Inspector Norse

For the most part, Inspector Norse is a traditional detective farce: plenty of awful puns, stereotyped characters and of nods to the Nordic crime dramas - most obviously The Killing - that it sends up. But there's a twist. Or rather, there are hundreds of twists and loops, all of them made with wool and needles. Yes, that's right, almost all of the props, much of the scenery, several items of costume and even some characters in Inspector Norse are entirely knitted.

Let's let that sink in. Not just knitted jumpers (although they feature) but knitted people, both puppets and human-scale knitted corpses. There is one location - a house - with a knitted actual-size exterior and a two-wall knitted interior. There is a knitted telephone, a knitted spanner, a whole knitted tea set. Including the tea. The attention to detail and sheer effort put into this production by Gwenda Hughes, Colin Eccleston and Ruta Staseviciute is stunning and there are plenty more surprises that I feel it imperative not to spoil for those who haven't already been.

This woollen aesthetic suits the cosiness of the play's tone. It is the ultimate antidote to the wannabe-edgy comedians and macho posturing that characterises some quarters of the comedy programme. There are no hard edges here: everything is soft, fuzzy and gentle. It's a warm production, not just because of all the woollens, but because of its big heart and sense of mischievous fun.

Everything else is really just a vehicle for these terrific props and set-pieces. The script - by performers Maggie Fox and Sue Ryding - is very old-fashioned. It's in the style of something like Leslie Nielsen's Police Squad but it lacks the pace demanded by this kind of farce and, although it can be very funny, some jokes get neither a laugh nor a groan. The video elements are perhaps its weakest link and lack the craft and consideration of the production’s other design work.

Still, if a little invention on an old theme is what you're after, you might be in for a treat with Inspector Norse. In particular, a murder enacted by puppets and sound-tracked entirely by vocals and Nordic flat-breads is one of the best stand-alone comedy scenes I've seen at the Fringe. Sit back and watch this woollen mystery unravel!

Reviews by Tom Moyser

Laughing Horse @ The Free Sisters

The Girl with the Hurricane Hands (and Other Short Tales of Woe)

★★★
Pleasance Courtyard

A Tale of Two Cities: Blood for Blood

★★
Traverse Theatre

Breakfast Plays: Tech Will Tear Us Apart (?)

★★★★
theSpace @ Jury's Inn

Droll

★★★★
Summerhall

The Castle Builder

★★★
Summerhall

4D Cinema

★★★★★

Performances

The Blurb

A self-assembly Swedish crime thriller from award-winning comedy duo LipService. Nordic noir comedy featuring a knitted set, a 70s pop band and some drunken moose. And that jumper! Like to knit for the show? Email knittingfornorse@gmail.com.