Lunchtime For Llamas

Sat 2nd – Fri 15th August 2014

reviews

Patrick Galbraith

at 10:14 on 7th Aug 2014

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Constructive criticism is pleasant but here I find myself struggling. Lunchtime for Llamas was a confusing and deeply uncomfortable 37 minutes: I counted every one of them. 25% of the audience left half-way through (though this play, like many others at the Fringe, were suffering from competition and rather a meagre audience in the first place). Had I not been duty bound to stay for “reviewing purposes”, I might have fled too.

The opening sketch of the show was set in a library, in a toe-curling pastiche of an Agatha Christie murder mystery. In this frankly bizarre skit, the two animate cast members lacked any real comic spark, and relied overmuch on the rubber sex doll which constituted the third member.

As the murder mystery clanged to a nauseatingly bad close, a line of dialogue struck me – “I just want it to be over at this point”. I am entirely unaware of what he was talking about in the context of the play but yes, we really did just want it all to be over that point.

Lunchtime for Llamas was a comedy without an iota of “comedy“ about it. The jokes that I remember, I remember because they were offensive. There was something about Father Christmas too - he had had a very public and scandalous affair, he therefore had to leave the North Pole and make a new life for himself. The premise had some mileage, it could have been good, but with all the delivery and charm of a muddy puddly, Lunchtime for Llamas ruined the joke entirely.

At one point, the male cast member asked a member of the audience for a ring, (as part of a skit about marrying his wife). The audience member pulled his phone from his pocket and held it to his ear, “it’s ringing”, he laughed – I smiled – it’s an odd and tragic moment when the only vaguely amusing part of a comedy sketch show is an interjection from an audience member.

And then it was announced that it was finally all over, the tone was apologetic – “thanks for coming, that’s us finished”. My fellow reviewer and I stepped outside into the late afternoon sun; we didn't speak for a while. Neither of us knew what to say – there was really nothing one could say.

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Emily Brearley-Bayliss

at 11:07 on 7th Aug 2014

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I find myself unable to recommend what was supposed to be a comedy sketch show. It’s very difficult to pick out any redeeming features of Lunchtime for Llamas. The venue, a cool, if slightly cheesy bar, seemed like it would have been a nice place for a night out if it weren’t for the performers. I can’t decide if the sparsely populated audience, made up of four whole people, made the painfully unfunny jokes more or less awkward.

The two performers lacked confidence in their delivery, which impacted negatively on the performance as a whole. A trope of many of the sketches seemed to be that of things going wrong in performances – a murder mystery wherein one of the actors has not turned up and the two remaining ones read slowly and statically from scripts – but it was sometimes difficult to draw the line between what was intended humour and was plain incompetence.

The overwhelming impression that I got from the actors was that they were not really bothered, and weren’t really trying to make the characters in any way convincing or funny. I found my attention constantly wandered, from the garish decoration of the room to the men fixing the roof outside.

Overall, the play was shockingly under-prepared. Lines were constantly forgotten, the sketches lacked any attempt at humour or wit, and about ten minutes in, a man in the audience had to stop them to ask if they could turn off the eighties soundtrack that was playing in the background and almost drowning them out. The very same man actually made the show, with an improvised phone call during some gut-wrenchingly uncomfortable audience participation that was funnier than the rest of the skits put together.

Amongst the few jokes that were distinguishable as such, the only comedy was vulgar and offensive. Even when done well, jokes involving blow up sex dolls and Anne Frank are dodgy ground. This show is part of the Free Fringe, but is just not up the to standard of comedy that is on offer at the rest of the festival.

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