Seasoned Professionals

It’s probably worth clarifying in the first sentence of this review that I was not expecting to be drawn into the bureaucratic complexities of being the Easter Bunny whilst at this Edinburgh Fringe. Such is Laughing Mirror’s Seasoned Professionals, a child-friendly (but also sufficiently adult) farce about chaos within the Department of Seasonal Mascots. The Easter Bunny is under review. Santa is top of the class for the umpteenth time running. Dracula and Guy Fawkes are best mates. It is, in every sense of the word, a romp. And within it there is a technical grace and attention to choreography which I was not expecting in something that (on the surface) could feel facile.

Laden with gags and many of them land haphazardly or are so crass that they elicit groans rather than laughter – but that is clearly the angle the show is aiming for.

Seasoned Professionals is not going to give you a dizzying and unflinching glimpse into the psychology of our species. It will not unbuckle the hearts and histories of characters so you can peruse their darkest and most tender secrets. It will not reveal inalienable truths that cut you to your core. It’s about a fight between the Easter Bunny and Santa. That’s what happens, that’s what Laughing Mirror are offering – a bouncy castle interpretation of your childhood. But this interpretation is so laden with (relentless) bad puns, bunny ears and bad Santa beards that in some way the farce is endearing.

The key point of praise here is that the ensemble choreography is actually really good. At moments, the entire cast move in sync with each other with such a reflexive grace it’s hard to reconcile the inane content with the uncompromising delivery. This is the backbone of farce – timing, delivery, meticulous attention to detail. Laughing Mirror do a good job of honouring their craft whilst being entirely ridiculous.

This narrative belongs to younger audiences. It is always hard to locate the right audience at the Fringe and on the day I reviewed the show, there were mainly adults attending and I felt a lot of the charm of the show was being wasted. It is a pantomime rather than a Pinter, and that is completely fine. Adults should be encouraged to bring their youngest to their show because that’s where the best audience reactions will be – in the youngest.

Seasoned Professionals does what it says on the tin. It is laden with gags and many of them land haphazardly or are so crass that they elicit groans rather than laughter – but that is clearly the angle the show is aiming for. It’s like a school play was fossilised in ice and has now been thawed, haggard and slightly decomposed, but with a relentless disposition to entertain you. It is a form of comic artillery where by virtue of being pounded inexorably, you will eventually find something funny.

Reviews by Skot Wilson

Royal Court Theatre

Shoe Lady

★★★
Royal Court Theatre

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★★★★
Lyttelton Theatre, National Theatre

Three Sisters

★★★★
Royal Court Theatre

Midnight Movie

★★★★★
Camden Peoples Theatre

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★★★
Coronet Theatre Ltd

A Letter to a Friend in Gaza

★★★★

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The Blurb

When government cuts hit the Department of Seasonal Mascots, Santa and friends panic! It soon becomes every man/woman/rabbit for themselves as they quickly sabotage each other’s festivals to keep their own jobs safe. You'd better watch out, the Claus are out and the halls aren't the only thing getting decked! Laughing Mirror return with a brand-new family farce, following three sell-out Edinburgh shows in two years – Guy Fawkes It Up, Framed! and Good Vibes Only. Previous Fringe praise: 'Could be the next new comedy to hit the West End' **** (Everything-Theatre.co.uk), **** (BroadwayBaby.com).

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