Cardinal Burns

The best moments in Cardinal Burns’ victory lap run of six dates at the Fringe are when the duo ditch any notion of their characters resembling people in the real world and, a la Reeves & Mortimer, stretch out their mannerisms in the most grotesque and ridiculous way possible. This is crystallised in the crusading daftness of their intro, as they burst out dressed like two slightly weather-beaten Las Vegas entertainers - one of whom can’t quite control the movements of his mouth - and proceed to floss the mouths of the front row and have an ill-fated battle with a man dressed as a tiger in between some hilariously stilted staged ‘banter’. However, despite the willing stupidity that makes them such an entertaining proposition, the audience is made fully aware that Seb Cardinal and Dustin Demri-Burns are two extremely skilled actors.

Many of the characters previously introduced on their E4 TV show translate even better to a live format. Burns’ pseudo-urban spoken word poet is a particular example of a character made ten times better by the chemistry of live performance, providing a perfect platform for the clash between his middle class hypocrisy and the earnestness of his rhymes. Other sketches just work superbly through the confidence of these veteran performers – a chat show where a Foot Locker assistant is interviewed as though a major celebrity and a particularly macabre ‘makeover’ session display flawless character comedy within tightly written and idiosyncratic scenarios.

If there’s one criticism of the show, it’s one that can be levelled at a lot of sketch shows – the difficulty of ending sketches. Some great sketches seem to suddenly peter out – particularly the tongue-in-cheek tale of an Irish boxer’s rise to fame, which is curtailed at an apparently arbitrary point. Similarly, the end of the show, a singalong led by two sexually frustrated Turkish cab drivers, doesn’t exhibit their main strengths. However, despite these minor issues, the bulk of this show exhibits two supremely talented sketch comedians at the peak of their powers.

Reviews by Adam Lebovits

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The Blurb

Fresh from their E4 series, Cardinal Burns invite us into their surreal and offbeat world, and unleash a cast of uniquely funny characters along the way. ‘Endlessly creative and wonderfully funny’ (TimeOut). Special guests: Worm Hotel. **** (Guardian).

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