Guilt & Shame: Addicted to Everything

Fri 9th – Sun 25th August 2013

reviews

Natasha Hyman

at 09:51 on 14th Aug 2013

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From its title, you could mistake this show for a pretty heavy play. Although it’s an obscene comedy double-act, Gabriel Bisset-Smith and Robert Cawsey are evidently prepared to go to every extreme, and this includes their subject matter.

The pair mix straightforward humour with controversial material. A “prostitute” waltzes on stage and hits Gabe full on with a Strongbow can: no pretense here. Simultaneously, Rob is yelling ‘I want to party!!’ This feels like a kids TV programme for adults, a pantomime gone horribly and hilariously wrong.

Stand-out sketches included Gabe’s coked-up dance routine, his granny's song about dick, and Rob’s ketamine trip, where we hear his distorted thoughts. Rob’s facial expressions throughout were hysterical; I especially enjoyed his forlorn face which makes two appearances on stage. The use of a mind-reading app to discover the secret addictions of audience members was a particularly clever device.

Gabe and Rob also aren’t afraid of making humour out of serious topics. A particularly ingenious moment was where Rob had an argument with God about homosexuality: God claiming that he "tried to wipe out all the gays with AIDS” had Rob and the audience aghast, laughing awkwardly at the sheer outrageousness of this gag.

There were many moments which had the audience gasping at the controversy. Most notably, the sketch which depicted the rape of a swan; this was particularly uncomfortable to watch, and, I would argue, should be removed from the show. Other than this, the controversial elements were effectively tongue-in-cheek or satirical. This duo have the ability to enact your nightmares in a terrifyingly hilarious manner.

Audience participation was a particular highlight of the show, making me suspect that the chosen participants were planted. It didn’t matter if they were, as it was hilarious either way. Perhaps steer clear of the front row if you don’t want to be grinded on. I had tears in my eyes when an audience member had to wank off multiple imaginary penises. Like many of their sketches, this just sounds disgusting when described, but was set up in a brilliantly funny way.

If you want a distasteful sketch show to put you in the mood for a night out, then go and see this. It isn’t comedy for the faint-hearted though; strictly no prudes for this one.

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Imogen O'Sullivan

at 10:07 on 14th Aug 2013

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We enter the world of ‘Guilt and Shame: Addicted to Everything’ to the dulcet tones of the Lighthouse Family, and are asked to share around pens in order to write our own name tags, already fostering a sense of collaboration and, dare I say it, participation.

The premise of an Addicts Anonymous meeting reeks of originality, and it’s clear that Gabriel Bisset-Smith and Robert Cawsey have put a lot of thought and a great deal of wit into their creation. The Mindreader app, used to reveal the darkest addictions of their audience members, is a clever way of including us without risking reticent participants – an original and entertaining comedic tool that allowed me to finally voice my debilitating parody-song habit.

Bisset-Smith and Cawsey have produced a show brimming with energy and ideas, flicking between forms and genres with skill and panache, never allowing the audience’s attention to wane as we watch them perform everything from pornographic mime, to parody song, to slow-motion dance-off, to theological debate.

There were points in this show where I worried real humour was being replaced by gratuitous controversy – the graphic rape of a swan was really quite unpleasant to watch – but, somehow, the charm and charisma of the pair carried them through. They skilfully balanced shock-factor comedy with likeable quirkiness, often at their funniest when displaying the latter – the recurring Downton Abbey theme music, Gabe’s performance of ‘I’m a Scatman’, and Rob wielding milk as a miming prop, were personal highlights.

The debate between a homophobic Texan God, and a painfully camp Satan, characterises the comedy of ‘Guilt and Shame’. The pair don’t shy away from contemporary issues, performing skits on religion, politics, and sex. Actually, lots on sex. I worry towards the end that they are going to lapse into moralising, or try and convey some sort of message, and their work doesn’t need to resort to this, it stands alone. Gabe oozes charisma, whilst Rob revels in exceptional physical comedy, but the two are at their most endearing when making each other laugh. They occasionally crack up on stage, but this only endears them to an audience; they clearly have a lot of fun performing together and, in the end, it is their relationship that charms us.

'Guilt and Shame: Addicted to Everything' is not a show for the faint-hearted, or the easily offended. Or even the occasionally offended. Gabe and Rob have created a show that is childish, crude and vulgar, but, despite my best intentions, I find myself liking them. They are charismatic and engaging, and very frequently, very funny.

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