Theatre review: Arm '“ Mireille & Mathieu

Edinburgh Festival Fringe: There's a naked Barbie doll attacking a naked Ken.

Summerhall (Venue 26)


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Now Ken is being nailed to a cross: he’s not Ken, he’s Jesus! And pinned to his two planks of wood, he soars through the sky like a rocket. In the middle of a jam-packed set – full of toys, clothes and bric-a-brac – Flemish clowns Mireille and Mathieu create surreal sketches that constantly backfire, giving them a literal slap in the face (or pretty much anywhere else). If there was a game called Performers against Props, they’d have made it.

Boxing babies, a malfunctioning puppet theatre, a “dog” who gets zapped back on his ever-shortening lead: it’s the kind of slapstick that, despite (or perhaps because of) the odd bit of swearing and toy disfigurement, children would find hilarious.

Yet creator-performers Kathleen Wijnen and Erik Bassier subvert everyday objects so skilfully, it’s delightfully silly entertainment for all ages. A decision to repeat one of the best routines until the audience get sick of it, in an audacious attempt to undermine their own show, treads a fine line between being tedium and brilliance. It would also be great to see what the pair could do with a bigger, single story, rather than episodic sketches, fun as these are.

Until 27 August. Today 4:20pm.