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Edinburgh Festival review – Ford & Akram

Thursday, August 11 2011

A joyful hour from a new double act with bags of chemistry and invention

Ford and Akram

Friendship and fun. That's what this show puts you in the mind of. In other words: childhood. At least, the good bits of childhood.

The friendship I refer to is that between Louise Ford and Yasmine Akram, for that is what this show is about. How they met, a falling out, a hiatus and a redemption of sorts. Ford is the homely, geeky and naive English rose; Akram the glamorous, forceful and vainglorious Irish-Pakistani. And Humdinger is a pretty accurate title, as it's a piece of escapism that fizzes and bangs for the full hour.

The fun I referred to is the manner in which F&A throw themselves into this show. It's acted BIG, full-throttle, with exaggerated facial expressions and goofy physical humour – and the fun they are having on stage inevitably rubs off on the 30 or so people in the audience. Add in a visual bombardment of primary colours and you have a deceptively sophisticated comedy show with a cartoonish pace and a touch of the Blue Peters.

It's a show that is essentially a bunch of set pieces stitched together, and you can see the joins on occasions as you jolt from one to the other, but on the whole it works. Ford's versatility is demonstrated in their skit about how Yasmine has too many teenage friends (Ford plays the teen), and she stars again while playing the semi-slapstick owner of a mime school. Akram absolutely nails the arrogant charm of Colin Farrell in a scene in which he goes on a date with Ford.

I love the playfulness of language – the simple phrase "back when Oasis were on the turn", "sorry lorry" should be a catchphrase but didn't quite catch light, and their gibberish finale is a ruddy joy. In fact the whole thing is a ruddy joy. The audience was a pretty middle-aged bunch on the day I was in, and they were completely sold on it – some of the more mediocre jokes are as eagerly gobbled up as the beauties, and a books section that didn't work for me at all had them howling.

In conclusion: an absolute joy. Go see.

4 stars

Ford & Akram: Humdinger is on at 3.30pm at the Pleasance Courtyard.

Review written by Paul Fleckney


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