views from the gods

saints and sinners of the stage and screen

Tasty Combo Go To Hell!
The Camden Head
23rd August 2014

★★★★☆

Publicity image for Tasty Combo Go To Hell!

Photography supplied by Tasty Combo

There are many works based on the idea of selling your soul for profit; everything from Star Wars to The Simpsons has toyed with the idea that at the cost of one's morality and the eternity of damnation, you can get rich quick. And so it comes that this Faustian idea arrives at the Camden Fringe in the form of Tasty Combo Go To Hell! The Tasty team of five deliver a show packed full of comic capers in which they have taken the basic Underworld premise and combined it with Old Harry's Game.

The plot, such as it is, consists of wannabe-comedian George (Charlie Mizon) utterly failing on stage with his long-suffering partner Joan (Lucy Walker-Evans). Having convinced us that he truly can't write good jokes, Satan (Pearce Sampson) appears in a rather fetching set of horns, and offers life-long comedic talent at the cost of George's immortal soul. George, unconvinced, requires a guided tour of Hell by Satan himself (the inventor of estate agents).

Several scenes around and about Hell follow, featuring demons like Azriela (Zara Radford) who gives an impishly sexy performance of a torturous succubus with her damned human romance, S&M lover Bertie (Henry Locatelli). We see how various characters arrived in Hell, such as the writer for Transformers 4, Vlad the Impaler (who just wanted to be remembered for his poetry), and surprisingly George's own mother, who turns out to be a sleeper-agent for Al Qaeda.

The acting is strong and cleverly overdone at times, such as Satan's phone calls to God (turns out UKIP are not his fault). There are also several pointed one-liners that Michael McIntyre would doubtlessly envy. The writing also reminds us of Billy Connelly and Blackadder in the dark way it mixes the surreal with observational comedy.

All the sketches are linked together with skill, often self-consciously so, in a way that more or less breaks the fourth wall. The timing is very good, though not always perfect. And the interaction between the actors is intelligent and well-rehearsed, especially noticeable in the Cerberus sketch. The fast-paced comedy writing by Dan Smith and Mizon is quite cheeky in the way it looks at the rest of the comedy scene (there's almost venomous dig at the other August fringe), and jokes generally (an Englishman, Irishman and Scotsman walk into a pub, but the stereotypes are swapped).

The weaker jokes were fortunately few and far between (sorry, but I just don't get the one with the carrot), but when the references were too obscure, the jokes had enough weight that the comic meanings were obvious. Occasionally it was confusing to have the performers flitting from role to role when not relying on props or demonic talons to distinguish them, but this uncertainty never lasted long.

Tasty Combo Go to Hell! is an entertaining hour - how we missed this sketch group at last year's Camden Fringe, we're not sure, but it's not a mistake we plan on making twice. With a cheeky, energetic style of comedy, we'll be keeping an eye on what they do next.

Tasty Combo Go To Hell! opened on 21st August and runs until 24th August 2014 at the Camden Head, as part of the Camden Fringe.

Nearest tube station: Camden Town (Northern)



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