Review: “ Committie and Fridjhon Tackle Rugby

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Load of Bull at Theatre on the BayA Load of Bull
sees established comedy duo Alan Committie and Robert Fridjhon reunited.  These two have form together (Boeing! Boeing! and Perfect Wedding) and a golden comedy chemistry.

The format – reminiscent of 90’s British TV show Fantasy Football League – is based loosely on all things rugby, with the show pegged around a few set pieces while the rest is ad-libbed in a “while you are enjoying the interval we’ll write the second half of the show” way.  Audience participation is warmly encouraged and anything thrown at the duo is either passed straight back, sometimes as a one liner, or absorbed seamlessly into the show as the pair roll with the punches.  Basically you never quite know what you’re going to get on the night – apart from a laughter-induced stitch.

“It’s 2014 and some women play rugby.  Of course most of them play for the Stormers.  Don’t worry, we won’t be using that joke in Cape Town….”, Committie quips.  The show is billed as “A woman’s guide to rugby” but the content has a far more general appeal.  The show I attended was a fairly even (and somewhat bawdy) mix of men and woman who mostly roared with laughter until the final whistle.  Prior rugger knowledge is not a prerequisite, although without it one or two of the gags may pass over your head.  You won’t be alone if you go home and Google Price Laurence instead of Bryce Lawrence (ahem).

Committie is pure comedy: razor sharp and utterly engaging.  Rubber-faced, he bounces from deadpan to ridiculous faster than a ref can blow his whistle and he looks like he genuinely enjoys every minute on stage.  As his wingman, Fridjhon is quieter and slightly dour looking, but clearly a safe pair of comedy hands.

Fridjhon sports a Bulls shirt, which elicits friendly booing from rival-team fans in the crowd.  “The show is called A Load of Bull, what did you expect?” is the friendly retort.  Then Committie, grinning, points out that he is in fact wearing a Springboks shirt…”because that’s where most of the Bulls graduate to”.

They touch upon the rituals of rugby including an entertaining take on the institution of the South African braai, complete with the women preparing a potato salad that nobody eats.  “Everybody eats my potato salad,” piped up a woman from the audience and thus “potato salad” was immediately worked into the show as the get out of jail free card if they wanted to change the direction or pace of the comedy.

The confusingly clever sketch with the rugby players named Who, What, Obviously and Not Sure is a slow burner, but as the pace and confusion increases, so does the laughter.

No show about rugby would be complete without paying tribute to the warrior-like Haka.  The translation is funny, the boys’ own version “Trafficky trafficky, potholey potholey”, is funnier.  “It must work, the policeman tried to bribe me” smiles Fridjhon.  A hat trick of Haka renditions should wear thin, but instead the audience ends up on their feet joining in.

Regardless of whether or not the humour is to your taste, these guys are constantly on the ball and ready to tackle any question you may throw at them – a show in itself.  It really is a load of bull, but in the best way.  And even if you’re not sure about the rugby packaging, you should still give it a try… you might even find that you are converted!

Nicola Beach

A Load of Bull is currently showing at the Montecasino in Jo’burg until 20 April and will be showing at the Theatre on the Bay in Cape Town 22 April to 3 May 2014.

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