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David Porter » Reviews » Ideas Men

Ideas Men

Ridiculusmus at the Playhouse Theatre, Norwich

Review published by the Eastern Daily Press, 23 February 2004

Ideas Men

Comedy has many parents and the one night offering at the Playhouse nodded in the direction of everything from stand-up to the Theatre of the Absurd.

After the success of the Ricky Gervais’ school of office management, the merciless satire on contemporary office life might seem already a full house. However, Ideas Men, written by Jon Hough and David Woods, adds a fierce surrealism to the genre that was occasionally painful.

They came with high expectations and humour hype from the Barbican, but they didn’t quite bring tears to the eyes for more than short sequences in their 80-minute work.

The intentional laid-back, understated and under-rehearsed effect contrasted well with the inspired madnesses like smashing a keyboard and office chair chasing with clowning consequences under the desk.

The two men slipped in  and out of role easily and created the two protagonists in the ideas factory alongside a paraplegic secretary and a boss.

Only when fighting with themselves as dummies did they reach real absurdism, while eating a sandwich and a pair of eclairs brought the house down.

One character summed up their dilemma – “everything has been said before, and that’s the problem”. The 101 Great Ideas book was a neat gimmick.

Clothes on backwards, farcical trouser droppings, sexual innuendo, fountains of spittle and an ending that combined bathos with real sadness – all mean this group will be welcomed back again.

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