Goodbear – Joe Barnes and Henry Perryment – are back at Edinburgh, this time at the Pleasance Dome, with a handy green line from the bar below to help any well-refreshed audience members find the venue. Once again, the duo present sketch comedy rather than stand-up, with a show that is tightly scripted and lovingly presented.
As Sardines noted last year, this is a show where music and direction (uncredited – another show without a programme or listing of those involved) combine with the performances to create a memorable theatrical experience. The framing structure this year is the arrival of a variety of travellers at the Hotel Apres Vie – the afterlife – and we meet the residents and staff of the hotel through more of this duo’s deft characterisations.
This year, they are even more slick in their changes from one character to the next and their skilled voice work makes them a natural for radio – producers please note. It is no easy task to create a character through a few spoken words but this pair can do it. Their writing has tightened up too and they can provide those elusive killer payoff lines that are missing in so many other shows.
Although they are predominantly comedy actors rather than comedians, there is real social commentary here as well. The framing story is not just an opening device; they return to it throughout the show and close without it, to a rousing reception from their enthusiastic audience. In a Fringe increasingly dominated by sometimes lazy improvisation, Goodbear deserve full houses for their carefully crafted work.