★
King's Head Theatre Pub

The Service

★★★★
theSpace @ Symposium Hall

Afterhours Comedy: Amused Moose Comedy

★★★★★
Underbelly, Cowgate

UCL Graters: Smashing

★★★★
Assembly Roxy

Joanne McNally: Bite Me

★★★★
Laughing Horse @ The Counting House

Andy Stedman – Parental Guidance

★★

Performances

Location

The Blurb

After years in hiding, the lone surviving siblings of an extreme religious cult, are finally ready to tell their story. And they need you, to bear witness to a momentous occasion, which they believe will alter the very fabric of our world...The birth of the second coming.The Service will have the audience singing hymns, confessing sins, and consecrating the sacred cabbage. Literally.The prophecy has been written in alphabetti spaghetti, no one can doubt them now.This unique piece of comedy horror promises to chill, confuse and covert you. Drink the kool aid. Eat the cabbage.