It is a rare thing to leave a theatre having been utterly blown away by a performance. It is rarer still that the performance in question has been entirely made up on the spot. Starring two-sevenths of the cast of the cult fringe hit Austentatious (an improvised "lost" Jane Austen novel), Folie a Deux is not only better than most sketch shows out there, but it's also a show you could see time and time again and still exit marvelling at its sheer ingenuity.
Their onstage chemistry is simply unbelievable, their comic timing impeccable.
Taking as their cue a single word from the audience, Charlotte Gittins and Andrew Hunter Murray begin with a series of one-man skits, finding a character and then riffing on the theme of the day. Then, when they've summoned their groove out of the thin air of Pleasance, comes comedy gold. Today's word was 'ruminant' - a tough adjective if ever there was one. But out of this apparently abstract and irrelevant heckle from the stalls, Gittins and Murray conjured wonders - a milkmaid from Alabama, the CEO of Papier Mache Shower Inc., bohemian temps at at a disco, a pilot terrified of flying, and a professor of Linguistics whose home’s 1st floor has subsided into a basement.
Folie a Deux refers to a psychiatric syndrome in which delusions are transferred from one individual to another; Gittins and Murray could not have chosen a more apt concept for their piece. Their onstage chemistry is simply unbelievable, their comic timing impeccable. Yes, there are moments when both performers have a lightbulb moment at the same instant and end up inadvertently talking over each other, but for the most part, their anticipation of each other's tone and mood for a scene or character is perfect. With so many scripted "improv" shows out there, it is refreshing to see two performers at the top of their game daring each other to go that extra mile and commit to not having a clue what's going to happen next. In other words, this is improv at its best, like you've never seen it before, and never will again.