Max & Ivan: Our Story

Max & Ivan are celebrating the anniversary of when they met – and having in recent years become a staple of the Fringe, it’s easy to understand why. Their brand of slick sketch comedy is an unmissable part of the festival for the comedy aficionado (though if you’re a comedy aficionado, you probably already knew that). In a departure from last year’s world-building apocalyptic spectacular The End, they’ve chosen a more personal theme for 2016’s delightful and unexpectedly heart-warming show, Our Story.

Delivers on a surprisingly heart-warming tale of friendship.

It’s impossible not to love Max & Ivan from the moment they burst onto the stage, all confetti and rollerskates. There’s a definite care for production value that sets Max and Ivan aside from other sketch shows, making them absolutely peerless when it comes to a comedy show you just can’t take your eyes off of. There are extra visual gags dotted throughout the show which pop out when you least expect them, and the fact that the performers take it into their stride without breaking character is a mark of polished professionalism whilst still delivering a show that’s silly as anything.

The plot flashes back to the summer of 2000, where the duo meet on the border of a Scout camp and wrestling boot camp. There’s a great scope for meeting plenty of characters, though there’s a level of restraint not to introduce too many plotlines beyond Max’s quest to become great wrestler Max Voltage and Ivan’s determination to become the Best Scout. The two 2000 sub-plots and the modern day plotline (where Max struggles to break some news to Ivan) do make the conceit feel limited when compared to the duo’s previous shows, but the show whizzes by so quickly with enough plot packed into the two tales that it doesn’t feel like the performance suffers from this decision. Quicker members of the audience will be able to see the odd joke coming, or second guess a recurring gag, but that doesn’t mean it won’t hit home all the same.

It’s not all schmaltz and nostalgia as Max & Ivan’s trademark dark humour is still found abundant in Our Story, although the finale does pack quite the unexpected emotional punch. It’s clear that the show’s a labour of love, and the real chemistry between the double act comes to the fore, pitched just right to feel sentimental without being needlessly so. That’s after plenty of thrills and spills en route: even past terrifying Akelas and a fantastic piece of audience involvement, the comedy act delivers on a surprisingly heart-warming tale of friendship. 

Reviews by Louise Jones

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The Blurb

It's time to get personal. In an extraordinary true story, Foster's Edinburgh Comedy Award nominees Max & Ivan (BBC Two's W1A, BBC Radio 4's Casebook of Max and Ivan) introduce the world to two never-before-seen characters; themselves. Directed by Tom Parry. 'Astonishing: fast-paced and unflaggingly funny' ***** (Times). 'Truly outstanding individual performances' ***** (Edinburgh Evening News). 'Phenomenal range of talent' ***** (Mirror). 'First-rate comic acting' **** (Scotsman). 'Max and Ivan are the real deal' **** (Guardian). 'Immaculate' **** (Sunday Times). 'Max and Ivan ooze class' **** ( 'Undoubtedly superstars of tomorrow' (GQ).