The Big Bite-Size Breakfast /Matinee Shows

The concept of Bite Size is a perfectly simple, yet novel one, and the clue really is in the title. Six short plays in just over an hour. Already a hit at the Edinburgh Fringe with a nod from Carol Tambor, making it into her shortlist of shows that had a chance to transfer to New York last year.Expectations, therefore, are understandably high, and for the most part these guys deliver on their implied promises. As you would expect, some bits are better than others though, and the strongest point is served first from Paul Hayes and Andy Welch in Gods And Zombies, a furiously-paced tale that borrows unapologetically from B-movie clichés on the premise our heroes have been holed-up for some time in a church surrounded by zombies with only Pot Noodles for sustenance. Out of this scenario, Trevor, who is delightfully played by Paul Hayes, quickly comes to the shaky-but-amusing conclusion that the existence of zombies equals the existence of God, and much of the theological dialogue that ensues is how best to get into heaven since both suicide and murder would be considered mortal sins. The characters are wonderfully comic, and I could have happily watched this diegesis for much longer than the self-imposed ten-minute time limit. Whilst the play that followed, Moving Fast, was a witty extrapolation of what can happen in the time it takes pop out to buy milk, it felt like a drawn-out sketch in the wake of the initial Zombie-fest. Indeed, the uneven acting, unsure delivery and charity-shop costumes did make Moving Fast look a little like under-rehearsed filler.Next up was a quirky idea, Life As A Jerry Springer Show. Andy Cam, who directed himself as host Jerry, drew a predictable caricature as he introduced friends Tom (Paul Hayes), Amy (Danielle White) and barman Brandon (Lewis Reid). These three set up an initial premise, and then with a fast lighting change, Jerry comes on with a choice of options of where the story should go next. As you would expect from the title of this segment, these options take our players down paths that would normally lead to a trailer in the American mid-West. Today's audience decided Tom has slept with his best friend's mother, Amy is sleeping with Brandon, and Brandon is a stripper who wants to sleep with them both. It worked, and though the gag was effectively the same throughout, the interactive nature kept the audience rapt.I wasn't as sure with the fourth helping, The Interpreter. Julian McDowell and Trevor Scales played US and Russian officials Richard and Ghyrgiu respectively, with Sophie Dearlove translating between the two. Again this suffered from feeling a little drawn out, as the humour was mostly found in Trevor Scales' comedy accent. Following this piece, the penultimate offering, Favour For The Boss, attempted to find humour in the idea that a mob boss had asked one of his henchman to sleep with him. The acting from Miranda Christides and Andy Cam as protagonists Trish and Boris was some of the finest on display during the whole of today's performance, but the joke just wasn't strong enough to sustain it. It also suffered slightly from Cam's authentic Godfatheresque accent being lost in the reverb of the Unitarian Church's lofty space.There was recovery in the final throes, Up The Hilary Duff. Imagine Marjorie Dawes has relinquished her post at Fat Fighters and was instead leading classes for mums-to-be. That's kind of the set up here - minus Marjorie's waistline. There's clearly much comedy to mine in this arena, and Sophie Dearlove as class-leader Suzy, finds it eschewing the traditional pre-natal advice in favour of delivery-room beauty tips and recipes for cooking the placenta.Overall then, and entertaining show with some weak areas, but enough excellent material to compensate. I will point out at this stage, despite the earliness of the hour, the language is robust from the outset - so probably not one for the kids. I'd be tempted to argue the unabashed comic nature of all the plays would make this a better fit in the comedy section of the programme than theatre; but I'm not really going to press the point because I'm still tittering to myself about Paul Hayes' death wish hero. Enjoy.

Reviews by Pete Shaw

Assembly George Square Studios

The House

★★★★★
theSpace on the Mile

Grace Notes

★★★
Greenwich Theatre

The Jungle Book

★★★
Greenwich Theatre

A Midsummer Night's Dream

★★★★
Multiple Venues

A Spoonful Of Sherman

★★★★★
Pleasance Theatre

Assassins

★★★★

The Blurb

Two exciting, delicious play-mixes of ten-minute comedies, eccentricities, dramas! 2008 Angel Winners, Edinburgh Fringe First nominees & Top 5 Carol Tambor “Best of Edinburgh” Award. With free ice cream!!