Madhouse 3* (Edinburgh Fringe Review)
Nottingham New Theatre
The Space - Surgeons Hall - 13.30
Madhouse is a fun, energetic, and spirited fringe play about the trials and tribulations of living in a student house, complete with parties, plot twists, and nerf wars. The opening scene was enough to get us hooked, exploring a sitcom feel with ‘to-camera' moments. This introduced us to the endearing characters in a charming and simple manner (perhaps a little too like a Fresh-Meat knock-off though!).
"Madhouse is a fun, energetic, and spirited fringe play about the trials and tribulations of living in a student house, complete with parties, plot twists, and nerf wars."
There are some genuinely funny moments throughout including mentions of bath bombs, pornos, and fusilli, here the writing really shines. However, while the scripted gags often hit well, the more spontaneous comedy didn’t always land. This left the audience feeling that the actors were trying a little too hard for laughs and as a result, the performance felt a bit flat.
There were a couple of weak links in the cast of six but each character did have their moment. The main love story had a good dynamic and was, at times, really compelling and believable.
The main problem here was the story; for such a short show there were far too many plot lines, none of which were given enough exposition or attention. The result is a loosely held together narrative, which was often confusing and sometimes tone-deaf. The queer storyline felt basic and rushed, whilst the flippant introduction of a history of self-harm felt extremely indelicate. There was even a pregnancy scare that also wasn’t properly dealt with. Each of these topics could have been the focus of an entire show and it felt very strange that they were rolled into one.
"In a nutshell, it is simple, silly, and charmingly funny"
Having said that, there were moments that really stood out in Madhouse and it was still a good watch. In a nutshell, it is simple, silly, and charmingly funny - but not much more than that.
Author: Ben Fleming with Violet Mackintosh