A madcap romp through its creators’ bizarre imaginations,
Beneath its unsophisticated surface lies surprising wit.
The ensuing surreal, oddly touching advert about a rat-family and its self-sacrificing patriarch spins off into a narrative of its own, frequently reprised, which gives the show its tragicomic conclusion. It could be a blueprint for Clever Peter’s unfolding. One absurd concept is stacked atop another, becomes a third, and is acted out with a combination of riotous half-heartedness (cheap wigs, shoe-box props) and surprising skill (spot-on accents; Hartley’s mother-rat voice).
The send-ups of commercial jargon (“She consumes mainly through magazines”) and companies (Groupon, Lynx, McDonalds) are enjoyable, but it’s the trio’s fluid, hyperactive performance which really gets the audience going. The performers certainly have fun: at one point Bond, corpsing, turned his face from the stage as he shook with laughter. A kind of delighted redoubling of hysterics followed when the audience caught on.
Clever Peter won’t be to everyone’s taste. One scene staging a reality TV show episode involves a pot of jam and a dildo. But the audience seemed happy enough, and the sketch’s title — Would You Do This? — points up its satirical bent. Beneath its unsophisticated surface lies surprising wit.