Double Double Act review at Unicorn Theatre, London – ‘raucous and anarchic’
Jess Latowicki and Chris Brett Bailey are trying to put on a show: there’s a bit of comedy, a dance routine. But their efforts are constantly aped and upstaged by two small children – Caitlin Finlay and Caspian Tarafdar for this performance, alternating with Nayana Crowe and Seb Booth on other nights – showing how much better they can do it.
Double Double Act, the anarchic new family show from Made in China, is like a history lesson in comedy, encompassing slapstick and one-liners, clowning and surrealism, Benny Hill-style chases and cartoonish violence – plus a great number of poo and fart jokes.
In a series of increasingly bizarre vignettes – from being drenched in slime to digging a mobile phone out of a cake – Latowicki and Brett Bailey vie with the two children to probe how different adults really are from children.
Brett Bailey has a slightly scary stage demeanour: maniacally grinning, with a chimney of red hair erupting from his head, his motormouth delivery and feigned irritation with the children cast him as something of a cartoon villain. Latowicki plays it slightly straighter at some points, sillier at others.
Layers of Emma Bailey’s spangly set, accentuated in neon by Alex Fernandes’ lighting, peel back throughout the show, going deeper towards the back of the stage as the sketches progress, but the sketches themselves never quite go as deep.
The show always feels like it's angling for something it never catches. It touches on the fact that children and adults aren't so different, neither in their tastes for silly jokes nor in their ability to be excellent performers, but never digs in. So it plays out, instead, like a series of raucous, anarchic, slightly searching sketches.
Does it matter? Probably not. The show is still entertaining. For the six plus-year-olds in the audience there are plenty of jokes about poo and for the adults there are insanely cute children on stage being insanely cute.