Farce Noir Presents... The Big Sheep

This delightfully daft and silly send-up of ‘50s film noir is gleefully performed in one of the oddest venue spaces I’ve come across. There is barely a stage in Udderbelly’s new venue, yet this did not affect the sprightly and very game four young actors who presented their shaky but amusing pastiche. After a nicely scripted introduction which included an amusing apology for the limitations of the set, we are instantly taken into the shifty shadows of a typically pulp-filled tale of femme fatales, double crossing and, erm, killer sheep. Our hero amusingly narrates the tale at opportune moments and there is an effectively moody atmosphere created early on with excellent choices in music and costume. The cast are all very game with a few familiar faces from other successful shows at the festival this year and from previous years.

Sadly, there is one nearly fatal mistake with this show. The actors continually come out of character for uncomfortably unfunny scripted moments that involve talking to an imaginary agent in the audience or talking about their training. It really dislodges the show from what has the potential to be a tremendously effective genre parody. Instead this persistent post-modern breaking of the fourth wall completely breaks the flow to an unnecessary extent. This isn’t to say that there are not some moments of genius, such as the main hero insisting that only he must narrate the story and not the other characters, cleverly playing up to the tricks of the genre. Yet even if the out of character humour had of been successful, it would still seem that the company didn’t have enough faith in their own story and characters that they decided to then poke fun at themselves. When the company comes up with some side-splittingly funny and creative moments such as the cardboard cut-out chase sequence or sends up any of the tropes of the genre, the comedy reaches its highs. This is a show that needs a rethink if it is to be developed further, yet one definitely worth seeing this year for some classy spot-on parody.

Reviews by Stewart McLaren

Online at www.DavidLeddy.com (with Traverse Theatre)

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The Blurb

It's 1951. Foot, a hard-boiled detective, was about to be made over easy for a dame. Dangerously playful multi-character comedy starring Richard Soames (The Beta Males), Briony Redman, Paul Foxcroft and Charlotte Gittins.