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THE RISE OF THE INSANITY LEAGUE
DIRECTOR: Greig Coetzee
CAST: Aaron McIlroy, John van der Ruit, Ben Voss
VENUE: Theatre on the Bay
UNTIL: August 31
A liberating mindlessness is the avowed intent of this zany three-hander, and as escapist entertainment it is hard to fault. The quality of its humour puts you in mind of jokes traded at a Sunday braai by three well-irrigated, thoroughly relaxed men taking time off from life’s responsibilities – and this mindset is infectious.
Clichés abound, particularly in the first half of the show, but post-interval ushers in fresher material. A constant is the confident delivery from the threesome, as well as their easy rapport with the audience, due in part to the performers’ innate professionalism, and in part to skilful direction from Greig Coetzee.
There are repeated, hostile references to “Normans”, and it soon becomes apparent that this has nothing to do with immigrants from north-western France; it refers to people trapped in normality/sanity/reason (an alien and unwelcome state).
We start off with a history lesson to track the genesis and rise of the insanity league, going back to 5000 BC; then comes an anatomy of the brain which has very little to do with reality.
A questionable inclusion in this revue is an interview involving a badly costumed lion and a highly inarticulate deputy minister of environmental affairs, but it is justified to some extent by its sheer idiocy: this is, after all, the realm of insanity.
The three comedians charged with this evening of whimsy form an engaging triumvirate; they first appear suavely suited before plunging from reality into nuttiness, costume changes reflecting the steady departure from normality.
Van de Ruit has the earnest, ingratiating demeanour of a naughty schoolboy hoping to get away with his transgressions; Voss has a spontaneous joviality fit to charm the dourest spectator; and McIlroy’s versatility and genius for convincing interpretation of multiple characters is a major strength of the show.
In the tradition of Monty Python’s Now for Something Completely Different, the Insanity League broaches a wide and random range of topics, among which are featured a geriatric lady (116 not out), a Latin agony uncle, armless combat, a lobotomised husband and an inspirational South African female. All are approached in a spirit of juvenile rudery, and most with a cheerful disregard for good taste and political correctness.
The latter is one of the show’s most appealing qualities, since rejection of PC’s fascism is a prerequisite for genuine freedom of expression. And expression in this show is very, very free.
No revue of this sort would be complete without some element of audience participation, and sure enough, it comes towards the end of the evening, once everyone is suitably relaxed and responsive. It is wisely restricted to a minimal level, and is more by invitation than on demand. Good humour rules throughout… viva,insanity!