Sketch comedy duo fail to hit dizzy heights of old

Sketch comedy duo fail to hit dizzy heights of old

SHOW: The Insanity League
CAST: Aaron McIlroy, Ben Voss, John van de Ruit
DIRECTOR: Greig Coetzee
VENUE: Theatre On The Bay until August 31
REVIEW: Peter Tromp

Ten years is a long time for creative partners not to have been working their mojo together. I have very fond memories of the ‘Mamba’ satirical sketch shows that Ben Vos and John van de Ruit did almost a decade ago.
‘Green Mamba’ and its slightly lesser sequel ‘Black Mamba’, true to their titles, had savage wit and go-for-broke madness to spare, executed with flair by the duo. Unfortunately, with their stage reunion in ‘The Insanity League’, the same spark isn’t quite there anymore; or maybe Vos and Van De Ruit just require time to scale the dizzy heights of yesteryear.
It’s perhaps then a good thing that the actors are joined by Aaron McIlroy, and the performer shows some great comic inventiveness throughout, easily upstaging the visibly rusty aforementioned duo.

Chief amongst my reservations is that the central concept of ‘The Insanity League’ – the show’s invitation to the audience to embrace their own insanity, rather than ignore it, lest it surface when one least expect it to, with untold consequences – is never satisfactorily presented. We are reminded of it every now and again, especially when the performers introduce a new madcap sketch, but this audience through line is never harmoniously weaved into the fabric of the show. It results in a rather disjointed flow.

Instincts also just generally seem off, and that includes those of the director, the usually impeccable Greig Coetzee. Some of the really good sketches go on for much longer than they are supposed to, long after the joke had been sold, while some are just plain ill conceived and never gain traction.
The young Millennials I attended the show with absolutely loved it though, as well as the two ladies seated next to me, who kept on repeating the lines, as if they couldn’t quite believe that words that funny could actually be strung together in the English language. So it’s entirely possible that I’ve been sullied by my memories of the ‘Mamba’ glory days.

* Book at Compiticket.