DIE
Riverside Studios, London W6
Opened 28 January, 2004

Brand X have been a cult on the Edinburgh Fringe for a few years now, with their shows that are basically black cartoon comedies live on stage.  Last summerís sensation, Die, has now made it to London, and not before time.  Itís set in Hell, which has been re-branded The Die Corporation and subjected to all kinds of trendy management tosh under the direction of infernal dominatrix Miss Fortune.

They manage to fit three distinct plot strands into 70 minutes. The first is yer usual office politics, only carried out between various rival demons and minions of the brimstone pit.  The second tells in flashback the story of Hellís latest new arrival, trailer-trash mass-murderer Deathrow Jethro, and asks us to vote on his fate.  But itís the third thread where Brand X really show their depraved talents.

Out of a random gene-splicer burst a series of bizarre, tasteless mutants.  LiberArnie, part Terminator, part cabaret pianist, has a candelabra on his machine gun and simpers cheesily, ďCome with me if you want to live!Ē  Elephant Man Elvis has a strong following, but my favourites are Frankenstinatra (ďOlí Blue Face is backĒ) and the Rot Pack, crooning about how cool it is to be undead.

The script is witty enough, but itís the design that really takes the breath away. Itís all incredibly well put together, and impossible to believe there are only four performers.  But, like a lot of Edinburgh shows, itís a bit over-exposed on transfer.
What was magnificent in a late-night slot, with a half-cut audience whoíd seen several shows that day, doesnít quite stand up in its own prime slot.

Written for Teletext.

Copyright © Ian Shuttleworth; all rights reserved.

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