The Artisan

Arguably, we are witnessing what one might describe as a ‘vintage turn’ in stage-performance. For balls, parties and music nights the cabaret of the early Twentieth Century provides fashionable inspiration, while in comedy the music hall is also a desirable influence. For some, like Bob and Jim with Modern Urges, this is a successful and charming selling point. For others, The Cheeky Beggars included, it is a risky gimmick which fails to pay off.Part cause of this is a failure to bring the form up to date. I would not claim that new is best. Far from it. For me, performance comedy has progressed and the old styles cannot be revisited without a very fresh and ironic take. This, from The Cheeky Beggars, is not forthcoming.Which is unfortunate, as their execution is excellent. The physical gags are well handled, and the lines delivered beautifully. The archaic language really lends itself to rhythmic and melodramatic tones, and the dialogue is snappy. The staging too is cunning, with excellent use of a trunk and step-ladder, and a brilliant evocation of the trenches. All in all the performance is very slick and polished.The jokes, however, are simply too crude, even childish, to be anything more than diverting. I had the strange feeling of having heard them all already, and while I am not accusing them of plagiarism this is indicative of the outdated nature of their material. Their story, too, hampers them considerably, hanging together in only the loosest and most unsatisfactory way, and with an ending that leaves the audience confused and almost completely cold.In the end, The Artisan is only a partially successful example of an out-moded performance style, and will leave you disappointed.

The Blurb

The Cheeky Beggars 'sheer comedic joy' ***** (BroadwayBaby.com). **** (ThreeWeeks) return with a blackly comic jaunt through the imagination of two writers as they attempt to tell the greatest story never told. Featuring clowning, physical comedy and puppetry.