Theatre review: A Joke

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Edinburgh Festival Fringe: A Scotsman, an Englishman and an Irishman are led into a void and don’t get what the punchline of their own joke is meant to be.

theSpace on Niddry Street (Venue 9)

***

They wear nightshirts and sandals, and explore a featureless landscape with only a medical couch placed in the midst of it.

Aware of the significance of their nationalities and with no memories of who they were before, they begin to explore the purpose of a joke to find out which one it is that they belong in, and therefore what the purpose of their existence is meant to be. It’s Waiting for Godot with gags straight from the music hall.

The three-handed cast includes ex-Doctor Who Sylvester McCoy, former Star Trek: Voyager doctor Robert Picardo and Richard Oliver; respectively, a Scotsman playing an Irishman, an American playing a Scotsman and a northern Englishman playing a southern Englishman, and these differences are remarked upon.

The audience is clearly swelled by some fans of McCoy and Picardo’s genre work, and writer/director Dan Freeman’s script doesn’t avoid in-jokes.

“Doctor, doctor,” begins Oliver, and both look up, while McCoy’s spoon-playing ability is deployed. It’s a simple fifty-minute sketch, but one that is designed to use the talents of the cast members to their full, with Oliver’s phlegmatic classical delivery playing well off McCoy and Picardo’s fierce ability as comic actors.

Until 26 August. Today 1:55pm.