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Gutted: A Revenger's Musical
Published on Saturday, 14 August 2010

4 stars

Assembly @ George Street (venue website)
Until 29 Aug (not 24), 11:15pm (12:40am)
Reviewed by Lee Zhuo Zhao

For anyone who regularly frequents the late-night comedy musical scene on the Fringe, the basics of Gutted are very familiar: "large cast + serial killer = lots of over-the-top death scenes".  It's a long-standing formula that has served many a show well, and with Gutted, it shows no signs of failing.

The key to this type of show is not to take yourself too seriously, and that's exactly the way Gutted plays it.  For example, it makes no attempt to accommodate the fact that Colin Hoult is playing multiple characters - it just puts them all on stafge in the opening number but played by other cast members.

If you caught any of the pre-Festival publicity for this show, you'll know it boasts a slew of Fringe favourites and comedians from TV: the aforementioned Hoult, The Penny Dreadfuls, Sara Pascoe and Doc Brown, to name a few. These sort of "all-star" shows don't always pan out - but even though the show's a light-hearted one, it was good to see the basics being done right.  There were no flubbed lines, no stage cue errors, no technical hitches.  And best of all: no unnecessary corny American accents!  (Although one of Hoult's characters did have a hilarious South African twang.)

Naturally, given the cast, there are assured performances and brilliant comic turns from everyone involved, who are clearly having fun throughout.  During scenes with lots of characters on stage, you'll have to keep your eyes peeled on everyone to the side to realise why the guy behind you is in hysterics.  There are times, too, where the banter between the characters is so spontaneous and natural, I wonder if the actors are ad-libbing.

However, what I liked most of all about Gutted was that they managed to pitch the balance between low-brow comedy and more sophisticated humour perfectly. The amount of camp in this show, like baby bear's porridge in Goldilocks, was just right.  Despite all the deaths and actor swapping, the characters were all surprisingly well-developed, which allowed for some great running jokes.

But as is usual with this sort of late-night musical, the weak link is the variable quality of the singing. Not everyone seemed at ease breaking into song, and none of the tunes are particularly memorable. In addition, the ending was a little anti-climatic, happening far too quickly and abruptly. It seems the plot couldn't decide what to do with all the loose ends and just took an easy route out.

Nevertheless, these are very minor issues and they don't rob that much from the show.  Once you get into the right mood for a show like this – a few drinks usually help – Gutted will guarantee to provide a great end to the night.

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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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