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Allsopp and Henderson's The Jinglists
Published on Friday, 13 August 2010

4 stars

Underbelly, Cowgate (venue website)
Until 29 Aug, 8:35pm (9:45pm)
Reviewed by Susannah Radford

Allsop and Henderson’s The Jinglists is a mad, mad show. It’s also intelligent and witty and rather discomfiting. 

Half brothers Leigh and Loman are seriously dysfunctional.  They have not left their apartment in 30 years and live their highly controlled lives according to a series of rules and routines.  But while they are emotional cripples they are also creative geniuses: Loman and Leigh are great jingle-writers.  And that would be their life, but for a glance of the upstairs neighbour through the mail-hole.

The characters are weird and beautifully realised.  Loman, the eldest, needing total dominion over their one room apartment and brother, is as tightly wound as a sphincter.  Leigh is a man-child kept on a leash who always finds a way to push his older brother’s buttons.  With his hand-sucking (which says it all really), Leigh is quite the fairytale creation: hunched yet light and giddy, he is part Quasimodo, part Rumpelstiltskin with a bit of sweaty slurpiness thrown in for good measure.

The jingles are great; not only are they catchy tunes they deliver an intelligent, wry commentary on the products they’re selling and those that buy them.  The mattress warehouse type jingle particularly builds on the storyline, showing the fragile emotional states of both characters.

It’s a show that does distance the audience.  The layers of psychosis are so deep that it’s (thankfully) hard to relate to the characters.  It’s uncomfortable to watch their cruelty and emotional blackmailing.  I only felt emotionally engaged with the final song, which ironically played with the idea of advertising and “the perfect” life (nothing like a false veneer to make you feel good).

Despite my discomfort, I really enjoyed the language and humour of The Jinglists, not to mention actors Warwick Allsopp and Tamlyn Henderson’s commitment.  If you enjoy your theatre mad and surreal, this could be the play for you.  I wouldn’t want to live with these brothers, but they’re definitely worth one visit.

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These are archived reviews of shows from the Edinburgh Fringe 2010.  We keep our archives online as a courtesy to those we've featured, and for readers who'd like to research previous years' reviews.

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