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Afternoon Delight
Published on Tuesday, 18 August 2009

The Bodega Brothers, Tom Sadler and Rob Castell, are also half of Barbershopera!, a FringeGuru top recommendation in both 2008 and 2009. Their two-men, two-guitars afternoon shows sees them lounge about in pyjamas taking on the weighty topics of the moment, such as youth crime, politics, environmentalism, and the extinction of the dinosaurs, while hosting a tea party.

Their comic songs are generally amusing and occasionally hilarious: particular highlights include a new theory on the cause of the Cretaceous-Tertiary extinction event (described in the song "The Dinosaurs Were Gay") and a sing-along finale about the dangers of planetary crowding which encouraged the audience to commit suicide ("If you want to save the world, kill yourself"). A three-part harmonising audience is a thing to behold - thankfully I was in the bass section, so could just grumble along Old-Man-River style.

The Brothers were at their best when gently lampooning their privileged backgrounds and liberal sensibilities, as in the rapped "MC stands for Middle Class," but at times they drifted from parody towards propaganda. I found a repeated call for the Prime Minister to "slit Dave Cameron's throat" in poor taste, even in the context of Gordon Brown replacing his glass eye with an eye-patch to live the life of a pirate.

It seems to me they are stronger with tales of song contests in Slovenia and matadors in Norfolk, and that the staged storytelling of their other show provides them with a focus that was somewhat lacking here. Their interaction with the audience was amiable, but the between-song banter was laboured and overlong.

I'd have no hesitation in recommending Barbershopera 2 to anyone (and if you read the FringeGuru review, Lee is right: I would have stopped there and given it five stars). However, Afternoon Delight, although charming in places, is lacking a bit of spark, and doesn't feel like the best format for the two guys. Ultimately, it's more of a diversion than a delight.

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