The Establishment: Eton Mess

Satire can often be found at the root of absurdism. Usually when the world gets too unusual to be commented on accurately through traditional means, artists look to surreal narratives and comedy to express astute views.The Establishment continues in this grand tradition as they turn the familiar idea of a classic, Morecombe and Wise-esque double act into an attempt at a scathing indictment of the British upper class. However, the extent to which they offer new insight into political affairs or new reaches into the realms of absurdism is questionable. The Establishment have the basis of a novel double act in their grasp, but Eton Mess proves they do not yet offer enough of a unique viewpoint to make all their erratic behaviour worthwhile.

As long as they are willing to simply skim the surface of what they are trying to say in favour of cheap punchlines, The Establishment’s absurdist tendencies will continue to lack the bite they need to find success.

The Establishment are a sketch double act who craft absurd whimsy from broad stereotypes of the English upper class. The broad understanding that they are out-of-touch, ignorant and unwilling to change is well and truly skewered over the course of this hour. However, this idea fails to develop at all past the initial concept and said concept is nothing new to anyone in the audience. The Establishment, as performers, are undoubtedly clowns, with many of their sketches hinging far more on expression and physicality than solidly-crafted punchlines. While it is perhaps more excusable that clown acts work more broadly with stereotypes than with specific, cogent political statements, The Establishment’s lack of depth is truly exhausting after an hour.

The Establishment are accomplished physical performers who both have a way with words and their delivery. In addition, if they were to not draw quite such a strong and obvious influence from Reeves & Mortimer they would have the makings of a very original comic voice. It is completely possible that eventually The Establishment will be able to craft a dark, satirical, surreal hour of dissent against the ruling class. However, as long as they are willing to simply skim the surface of what they are trying to say in favour of cheap punchlines, The Establishment’s absurdist tendencies will continue to lack the bite they need to find success.

Reviews by Charlie Ralph

Pleasance Courtyard

Ciarán Dowd: Don Rodolfo

★★★★
Pleasance Courtyard

Sarah Keyworth: Dark Horse

★★
Summerhall

The Basement Tapes

★★★★★
Assembly George Square Studios

Kate Berlant: Communikate

★★★★
Assembly Hall

Legacy: A Mother's Song

★★★★

Performances

Location

The Blurb

Side-splitting, stiff upper-lipped hilarity from energetic duo Dan Lees and Neil Frost. Two ultra-privileged British gents struggling to hold onto their whimsical world of cricket, tea and secret arms deals. 'Another much-needed chapter in our national legacy of lampooning the powers that be, building on Peter Cook, the Pythons and The Fast Show... You can imagine this going down very well indeed at the Palladium or the BBC' **** (Stage). 'They don't miss a beat' **** (Skinny). 'One of the best shows I've seen' ***** (MumbleComedy.net). NATY New Act of the Year finalists 2017. www.establishmentcomedy.co.uk