Maurice Cock and Belvedere Bagg model their show as a lesson in how to act. Classical music on arrival sets a tone of sophistication along with their all black dramatist outfits, Scottish berets and thespian eloquence. However, one of their black garments of clothing happens to be underpants – worn on the outside of their black tights. This and the tacky plastic skull in the corner of the set should be taken as the first warning signs that something is rotten in the state of Denmark.
A Modern Guide to Acting is anything but refined and rather a screwball commentary on how actors can become incredibly pretentious under the pretence of refinement. Cock and Bagg take on the roles of two middle-aged, haughty but failing actors, beginning by talking us through the ‘history of theatre’, before outlining the different types of theatre and the effect it has on actors who are ‘up their own arses’. They also dished out a few pieces of advice about always hamming up performances to the max and trying to attract as much attention as possible whilst on-stage.
It sometimes had the feel of an extended Little Britain sketch as the pair work so well together: Maurice as the older, more debonair of the comedy duo and Bagg the larger, ginger and zanier one who would get more carried away in his moments of improv. The bitchy remarks tossed back and forth over Maurice’s age and Belvedere’s weight never got old and caused raucous laughter throughout. Always perfectly in character and packed with energy, they really showed slapstick at its best, with bottoms and prostitutes coming up in their material more times than can be accurately counted.
Although audiences after a more subtle wit should stay clear of this production, those after something ragingly silly should race down to the Counting House to ensure a seat for the performance.