Life, etc

Theatre review: Madcap and marvellous

By Lesley Stones 29 July 2013

Madcap. That’s the perfect word to describe a show with the intriguing title The Rise of the Insanity League. Not just a touch of insanity, but a whole league of it, rising up to suck us all into its creative madness. By LESLEY STONES.

The show, written by and starring Ben Voss, Aaron McIlroy and John van de Ruit of Spud fame, is a series of comic sketches tracing the history of insanity.

Like all comedy pastiches, some parts work better than others, and there’s a cavalier yet calculated air of slapdashness about it all. When it works, it works superbly, and even when the sketches are a bit iffy they’re still far funnier than a lot of the ‘comedy’ shows I’ve sat through recently. Most of the time it’s deliciously clever stuff, a bubbling mix of word plays and physical humour, wonderful expressions and excellent timing.

The three work together brilliantly, all equally willing to make prats of themselves and of their partners when the need arises. Which it frequently does.

My favorite part was a wicked spoof about the SAPS, set to the tune of YMCA and rich in lyrics ridiculing our boys in blue. One line somewhere along the way comes from a fat cop shouting: “hey wena, don’t make me run, come back here!”

It’s fabulous when Voss gives it his best lazy cop accent. It’s perfect proof that the best and most incisive comedy is always based on truth.

Another winner is a sports commentary sketch, again building on clever verbal antics liberally splashed with crazy actions.

Director Greig Coetzee keeps a tight rein on the madness to craft a fast-paced production with nothing left to linger too long.

The trio plays a great variety of characters with speed and style. Voss gets some of the best roles, showing he’s as excellent as ever at playing women by dressing as a still-saucy 116-year-old.

A left brain/right brain sketch where two conflicting influences battle to control our hero in a disco is genius.

Despite enthusiastic acting and noble intentions of celebrating man’s stupidity, a few sketches miss the mark, giving the show a feeling that it’s highly likely to be honed as new ideas occur and old sketches are improved or ditched.

Maybe this could become a regular document of the world’s insanity, updated and restaged every year or so. This is silliness in small bites, and it left me hungry for more.

The Rise of the Insanity League runs at Montecasino Theatre until August 11, Cape Town’s Theatre on the Bay from August 14-September 1, and Hilton Arts Festival from September 13-15. DM

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