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Edinburgh Festival review – Idiots of Ants

Sunday, August 14 2011

Model Citizens has the feel of a real winner ...

Idiots of Ants

This was the first time I'd seen Idiots of Ants, I'd read about them a bunch, but before being sent to review them I'd never had cause to say their baffling name out loud.

It was only then that I got the joke, which I had thought was just an arty monicker for a sketch group. I mention this only because a lot more people will be saying Idiots of Ants out loud in the coming years and you don't want to not get it like I didn't.

You can also get ahead of the crowd in pointing out that given 'idiot savant' is a French phrase, the pun only works if you Anglicise the punctuation of 'savant' so the last syllable is the harder 'ant' rather than the French 'sav-ont'.

I'd like to say all this name stuff was relevant because the quartet's material was incomprehensibly weird at first and then you realise what the joke is. But sadly for this review's framing device, the sketches are completely accessible and work perfectly from the off.

There are too many winners in this show to pick any out, but it's enough to say the bit with the rolled-up newspaper in the honey one might be the best single moment in anything all year.

Their show Model Citizens does have the feel of a real winner too, bringing the whole audience emphatically onside in one of the Pleasance's bigger sweatboxes.

It eludes five-star greatness only because the momentum of the sketches doesn't quite tip over into the hysteria that someone like Adam Riches generates, but that could just be the night I saw it. And there was beauty aplenty across the hour, with slips capitalised on and an endless procession of latecomers accomodated.

Definitely more savants than idiots and with the work ethic and craving for sugar of their Formicidae name-sakes.

4 stars

Idiots of Ants are on at 8.30pm at the Pleasance Courtyard.

Review written by Ben Clover


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