Watching Ellis and Rose in the dank damp of the Bunker gives a moment of odd synchronicity. The duo, dressed in matching tweeds, cut an oddly Beckett-esque silhouette, as if they were forced to seek shelter during a grouse shoot and have been locked down there together ever since, growing slowly more and more deranged.
That’s the tone they seem keen to preserve, with Sam Rose playing the disdainfully abusive straight man to Gareth Ellis’ PTSD-level psychosis. It’s a position which makes for an energetic, if extremely unnerving, interplay.
However, the problem with this show is an almost total lack of actual material. What small amount of scripted work they have written is a little juvenile. The longest sketch in the show revolves around cloning Hitler to promote a Third-Reich-themed novelty meat product and, as Prince Harry can attest, most people agree that Nazis aren’t that funny.
The duo play well off each other on stage but look underneath the shouting and the weirdness and there’s really very little there. This wasn’t a problem for the giggling teenagers in front of me but for a more mature audience, the noise wears thin pretty quickly. Once that happens, there’s not really too much to stay around for.
Still, I did laugh and there was a sense of aggressive energy to the show which was fairly invigorating. I’ll say this for them- they commit to keeping the action edgy. Sit in a corner and they’ll climb over people to get to you. Go to the back and you’ll just have to watch them running at you for longer. That at least is a refreshing change from most shows and it does keep you on your toes (if only to run away all the quicker).
In all honesty, it’s a pity Ellis and Rose have the slot they do. A little later in the evening and a couple of pints in, they’d have an audience they could really play with and draw into their strange and twisted world. But for occasions where they can’t rely on schoolies or cheerful drunks, a little planned material might be a wise investment of time.