Café Ruse

Café Ruse is a kooky, energetic piece of theatre that’s quite unlike anything else I’ve seen on the Fringe. It’s surreal and very over-the-top and could have become false or clichéd, yet it somehow manages to find a cartoonish, inventive style instead. It’s so highly stylised that it takes a few minutes to wrap your head around it, but once you’re used to it, it’s hilarious and endearingly eccentric.

The play is layer upon layer of energy. Silly theme tunes and ridiculous dancing accompany each scene change.

Due to a very unfortunate and entirely accidental incident involving a calamitous baker last year, the charming and homely Café Ruse is being sued for £60,000...and the owner and patrons have two days to find the money. Cue a madcap adventure with fifty extraordinary characters (all played by the cast of four), heavily featuring tea, badgers, and half-convincing wigs. When so many big character choices are being made so quickly, there are going to be some that end up being quite similar or desperately exaggerated, but most of them are distinct and believable. Martha Shrimpton makes particularly convincing and enjoyable character decisions.

The play is layer upon layer of energy. Silly theme tunes and ridiculous dancing accompany each scene change. The performances are highly physical, with leaps and bounds over the furniture, keeping the audience constantly engaged and involved. The cast are very self-aware, delibering knowing winks to the audience after every terrible pun and mouthing silent apologies to us for clunky dialogue or wardrobe malfunctions. This friendly atmosphere puts us on their side. If something goes wrong--and in a batty and high energy piece like this, things go wrong--the cast skilfully improvise their way out of it with committed and comical spontaneity. It's not really a children's show, but the peculiar style could lend itself to that audience. However, what really stands out in this this farce are the moments of unexpected poignancy, which are completely believable and quickly silence the otherwise constant laughter.

This sugar sweet comedy is totally surprising, highly unusual and, most of all, very funny.

Reviews by Cara Ballingall

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The Blurb

The quaint, and ever so English, Café Ruse is being shut down, which forces an unlikely team of outcasts to prepare for the biggest heist of their lives. Although their plan seems simple, the group soon run into trouble with unplanned murders, mistaken identity, love smitten gang members, revealed secrets and a not so successful criminal operation. Café Ruse is a gripping farce: a tale of lies, deceit, guns, tea, cake and unplanned murders. Fifty characters, four actors and one mission to steal the most valuable piece of art in the world.